Lord Bishop of St Albans

Bishops - Bishops

Lord Bishop of St Albans is not a member of any APPGs
Lord Bishop of St Albans has no previous appointments


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Fire Safety Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 2 Bishops Aye votes vs 0 Bishops No votes
Tally: Ayes - 153 Noes - 242
Speeches
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Council Tax

According to the citizens advice bureau, council tax is the most common debt problem faced by families in Britain, with …

Written Answers
Wednesday 28th July 2021
Asylum: Children
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the New Plan for Immigration, published on 24 March, what assessment they have …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill [HL] 2021-22
A Bill to require the coroner or jury at an inquest to record an opinion as to gambling addiction and …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Lord Bishop of St Albans has voted in 60 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

9 Nov 2020 - Agriculture Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Bishop of St Albans voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Bishops Aye votes vs 1 Bishops No votes
Tally: Ayes - 130 Noes - 290
View All Lord Bishop of St Albans 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 Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(32 debate interactions)
Lord Greenhalgh (Conservative)
Minister of State (Home Office)
(27 debate interactions)
Baroness Barran (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
(20 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(29 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Lord Bishop of St Albans's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Bishop of St Albans, 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 Bishop of St Albans has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Bishop of St Albans has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Lord Bishop of St Albans


A Bill to require the coroner or jury at an inquest to record an opinion as to gambling addiction and any other relevant factors in a case of death by suicide; and for connected purposes


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Wednesday 9th June 2021
(Read Debate)

A Bill to require the coroner or jury at an inquest to record an opinion as to gambling addiction and any other relevant factors in a case of death by suicide; and for connected purposes.


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

Lord Bishop of St Albans has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


189 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
23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prosecutions were initiated in relation to forced marriage in (1) 2014, (2) 2015, (3) 2016, (4) 2017, (5) 2018, and (5) 2019; and how many such prosecutions were successful in each year.

From 2014 to date, CPS data for the number of cases prosecuted and the outcomes is:

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

2019-2020

Convictions

29

32

32

37

7

6

Non-Convictions

17

21

12

13

5

2

Total

46

53

44

50

12

8

Between 2014 – 15 and 2017 – 18, this data included cases that included the forced marriage flag on the CPS’s case management system as well as cases charged as forced marriage. In 2018 – 19, the CPS conducted quality assurance checks on the guidance for applying the forced marriage flag. The data for that year does not include flagged cases but only cases charged as a forced marriage offence. The most recent data (2019 – 20) includes flagged cases but reflects the updated guidance on applying the flag which has resulted in improved accuracy.

10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ethical implications of awarding public contracts to firms which (1) directly, or (2) indirectly, help to promote tax avoidance.

Aggressive tax avoidance is unacceptable.

The grounds for exclusion of bidders from public procurement procedures relating to tax are set out in The Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9675), how many contracts they have issued to Pyronix-Hikvision in (1) 2018, (2) 2019 and (3) 2020 to date; and what was the value of each such contract.

This information is not held centrally, as individual departments are responsible for their own procurements.

Central Government contracts above £10,000 are published on Contracts Finder at https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Christians Against Poverty Shipshape or sinking ship?, published on 21 July, what plans they have to remove insolvency fees for individuals with insufficient surplus income.

There are no immediate plans to review the bankruptcy application or Debt Relief Order (DRO) fees. Where the fee is an issue, assistance is already available to allow a debtor to pay in instalments prior to the making of the bankruptcy order or DRO. In addition, some charities offer help with paying the fee.

The Government has announced that it will be conducting a review of the personal insolvency framework in due course to ensure that it continues to be fit for purpose.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 vaccination doses they have ordered in total; whether they intend to order more doses than the number required to vaccinate the population of the UK; and if so, what plans they have to ensure that any surplus doses are used effectively.

The UK Government has secured early access to 457 million vaccines doses through agreements with eight separate vaccine developers. This includes agreements with BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, Novavax, Janssen, Valneva and Moderna.

The Government continues to monitor the landscape of COVID-19 vaccine development, both here in the UK and internationally, and will keep the situation under review.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear that equitable access is an integral part of the UK’s approach to vaccine development and distribution. The UK is working with international partners to support vaccine development, manufacturing scale-up and future distribution to meet both domestic and international needs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of OpenRAN (1) as part of their gigabit capable broad rollout, (2) in increasing connectivity to rural communities, and (3) in extending connectivity to rural ‘notspots’.

The Government continues to explore the role of interoperable technologies, such as Open RAN, in the future of our telecommunications networks as part of the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, published in November last year and here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/5g-supply-chain-diversification-strategy/5g-supply-chain-diversification-strategy . Open RAN is still a nascent technology which promises efficiency and flexibility gains, and the Government is supporting its development as part of the telecoms diversification agenda, including through the £30m Future RAN Competition (FRANC).

The Government is extending connectivity to rural areas - both mobile and full fibre. Project Gigabit recognises Fixed Wireless Access as a potential gigabit-capable technology, which can provide a broadband connection via infrastructure also used for mobile networks. Furthermore, the Shared Rural Network programme will bring 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025 - including total not-spots. We expect Open RAN to play an ever larger role in 5G mobile networks and beyond; these technologies are capable of reaching gigabit speeds and may support the Government's ambition to connect at least 85% of UK premises to gigabit speeds by 2025.

The Government also welcomed the news from Vodafone that it will be supplying large parts of Wales and the South West of England with Open RAN technology, and that deployment will start in rural areas.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the announcement that the Belgium Gambling Commission will be running a gambling awareness campaign during this summer’s UEFA European Football Championship, what plans they have to advertise gambling support services during the tournament.

All gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement. The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising also requires social responsibility messaging throughout the length of all broadcast gambling adverts. This includes the begambleaware.org link, which signposts to a wide range of advice and support related to gambling. Since 2019, the GambleAware-led Bet Regret campaign has encouraged awareness of risky betting behaviours and action to help regain control, as well as signposting to further support. Since June 2020, members of the Betting and Gaming Council have also committed 20% of their advertising on TV and radio to safer gambling messaging.

The government launched the Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we called for evidence on the effectiveness of safer gambling messaging, and we are considering the evidence carefully.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the study by Alan M Emond et al Gambling by young adults in the UK during COVID-19 lockdown, published on 18 April, what assessment they have made of the reported correlation between higher rates of gambling and COVID-19 lockdowns.

Overall participation in gambling has declined over the period of COVID-19 lockdowns in Great Britain, largely due to the closure of land-based gambling for much of the past year. The Gambling Commission’s latest official statistics show the proportion of respondents participating in any gambling in the past four weeks fell from 46.7% in the year to March 2020 to 40.0% in the year to March 2021. As in the study by Professor Emond et al., the Commission data indicates a small increase in online gambling participation. The government continues to monitor the situation and consider the evidence carefully.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the six recommendations in the report by the Centre for Social Justice Not a Game – A call for effective protection from the harms of gambling', published in May, in creating a co-operative framework for effective affordability checks.

The Government is carrying out a Review of the Gambling Act 2005 and making sure we have the right balance between freedom of choice and protection from harm is a core objective. We welcome contributions to the debate, including the report by the Centre for Social Justice, and we will consider its recommendations carefully alongside the responses to our call for evidence.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to undertake a longitudinal study to consider the impact of exposure to gambling advertising from an early age.

The Gambling Commission commissioned and published a scoping review looking at the feasibility of a longitudinal study of gambling behaviours and gambling harms, with advertising among the suggested issues of interest for that study. Public Health England has also carried out a major evidence review into the prevalence and impacts of gambling related harms which is due to be published later this year.

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we have called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise, as well as barriers and enablers of high quality research.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the study in the Nature Human Behaviour journal The association between gambling and financial, social and health outcomes in big financial data, published on 4 February, that increased gambling is associated with lower levels of socialisation and spending on local amenities; and what assessment they have made of the impact of online gambling on the local economy.

The recently published study, ‘The association between gambling and financial, social and health outcomes in big financial data’, analysed banking transaction data and reported a correlation between higher rates of gambling spend as a proportion of outgoings and indicators of lower financial inclusion, wellbeing and healthiness. These correlations were generally strongest after the 75th percentile of spend levels. The analysis did not establish a causative link between gambling spend and the indicators identified.

The analysis also demonstrated a correlation between higher gambling spend and reduced spending on other amenities and leisure activities. It did not distinguish between electronic transactions made to online operators, and those made in local gambling premises, or look at gambling transactions involving cash. It is therefore not possible to assess the impact of online gambling on the local economy using this research.

The government has launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 with the publication of a Call for Evidence, and this will look at whether the right protections are in place to protect people who gamble online. We have called for evidence on the case for and against additional controls on online gambling accounts, and whether such controls should be based on affordability. The Gambling Commission’s Remote Customer Interaction consultation also called for evidence on the potential for enhanced requirements for online operators to conduct affordability checks to further protect consumers from harm. The deadline for submissions was 9 February, and the Commission is currently reviewing the evidence received.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the study in the Nature Human Behaviour journal The association between gambling and financial, social and health outcomes in big financial data, published on 4 February, that increased gambling correlates with lower financial planning, missed mortgage payments, and increased bailiff interaction; and what assessment they have made of the potential for affordability checks in gambling to produce long-term secure financial outcomes for individuals.

The recently published study, ‘The association between gambling and financial, social and health outcomes in big financial data’, analysed banking transaction data and reported a correlation between higher rates of gambling spend as a proportion of outgoings and indicators of lower financial inclusion, wellbeing and healthiness. These correlations were generally strongest after the 75th percentile of spend levels. The analysis did not establish a causative link between gambling spend and the indicators identified.

The analysis also demonstrated a correlation between higher gambling spend and reduced spending on other amenities and leisure activities. It did not distinguish between electronic transactions made to online operators, and those made in local gambling premises, or look at gambling transactions involving cash. It is therefore not possible to assess the impact of online gambling on the local economy using this research.

The government has launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 with the publication of a Call for Evidence, and this will look at whether the right protections are in place to protect people who gamble online. We have called for evidence on the case for and against additional controls on online gambling accounts, and whether such controls should be based on affordability. The Gambling Commission’s Remote Customer Interaction consultation also called for evidence on the potential for enhanced requirements for online operators to conduct affordability checks to further protect consumers from harm. The deadline for submissions was 9 February, and the Commission is currently reviewing the evidence received.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their report Planning for Gigabit Delivery in 2021, published on 22 December 2020, what percentage of (1) "red: large contract procurement areas", (2) "blue: small procurement areas", and (3) "grey: forecast build areas", will be covered by gigabit broadband by 2025.

The government’s target is for a minimum of 85% gigabit capable coverage by 2025, but is seeking to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible. It is not yet possible to break down the coverage as requested at this stage, since the procurement pipeline has not yet been established.

The Planning for Gigabit report included potential large and small procurement areas and the Government will be publishing revised maps and procurement pipeline in the Spring, once it has taken account of suppliers’ and local authorities’ feedback on the illustrative areas.

The government will also publish an overall programme delivery profile and report progress against its milestones .

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement in Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, that gambling advertising did not correlate to gambling participation among 11 to 24 year olds, what plans they have to undertake a review of the effects of gambling advertising on children as part of the Gambling Act Review.

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we have called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise. We welcome any relevant evidence, including on the effects of gambling advertising on children.

The Gambling Commission has worked closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the issue of affiliates in recent years and has tightened its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). As a result, many operators have scaled back or terminated their affiliate programmes to come into line with regulatory expectations. Affiliate advertisement standards have also improved markedly as a result of the joined up work of the Commission and the ASA.

Due to ongoing compliance work, there has rarely been the need to take enforcement action against operators. Where there has, three gambling operators have been sanctioned due to breaches of rules committed by contracted affiliates since 2018/19.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, how many gambling operators have been sanctioned due to breaches of rules committed by contracted affiliates.

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we have called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise. We welcome any relevant evidence, including on the effects of gambling advertising on children.

The Gambling Commission has worked closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the issue of affiliates in recent years and has tightened its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). As a result, many operators have scaled back or terminated their affiliate programmes to come into line with regulatory expectations. Affiliate advertisement standards have also improved markedly as a result of the joined up work of the Commission and the ASA.

Due to ongoing compliance work, there has rarely been the need to take enforcement action against operators. Where there has, three gambling operators have been sanctioned due to breaches of rules committed by contracted affiliates since 2018/19.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, what assessment they have made of why the prevalence of gambling among those aged 11 to 16 has increased.

Data published by the Gambling Commission shows the percentage of 11-16 year olds who had taken part in gambling in the past seven days fell from 23% in 2011 to 11% in 2019. The 2020 survey was truncated by Covid-19, so is not directly comparable, but data has been published which shows a 9% past-week participation rate for England and Scotland. An increase in the rate of gambling participation amongst children has not been recorded since 2018, when it rose to 14%, from 12% in the previous year. The majority of gambling participation by children is on forms of gambling which are legal for them to participate in, including private bets with friends and family, or low stake gaming machines.

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. The Review will be wide-ranging and evidence led, and aims to make sure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. The government remains committed to protecting children from gambling related harm, and is inviting specific evidence on children’s access to gambling, including on children’s access to Category D slot machines, the effectiveness of age controls, protections for young adults and the age limit for society lotteries.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, what plans they have to mandate a ban on all gambling transactions via credit cards.

In April this year, new licensing conditions came into effect which banned both online and land-based gambling operators from accepting payments from credit cards (including via e-wallets) for gambling services. National Lottery products already could not be purchased with a credit card online.

National Lottery and society lottery products can still be purchased via credit cards in retailers. Following the Gambling Commission’s consultation on the use of credit cards for gambling, requiring retailers to identify and block credit card payments for lottery products was seen as disproportionate since they are often purchased alongside other items as part of a wider shop. National Lottery retailers are also trained in preventing excessive play, and lottery products are consistently shown to be associated with lower problem gambling rates than commercial gambling products.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether outdoor congregational carol singing will be permitted as part of their COVID-19 Winter Plan.

Carol singing can take place if all attendees comply with the latest guidance for the Christmas period as published here.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their plans to ban advertisements that promote unhealthy lifestyles will be extended to gambling advertisements.

In the Tackling Obesity strategy published in July, government announced its intention to introduce a 9pm watershed on TV and online for advertising products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). This strategy also said we wanted to go further online. Therefore on Tuesday 10th November, government published a new consultation on its proposal for a total online restriction in HFSS advertising. We have been clear that during the media our children use the most, we want to ensure the food and drink advertised promotes a healthy balanced diet. This is particularly important because obesity is one of the biggest health crises the country faces, with 1 in 3 children leaving primary school overweight or obese.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. Further details will be announced in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the announcement that Burnley FC are working with the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust to educate staff and supporters about the risks of gambling, what representations they have made to the Premier League to encourage clubs to adopt similar initiatives.

Sporting bodies have a responsibility to consider the welfare of their staff and fans, and we welcome efforts, such as those of Burnley FC and others, to educate their staff and supporters about the risks associated with problem gambling.

The Government works closely with the Premier League on a wide range of issues including those related to social responsibility and community engagement.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the findings of the survey published by the Gambling Commission Young People & Gambling 2020, published in August, what representations they have made to the Advertising Standards Authority on what further measures can be taken to reduce childhood exposure to gambling.

The government works closely with the Gambling Commission to minimise gambling harms and recognises the important role that financial service providers can play in helping their customers monitor and manage their gambling spend. The Commission cannot set controls on financial institutions, however in April this year, new licencing conditions came into effect which banned gambling operators from accepting payments from credit cards, including via e-wallets. The Commission and government engage all areas of the financial sector to actively encourage service providers to adopt effective measures like opt-in gambling blocks. While this extends to building societies where applicable, most building societies principally offer savings products and mortgages which cannot be accessed using debit cards. The Commission has approved funding for a two year programme to increase action among firms from across the financial sector and recently helped facilitate a dedicated conference with the finance industry on the role they could play in reducing gambling harm. This built on progress made following a Secretary of State-hosted roundtable with leading financial institutions in February last year.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising, which enforces the advertising codes set by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). The codes set out strict rules on the content and placement of gambling advertising which prohibit adverts being targeted at children or vulnerable people, or seeking to appeal particularly to these groups. CAP is currently consulting on proposed changes to the advertising codes aimed at further restricting the potential for gambling adverts to appeal to children or vulnerable people. Data on children’s exposure to gambling advertising published by the ASA showed that children saw an average of 2.5 gambling adverts per week on TV in 2019, down from a peak of 4.4 per week in 2013.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9946), what representations they have made to the Gambling Commission to encourage building societies to introduce gambling blocks on personal current accounts and credit cards.

