Ruth Jones Written Questions

125 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Ruth Jones


Date Title Questioner
3 Jul 2020, 5:15 p.m. Charities: Equality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to help increase diversity in the charity sector.

Answer (Mr John Whittingdale)

The Government recognises the importance of diversity within the charity sector at all levels, whether that be trustees, chief executives, staff members or volunteers, in order to meet the needs of the communities the sector serves and it is committed to working with our civil society partners to address this. We welcome the work that sector representative bodies are doing to improve diversity within the sector.

Appointing trustees is a matter for individual charities, but is something the Government takes very seriously. The Government has held a number of conversations with civil society partners to improve understanding of the opportunities and challenges around enabling people from different backgrounds to become involved in trusteeship. The Charity Commission has published resources for charities to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to get involved and make a difference. The Charity Commission also assisted in the creation of the Charity Governance Code, which sets out recommended practice for all charities registered in England and Wales. The Charity Governance Code makes clear the importance of diversity and resulting positive outcomes. We are fully committed to continue working with the charity sector to take action on this issue.

In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials and Ministers have met with a wide range of groups, including women-led organisations and BAME-led civil society organisations to discuss how the Government can engage more with a variety of groups in the sector as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

3 Jul 2020, 2:49 p.m. Universal Credit Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of recent trends in the average levels of household debt for people in receipt of universal credit.

Answer (Will Quince)

Claimants may find themselves in debt for a variety of reasons, many of which can pre-date their claim to Universal Credit. The Department encourages people out of work, or on a low income, to consider whether claiming Universal Credit could provide them with additional support before issues, such as debt, spiral out of control. We promote Universal Credit through various external channels, including through the ‘Understanding Universal Credit’ website, to help people navigate the range of support available and provide information about how to apply.

Work Coaches are trained to gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first contact and can refer them to more specialist support for personal budgeting, money guidance and debt advice if required, including through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). MaPS has a statutory responsibility to deliver free and impartial money and pensions guidance and debt advice to anyone that needs it. It is also required to have regard to the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances.

Our own analysis shows that Universal Credit in fact reduces debts such as rent arrears. Supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs, shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time.

3 Jul 2020, 2:20 p.m. City Deals: Northern Ireland Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of the progress on the delivery of Northern Ireland City Deals.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

The Prime Minister has set out his ambitious plan to invest in our future prosperity. Jobs, skills and infrastructure will be central to the UK Government’s New Deal which will unleash the economic potential within every corner of the UK. As part of this, the UK Government intends to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and will work with the devolved administrations on our ambitious plan for economic recovery across the UK.

This ambition is also reflected in our commitment of £562m to City and Growth Deals across Northern Ireland (NI) which will drive economic growth and productivity in line with the key local priorities. The NI Executive has recently agreed to match the UK Government commitment to City and Growth Deals and the Inclusive Future Fund, bringing total investment to £1.2bn and highlighting what our partnership can achieve.

This partnership and long-term strategic investment will be vital in supporting Northern Ireland’s economic recovery following the impact and challenges presented by Covid-19. The Councils and their delivery partners are therefore working at speed to ensure their projects reflect the best opportunities for investment. Whilst Covid-19 has required some reassessment of local priorities, we are confident that progress is being made across each of the deals. I continue to engage regularly with the Chief Executives of the City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland and my department is working closely with Councils and NI Executive colleagues to provide any support necessary to accelerate their implementation.

3 Jul 2020, 2:18 p.m. Borders: Northern Ireland Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on border infrastructure in Northern Ireland in the event of the UK leaving the transition period without a deal.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

The Government remains optimistic and is working hard to reach an agreement with the EU on our future relationship. That is why we have agreed to an intensified