The government works closely with the Gambling Commission to minimise gambling harms and recognises the important role that financial service providers can play in helping their customers monitor and manage their gambling spend. The Commission cannot set controls on financial institutions, however in April this year, new licencing conditions came into effect which banned gambling operators from accepting payments from credit cards, including via e-wallets. The Commission and government engage all areas of the financial sector to actively encourage service providers to adopt effective measures like opt-in gambling blocks. While this extends to building societies where applicable, most building societies principally offer savings products and mortgages which cannot be accessed using debit cards. The Commission has approved funding for a two year programme to increase action among firms from across the financial sector and recently helped facilitate a dedicated conference with the finance industry on the role they could play in reducing gambling harm. This built on progress made following a Secretary of State-hosted roundtable with leading financial institutions in February last year.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising, which enforces the advertising codes set by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). The codes set out strict rules on the content and placement of gambling advertising which prohibit adverts being targeted at children or vulnerable people, or seeking to appeal particularly to these groups. CAP is currently consulting on proposed changes to the advertising codes aimed at further restricting the potential for gambling adverts to appeal to children or vulnerable people. Data on children’s exposure to gambling advertising published by the ASA showed that children saw an average of 2.5 gambling adverts per week on TV in 2019, down from a peak of 4.4 per week in 2013.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9946), what representations they have made to the (1) Gambling Commission, and (2) Electronic Money Association, about encouraging the providers of e-wallets to introduce gambling blocks.

The government works closely with the Gambling Commission to minimise gambling harms and recognises the important role that financial service providers can play in helping their customers monitor and manage their gambling spend. The Commission cannot set controls on financial institutions, however in April this year, new licencing conditions came into effect which banned gambling operators from accepting payments from credit cards, including via e-wallets. The Commission and government engage all areas of the financial sector to actively encourage service providers to adopt effective measures like opt-in gambling blocks. While this extends to building societies where applicable, most building societies principally offer savings products and mortgages which cannot be accessed using debit cards. The Commission has approved funding for a two year programme to increase action among firms from across the financial sector and recently helped facilitate a dedicated conference with the finance industry on the role they could play in reducing gambling harm. This built on progress made following a Secretary of State-hosted roundtable with leading financial institutions in February last year.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising, which enforces the advertising codes set by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). The codes set out strict rules on the content and placement of gambling advertising which prohibit adverts being targeted at children or vulnerable people, or seeking to appeal particularly to these groups. CAP is currently consulting on proposed changes to the advertising codes aimed at further restricting the potential for gambling adverts to appeal to children or vulnerable people. Data on children’s exposure to gambling advertising published by the ASA showed that children saw an average of 2.5 gambling adverts per week on TV in 2019, down from a peak of 4.4 per week in 2013.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Gambling Commission and Ipsos Mori Young People & Gambling 2020 Technical Report, published in August, in particular its finding that the number of 11 to 16 year-olds classified as problem gamblers had risen from 1.7 per cent in 2019 to 1.9 per cent in 2020; and what discussions they have had with the Gambling Commission about ways in which problem gambling by children can be reduced.

Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a priority for government, and the government and the Gambling Commission work closely together on that issue. Gambling operators must abide by strict requirements for the protection of children and are subject to sanction by the Commission if they breach these rules. In May 2019 the Commission strengthened protections further to prevent children engaging in illegal underage gambling online by requiring operators to verify age and identity before allowing customers to deposit money or place a bet.

Since September 2020 teaching about the risks related to online gambling has been included in the Health Education curriculum, which is compulsory for pupils in state-funded schools. This is in addition to initiatives by third-sector bodies, including the PSHE Association’s resources to help teachers educate their pupils about the risks of gambling and how to avoid them, and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust’s (YGAM) training and tools for teachers, youth workers, mental health specialists and others who work with children and young people.

The Gambling Commission conducts an annual survey of gambling activity by children and young people. The outbreak of Covid 19 halted fieldwork for the 2020 survey before it was finished, which meant that the survey’s sample size was significantly smaller than in previous years and that no surveys were completed in Wales. The Commission has made clear that results of the 2020 survey are therefore not representative of Great Britain and should not be compared to those of previous years. However, we have noted the information carefully as we do all research and data relating to children and gambling.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age and further details will be announced in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9675), what guidance they have provided to local councils and NHS Trusts on the use of Pyronix-Hikvision technology in UK infrastructure.

HMG has issued no specific guidance on the use of Pyronix-Hikvision technology. Hikvision provides surveillance systems which are digital and non-digital, and their cameras can be used for a range of environments and purposes. When using such equipment, Local Authorities and NHS Trusts should take general NCSC guidance on cyber security into account, in particular its guidance on secure design principles, devices and supply chain security.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 3 November (HL9493), whether the commitment to provide gigabit-capable broadband nationwide will be rolled out equitably between rural and urban communities.

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, in both urban and rural areas. The Government is supporting commercial gigabit capable broadband deployment to the majority of the country (c. 80% of premises) by encouraging greater network competition and removing barriers to deployment. To ensure that areas in the harder to reach 20% of the country - which are predominantly rural and more remote - get gigabit capable broadband in parallel to commercial build, the Budget committed the Government to invest £5 billion into these areas.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings from the Gambling Commission’s 2020 Young People and Gambling Survey; and what steps they are taking to reduce problem gambling among 11 to 16-year olds.

Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a priority for government, and the government and the Gambling Commission work closely together on that issue. Gambling operators must abide by strict requirements for the protection of children and are subject to sanction by the Commission if they breach these rules. In May 2019 the Commission strengthened protections further to prevent children engaging in illegal underage gambling online by requiring operators to verify age and identity before allowing customers to deposit money or place a bet.

Since September 2020 teaching about the risks related to online gambling has been included in the Health Education curriculum, which is compulsory for pupils in state-funded schools. This is in addition to initiatives by third-sector bodies, including the PSHE Association’s resources to help teachers educate their pupils about the risks of gambling and how to avoid them, and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust’s (YGAM) training and tools for teachers, youth workers, mental health specialists and others who work with children and young people.

The Gambling Commission conducts an annual survey of gambling activity by children and young people. The outbreak of Covid 19 halted fieldwork for the 2020 survey before it was finished, which meant that the survey’s sample size was significantly smaller than in previous years and that no surveys were completed in Wales. The Commission has made clear that results of the 2020 survey are therefore not representative of Great Britain and should not be compared to those of previous years. However, we have noted the information carefully as we do all research and data relating to children and gambling.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age and further details will be announced in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of NatWest’s announcement of a 48-hour gambling block for debit cards to reduce gambling-related harm; and what action they are taking to encourage other companies in the banking sector to adopt similar policies.

The government recognises the important role banks can play in helping their customers monitor and manage their gambling spend. Last year the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport convened a roundtable of banks and other stakeholders in the financial sector to encourage them to do more in this regard and ministers have since corresponded with industry leaders on this issue. I am pleased that many banks have acted to offer their customers the option to block gambling transactions from their accounts and welcome NatWest’s introduction of a 48 hour gambling block.

Research published by the University of Bristol in July this year estimated that debit card gambling blocks are available for roughly 63% of UK current accounts but we encourage those banks that have not yet developed these kinds of services to do so. We also encourage banks to follow best practice in the design of their blocks, for instance including a sufficient 'cooling off' period.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the use of Pyronix-Hikvision technology in UK infrastructure in the light of reports of the alleged use of that company’s technology in Uighur detention facilities.

We are aware of reports that Hikvision's technology has been used in Xinjiang. The UK has repeatedly taken a leading international role in holding China to account for the situation in Xinjiang, including by leading statements at the UN Human Rights Council in June and the UN Third Committee in October. We are actively considering the implications for the UK and continue to encourage human rights to be at the centre of all business that takes place in this country.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic impact of problem gambling; and what estimate they have made of how likely problem gamblers are (1) to experience family break up, (2) to commit crime, (3) to be unemployed, (4) to lose their homes, and (5) to have compromised life expectancy, compared with the rest of the population.

Public Health England is currently undertaking a major evidence review looking at the prevalence of gambling health harms and their social and economic burden. Publication of this study has been delayed by Covid 19 and is expected in early 2021.

The government does not hold figures on the proportion of problem gamblers who experience family break up, commit a crime, experience unemployment, lose their homes, or have a lower than average life expectancy. However, the Health Surveys for Scotland and England and the Gambling Commission’s survey of gambling behaviour in Wales collect data on the differing incidence of problem gambling amongst different demographic groups. The 2016 combined Health Survey and the 2018 Health Survey for England estimated that the rate of problem gambling amongst those who are unemployed is 1.9%. The 2016 Health Surveys for England and Scotland also give data on the incidence of problem gambling amongst those who have probable mental ill health (2.2%), a low well-being score (2.6%) and who consume alcohol at a level of increased risk (0.8%).

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Advertising Standards Agency, Trends in exposure to TV ads during COVID-19, published on 8 October; and what steps they are taking to reduce young people’s exposure to gambling adverts.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently published data on TV viewing patterns and exposure to TV advertising during the initial lockdown period (16 March – 3rd May 2020). That data shows that both adults and children spent more time watching TV during lockdown compared to the same period in 2019, with average viewing time per week 20% higher amongst adults and 17% higher amongst children. Similarly, exposure to all TV advertising showed a year-on-year increase of 16% amongst adults, and 9% amongst children. Looking at gambling adverts specifically, children saw an average of 4 ads per week during early lockdown, compared to 2.7 ads per week during that same period in 2019, with adverts for lotteries and bingo accounting for most of this increased exposure. Longer term trends show that children’s exposure to advertising fell from a peak of 4.4 TV ads per week in 2013 to 2.5 per week in 2019.

Gambling advertising is subject to strict controls on content and placement. Operators must ensure that their ads are not targeted at children and in 2019 the ASA launched a programme of avatar monitoring to identify operators failing to effectively target ads away from children online. In addition, following work with the Gambling Commission, the industry has committed to make better use of advertising technology to target adverts away from children online and on social media. The sixth edition of the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible advertising, which came into force this month, requires operators to ensure advertising is targeted only at those over 25 years old on social media and to age-gate operator YouTube channels and content. These measures build on last year’s voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on betting ads shown during live sport shown before the watershed. Figures published by the industry indicate that children’s exposure to gambling advertising during live sport has fallen by 70% since the introduction of the ban.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the long-term effects of gambling advertising on young people and their future participation in gambling activities.

Gambling advertising and sponsorship, including around sport, must be socially responsible and must not be targeted at children. The government assessed the evidence on advertising in its Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, the full response to which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-proposals-for-changes-to-gaming-machines-and-social-responsibility-measures.

Since then, in March this year, the charity GambleAware has published the final report of a major piece of research into the effect of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable people. That study found that exposure to advertising was associated with an openness to gamble in the future amongst children and young people aged 11-24 who did not currently gamble. It also found that there were other factors that correlated more closely with current gambling behaviour amongst those groups, including peer and parental gambling. It did not suggest a causal link between any of these and problem gambling in later life.

The government takes concerns raised about loot boxes in video games very seriously. On 23 September 2020 we launched an 8 week call for evidence which includes a focus on whether loot boxes cause harm and, if so, the nature of the harm. This will put us on the best footing to take any action that is necessary. We expect to publish a Government response to the call for evidence early next year.

Ministers and officials regularly engage with stakeholders on a wide range of issues. Ministers have not recently received representations from either the gambling or the sports sectors about gambling advertising or sponsorship of professional sports teams. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Economic and Social Impact of the Gambling Industry and Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group have made recommendations to Ministers in both these areas.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 2 July 2019 (HL Deb, cols 1344–6), and in the light of the pledge made by the Betting and Gambling Council’s five largest members this week, whether the announcement made in the July 2019 statement is now null and void; and if not, where the money has been distributed; what involvement Her Majesty's Government had in the announcement by the Betting and Gambling Council; and why is the money no longer being distributed by the committee launched by Lord Chadlington.

On 2 July 2019 five major gambling operators committed to raise their contribution to funding for research education and treatment to 1% over a four year period, and as part of that to spend a cumulative total of £100m over four years on expanding treatment services. On 15 June 2020 industry body the Betting and Gaming Council set out further detail about the allocation of industry donations for the 2020-21 financial year, and announced that the charity GambleAware would be funded to expand treatment services.

The government has been clear that the gambling industry has a responsibility to protect people from gambling harm and support those who have been affected. It welcomed industry’s commitment to increase contributions and will monitor closely the progress of these new measures. While this a voluntary agreement, Ministers and officials have been clear that funds must be spent independently of industry and focused exclusively on reducing gambling related harm.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 1 April (HL2887), what is the nature of the scoping work being undertaken; who is involved in that work; and when they anticipate concluding such work.

The Government committed in its manifesto to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. This commitment remains a priority, but as with other areas of Government business the impact of Covid-19 has placed unforeseen pressures on the Department. We are continuing to work closely with the Gambling Commission, including on ensuring that vulnerable people are protected in this time of potentially heightened risk.

Much of our continuing work, such as monitoring the impact of regulatory interventions in this and other jurisdictions, will be relevant to the review, as will the recommendations of the National Audit Office, which we are considering carefully. A timeline for the review and its scope will be announced in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 18 March (HL2292), whether they will now answer the question put: when the (1) terms of reference, (2) call for evidence, and (3) deadlines, of the review of the Gambling Act 2005 will be announced.

We will announce further details of the review once scoping work is complete. Ministers and the Gambling Commission have made clear to online operators that while we recognise the challenges the sector is facing dealing with the impact of Covid-19, they must continue to comply with licence conditions, protect consumers and address any new risks of gambling related harm during this period.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, how many full 'not-spot' communities in England will benefit from the Government's investment in the Single Rural Network.

The Government wants the UK to have high-quality mobile coverage where people live, work and travel, and we are committed to extending geographic mobile coverage further to 95% of the UK, as well as providing an uninterrupted mobile signal on all major roads.

Subsequent to the 25 October 2019 announcement, the Government announced on 9 March that it had agreed a deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network programme. This will see Government and industry jointly invest to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of 2025.

While the biggest improvements in coverage arising from the Shared Rural Network will be in Scotland and Wales, there will be improvements across all four nations. 4G geographic coverage in England is currently 97% from at least one operator and 81% from all four operators. As a result of the programme, this will increase to 98% coverage from at least one operator, and 90% from all four by the end of 2025.

Today, 97% of UK premises outdoors are covered by 4G data services from all operators, while almost all UK premises have 4G data coverage from at least one operator. The Shared Rural Network will provide guaranteed additional coverage to 280,000 premises across the UK, both in areas that currently have no coverage from any operator, and those that have coverage from at least one operator but not all four. There will also be further indirect improvements over time, including better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.

We do not currently have specific details on the precise impact that the Shared Rural Network will have on individual communities across the whole of the UK, including those in England. Exact site deployment plans will be managed by the operators themselves in order for them to best deliver the agreed coverage outcomes. However, we expect that consumers will feel the benefit of the programme long before its conclusion and the operators will consult with communities as roll out plans become clearer.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2020
4G
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, what assessment they have made of the proportion of the population that live in full 'not-spot' communities that will benefit from that delivery.

The Government wants the UK to have high-quality mobile coverage where people live, work and travel, and we are committed to extending geographic mobile coverage further to 95% of the UK, as well as providing an uninterrupted mobile signal on all major roads.

Subsequent to the 25 October 2019 announcement, the Government announced on 9 March that it had agreed a deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network programme. This will see Government and industry jointly invest to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of 2025.

While the biggest improvements in coverage arising from the Shared Rural Network will be in Scotland and Wales, there will be improvements across all four nations. 4G geographic coverage in England is currently 97% from at least one operator and 81% from all four operators. As a result of the programme, this will increase to 98% coverage from at least one operator, and 90% from all four by the end of 2025.

Today, 97% of UK premises outdoors are covered by 4G data services from all operators, while almost all UK premises have 4G data coverage from at least one operator. The Shared Rural Network will provide guaranteed additional coverage to 280,000 premises across the UK, both in areas that currently have no coverage from any operator, and those that have coverage from at least one operator but not all four. There will also be further indirect improvements over time, including better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.

We do not currently have specific details on the precise impact that the Shared Rural Network will have on individual communities across the whole of the UK, including those in England. Exact site deployment plans will be managed by the operators themselves in order for them to best deliver the agreed coverage outcomes. However, we expect that consumers will feel the benefit of the programme long before its conclusion and the operators will consult with communities as roll out plans become clearer.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Barran on 5 March that they will review the Gambling Act 2005 with "great urgency", when the (1) terms of reference, (2) call for evidence, and (3) deadlines, of that review will be announced.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the annual report by the Gambling Commission Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes, published in February, which shows of the general public (1) 29 per cent agreed it would be better for gambling to be banned, (2) 62 per cent believe gambling should be discouraged, and (3) 82 per cent said there were too many opportunities to gamble.

The Gambling Commission’s Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes report found statistically significant increases from 2018 in the proportion of people saying that gambling should be banned (25% to 29%), that it should be discouraged (58% to 62%) and that there were too many opportunities to gamble (79% to 82%). Respondents most frequently said that news on TV (40%) had informed their opinions, followed by personal experience (31%) and newspapers (26%).

Gambling remains a widely popular activity and the report also found that rates of gambling participation were stable year on year, with 47% of the population having participated in any form of gambling in the last four weeks, or 32% excluding the National Lottery. While participation among 16-24 year olds had increased by 4%, this was not a statistically significant change. The single age group most likely to have gambled was 45-54 year olds, with a 53% participation rate.

Rates of problem gambling have been stable at under 1% of the adult population in Great Britain since 1999. The problem gambling rate as measured in the Health Survey England 2018 was 0.5% of the adult population.

The Government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. As part of this review we will consider relevant research and statistics, such as the Gambling Commission report. We will announce further details in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the annual report by the Gambling Commission Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes, published in February, that gambling participation amongst 16 to 24 year olds has increased by four per cent.

The Gambling Commission’s Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes report found statistically significant increases from 2018 in the proportion of people saying that gambling should be banned (25% to 29%), that it should be discouraged (58% to 62%) and that there were too many opportunities to gamble (79% to 82%). Respondents most frequently said that news on TV (40%) had informed their opinions, followed by personal experience (31%) and newspapers (26%).

Gambling remains a widely popular activity and the report also found that rates of gambling participation were stable year on year, with 47% of the population having participated in any form of gambling in the last four weeks, or 32% excluding the National Lottery. While participation among 16-24 year olds had increased by 4%, this was not a statistically significant change. The single age group most likely to have gambled was 45-54 year olds, with a 53% participation rate.

Rates of problem gambling have been stable at under 1% of the adult population in Great Britain since 1999. The problem gambling rate as measured in the Health Survey England 2018 was 0.5% of the adult population.

The Government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. As part of this review we will consider relevant research and statistics, such as the Gambling Commission report. We will announce further details in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the annual report by the Gambling Commission Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes, published in February, that overall gambling participation is declining yet rates of problem gambling are unchanged.

The Gambling Commission’s Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes report found statistically significant increases from 2018 in the proportion of people saying that gambling should be banned (25% to 29%), that it should be discouraged (58% to 62%) and that there were too many opportunities to gamble (79% to 82%). Respondents most frequently said that news on TV (40%) had informed their opinions, followed by personal experience (31%) and newspapers (26%).

Gambling remains a widely popular activity and the report also found that rates of gambling participation were stable year on year, with 47% of the population having participated in any form of gambling in the last four weeks, or 32% excluding the National Lottery. While participation among 16-24 year olds had increased by 4%, this was not a statistically significant change. The single age group most likely to have gambled was 45-54 year olds, with a 53% participation rate.

Rates of problem gambling have been stable at under 1% of the adult population in Great Britain since 1999. The problem gambling rate as measured in the Health Survey England 2018 was 0.5% of the adult population.

The Government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. As part of this review we will consider relevant research and statistics, such as the Gambling Commission report. We will announce further details in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Insolvency Service's figures which show gambling to be a feature in 373 bankruptcies last year, an increase from 158 in 2015–16.

Gambling and Other Rash Speculation was recorded as the main cause of insolvency in 2% of the total bankruptcy orders made in 2018/19, or 373 cases. The numbers of bankruptcies with this listed as the primary cause have varied in the last ten years, falling to their lowest point of 158 in 2015/16 and then rising in subsequent years (see Table 1 below). Rises or falls in annual bankruptcy numbers can be complex and will relate to a number of factors such as interest rates and creditor attitudes. Over the same period problem gambling rates in Great Britain have remained stable at under 1% of the adult population.

Table 1: Bankruptcy orders where the primary cause was recorded as “Gambling and other rash speculation”, England & Wales, 2008/09 to 2018/191

Year

Total Bankruptcy Orders [2]

Number of Bankruptcy Orders with Gambling and Other Rash Speculation Listed as the Cause [3,4,5]

Percentage of Bankruptcy Orders with Gambling and Other Rash Speculation Listed as the Cause

2008/09 [5]

72,383

728

1%

2009/10 [5]

72,863

543

1%

2010/11 [5]

53,326

363

1%

2011/12

38,460

201

1%

2012/13

29,325

185

1%

2013/14

23,575

168

1%

2014/15

19,065

163

1%

2015/16

15,219

158

1%

2016/17

15,352

238

2%

2017/18

15,408

300

2%

2018/19

16,725

373

2%

Notes:

1. Source: The Insolvency Service.

2. Total bankruptcy statistics are consistent with National Statistics published by the Insolvency Service at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/insolvency-service-official-statistics.

3. The cause of bankruptcy is recorded on the Insolvency Service’s case administration system. These data are management information and have not undergone the same level of quality assurance as the Insolvency Service’s National Statistics outputs.

4. The data provided as cause of bankruptcy is reliant on the Insolvency Service’s examiner listing Gambling and Other Rash Speculation as the primary cause of bankruptcy, so it cannot be guaranteed that this figure covers all bankrupts that had gambling debts. The Gambling and Rash Speculation category covers causes other than gambling, but it is not possible to break this down further.

5. Data on cause of bankruptcy prior to 2011/12 is from The Insolvency Service’s legacy system, so they cannot assure its accuracy. Following data migration they became aware that some legacy data was not compatible with the new case management system and can therefore be unreliable.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the sponsorship of sports teams' shirts will be included in their review of gambling.

The Government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 February (HL474), who is conducting the research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people; and when that research will be published.

GambleAware commissioned a major research project examining the effects of gambling-related marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people. The project comprises multiple strands and conducted by two consortia. The first consortium is led by Ipsos Mori in partnership with the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, Ebiquity and the Centre for Analysis of Social Media at Demos. The second is led by the University of Stirling in partnership with ScotCen Social Research, the University of Glasgow and the University of Warwick.

An interim report of initial findings was published in July 2019 and can be seen here: https://about.gambleaware.org/media/1965/17-067097-01-gambleaware_interim-synthesis-report_090719_final.pdf

We understand that the final report is due to be published in March 2020.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include the "gamblification" of sport as part of their review of the Gambling Act 2005.

The government has committed to a review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams, and advertising around sport, must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

The Gambling Commission has issued licences to 2,690 gambling operators. Government does not hold figures on how many of these operators have entered into commercial sponsorship agreements with football clubs but across the 92 clubs in the top four leagues of English football (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) 34 clubs had front or back shirt sponsorship deals with gambling operators (some of which sponsor multiple teams) for the current season.

The Football Association has strict rules about the size and placement of sponsor logos on all players’ shirts, and prohibits any reference to gambling or gambling operators on shirts for teams where all players are under 18 years old. It has taken action where the logos of gambling sponsors have been found to breach these rules. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising also requires that operators’ logos must not appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for children (for instance in children’s sizes). In August 2019 the code was amended to include a whistle to whistle ban on broadcast advertising around live sport.

In 2018 and 2019 the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) published strengthened guidance on gambling advertising and the protection of vulnerable people and of children and young people. The guidance makes clear that content likely to appeal particularly to children is unacceptable and explicitly states that gambling advertising cannot feature sports people who are, or appear to be, under 25 years old. The Advertising Standards Agency has also said it will look closely at advertising that features sports personalities who have a significant profile amongst under 18s and will continue to take action where these rules are breached. Further research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people, including whether and how advertising influences attitudes to gambling, is due to be published this spring.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of gambling sponsorship appearing on football players' shirts.

The government has committed to a review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams, and advertising around sport, must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

The Gambling Commission has issued licences to 2,690 gambling operators. Government does not hold figures on how many of these operators have entered into commercial sponsorship agreements with football clubs but across the 92 clubs in the top four leagues of English football (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) 34 clubs had front or back shirt sponsorship deals with gambling operators (some of which sponsor multiple teams) for the current season.

The Football Association has strict rules about the size and placement of sponsor logos on all players’ shirts, and prohibits any reference to gambling or gambling operators on shirts for teams where all players are under 18 years old. It has taken action where the logos of gambling sponsors have been found to breach these rules. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising also requires that operators’ logos must not appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for children (for instance in children’s sizes). In August 2019 the code was amended to include a whistle to whistle ban on broadcast advertising around live sport.

In 2018 and 2019 the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) published strengthened guidance on gambling advertising and the protection of vulnerable people and of children and young people. The guidance makes clear that content likely to appeal particularly to children is unacceptable and explicitly states that gambling advertising cannot feature sports people who are, or appear to be, under 25 years old. The Advertising Standards Agency has also said it will look closely at advertising that features sports personalities who have a significant profile amongst under 18s and will continue to take action where these rules are breached. Further research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people, including whether and how advertising influences attitudes to gambling, is due to be published this spring.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the promotion of gambling advertisements by sport stars on the propensity of children to gamble.

The government has committed to a review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams, and advertising around sport, must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

The Gambling Commission has issued licences to 2,690 gambling operators. Government does not hold figures on how many of these operators have entered into commercial sponsorship agreements with football clubs but across the 92 clubs in the top four leagues of English football (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) 34 clubs had front or back shirt sponsorship deals with gambling operators (some of which sponsor multiple teams) for the current season.

The Football Association has strict rules about the size and placement of sponsor logos on all players’ shirts, and prohibits any reference to gambling or gambling operators on shirts for teams where all players are under 18 years old. It has taken action where the logos of gambling sponsors have been found to breach these rules. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising also requires that operators’ logos must not appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for children (for instance in children’s sizes). In August 2019 the code was amended to include a whistle to whistle ban on broadcast advertising around live sport.

In 2018 and 2019 the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) published strengthened guidance on gambling advertising and the protection of vulnerable people and of children and young people. The guidance makes clear that content likely to appeal particularly to children is unacceptable and explicitly states that gambling advertising cannot feature sports people who are, or appear to be, under 25 years old. The Advertising Standards Agency has also said it will look closely at advertising that features sports personalities who have a significant profile amongst under 18s and will continue to take action where these rules are breached. Further research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people, including whether and how advertising influences attitudes to gambling, is due to be published this spring.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of gambling companies sponsoring sports venues and football clubs.

The government has committed to a review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams, and advertising around sport, must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

The Gambling Commission has issued licences to 2,690 gambling operators. Government does not hold figures on how many of these operators have entered into commercial sponsorship agreements with football clubs but across the 92 clubs in the top four leagues of English football (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) 34 clubs had front or back shirt sponsorship deals with gambling operators (some of which sponsor multiple teams) for the current season.

The Football Association has strict rules about the size and placement of sponsor logos on all players’ shirts, and prohibits any reference to gambling or gambling operators on shirts for teams where all players are under 18 years old. It has taken action where the logos of gambling sponsors have been found to breach these rules. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising also requires that operators’ logos must not appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for children (for instance in children’s sizes). In August 2019 the code was amended to include a whistle to whistle ban on broadcast advertising around live sport.

In 2018 and 2019 the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) published strengthened guidance on gambling advertising and the protection of vulnerable people and of children and young people. The guidance makes clear that content likely to appeal particularly to children is unacceptable and explicitly states that gambling advertising cannot feature sports people who are, or appear to be, under 25 years old. The Advertising Standards Agency has also said it will look closely at advertising that features sports personalities who have a significant profile amongst under 18s and will continue to take action where these rules are breached. Further research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people, including whether and how advertising influences attitudes to gambling, is due to be published this spring.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the "gamblification" of sport, and (2) the number of gambling companies which sponsor football clubs.

The government has committed to a review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams, and advertising around sport, must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

The Gambling Commission has issued licences to 2,690 gambling operators. Government does not hold figures on how many of these operators have entered into commercial sponsorship agreements with football clubs but across the 92 clubs in the top four leagues of English football (the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two) 34 clubs had front or back shirt sponsorship deals with gambling operators (some of which sponsor multiple teams) for the current season.

The Football Association has strict rules about the size and placement of sponsor logos on all players’ shirts, and prohibits any reference to gambling or gambling operators on shirts for teams where all players are under 18 years old. It has taken action where the logos of gambling sponsors have been found to breach these rules. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising also requires that operators’ logos must not appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for children (for instance in children’s sizes). In August 2019 the code was amended to include a whistle to whistle ban on broadcast advertising around live sport.

In 2018 and 2019 the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) published strengthened guidance on gambling advertising and the protection of vulnerable people and of children and young people. The guidance makes clear that content likely to appeal particularly to children is unacceptable and explicitly states that gambling advertising cannot feature sports people who are, or appear to be, under 25 years old. The Advertising Standards Agency has also said it will look closely at advertising that features sports personalities who have a significant profile amongst under 18s and will continue to take action where these rules are breached. Further research on the impact of marketing and advertising on children, young people and other vulnerable people, including whether and how advertising influences attitudes to gambling, is due to be published this spring.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have that the requirement in the statutory guidance Relationship Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education, published in June 2019, that “pupils should know … the risks related to online gambling including the accumulation of debt” has assisted in reducing gambling among those under 18 years old.

The statutory guidance for Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (RSHE) was published in June 2019 and the subject has been compulsory since September 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, some schools have only just started to deliver their RSHE curricula and others are planning to start theirs later this year.

Due to this, it is too early to assess the impact of the RSHE curriculum on pupils’ knowledge and skills, including gathering evidence of any link between teaching and a reduction in gambling among those under 18 years of age. However, the statutory guidance is clear that pupils should be taught about the risks related to online gambling, including the accumulation of debt, how advertising and information is targeted at them and how to be a discerning consumer of information online.

The department has published a one-stop page for teachers, including training modules developed by subject experts and teachers. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-relationships-sex-and-health.

In particular, ‘teacher training: internet safety and harms’ includes teaching about the risks related to online gambling. The module also covers the law in relation to gambling and that for many gambling activities the legal age is 18. Pupils are taught how to be resilient towards gambling, the signs of problem gambling, and how and where to access support, including for debt and gambling addiction. More information on this module is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-training-internet-safety-and-harms.

The department is developing plans to monitor the implementation of RSHE over the coming years and will continue to build its evidence base to inform future RSHE policy, including by working with other government departments to access relevant data and influence research plans as appropriate.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the decision not to pay for the tuition of disadvantaged students on the Turing scheme on the ability of such students to study abroad.

Rather than being EU-focused, the Turing Scheme is truly global, and every country in the world will be eligible to partner with UK educational settings. It will be backed by £110 million of taxpayers’ money to support international projects and activities during the 2021/22 academic year. This will provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas – a similar number as under Erasmus+.

Under Erasmus+, we have seen that UK undergraduates from more advantaged backgrounds have been 1.7 times more likely to participate in mobilities compared to disadvantaged students. The Turing Scheme is targeted at all students, particularly the most disadvantaged. More information is available on the website: www.turing-scheme.org.uk, and in the Programme Guide, which can be accessed here: https://www.turing-scheme.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Turing-Scheme-Guide-V1.pdf.

Erasmus+ only provides travel support to partner countries, which make up less than 3% of the total number of outgoing Erasmus+ UK higher education mobilities. Unlike Erasmus+, the Turing Scheme provides support for travel costs to all destinations. For schools and colleges, all participants will receive travel funding. For disadvantaged students in higher education, the Turing Scheme will provide travel costs to all destinations. We are also going further than just direct travel costs, offering support for visas, passports, insurance and other related costs for disadvantaged students.

All participating students will receive grants to contribute towards their cost of living, which will be dependent on the destination country. Under Erasmus+, higher education students can receive a maximum of €540 per month for the cost of living in programme countries, including the disadvantaged supplement. For an Erasmus+ study placement, this includes €370-420 per month for cost of living, plus €120 per month disadvantaged uplift. Under the Turing Scheme, participants can receive the equivalent of a maximum of €573 per month. This includes the equivalent of €392-445 per month for the cost of living, plus a €129 per month disadvantaged uplift. These rates are based on an exchange rate of 1.17 Euro to 1 Pound Sterling. Students can continue to apply for student finance.

For all students participating in the Turing Scheme, we expect tuition fees to be waived by host institutions, as is typical under Erasmus+ and other exchange schemes. This is a matter for individual institutions to agree, and something that universities do as a matter of course when they form exchange partnerships with international providers.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the differences between (1) the Turing scheme, and (2) the Erasmus+ scheme.

Rather than being EU-focused, the Turing Scheme is truly global, and every country in the world will be eligible to partner with UK educational settings. It will be backed by £110 million of taxpayers’ money to support international projects and activities during the 2021/22 academic year. This will provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas – a similar number as under Erasmus+.

Under Erasmus+, we have seen that UK undergraduates from more advantaged backgrounds have been 1.7 times more likely to participate in mobilities compared to disadvantaged students. The Turing Scheme is targeted at all students, particularly the most disadvantaged. More information is available on the website: www.turing-scheme.org.uk, and in the Programme Guide, which can be accessed here: https://www.turing-scheme.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Turing-Scheme-Guide-V1.pdf.

Erasmus+ only provides travel support to partner countries, which make up less than 3% of the total number of outgoing Erasmus+ UK higher education mobilities. Unlike Erasmus+, the Turing Scheme provides support for travel costs to all destinations. For schools and colleges, all participants will receive travel funding. For disadvantaged students in higher education, the Turing Scheme will provide travel costs to all destinations. We are also going further than just direct travel costs, offering support for visas, passports, insurance and other related costs for disadvantaged students.

All participating students will receive grants to contribute towards their cost of living, which will be dependent on the destination country. Under Erasmus+, higher education students can receive a maximum of €540 per month for the cost of living in programme countries, including the disadvantaged supplement. For an Erasmus+ study placement, this includes €370-420 per month for cost of living, plus €120 per month disadvantaged uplift. Under the Turing Scheme, participants can receive the equivalent of a maximum of €573 per month. This includes the equivalent of €392-445 per month for the cost of living, plus a €129 per month disadvantaged uplift. These rates are based on an exchange rate of 1.17 Euro to 1 Pound Sterling. Students can continue to apply for student finance.

For all students participating in the Turing Scheme, we expect tuition fees to be waived by host institutions, as is typical under Erasmus+ and other exchange schemes. This is a matter for individual institutions to agree, and something that universities do as a matter of course when they form exchange partnerships with international providers.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assurances they have sought from Edenred that the food voucher scheme will work for all those who require them; (2) what plans they have to provide emergency aid to those who are unable to benefit from the scheme; and (3) what plans they have to seek financial compensation from Edenred.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

Through the national voucher scheme, schools and families could initially access e-gift cards for Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. On Monday 27 April, we added Aldi to this list and on Wednesday 29 April, we added McColl’s. We recognise that it may not be convenient or possible for some families to visit one of these supermarkets and we have been working with a range of retailers to see if they can be added to this list. This would involve them having the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across all their stores.

If schools wish to provide vouchers through a supermarket that is not part of our national scheme, they can make their own voucher arrangements locally. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families, and this can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

In terms of the financial arrangements with our supplier, Edenred, we can confirm that we are only paying for the face value of goods delivered – in this case, vouchers.

Voucher codes are being processed through the national scheme and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of Friday 22 May, Edenred reported that more than £101.5 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families. As of Tuesday 12 May, Edenred reported that 17,000 schools had placed an order. We have been working closely with Edenred to improve the scheme, and we thank schools using the system for their patience while it has been upgraded to meet increased demand.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they can take to encourage all food shops to accept food vouchers.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

Through the national voucher scheme, schools and families could initially access e-gift cards for Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. On Monday 27 April, we added Aldi to this list and on Wednesday 29 April, we added McColl’s. We recognise that it may not be convenient or possible for some families to visit one of these supermarkets and we have been working with a range of retailers to see if they can be added to this list. This would involve them having the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across all their stores.

If schools wish to provide vouchers through a supermarket that is not part of our national scheme, they can make their own voucher arrangements locally. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families, and this can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

In terms of the financial arrangements with our supplier, Edenred, we can confirm that we are only paying for the face value of goods delivered – in this case, vouchers.

Voucher codes are being processed through the national scheme and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of Friday 22 May, Edenred reported that more than £101.5 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families. As of Tuesday 12 May, Edenred reported that 17,000 schools had placed an order. We have been working closely with Edenred to improve the scheme, and we thank schools using the system for their patience while it has been upgraded to meet increased demand.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to encourage tourism in rural areas, and (2) to revitalise local rural economies.

The Prime Minister set out in the Reopening Roadmap published on 22 February the Government's intention to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in Spring. We are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure tourism in rural areas is embraced and rural organisations are consulted.

We work closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that plans to revitalise local economies take into account the needs of rural economies. The UK Levelling Up Fund prospectus sets out how the Fund will help invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. The UK Community Renewal Fund will support innovative responses to local challenges and local needs in urban, rural and coastal areas across the UK, to help local areas prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from 2022.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage the abstraction of high flow water to reduce the amount of surplus rainwater being wasted.

The Environment Agency has worked with abstractors and the National Farmers Union (NFU) to temporarily abstract flood water to fill large reservoirs, subject to it not causing derogation to existing licensed abstractors or creating any environmental risk or damage. Where abstractors applied to take more water than their current licensed quantities, the Environment Agency assessed these as one off requests and asked abstractors to apply to vary their licences to properly reflect their needs and provide access to this water in the future.

The temporary period of high flow abstraction ended on the 7 February. The Environment Agency has so far only received 5 applications, of which 3 were approved. This reflects the fact that most farm reservoirs are already full due to the wet winter and saturated soil conditions. The NFU does not anticipate any further requests from their members to extend the period of high flow abstraction beyond this date.

This initiative follows on from the so called ‘flexible abstraction’ approach that the Environment Agency implemented over the last few years to help farmers with water availability during prolonged dry weather, including refilling reservoirs outside of licensed abstraction periods when river flows were sufficiently high to protect other abstractors and the environment.

We highlighted the potential of high flow abstraction to help abstractors improve access to water in our Water Abstraction Plan, published in 2017. Since then the Environment Agency has undertaken trials to investigate its feasibility. It has published results in the relevant Abstraction Licensing Strategies, for the Lincolnshire Witham and the East Midlands Idle and Torne. In the Witham Catchment, it concluded that high flow abstraction could be used to fill reservoirs throughout the year. However, in the Idle and Torne catchment, it concluded that high flows are important for controlling sedimentation and that more evidence would be needed before any high flow abstraction licences could be granted.

The Environment Agency will continue to consider applications for new and varied abstraction licences on a case-by-case basis to ensure maximum access to water is possible whilst protecting the rights of other abstractors and the environment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that farmers involved in the Environmental Land Management Scheme are adequately compensated for the impact of introducing nature-based solutions on future flood risk on their land.

We are working with stakeholders and end users to determine the specific land management actions that will be paid for under the Environmental Land Management scheme. We will set out more details on this later this year. The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024’ set out examples of the types of actions that we envisage paying for under the Environmental Land Management scheme. This included the potential to contribute to reducing the risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding with natural flood management. We will set out more details on what the Environmental Land Management scheme will pay for this later this year.

We are in the process of developing our approach to making payments under the scheme. We recognise that providing the right level of payment to participants will be critical to this. We are therefore exploring how best to balance providing a fair payment to farmers and ensuring delivery of environmental objectives, against maximising value for money and respecting our international obligations. We will also set out more details on this later this year.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 6 February (HL944), what progress they have made on the introduction of a mandatory electronic waste tracking system to combat fly tipping.

We are taking forward powers to introduce electronic waste tracking in the Environment Bill which is currently going through parliamentary passage in the House of Commons.

These powers, along with other measures being introduced as part of this Bill (for example amendments to the section 108 powers of entry) will help tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping.

We have committed to introducing mandatory digital waste tracking in England subject to consultation. In parallel, work to develop the digital system is already well underway.

We have started to design and test waste tracking prototypes using the GovTech Catalyst Fund which incentivises Britain’s pioneering tech firms to develop innovative solutions to public sector problems.

We are designing the prototypes with input from a wide range of user groups including small and micro businesses to ensure we understand how waste tracking can be developed to meet their needs.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to address the costs of disposing of toxic or hazardous waste incurred by victims of fly tipping.

Fly-tipping is a crime which blights local communities and the environment, and we are committed to tackling this unacceptable behaviour. We set out our strategic approach to preventing, detecting and deterring waste crime, such as fly-tipping, in our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy.

We appreciate the difficulty and cost that fly-tipping poses to landowners and we are working with a wide range of interested parties through the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group to promote and disseminate good practice, including how to prevent fly-tipping on private land.

The Environment Agency may investigate incidents of fly-tipping that are over a certain size (more than 20 tonnes, 20m3 or a tipper load), linked to organised crime, or involve hazardous waste. The Environment Agency will only arrange for the removal of such fly-tipped waste where there is no adequate response from a responsible party and there is actual or imminent threat to the environment or human health. In such circumstances, the Environment Agency will seek to recover costs from responsible parties where it is appropriate to do so.

We expect all local authorities to investigate all other incidents of fly-tipping, including those on private land, to prosecute the fly-tippers when there is sufficient evidence and to recover clearance costs where possible. On conviction, a cost order can be made by the court so that a landowner’s costs can be recovered from the perpetrator.

We recognise the burden that clearing fly-tipped waste has on landowners. However, central Government generally does not compensate individuals for non-violent crime of which they are a victim. Furthermore, compensating landowners for the costs of removing fly-tipping may risk creating a perverse incentive for some people to dump, or facilitate the dumping of, waste.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage domestic food production as a result of COVID-19.

We are lucky in the UK that we have the climate, the landscape, and the entrepreneurial farmers and food producers that equip us to produce world-class food. We will always champion our farmers and producers to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public, supporting them to grow more of our great British food. This includes through using powers under our landmark Agriculture Bill, and through our work with the Food and Drink Sector Council, a formal industry partnership with Government, helping create a more productive and sustainable food and drink sector.

Half of the food that the UK population consumes is home-grown and it is renowned for its quality, high standards of food safety, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability. The Government has well established ways of working with the food and farming industry on potential disruptions to the supply chain. We will work closely with stakeholders and industry to support preparations for a range of scenarios and are ready to respond to emerging issues quickly and effectively.

29th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether there has been any increase in fly-tipping in the last five years; and what consideration they have given to legislative and regulatory reforms to support local authorities and the police in the prevention of such a crime.

Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, which show that incidents of fly-tipping have gradually increased over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Defra most recently published the annual fly-tipping statistics on 7 November 2019. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from those reported in 2017/18. However, this most recent increase in recorded incidents does not necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.

In recent years we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping, including introducing new fixed penalty notices, and we continue to work with partners to tackle this unacceptable criminal activity. Defra is preparing a number of legislative reforms to tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping.

We are taking forward the commitment in the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will, amongst other things, reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste material dropping out of the system and so make it easier to protect against fly-tipping. The reform aims to deter illegitimate operators from entering the sector. This will help to ensure that waste is dealt with appropriately and to reduce the incidence of waste crime and fly-tipping.

The newly introduced Environment Bill amends section 108 of the Environment Act 1995. This will make it easier for an officer to search premises that they have the power to enter, to seize and remove documentary or other evidence, to require electronic information to be produced in a form that enables it to be removed or produced as documentary evidence, and to operate equipment found on the premises to produce information from it. The new power does not require a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that first obtaining a warrant would allow for evidence to be concealed, altered or destroyed. Further to this, Schedule 11 of the Environment Bill removes the seven-day notice period required before powers of entry can be used to access residential premises. The current seven-day notice requirement enables, for example, rogue waste carriers who operate from their home address rather than a business address, to destroy evidence. These new powers will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

As well as forthcoming legislative reforms and recent fixed penalty notice powers, we recently published publicity materials to help householders better understand their responsibilities under the waste duty of care. The materials have been provided to the Local Government Association to circulate to local authorities, and published on the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group’s website. Householders have a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure they only give their waste to a licensed carrier and that it is not taken by an illegal waste carrier who is likely to fly-tip it, but about two-thirds of fly-tipped waste is household waste.

A conviction in a Crown Court for fly-tipping can lead to an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. Defra has worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for these offences, but will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.

Defra is also developing a fly-tipping toolkit following a commitment in the RWS. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the prevalence of fly-tipping in England; whether it has increased over the last five years; and whether local authorities have sufficient powers to prevent fly-tipping.

Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, with the most recent publication detailing the number of fly-tipping incidents reported by local authorities in 2018/19 published on 7 November 2019. The statistics show that incidents of fly-tipping have shown gradual increases over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from 2017/18. This most recent increase in recorded incidents does not, however, necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.

Local authorities have a range of powers available to tackle fly-tipping. These include the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of up to £400 for fly-tipping offences, including to those caught fly-tipping and householders who pass their waste to a fly-tipper. Local authorities also have enhanced powers to search and seize vehicles of suspected fly-tippers. Powers to issue FPNs provide local authorities with an efficient mechanism to hold fly-tipping perpetrators to account without having to go to court, which can be a time-consuming, resource-intensive and expensive process. Additionally, the ability to issue FPNs can deter potential fly-tippers from fly-tipping in the first place.

Local authorities also have the ability to take those accused of fly-tipping to court. If a fly-tipper is convicted, the offence is punishable by up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Defra has already worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for magistrates to ensure that they are aware of local fixed penalty levels for these offences. The Resources and Waste Strategy published in December 2018 includes a number of commitments to improve this, including working with the Sentencing Council to increase magistrates’ awareness of the prevalence and importance of waste crime, helping local authorities improve the quality of cases, and ensuring the Environmental Offences Definitive guideline is kept up to date and magistrates are effectively trained on it.

Recent figures showed that there were 76,000 fixed penalty notices issued by Local Authorities in 2018/19, up by 11% from 2017/18. Prosecution outcome figures from 2018/19 also showed that the value of total fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Agriculture Bill will be introduced to Parliament.

A new Agriculture Bill was announced alongside the Queen’s Speech and will be introduced shortly.

18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the economic, and (2) the diplomatic, consequences for the UK of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

As a supporter of free trade, the UK takes a close interest in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which should help standardise rules and facilitate trade between partners in the region. The Government is committed to enhancing our trade in Asia Pacific through our trade negotiations with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, our intention to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and our bilateral trade engagement with partner countries.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9675), what representations they have made to Pyronix-Hikvision about the use of that company’s technology in Uighur detention facilities.

We are concerned about the credible reports of human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and continue to raise these concerns with the Chinese authorities and Chinese companies as necessary. We also advise UK companies with business operations in Xinjiang to conduct appropriate due diligence to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support, or risk being seen to support, human rights violations or abuses.

Pyronix has stated publicly that neither its equipment nor technology were sold to China after October 2019.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to exclude agriculture from future trade deals.

In negotiating free trade agreements after the UK leaves the EU, the Government will pursue an agenda that will deliver prosperity for the whole of the UK. Mandates for future negotiations are still under consideration and the Government will publish its negotiating objectives in due course. The Government has committed that the NHS will not be on the table in any trade agreement.

Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the rate of child poverty in Luton; and what plans they have to provide additional financial support to the Luton Borough Council to help it address that rate. [T]

The national and regional statistics on the number and proportion of people in low income as set out in the annual ‘Households Below Average Income’ publication are not available at local authority level due to limitations around the survey sample.

New experimental data on Children in Low Income families was published on 26 March 2020 and is available at Local Authority level. For the Luton Local Authority area, 23 per cent of children were in families with absolute low income in 2018/19 compared with 25 per cent in 2014/15.

Our current focus is on helping vulnerable families cope with the financial hardships brought about by COVID-19. We have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 from 6 April 2020 for one year, benefiting over four million of the most vulnerable households, and increased Local Housing Allowance rates - putting an average of £600 into people’s pockets.

In addition, Local Authorities in England will now be able to use the £500 million Hardship Fund announced at the Spring Budget to help working people on Local Council Tax Support to provide additional help to vulnerable people locally through arrangements such as Local Welfare Schemes.

This Government’s long-term ambition remains to build an economy that will support work, and ensure that everyone has opportunities to enter work and progress, while being supported by the welfare system in their time of need. This is based on clear evidence of the important role of work in reducing child poverty. In 2018/19, only three per cent of children in households where both parents work full time were in absolute poverty (before housing costs) compared to 47 per cent in households where one or more parent was in part-time work.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include consideration of issues relating to gambling harm in the professional sports community in the development of the cross-Government addiction strategy.

Due to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic on departmental resources, work on the cross-Government addiction strategy has been delayed. The scope of the strategy is yet to be determined, with work on this expected to resume later in 2021.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the study in the Nature Human Behaviour journal The association between gambling and financial, social and health outcomes in big financial data, published on 4 February, that an individual is more likely to become a heavy gambler in a period of six months than to go from heavy gambling to abstention; and what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of existing gambling treatment programmes.

We have made no such assessment. Public Health England is currently undertaking an evidence review on the prevalence, determinants and harms associated with gambling, and the social and economic burden of gambling-related harms. The review is expected to be completed in March 2021.

The NHS Long Term Plan includes a commitment to open 15 specialist problem gambling clinics by 2023/24. As these services expand, NHS England will continue to explore how to make best use of existing treatment models to help problem gamblers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the cost of gambling addiction to the NHS in each of the last five years; and (2) the likely cost in each of the next five years.

The exact figures on the cost to the National Health Service of gambling addiction is not collected centrally. However, the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 has committed to spending up to £15 million on problem gambling by 2023/24.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, how they intend to record gambling related suicides.

As detailed in the Government’s response to the Committee’s Report, we have no plans to separately identify gambling-related suicides as, amongst other things, coroners do not usually provide what might be understood as the ‘reason’ for a suicide in their verdicts, which would seriously compromise the reliability and, therefore, the validity of any resulting data.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Government Response to the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee Report: Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, published on 8 December, what plans they have to ensure that any company that (1) was previously connected to, or (2) has a conflict of interest with, the gambling industry is not procured by NHS Digital to carry out the 2021 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey.

Crown Commercial Services, through their RM6018 Research Marketplace Dynamic Purchasing System, ran a Call for Competition (CFC) on behalf of NHS Digital to put in place a contract for the provision of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2021.

The CFC requested bidders to declare any conflict of interest, which as part of the tender process we would have subsequently conducted due diligence on. In this case we not aware of any such conflicts of interest for bidders. As of 18 December 2020, this is a live procurement.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide funding to Rennie Grove Hospice Care to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement recognise the huge role palliative and end of life care services, including hospices, have played in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This importance was acknowledged in the provision of over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector between April and July. Further additional funding of up to £125 million has now been announced to enable hospices to continue their vital end of life care services and deliver even greater support for the National Health Service.

NHS England and NHS Improvement can confirm that Rennie Grove Hospice received £1,000,317 between April and July this year. Rennie Grove, like other hospices, will be eligible to apply for the further additional funding now being made available.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide funding to charitable hospice care providers who have lost community funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement recognise the huge role palliative and end of life care services, including hospices, have played in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This importance was acknowledged in the provision of over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector between April and July. Further additional funding of up to £125 million has now been announced to enable hospices to continue their vital end of life care services and deliver even greater support for the National Health Service.

NHS England and NHS Improvement can confirm that Rennie Grove Hospice received £1,000,317 between April and July this year. Rennie Grove, like other hospices, will be eligible to apply for the further additional funding now being made available.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have put in place to financially support charitable hospice care providers; and what assessment they have made of the impact of visiting restrictions in hospitals on the level of demand experienced by such providers.

NHS England and NHS Improvement regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector and are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face.

Between April and July, £150 million in additional funding was provided to the hospice sector. Further funding of up to £125 million has now been made available to enable hospices to continue their vital end of life care services.

Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the replacement Job Support Scheme.

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of visiting restrictions in hospitals on the level of demand experienced by charitable hospice care providers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on charitable hospice care providers.

NHS England and NHS Improvement regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector and are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face.

Between April and July, £150 million in additional funding was provided to the hospice sector. Further funding of up to £125 million has now been made available to enable hospices to continue their vital end of life care services.

Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the replacement Job Support Scheme.

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of visiting restrictions in hospitals on the level of demand experienced by charitable hospice care providers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by GambleAware Annual Statistics from the National Gambling Treatment Service (Great Britain), published on 29 October, what steps they are taking to encourage those affected by gambling-related harm to seek help.

The Government remains committed to the treatment of gambling-related harms.

The NHS Long Term Plan announced the creation of an additional 14 specialist problem gambling clinics by 2023/24, three of which are already up and running. The NHS England Northern Gambling Service in Leeds opened last summer and includes satellite sites in Manchester and Sunderland.

Work continues on the phased expansion of these services, enabling the National Health Service to explore how best to use existing treatment models to reach those in most need of support.

The Department is working collaboratively with key delivery partners to support the integration and expansion of treatment services and improve public awareness. GambleAware launched a new campaign during February and March to raise awareness of the treatment available through the National Gambling Treatment Service.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether Uighur forced labour was used in the production of personal protective equipment purchased by the UK from Medwell Medical Products; and what plans they have to implement due diligence checks to ensure that items purchased by the UK have not been produced using such forced labour.

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.

Government guidance advises public sector contracting authorities on how to assess suppliers in terms of mitigating the risk of modern slavery. Contracts are normally placed in line with Departmental terms and conditions which include clauses requiring Good Industry Practice to ensure that there is no slavery or human trafficking in supply chains. In the event that allegations of modern slavery are substantiated in relation to a Departmental supplier, we will consider all available options.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to widen gambling treatment services; and what targets are in place for (1) the percentage of gamblers to be treated, and (2) the date by which that treatment should take place.

Whilst there are no specific targets in place, the NHS Long Term Plan committed to expanding the geographical coverage of treatment services by opening up to 15 specialist problem gambling clinics 2023/24. Work continues on phased expansion of these services, enabling the National Health Service to explore how best to use existing treatment models to reach those most in need of support.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many children with gambling addictions have received treatment from the NHS since the opening of the first child gambling clinic.

The data requested is not available.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce an NHS-led and commissioned treatment system to treat gambling addiction.

The NHS Long Term Plan made a commitment to expand the geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems.

In addition to the existing National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, the National Health Service has committed to opening an additional 14 new problem gambling clinics by 2023/24. The NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds opened in 2019 and now has satellite sites in Manchester and Sunderland. The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan has committed to spending a total of £6 million on gambling-related harms by 2023/24.

As part of the Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement are improving referral routes for mental health services in primary care, by focusing on the integration of services.

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 report by the Royal Society for Public Health Problem gambling and suicidality in England: secondary analysis of a representative cross-sectional survey, published on 12 May; and what regulatory measures they have changed as a result of evidence linking gambling-related harm and suicide.

Officials have assessed the research article published by the Royal Society for Public Health as a valuable addition to the evidence base about the risk factors of suicidal behaviour but have noted that caution is needed when interpreting the study’s results as the sample size for the problem gambler group is very small and comes from data collected in 2007.

We know that there may be wider lifestyle factors associated with gambling addiction that may link to poor mental health and that gambling addiction can create a cycle of debt which can also have a significant impact on mental health and may, in extreme cases, lead to thoughts of suicide. We committed to addressing suicide risk and gambling in the most recent progress report on the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and the Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Workplan, published in January 2019.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the percentage of dairy bought by the NHS in England in each of the last 12 months that was produced by UK dairy farmers.

NHS Supply Chain, the main provider of consumables and equipment into the National Health Service, report that the great majority of their suppliers responded to a request for information on dairy products (milk, cream, eggs, yoghurt and cheese). All of these suppliers reported that 100% of the dairy products they supply into the NHS are produced in the United Kingdom.

Information is not available centrally on a month by month breakdown of such products purchased by individual NHS organisations.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what safeguards they have put in place to ensure that protein fermentation products (1) provide good nutritional value, and (2) do not add to existing dietary and food standards concerns.

Sweetened fermented (yogurt) drinks, yogurts and fromage frais contribute to sugar intakes and are included in the sugar reduction programme, which is part of the Government’s childhood obesity plan. A copy of Fermented (yogurt) drinks: A supplementary report to the sugar reduction guidelines, outlining the drinks included and the guidelines set is attached.

All sectors of the food and drink industry have been challenged to reduce the amount of sugar in these products by 20% by 2022. Industry’s progress will be monitored and the first report on progress is expected this year.

All food and drink products sold in the United Kingdom are covered by the Food Safety Act 1990 and Food Information Regulation, which ensures that products meet certain standards and are appropriately labelled.

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 13 February (HL1452), what assessment they have made of the potential benefit resulting from the (1) collection, and (2) publication, of data on the number of people who commit suicide for reasons connected with gambling-related harm.

We presently have no such plans. There is currently no reliable estimate of the number of suicides linked to problem gambling in the United Kingdom, and there would be significant challenges in attempting to record this. Expecting coroners to routinely assess the motivation for individual suicides in all cases would take the coroner role fundamentally beyond its legal parameters. The coroner’s role, and in particular what they are required to ascertain and determine, is a matter of both statute and case law, and cannot be extended administratively. Any legislative change would have to be considered very carefully.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to establish a publicly accessible central record of the number of people who commit suicide for reasons connected with problem gambling.

We presently have no such plans. There is currently no reliable estimate of the number of suicides linked to gambling addiction or problem gambling in the United Kingdom. The Government is committed to improving our understanding of the link between suicide and gambling.

GambleAware has commissioned some preliminary research into gambling-related suicide, which was published in July 2019, and the Department has invited GambleAware to return to the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group to discuss the research findings and what further research may be needed in this area.

7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the WHO Director-General’s remarks on 9 April that bi-lateral vaccine donations exacerbated global vaccine inequality, how many vaccines they have donated (1) to individual nations, and (2) to the COVAX programme; and what plans they have to support to the COVAX initiative further.

The UK remains committed to equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, and the Prime Minister has called on G7 leaders to vaccinate the world by the end of next year. As the multilateral mechanism set up to support international cooperation on vaccines, COVAX remains best-placed in allocating vaccines fairly and effectively.

The UK was one of the earliest and largest donors to COVAX, donating £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Our early funding gave COVAX the purchase power it needed to secure deals with manufacturers to supply internationally-approved vaccines for up to 92 low and middle income countries. So far, COVAX has helped deliver over 81 million doses to 129 countries and territories. The UK is also among the largest donors to the ACT-Accelerator, committing up to £813 million of UK aid to partners for the development and distribution of vaccines, treatments, and tests in developing countries, including £250 million of core funding to the Coalition for Pandemic Preparedness (CEPI) in 2020 to support its work to accelerate the development of, and access to vaccines. We will continue to discuss this issue with our G7 partners, and will issue details of the quantities and timeframe for UK sharing of vaccine doses soon.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to raise the issue of global vaccine equity at the upcoming G7 meeting in Falmouth.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), committing £548 million, which through match-funding leveraged $1 billion from other donors in 2020. This support to COVAX has been critical to it supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 125 countries and economies. The UK's investment in developing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also represents a critical contribution to global vaccination efforts, with 450 million doses having been delivered globally at cost so far.

The UK's G7 Presidency is also championing equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help the world fight and build back better from this pandemic. The UK has committed to sharing 100 million vaccine doses by June 2022, with the majority going to OVAX. We welcome the commitments made by our G7 partners to this shared goal, and look forward to discussing how we can work together to progress this agenda further.

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 religious freedom in Eritrea; and what representations have they made to the government of Eritrea about the ongoing house arrest of Abune Antonios.

We remain concerned about the human rights situation in Eritrea, including the arrests of religious figures such as Patriarch Abune Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewadho Church who has been detained for over 15 years. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief raised Patriarch Abune Antonios' case with the Eritrean Ambassador on 20 May, and our Ambassador in Asmara tweeted to call for the Patriarch and others detained for their faith to be released.

The UK Government takes every opportunity to voice our concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions in Eritrea on the basis of religion or belief, and has called for the release of such worshippers. We have done so directly with the Government of Eritrea and publicly through our annual reporting on human rights and at the UN Human Rights Council. The UK raised Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Eritrea in a statement by the UK's International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council. We also encouraged Eritrea to make progress on their commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process including the promotion of FoRB. Eritrea remains a priority country under our annual human rights reporting, and we will continue to monitor the situation there. The Minister for Africa raised human rights when he met the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK on 16 March.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of Ethiopian Orthodox priests being murdered in Tigray; and what assessment they have made of religious freedom in Ethiopia.

As the Minister of State responsible for human rights issues for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, I [Lord Ahmad] tweeted on 11 May to express my deep sadness at the reported murder of priests in Tigray. This is one of an increasing number of horrifying reports of atrocities coming out of Tigray. Civilians must be protected and the violence must stop. We have also stressed the need for Ethiopia to safeguard its incredible diversity of faith and identity in order to uphold freedom of religion and belief.

The G7, under the UK Presidency, issued a statement on 2 April and a Communiqué on 5 May condemning human rights violations and abuses in Tigray. The UK also condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians in Tigray 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)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they had made of the extent of systematic racism towards Armenians in Azerbaijan following the opening of Azerbaijan’s War Park and its de-humanising mannequins depicting Armenians.

The UK Government has made no such assessment. We are aware of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan following the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report that the Azerbaijani military blocked Russian peacekeepers accompanying Armenian pilgrims to the Dadivank Monastery in Nagorno-Karabakh, what representations they have made to the governments of (1) Azerbaijan, and (2) Russia, to ensure the continued rights of Armenians to practise their religion in sites located in the territory ceded to Azerbaijan.

The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan has also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Government. While we have not discussed this specific issue with the government of Russia, we continue to underline our support for the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in reaching a lasting settlement to the conflict and for the important work of international organisations addressing the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan following reports that 19 Armenian prisoners of war, including civilians, were tortured and killed in detention centres.

We are deeply concerned by accusations from both sides that war crimes were committed during the conflict and afterwards. During her visit to the region in February the Minister for the European Neighbourhood met with representatives of both Governments and highlighted UK concerns over reports of war crimes and the need for allegations to be thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan following evidence that the Armenian Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha is being deliberately desecrated.

The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, most recently during her visits to the region in February. We continue to underline our support for the efforts of UNESCO in this regard.

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 Azerbaijan about reports of the (1) destruction of an Armenian church, and (2) destruction of cultural heritage, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, most recently during her visits to the region in February. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan has also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Government. The protection of cultural heritage affected by conflict and the prevention of acts of destruction remains a priority for this Government. We continue to underline our support for the efforts of UNESCO in this regard, and for the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group in their work to facilitate a lasting peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Armenian cultural heritage, including churches and monuments, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been destroyed by Azerbaijan during the dispute over that territory.

The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, most recently during her visits to the region in February. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan has also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Government. The protection of cultural heritage affected by conflict and the prevention of acts of destruction remains a priority for this Government. We continue to underline our support for the efforts of UNESCO in this regard, and for the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group in their work to facilitate a lasting peaceful settlement to the conflict.

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 decision by the governments of Hong Kong and China not to continue to 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 what representations, if any, they have made to the government of Eritrea to encourage its military withdrawal from Ethiopia.

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. 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. We continue to urge all parties to bring an end to fighting, 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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations, if any, they have made to UNESCO about the establishment of a task force to assess, document and protect cultural sites in Tigray.

We are concerned by reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. Our Embassy in Addis is in contact with UNESCO in Addis and monitoring matters carefully. Our top priorities remain the provision of unfettered humanitarian access to the region and a complete cessation of hostilities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the UNOCHA Ethiopia—Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, published on 6 January, what assessment they have made of reports of (1) food shortages, (2) looting, (3) sexual violence, and (3) damage to cultural heritage, in Tigray.

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 as well as reports of looting. An ongoing lack of access to the Tigray region for human rights organisations, means that it remains difficult to confirm these reports. We will continue to work with partners to seek further information. We are also concerned about the impact of the conflict on food security and nutrition in Tigray. We are in close contact with the UN's World Food Programme, to understand humanitarian needs and what programme adaptations are required, as well as monitoring the regional situation.

We have made clear with Ethiopian Ministers the 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. We will continue to make this point in upcoming conversations with the Government of Ethiopia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further (1) to the report by the UNOCHA Ethiopia—Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, published on 6 January, and (2) to reports that there have been difficulties in delivering humanitarian aid to that region, what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about ensuring that (a) aid is delivered, and (b) humanitarian assistance is accessible, in Tigray.

We support the assessment reports by the two joint UN and Government of Ethiopia assessment missions to Tigray that have taken place, noting that these were limited. The UK continues to call for sustained, free and unfettered access to enable the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance in Tigray. The UK is working closely with humanitarian organisations to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. The Foreign Secretary visited Gondar in neighbouring Amhara region on 22 January to see response coordination. 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.

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 reports that Eritrean soldiers are stealing religious artefacts from churches in Tigray.

We are increasingly concerned by the growing weight of credible evidence of the involvement of Eritrean forces in hostilities, including reports of the looting of places of worship, throughout the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 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. 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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion on 12 November about equitable COVID-19 vaccine access, what measures they have put in place to ensure that people living in the least economically developed countries have access to any such vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, and has committed up to £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which is the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines. This makes the UK among the COVAX AMC's largest bilateral donors. Our commitment will support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries by contributing to the supply of 1 billion doses in 2021, and vaccinations for up to 500 million people.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about any difficulties humanitarian agencies have had in accessing Tigray.

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. We continue to press for the supply of humanitarian assistance to all those who need it, including in the recent December visit by the Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs.

We continue to work with the UN to monitor access and the delivery of humanitarian support to all those who need it including to civilians in contested areas.

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 that humanitarian agencies are being denied access to people in need of support in Tigray by the government of Ethiopia.

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 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Two joint UN and Government of Ethiopia assessment missions to Tigray have taken place with assessment reports expected soon. We continue to press for the supply of humanitarian assistance to all those who need it. UK supported live-saving assistance including, health, nutrition, non food items (such as blankets, shelter and cooking equipment), in addition to water and sanitation have reached some of the conflict affected areas.

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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion on 12 November about equitable COVID-19 vaccine access, what plans they have to use faith communities globally to encourage the distribution and uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, treatments, and tests globally. We have committed up to £548 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which is the international initiative administered by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to support global equitable access to vaccines. Our commitment will support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries by contributing to the supply of 1 billion doses in 2021, and vaccinations for up to 500 million people.

Gavi and its partners plan to partner with faith-based organisations, including working with religious leaders, to provide accurate and transparent information on COVID-19 vaccines, and encourage the distribution and uptake of the vaccine when rolled-out.

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 relationship between HSBC Bank and the Chinese Communist Party.

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)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to HSBC Bank following that bank's suspension of the bank accounts of pro-democracy campaigners from 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)
25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to African members of the Commonwealth to encourage them to ensure a peaceful solution to the conflict in Tigray.

We are in touch with a range of partners, including Commonwealth members, on the current situation in Ethiopia. The Foreign Secretary spoke on 16 November with Foreign Minister Pandor of South Africa in support of President Ramaphosa's efforts to promote mediation. He spoke with President Kenyatta of Kenya on 24 November. The Minister for Africa spoke with Foreign Minister Kutesa of Uganda on 26 November. We will continue to work with partners in the region and in the international community to urge all sides to protect civilians, avoid ethnic tensions and hate-speech and to allow humanitarian access. We stand with the international community in calling for de-escalation and a political solution.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likelihood of (1) harvest failure, and (2) famine, in northern Ethiopia; and what steps they are taking to prepare humanitarian supplies for such an event.

Latest harvests across Tigray have been reasonable but food security is likely to become a concern in pockets of Tigray between February to May 2021. The ongoing violence and insecurity in the Tigray region is likely to affect food security, lower productivity and disrupt markets and supply chains. Our humanitarian partners are working to understand needs and stocks but access into the region is limited. We are concerned by the UN warning that refugee food stocks will be depleted very soon and 600,000 people who rely on monthly food assistance have not received rations for November. The situation is grave, and we assess that needs will increase unless security and access improve.

We have called on all involved to ensure the protection of civilians, and to restore humanitarian access to allow the delivery of aid and essential services. The Minister for Africa reiterated this in his tweet of 19 November and when the Minister for Africa spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador in London on 18 November. We are contributing to UN-led planning efforts for the delivery of assistance in Tigray. In Ethiopia, the UK provides funds to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund, to provide food assistance, shelter, water and sanitation, health, nutrition and protection support. In Sudan, flexible UK funding to WFP and the UNHCR is already helping new refugees from Ethiopia to receive emergency assistance, including shelter and food. These agencies have proven themselves capable of working in high risk contexts, in Ethiopia and elsewhere, and for managing UK funds adeptly.

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 future of democracy in Armenia following (1) the conflict, and (2) the increased Russian military presence, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

We have not made an assessment of the impact of the recent conflict on the future of democracy in Armenia. The UK Government continues to support the development of a stable, open and prosperous Armenia, including by using the Good Governance Fund to provide support in the areas of democracy and human rights. The UK Government understands that the Russian military is playing a role in Nagorno-Karabakh to end the recent hostilities, as agreed with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, it is important that Armenia and Azerbaijan remain the key actors in ensuring that a sustainable peace deal is reached, under the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about (1) the rights of Armenians, and (2) the protection of cultural sites, including monasteries and churches, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas spoke to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 13 November welcoming the news that the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan had reached a peace deal. She noted that a peaceful settlement was essential to securing the stability of the region and the rights of all civilians. The protection of cultural heritage affected by conflict and acts of destruction is a priority for this Government. We will continue to raise these issues with Azerbaijan and Armenia. We did so most recently in a 17 November meeting between the British Ambassador to Azerbaijan and representatives of the Presidential Administration.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the scale, and (2) the ferocity, of offensives in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; what representations they have received about fears of ethnic cleansing of Armenian Christians; and what plans they have to call for urgent intervention at international level in line with the UN's Responsibility to Protect agreement.

The UK Government welcomes the news that the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a ceasefire. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood has spoken to the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister four times, most recently on 13 November and spoken to the Armenian Foreign Minister three times, most recently on 28 October. The UK Government has seen no evidence that ethnic cleansing is taking place or will take place and has no plans to call for urgent intervention at the international level. The UK Government continues to support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made (1) to the government of Azerbaijan, and (2) at the United Nations, about the alleged use of white phosphorus by the Azerbaijan military against Armenian civilian targets.

The UK Government is aware of reports that white phosphorus has been used, by both parties, although we have not made an assessment of these allegations. These claims are incredibly difficult to authenticate. Her Majesty's Government strongly supports the appropriate national and international accountability mechanisms to investigate and report on allegations of violations/breaches of international law. At the current time, we have not made representations to either Government or the United Nations. However, we continue to monitor the situation with concern.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review their position on the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

The events of 1915-1916 were a tragic episode in the history of the Armenian people and they must never be forgotten. The UK Government of the day condemned the massacres and this Government fully endorses that view. The policy of the UK Government is that any judgment on whether genocide has occurred is a matter for judicial decision, rather than for governments. We do not have plans to review the position on the determination of genocide.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for the provision of further security guarantees to assist those living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what steps they are taking to monitor and assess clashes and casualties along the 'line of contact' in that region.

The UK Government has not made an assessment on the case for further security guarantees to assist those living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Any such mechanism should be agreed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, under the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. The UK Government continues to support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs in calling for immediate de-escalation and a return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the validity of footage showing Azerbaijan Military personnel executing two Armenian prisoners of war; and whether this constitutes a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Officials are assessing the footage in question. We are deeply concerned of accusations from both sides that war crimes are being committed and continue to urge de-escalation. Where it is possible to verify reports of alleged violations of the Geneva Convention in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, we will do so and we will raise these with the parties involved.

20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the government of China’s election to the UN Human Rights Council on 13 October, and (2) the impact of that election on that Council’s ability to hold the government of China accountable for the human rights situation in that country.

We are clear that all members of the Council, including China, should uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. We have repeatedly made clear to China our grave concerns about the human rights situation in the country, including at the most recent session of the UN Human Rights council on 25 September, where we dedicated our entire national statement to China. We will continue to take a leading international role in holding China to account for its human rights violations, both at the UN Human Rights Council and by raising our concerns directly with Chinese authorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 6 October (HL8334), what plans they have to disclose the government of Turkey’s response to the representations made by UK officials over allegations that the Syrian National Army may have committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians in Afrin and the surrounding area.

We have no plans to disclose Turkey's response to the representations by UK officials about allegations made against the Syrian National Army. On 22 September, we highlighted our concerns at the UN Human Rights Council's Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. We will continue to raise allegations of human rights abuses regularly with all parties to the Syrian conflict, and call on all parties to the conflict to respect international law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UN Human Rights Council Report of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, published in September 2018, and in particular the recommendation that senior generals of the Myanmar military be investigated and prosecuted for genocide; and what support they plan to provide to the case brought by the government of The Gambia against the government of Myanmar currently before the International Court of Justice.

The UK played a key role in establishing the UN Fact Finding Mission (UNFFM), we support its findings and have worked with partners to try and implement its recommendations. We are clear that the Myanmar military is responsible for a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. This is why the UK has sanctioned the six individuals named by the UNFFM, including the Myanmar military's Commander-in-Chief and Deputy Commander-in-Chief. We are clear that those who committed atrocities should be held to account. In the absence of a transparent and credible domestic process, all options should remain on the table. There is currently insufficient support at the UN Security Council for a referral to the International Criminal Court.

The UK supports the International Court of Justice process and publicly welcomed the provisional measures ruling which calls on Myanmar to do more to protect the Rohingya. We provided financial support to enable a group of Rohingya refugees to attend the hearings in The Hague in December last year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the UN Human Rights Council's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic 21st report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, published on 15 September, what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about the allegations that the Syrian National Army may have committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians in Afrin and the surrounding area.

We have reviewed the report by the UN Human Rights Council's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and are deeply concerned by its findings that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and human rights violations are still being committed against the Syrian people by all parties to the Syrian conflict. Officials have raised the allegations made against the Syrian National Army with the Government of Turkey. The UK continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to respect international law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the case of Asif Pervaiz.

We are aware of the case of Asif Pervaiz and are closely following developments. We regularly raise at a senior level the issue of the blasphemy laws with the authorities in Pakistan. The UK's position on the death penalty is well known - we are firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, in accordance with international standards. I last raised our human rights concerns with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 27 August.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that priests in China have been forced to preach Chinese nationalism in return for the opening of religious spaces.

We are aware of these reports. We remain concerned by the restrictions placed on Christianity and other religions in China. The freedom to practice faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of (1) churches being demolished, in particular the demolition of the Donghu Church, Qinghai Province, and (2) Christians streaming religious services at home being arrested, in China

We are aware of reports of the demolition of Donghu Church and remain concerned by restrictions placed on Christians and other religious groups in China, including reports of individuals being detained for their beliefs. The freedom to practice, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement delivered by the UK Permanent Representative to the UN at the Third Committee session on the Committee for the elimination of racial discrimination and the conclusions of the United Nations on the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjang.

On 29 October at the UN Third Committee, the UK read out a joint statement signed by 22 others drawing attention to the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and called on China to uphold its obligations to respect human rights. We assess that it is important to regularly raise the human rights situation in Xinjiang at multilateral fora and privately with China, and have made clear to China that we will continue to do so until our concerns have been addressed.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent consideration they have given to ensuring that there is (1) compensation, and (2) support, available to those affected by the collapse of Equitable Life.

The methodology for calculating payments to Equitable Life policyholders was published in 2011.

The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015 and there are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to assess the methodology used to calculate the money owed to Equitable Life policyholders as part of the compensation scheme established under the Equitable Life (Payments) Act 2010, and (2) the accuracy of the figures produced by that methodology.

The methodology for calculating payments to Equitable Life policyholders was published in 2011.

The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015 and there are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
10th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the recent G7 global taxation agreement, what plans they have to require (1) public country-by-country reporting for UK based multinationals, and (2) enhanced tax reporting, to increase transparency and better ascertain the tax liabilities of UK multinationals.

The Government is delighted to have secured G7 backing for the two-pillar solution being developed by the OECD to reform the international tax framework and the Government’s focus is on reaching final agreement with the G20 and OECD Inclusive Framework. A final agreement, when implemented, would help deal with the root of concerns about the taxation of multinationals, both as to where these corporations are taxed and as to the level at which they pay tax.

As part of the Finance Act 2016, large corporations and multinational enterprises are already required to publish a tax strategy document, which outlines the company’s attitude towards tax planning and its approach towards its dealings with HMRC.

The Government has also led on implementing international standards in tax transparency, including the Common Reporting Standard and Country-by-Country Reporting, which ensure tax authorities have the information they need to identify and challenge avoidance.

The Government considers that public country-by-country reporting needs to be implemented on a broad multilateral basis with wide international support if it is to be effective. Implementing it without wide international support would distort decisions on where companies decide to locate.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the findings in the Christian’s Against Poverty’s Our Story, Client Report 2021, published in April, that 45 per cent of clients did not initially know where to access help to manage their debts, what plans they have to better (1) signpost, and (2) raise awareness of, debt advice services as part of the recovery from COVID-19.

The Government recognises that some people are struggling with their personal finances as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. The Government is committed to helping people access the support they need to get their finances back on track. This is why it has agreed to maintain record levels of debt advice funding for the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) in 2021/22, bringing the budget for free debt advice in England to £94.6 million, an increase of over 70% compared to 2019/20 levels.

Support from MaPS is available to all online, and the website includes a debt advice locator tool to help people find local free advice services. MaPS also launched a Money Navigator Tool last year, promoted via various channels, which helps people navigate their finances during the pandemic and avoid financial issues worsening in future.

To ensure that people are signposted to the help they need, MaPS services are referenced in the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) guidance, which is issued to all financial services lenders regulated by the FCA. Further, MaPS-funded free-to-client debt advice service providers have been pro-actively reaching out to customers during the pandemic, including by using video-calls and webchat to offer broader ways for clients to engage.

In addition, the MaPS-led Pilot of Adviser Capacity and Efficiency (PACE) was launched in March 2019, offering a new route into debt advice. This pro-actively engages people by working closely with creditors, who introduce those who are missing payments to the service and promote the benefits of seeking help. In addition to creditor referrals, MaPS launched a self-referral route into PACE in November 2019 to engage with customers directly. The pilot’s evaluation is ongoing, and MaPS will move successful elements of the work to full-scale from this Autumn.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the landfill tax on the level of illegal waste disposals.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimates the difference between expected revenues and the tax that is actually paid in the annual publication, Measuring Tax Gaps.[1]

Measuring Tax Gaps 2020 edition estimated the total Landfill Tax gap for 2018-19 at £275 million.

As part of that total, HMRC estimates that £185.4 million of Landfill Tax was not paid in 2018-19 due to waste disposals at unauthorised waste sites.

Landfill Tax is one of a range of government policies in the waste sector designed to discourage landfill and encourage more sustainable waste management. It is not possible to separate the impact of one policy on illegal disposals.

[1] Measuring tax gaps - GOV.UK

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) benefits to institutional finance firms, and (2) costs to retail traders, of the decision by some retail stock brokerages to prevent traders from taking long positions on specific stocks on 28 January.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the UK’s financial markets conduct regulator and is responsible for protecting consumers, ensuring market integrity and promoting effective competition. As set out in the FCA’s statement of 29 January, broking firms are not obliged to offer trading facilities to clients and may withdraw or suspend services if it is necessary or prudent to do so. The FCA’s statement also said that they would take appropriate action wherever they see evidence of UK firms or individuals causing harm to UK consumers or markets.

The Government recognises that the pace and creativity of innovation in UK financial services creates new opportunities for businesses and consumers to participate in markets through technologies such as app-based platforms. However, investors should be aware that investing in securities comes with risks. The FCA’s statement of 29 January warned consumers that any losses that result from such investments are unlikely to be covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the actions of some retail stock brokerages preventing retail traders from purchasing specific stocks on 28 January; and what plans the Financial Conduct Authority has to investigate the matter.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the UK’s financial markets conduct regulator and is responsible for protecting consumers, ensuring market integrity and promoting effective competition. As set out in the FCA’s statement of 29 January, broking firms are not obliged to offer trading facilities to clients and may withdraw or suspend services if it is necessary or prudent to do so. The FCA’s statement also said that they would take appropriate action wherever they see evidence of UK firms or individuals causing harm to UK consumers or markets.

The Government recognises that the pace and creativity of innovation in UK financial services creates new opportunities for businesses and consumers to participate in markets through technologies such as app-based platforms. However, investors should be aware that investing in securities comes with risks. The FCA’s statement of 29 January warned consumers that any losses that result from such investments are unlikely to be covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Our work on motor finance—final findings, published on 1 March 2019, and the decision by the FCA announced on 28 July to ban discretionary commission models of car finance, what assessment they have made of whether personal contract purchase finance has been mis-sold; and what plans they have to introduce a compensation scheme for any consumers affected.

This question has been passed on to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA will reply directly to the Lord Bishop by letter. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 3 December (HL10488) and the exchange of letters between the Bank of England and HM Treasury on the Asset Purchase Facility on 29 January 2009, what assessment they have made of the implications of the confirmation in these letters that the financing of the Asset Purchase Facility by central bank money would require HM Treasury consent for the question of whether it is appropriate for the Government to comment on the effectiveness of quantitative easing; and what assessment they have made of the effects of quantitative easing on the increase in house prices compared to increases in wages.

The Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility is indemnified by HM Treasury. Due to this indemnity any decision to increase the limit of purchases to be financed through the issuance of central bank reserves requires Chancellor authorisation. However, the judgement of what size and composition of the Asset Purchase Facility is warranted is for the independent Monetary Policy Committee. The separation of fiscal and monetary policy is a key feature of the UK’s economic framework, and the Government does not comment on the conduct and effectiveness of monetary policy.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 3 December (HL10488) and the exchange of letters between the Bank of England and HM Treasury on the Asset Purchase Facility on 29 January 2009, whether the Monetary Policy Committee still requires the consent of HM Treasury to engage in quantitative easing through the Asset Purchase Facility.

The Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility is indemnified by HM Treasury. Due to this indemnity any decision to increase the limit of purchases to be financed through the issuance of central bank reserves requires Chancellor authorisation. However, the judgement of what size and composition of the Asset Purchase Facility is warranted is for the independent Monetary Policy Committee. The separation of fiscal and monetary policy is a key feature of the UK’s economic framework, and the Government does not comment on the conduct and effectiveness of monetary policy.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effects of quantitative easing on the increase in house prices compared to increases in wages.

Monetary policy, including decisions on quantitative easing, is the responsibility of the independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England.

The separation of fiscal and monetary policy is a key feature of the UK’s economic framework, and essential for the effective delivery of monetary policy, so the Government does not comment on the conduct or effectiveness of monetary policy.

Detail on the impact of monetary policy, including quantitative easing, can be found in the Bank’s working paper: "The distributional impact of monetary policy easing in the UK between 2008 and 2014."

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
29th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their decision to launch a one-year Spending Review, whether their multi-year capital allocation for priority infrastructure projects includes projects in rural areas, in particular (1) the Community Housing Fund, especially for rural affordable housing schemes, and (2) the Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund.

While it would not be appropriate to respond in detail on plans for the Comprehensive Spending Review at this time, the Government recognises that village halls provide vital hubs for communities to connect, collaborate and celebrate, and that the community-led housing sector offers significant potential for helping to meet housing need across England in rural and urban areas.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the announcement that the long-term spending review will be replaced by a one-year spending review, whether plans to service the UK with fibre broadband by 2025 will be included as a multi-year capital allocation priority infrastructure project.

The Spending Review, which will be delivered on 25 November, will set out the government’s spending plans.

The government recognises the importance of connectivity both to the economy and to people’s lives. We are committed to nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, and are taking a number of steps to achieve this. The March Budget this year committed £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the hardest to reach areas.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 7 October (HL8550) and (HL8549), what plans they have to provide copies of the official-level guidance and templates setting out their priorities for the Comprehensive Spending Review; and how they will ensure that funding assessments are ‘rural proofed’ and do not unreasonably disadvantage rural communities.

Official-level guidance is a technical document internal to government.

At the Comprehensive Spending Review this autumn, the government will set out further details on our plan to level up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to respond to reports of a low-income debt crisis emerging in the UK as a result of redundancies and income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and temporary welfare measures amongst other support.

With the resurgence of COVID-19, the Government has announced further targeted support via the Winter Economy Plan, including the Job Support Scheme, which will provide employees who work at least 33% of their normal hours with at least 77% of their salary.

The Government has provided Local Authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year.

The Government recognises that some people are struggling with their finances at this challenging time. To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year’s budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million.

In May, the Government also announced the immediate release of £65 million dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties.

From May 2021 the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

In addition, at the Budget in 2018, the Government announced that it would undertake a feasibility study into a no-interest loans scheme in the UK. The Government has been examining the possibility of a no-interest loans scheme to help some of the most financially vulnerable access credit when they need it and welcomed the feasibility study conducted by London Economics which was published in March this year.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what requirements have been placed on departments by Her Manesty's Treasury to ‘rural proof’ their submissions to the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review; and how each of those departments have fulfilled these requirements.

As the Chancellor announced in July, a priority of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) will be levelling up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people.

At launch, the Treasury sent official-level guidance and templates setting out its priorities for the CSR and the information required from departments to make assessments of funding needs.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Select Committee on the Rural Economy, Time for a Strategy for the rural economy, published on 26 March 2019 (HL Paper 330), what plans they have to ensure that each department’s Comprehensive Spending Review settlement will be conditional on ensuring that nobody living in a rural area is unreasonably disadvantaged by where they live.

As the Chancellor announced in July, a priority of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) will be levelling up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people.

At launch, the Treasury sent official-level guidance and templates setting out its priorities for the CSR and the information required from departments to make assessments of funding needs.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the amount that charities can claim through Gift Aid to 50p for every £1 donated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government recognises the vital work charities are doing to the support the country during the coronavirus pandemic and on 8 April pledged £750 million to ensure they can continue their vital work. Additionally, many charities can also benefit from the other support schemes put in place by the government, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.

However, There are no plans to increase Gift Aid tax repayments from 25p to 50p for every £1 on donations made to charities. Full tax relief is already available on donations made with Gift Aid, with basic rate relief being claimed by the charity and higher rate relief available to the taxpayer where relevant.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the number of safe routes into the country for those seeking asylum.

Since 2015 we have resettled more than 25,000 refugees through safe and legal resettlement routes direct from regions of conflict and instability - around half of whom were children. In addition to this our current family reunion policy has welcomed over 29,000 individuals to the UK in the last 5 years. The UK continues to welcome people through the global UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), as well as through the Community Sponsorship and Mandate Resettlement Schemes and our refugee family reunion policy. This commitment, alongside a fair but firm asylum system, will ensure we continue to offer safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees in need of protection.

The New Plan for Immigration will strengthen safe and legal protection routes to the UK by ensuring our resettlement schemes are accessible and fair, resettling refugees from countries where the need is greatest, increasing the integration support of those we welcome, increasing opportunities for community participation in resettlement, supporting access to work visas for highly skilled displaced people and providing more flexibility to help people in truly exceptional and compelling circumstances.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the New Plan for Immigration, published on 24 March, what assessment they have made of the risk of unaccompanied minors travelling to the UK via unauthorised routes for the purposes of reunification with relatives who previously entered through unauthorised routes.

We have a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in-line with our international obligations. But we have been clear that individuals in need of protection should avoid making dangerous journeys and claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – that is the fastest route to safety. The Nationality and Borders Bill will set up a range of measures to deter people from undertaking dangerous journeys via unauthorised routes.

As set out in the New Plan for Immigration, we are committed to review the refugee family reunion rules. Refugee family reunion will only be permitted where refusing would be a breach of our international obligations. In practice, this means refugees will be able to sponsor their spouse or partner and under-18 children if they can show there are insurmountable obstacles to their relationship continuing anywhere other than the UK and it is in the child’s best interests.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to preserve the right of familial reunification for asylum seekers regardless of the route of entry into the UK as part of the New Plan for Immigration, published on 24 March.

We have a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in-line with our international obligations. But we have been clear that individuals in need of protection should avoid making dangerous journeys and claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – that is the fastest route to safety. The Nationality and Borders Bill will set up a range of measures to deter people from undertaking dangerous journeys via unauthorised routes.

As set out in the New Plan for Immigration, we are committed to review the refugee family reunion rules. Refugee family reunion will only be permitted where refusing would be a breach of our international obligations. In practice, this means refugees will be able to sponsor their spouse or partner and under-18 children if they can show there are insurmountable obstacles to their relationship continuing anywhere other than the UK and it is in the child’s best interests.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what avenues for recourse authorised clergy have in response to a counterfeit marriage falsely bearing their name as the officiating minister.

Authorised clergy would continue to be supported by the General Register Office and their local register office in the event a counterfeit marriage certificate were to falsely bear their name.

Arrangements are in place for a full investigation which would help to determine a falsely claimed officiating minister was not involved in the production of a counterfeit certificate.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the black market for counterfeit marriage certificates following the changes to marriage certification.

Marriage certificates are secure stock which contain a number of security features that help to prevent and detect counterfeits. Controls are in place to identify and investigate any unusual activity.

This is the same as prior to the introduction of the marriage schedule system, which does not increase the risk of counterfeited certificates in any way.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support (1) individuals, and (2) communities, who face barriers to applying to the EU Settlement Scheme online.

The Home Office remains committed to ensuring those who are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme can apply, including those who are vulnerable or need extra support. £22 million of funding has been awarded to a network of 72 charities and local authorities across the UK, to ensure important information and assistance gets through to those who are hardest to reach, and no one is left behind. These organisations have helped more than 310,000 vulnerable people to apply to the EUSS already.

The Home Office has a dedicated team of more than 1,500 people working on the EUSS, with support available to applicants seven days a week by telephone and by email.

To maximise the intake of applications by 30 June deadline, changes have been made to the postal route for paper applications. The new process enables completed paper applications to be emailed directly to the team handling applications.

We appreciate the pandemic has had an impact on many people’s ability to travel. Hence on 10 June, the Home Office published revised guidance on permitted absences because of COVID-19 under the EU Settlement Scheme. The guidance provides further clarity and flexibility for EU citizens and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and to otherwise maintain their continuous residence.

The Home Office has delivered a comprehensive range of communications activity, at a cost of £8m, to increase awareness of the EUSS, engaging extensively with a wide range of stakeholder organisations and other government departments, to provide the materials they need to communicate about the Settlement Scheme.

This includes toolkits, assets and information translated into 26 EEA languages, and Welsh, for local authorities, community groups, employers and the Grant Funded Network, who work closely with vulnerable, hard to reach audiences to provide application support.

Information about how applicants can seek help and support with their application through the EU Settlement Resolution Centre, or via Assisted Digital for those who need digital support, is provided on GOV.UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support those who have been unable to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme because of the pandemic.

The Home Office remains committed to ensuring those who are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme can apply, including those who are vulnerable or need extra support. £22 million of funding has been awarded to a network of 72 charities and local authorities across the UK, to ensure important information and assistance gets through to those who are hardest to reach, and no one is left behind. These organisations have helped more than 310,000 vulnerable people to apply to the EUSS already.

The Home Office has a dedicated team of more than 1,500 people working on the EUSS, with support available to applicants seven days a week by telephone and by email.

To maximise the intake of applications by 30 June deadline, changes have been made to the postal route for paper applications. The new process enables completed paper applications to be emailed directly to the team handling applications.

We appreciate the pandemic has had an impact on many people’s ability to travel. Hence on 10 June, the Home Office published revised guidance on permitted absences because of COVID-19 under the EU Settlement Scheme. The guidance provides further clarity and flexibility for EU citizens and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and to otherwise maintain their continuous residence.

The Home Office has delivered a comprehensive range of communications activity, at a cost of £8m, to increase awareness of the EUSS, engaging extensively with a wide range of stakeholder organisations and other government departments, to provide the materials they need to communicate about the Settlement Scheme.

This includes toolkits, assets and information translated into 26 EEA languages, and Welsh, for local authorities, community groups, employers and the Grant Funded Network, who work closely with vulnerable, hard to reach audiences to provide application support.

Information about how applicants can seek help and support with their application through the EU Settlement Resolution Centre, or via Assisted Digital for those who need digital support, is provided on GOV.UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist members of the Roma community to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June; and what assessment they have made of the barriers (1) to obtaining the required documentation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) to accessing, and completing, online applications, experienced by that community.

The Home Office has provided £17million in grant funding to a network of 72 organisations which provide bespoke support to vulnerable and hard to reach EU citizens and their family members eligible to apply to EUSS, including members of the Roma Community.

Of the 72 Grant-funded Organisations (GFOs), 54 support members of the Roma community to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, with 5 organisations primarily focused on working with vulnerable members of this cohort (Clifton Learning Partnership, Tros Gynnal, STEP Northern Ireland, Tower Hamlets Law Centre, and Positive Action in Housing).

On top of the £17million in grant funding, the Home Office recently announced a further £4.5million of funding to the current 72 organisations to continue these support services well beyond the 30 June 2021 deadline.

Whilst the GFN directly funds 72 organisations, these organisations have expanded their network across the UK by forming partnerships with other organisations. These partners are similar, they are on the ground, giving direct support to the vulnerable including homeless/rough sleepers, victims of domestic violence and members of the Roma community.

This network is also supported by the Home Office through an online GFO forum called ‘Basecamp’. This platform allows organisations to share ideas, best practise and for organisations to reach out to one another for help and support. It is the innovative ways of working demonstrated by the Grant Funded Network during the COVID-19 pandemic, which have continued to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals for completing online applications or accessing digital status, such as virtual face to face meetings and, were necessary, face to face appointments with use of lateral flow testing, enabling them to do so in a safe way for both themselves and these vulnerable individuals.

The EU Settlement Resolution Centre, will also continue to provide over the phone digital assistance to applicants who require support to access their digital status.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 8 March (HL13499), how many cases were brought forward for (1) forcing someone to marry, and (2) breaching a forced marriage protection order, under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, in (a) 2014, (b) 2015, (c) 2016, (d) 2017, (e) 2018, (f) 2019, and (g) 2020.

The number of offences forced marriage recorded by police forces in England Wales able to supply data to the Home Office can be found in the table. Data for the whole of 2020 is not yet available. This will include cases where an attempt to commit a forced marriage offence was thwarted as well as completed offences.

Table: Forced marriage offences, England and Wales*

Year

Number of offences

2015

44

2016

99

2017

76

2018

128

2019

131

*Excludes police forces: Kent, Wiltshire, Staffordshire, Humberside and Greater Manchester Police

.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people accessed the British National (Overseas) visa scheme within its first month.

The Home Office will release application figures, including those for other routes, in the quarterly migration statistics, which are due to be published on 27 May.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 8 March (HL13499), what estimate they have made of the number of girls resident in the UK who were married abroad when they were underage and brought back to the UK in (1) 2014,  (2) 2015, (3) 2016, (4) 2017, (5) 2018, (6) 2019, and (7) 2020.

The UK is a world-leader in the fight to end the practice of forced marriage, with our dedicated Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) leading efforts to combat it both at home and abroad. The FMU provides support and advice for victims, those at risk, and professionals, through its public helpline, and delivers training and awareness raising activities to professionals and others across the country.

The Home Office does not have estimates of the number of girls who are resident in the UK who were married abroad when they were underage and who were brought back to the UK. Information on the cases of actual or potential forced marriage dealt with by the FMU, including age breakdowns, can be found at this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/forced-marriage-unit-statistics. Statistics for 2020 will be added to this page later this year.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the difference in funding per head for police services in (1) urban, and (2) rural, areas; and what steps they are taking to reduce any such difference.

On the 4th February 2021, the Government published a total police funding settlement of up to £15.8 billion in 2021/22, an increase of up to £636 million compared to 2020/21. This continued investment shows the Government is committed to supporting the entire policing sector.

The police funding formula remains the most reliable mechanism we have to distribute core grant funding although this Government is alive to the concerns many in the policing sector hold over the current formula and we acknowledge that the current arrangements are out of date. Careful consideration will be given during the upcoming Spending Review and as part of our longer-term vision for policing.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in dealing with the issue of forced marriage.

The UK is a world-leader in the fight to end the practice of forced marriage, with our dedicated Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) leading efforts to combat it both at home and abroad.

The Government made forced marriage a criminal offence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to better protect victims and send a clear message that this practice is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK. That Act also makes it a criminal offence to breach a Forced Marriage Protection Order, and provides anonymity for victims of forced marriage.

Those provisions sit as part of the Government’s wider approach to tackling forced marriage. We are committed to ensuring that professionals understand that forced marriage is a criminal offence and have the training and guidance they need to provide effective advice and support on this issue. The Government has published statutory multi-agency guidance and made available free e-learning to help professionals to recognise the warning signs and ensure that the right action is taken to help protect those at risk. The FMU also provides regular training on forced marriage to police officers and social workers.

In 2019 the FMU provided advice or support in 1,355 cases related to a possible forced marriage. Over 2,600 Forced Marriage Protection Orders have also been issued since they were introduced.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were (1) charged, and (2) convicted, with (a) forcing someone to marry, and (b) breaching a forced marriage protection order, under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, in (i) 2016, (ii) 2017, (iii) 2018, (iv) 2019, and (v) 2020.

The Home office does not hold information on the number of people that were charged with forced marriage offences or breaching a forced marriage protection order.

The number of convictions for forced marriage offences is held by the Ministry of Justice.

The number of convictions for offences relating to forced marriage and breaching forced marriage protection orders for calendar years 2016-2019 can be found in the table below.

Found Guilty

2016

2017

2018

2019

36.1 Forced marriage

0

0

3

0

66.6 Breach of a forced marriage protection order

5

1

4

2

Data for 2020 is due to be published in May 2021.

The figures given in the table relate to defendants for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the potential impact of the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the processing of Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa applications; and what steps they are taking to address any such impact.

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route launches from 31 January 2021.

The majority of the case working for the BN(O) Visa route can be completed remotely. A limited number of case workers will need to attend a physical office location and will do so in accordance with Public Health England guidance on social distancing.

We are also working closely with the commercial partner operating our Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Hong Kong regarding overseas applicants should they need to attend an appointment. Social distancing and sanitisation protocols are in place which are aligned with local regulations, and currently the VAC is operating at normal capacity.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many cases the Forced Marriage Unit provided advice or support related to possible forced marriage (1) to a person aged under 16, (2) to a person aged between 16 and 18, and (3) to a person aged between 18 and 20, in (a) 2014, (b) 2015, (c) 2016, (d) 2017, (e) 2018, and (f) 2019.

Information on Forced Marriage Unit statistics, including age breakdowns, can be found at this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/forced-marriage-unit-statistics. Providing the complete information requested would exceed the word limit for responses to written parliamentary questions so I have attached the following publication from the Forced Marriage Unit Statistics Unit.

I would also like to correct my response to the Lord Bishop’s question HL16427, from the 2017-19 session. This stated that in 2018 the Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,764 cases via its public helpline and email inbox. The correct figure was 1,507.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conditions for child refugees in Greece; what humanitarian and medical aid they have provided to those refugees; and what plans they have, if any, to allow them to come to the UK.

The UK Government has previously raised concerns about the conditions in the migrant camps with the Greek Government and in light of our strong bilateral relationship will continue to do so when necessary. On 22 April the UK and Greece signed the UK-Greece Migration Action Plan, which aims to improve overall management of irregular migration in the Eastern Mediterranean (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/historic-uk-greece-migration-action-plan-signed).

As part of this ongoing cooperation the UK will continue to provide further practical support when possible – this recently included the provision of over £500,000?for?urgently needed humanitarian goods and in 2019 the?UK helped finance the?Metadrasi?children’s shelter on Samos, which provides a safe place to stay and professional support to the most vulnerable unaccompanied children who arrive on Samos.

Protecting vulnerable children remains a key priority of this Government and we have a proud record of doing so through our asylum system and our resettlement schemes.? The UK remains fully committed to meeting its obligations under the Dublin III Regulation, and unaccompanied children can continue to transfer to the UK from Greece under Dublin.? Despite covid-19 restrictions, the UK is ready to accept transfers under Dublin whenever Member States are in a position to make those arrangements. We recently worked closely with Greece to complete the transfer of vulnerable people, including unaccompanied children, on 11 May who were united with family members in the UK.? We continue to liaise with our counterparts in Member States on what actions can be taken during this period and to effect transfers as soon as it is safe and practical to do so

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to part 3.1 of the policy paper Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published on 16 March, what "doctrinal threats" they believe would warrant a nuclear response.

I can assure the Rt. Rev Prelate the Lord Bishop that the UK would consider using nuclear weapons only in the most extreme circumstances of self-defence, including the defence of our NATO Allies. While our resolve and capability to do so if necessary is beyond doubt, to avoid simplifying the calculations of potential adversaries, we will remain deliberately ambiguous about precisely when, how and at what scale we would contemplate the use of our nuclear weapons.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Goldie on 3 November 2020 (HL9440), what resources are available for training new officers in the British Armed Forces to identify those under their command who are experiencing financial difficulties caused by gambling.

Trainee Officers in the UK Armed Forces are provided with briefing to identify the various indicators that personnel under their command may be experiencing financial difficulties, including those caused by gambling. We also provide our Officers with briefings from the Royal British Legion MoneyForce initiative which aim to assist all Service personnel, their partners, families and dependants, to be better equipped to manage their money and financial affairs. When problem-gambling is identified, Officers are equipped with information and advice on where to signpost their personnel to receive help, including through specialist military welfare staffs (SSAFA), Service charities, the NHS Problem Gambling Clinic, Gamcare, the Gordon Moody Association and Gamblers Anonymous.

Officers can also signpost their personnel to the Joining Forces Credit Union which supplies bespoke products to move Service personnel away from Payday Loan Companies. Joint Forces Credit Union has also set up a specific COVID-19 support package. In addition, The Money and Pensions Service have also run a financial awareness campaign with the British Forces Broadcasting Service to highlight everything from savings/loans to pensions.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Goldie on 3 November (HL9441), what assessment they have made of the success of existing programmes within the military in reducing gambling-related harm among serving personnel.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) takes problem-gambling seriously and provides welfare support and financial awareness training for our people. The MOD also blocks gambling websites on all its networks in order to reduce their accessibility.

The MOD has seen no evidence to suggest that Service personnel are more prone to problem-gambling than any other group in society and has made no assessment of the efficacy of our existing approach to the reduction of gambling-related harm.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the existing syllabus for new recruits to the armed forces currently includes training on gambling related harm.

New recruits to the Armed Forces receive comprehensive briefing on the importance of financial security and the values and standards expected of them, during which the issue of gambling is raised. They are also signposted to the full range of support and assistance available for welfare matters, including gambling. New officers are trained how to identify and support those under their command who are experiencing financial difficulties, including those caused by gambling.

There are no plans to enact legislation similar to that of the United States' Gambling Addiction Prevention Act 2019. Polices and initiatives already in operation by the Department and Armed Forces closely mirror the requirements and obligations stipulated by said Act and have similar effect.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enact legislation similar to the Gambling Addiction Prevention Act 2019 in the United States, which legally requires the development and implementation of policies and programmes to prevent and treat gambling disorders among members of the armed forces and their dependants.

New recruits to the Armed Forces receive comprehensive briefing on the importance of financial security and the values and standards expected of them, during which the issue of gambling is raised. They are also signposted to the full range of support and assistance available for welfare matters, including gambling. New officers are trained how to identify and support those under their command who are experiencing financial difficulties, including those caused by gambling.

There are no plans to enact legislation similar to that of the United States' Gambling Addiction Prevention Act 2019. Polices and initiatives already in operation by the Department and Armed Forces closely mirror the requirements and obligations stipulated by said Act and have similar effect.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what considerations they have given to replicating the Pool Re insurance model to help resolve the insurance premium increases faced by leaseholders in developments with building and fire safety defects.

The Government is aware that some leaseholders are facing high buildings insurance premiums as a result of fire safety issues. We are continuing to closely monitor the market and are working with the insurance industry to encourage market-led solutions.

With regard to Pool Re, we would not typically recommend drawing parallels with existing Government-backed insurance schemes given the specific design of any intervention is dependent on the size, frequency and nature of the risk being insured.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 28 June (HL1204, HL1205), what assessment they have made of reports that leaseholders, despite having an EWS1 form certifying that their building's external wall system has been assessed for safety by a suitable expert, are unable to sell their leases on account of lenders refusing to offer mortgages.

The Department frequently engages with the industry and will continue to challenge them on the use of the EWS1 process, as well as pressing for more data so that we can get a sense of how the RICS guidance is being applied, and the impact of the process on mortgage applications.

We will continue to work with lenders to enable them to understand and accept other forms of assurance such as a comprehensive fire risk assessment which includes the external walls or post 2018 building control sign off for high rise blocks.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to (1) review, and (2) update, what constitutes a designated ‘rural area’ within the terms of section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 with a view to including more smaller rural communities.

The areas set out under section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 are National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and areas designated as rural for the purposes of Right to Buy by the Secretary of State.

The criteria for rural designation are that the population density is 2 persons or fewer per hectare; and that there are no more than 3,000 inhabitants.

Areas are designated at the request of individual local authorities; and can be made at any time.

There are no immediate plans to review the designation criteria; but the Government continues its commitment to meeting the housing needs of rural communities.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of leaseholders unable to sell their leases because of (1) cladding issues not addressed by the financial scheme to support cladding removal, and (2) fire safety issues other than cladding.

The Department does not hold the data in the form requested.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that the updated guidance on external wall fire review processes (the EWS1 form) will have on the ability of leaseholders to sell their leases.

The Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors (RICS) guidance on the proportionate use of the EWS1 process is a step forward in terms of clarity for consumers and a consistent, more proportionate approach to valuation assessments. This ensures that EWS1 assessments are only requested when absolutely necessary. RICS are currently monitoring the impact of the updated guidance.

MHCLG estimates that if lenders which use the EWS1 process follow the RICS guidance, nearly 500,000 flat owners will not need to ask their building owner to commission an EWS1 form.

So far, most major lenders, representing roughly 80% of the mortgage market, have said that they will adopt the RICS guidance or already take a markedly less risk-averse approach.

Recent data from one major lender suggests that an EWS1 already exists for 50% of mortgage applications where one is requested, and we are working with industry to ensure this picture only improves.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the fire at the Blue apartment block in Leeds on 8 June, what plans they have, if any, to organise an emergency roundtable meeting with (1) developers, (2) insurance companies, and (3) finance providers, in relation to flammable cladding and other fire safety defects present in residential developments.

The impact on residents living in high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding is clearly understood and recognised. That is why the Government is investing over £5 billion to remediate high rise residential buildings with unsafe cladding.

Flat owners in buildings between 11 and 18 metres, will be protected from unaffordable costs of cladding removal with a generous government-backed finance scheme, capped at £50 a month.

The Department and Ministers frequently engage with building owners and developers on their responsibilities for building safety and remediation, as well as insurance and finance providers on their market response to the challenges.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish a summary of responses to their Raising accessibility standards for new homes consultation, which closed on 1 December 2020.

The Government response to the consultation on raising accessibility standards for new homes will be published later this year and it will include a summary of responses.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to meet the housing needs of (1) older, and (2) disabled, people.

We place great importance on the provision of suitable homes for older and disabled people. Our planning rules already mean councils must consider the needs of older and disabled people when planning for new homes. In 2019 we published Planning Practice Guidance in order to help councils implement the National Planning Policy Framework policies.

In August 2020 we published our planning white paper, which set out the high-level details of our proposed planning reforms and we continue to engage with a range of stakeholders in order to help shape our proposals.

In September 2020 we consulted on how to raise accessible housing standards and we have also committed to a full review of Part M of the Building Regulations which includes a research programme to help us to consider what changes can be made.

In January 2021 we published the draft National Model Design Code, which guides local authorities on how to provide a variety of choice of homes to suit all needs and ages, including those of older people and disabled people.

We are committed to protecting and boosting the supply of supported housing and our aim is that 10% of delivery under the new Affordable Homes Programme will be for much needed specialist and supported housing for older and disabled people.

Lastly, by 2021-22 we will have invested over £4 billion into the Disabled Facilities Grant (2010-11 to 2021-22) which has provided an estimated 400,000 adaptations in disabled people’s homes.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether current council tax bands in England adequately reflect changes to property prices since 1991.

Council tax bands in England reflect the sale value of properties at 1 April 1991 and provide a proxy for relative ability to pay. This banding system is well understood and provides a stable income stream to local authorities and predictable annual bills for taxpayers.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296), 6 October (HL8828), and 28 October (HL9442), what assessment they have made of whether diversification will be sufficient to tackle developments which are currently stalled due to ‘land banking’ and ‘intentional delay’.

Sir Oliver Letwin’s 2018 Review of Build Out provided a comprehensive assessment of build out of sites and recommended that a greater diversity of housing products on residential developments was a key way to overcome issues associated with low market absorption rates. Our Planning White Paper consulted on proposals to amend national policy to encourage more variety of development types by different builders, and we are now in the process of analysing the responses. We will be publishing our response in due course

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296), 6 October (HL8828), and 28 October (HL9442), what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) fears of negative equity on existing house purchases, and (2) house prices rising faster than wage increases, on the effectiveness of diversification.

In response to Part 1: The Government has taken unprecedented measures to support consumers, businesses and the wider economy. Many homeowners will benefit from these measures.

The Government has strengthened the welfare safety-net with over £9 billion boost to the welfare system. The furlough scheme has been extended to the end of March, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The Government has also supported business during this time through the coronavirus business interruption schemes, the bounce back loans and the future fund.

This package of support also includes mortgage holidays for up to 6 months, and a moratorium on lender repossession enforcement until 31 January 2021. These measures continue to protect homeowners who have been affected by coronavirus from unaffordable costs if they cannot work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has also taken substantial measures to support the housing market. We have introduced a stamp duty holiday, with effect until 31 March 2021, raising the threshold for paying stamp duty land tax from £125,000 to £500,000. We have kept the housing market open, with clear guidance on how to conduct home buying and selling amid Covid-19 restrictions. We have taken measures to ensure that the housing market and all associated activities can continue during the current lockdown, and the housebuilding sector, in line with the wider construction sector, will continue to operate and follow Covid-19 secure guidelines. In combination, these measures have ensured a functioning and effective housing market. There are currently high levels of transactions in the market. The provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in September 2020 is 98,010, which is very similar to September 2019 at only 0.7% lower and 21.3% higher than August 2020.

In response to Part 2: the Government wants to see the housing market diversify over the long term, regardless of short term movements in house prices. We support community and self-builders, small and medium enterprises, and those who are building homes in innovative ways. We have put in place initiatives to diversify the market including the £2.5 billion Home Building Fund, which received a £450 million boost in June, and the £1 billion ENABLE Build guarantee scheme. In addition, we are supporting the Build to Rent sector with a £3.5 billion Guarantee Scheme, driving up standards and quality across the private rented sector. Leveraging in more private investment will help create skilled jobs and drive economic growth while our ongoing planning reforms will reduce burdens on the construction sector.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296) and on 19 October (HL8828), what assessment they have made of the impact of tackling the practices of 'land banking' and 'intentional delay' on the market absorption rates in the housing market.

Sir Oliver Letwin’s 2018 independent Review of Build Out was clear that developers will only build new homes at a rate that the market can absorb. That is why our planning white paper sets out proposals to revise national policy to encourage masterplans and design codes for substantial development sites to see a variety of development types by different builders come forward at once. This will help speed up build out by ensuring new development can appeal to a broad range of market needs. We are also exploring further options to speed up the build out of residential development as part of the implementation of the white paper.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296) and the White Paper Planning for the Future, published on 6 August, what assessment they have made of the reasons for low market absorption rates as the responsible factor for stalled developments.

Sir Oliver Letwin's 2018 independent Review of Build Out provided a comprehensive assessment of build out rates for large residential sites which identified low market absorption rates as a key constraint. A copy of the report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-build-out-draft-analysis.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to prevent developments stalling, and (2) to ensure obligations to build are met in a timely manner, in their changes to planning rules.

New homes should be built out as soon as possible once planning permission is granted. We are clear that where sites are stalled or experiencing delays to delivery, it is for local authorities and developers to work closely together at a local level to overcome these barriers.

To support build out through planning, we propose to make it clear in the revised National Planning Policy Framework that the masterplans and design codes for sites prepared for substantial development should seek to include a variety of development types by different builders which allow more phases to come forward together.

We will be exploring further options to support faster build out as part of our proposed planning reforms as outlined in the Planning White Paper.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards introducing Integrated Domestic Abuse Court pilot schemes.

Planning for the Integrated Domestic Abuse Court pilot is under way with the Steering Group and Design Groups established and developing detailed proposals. We intend to launch the pilots later this year, despite the challenges brought by Covid-19 and the significant ongoing work to ensure the family courts continue to function throughout the pandemic.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
7th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend the list of circumstances in which a registered medical professional has a duty to notify a relevant senior coroner of a death to include suicide as a result of problem gambling.

Under the Notification of Deaths Regulations 2019, registered medical practitioners are required to notify the coroner of a death in specified circumstances, which include cases of suspected self-harm or where the cause of death is unknown. As part of the notification process, the medical practitioner must tell the coroner which of the specified circumstances they believe apply to the death. The guidance for registered medical practitioners (published in September 2019 and available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notification-of-deaths-regulations-2019-guidance) makes clear that, in most cases, the practitioner should provide the coroner with a detailed narrative explanation of the likely cause of death.

In practice, therefore, a requirement already exists for cases of suspected suicide – which would include suicide as a result of problem gambling – to be notified to the coroner and, consequently, the Government has no plans to amend the 2019 Regulations in this regard.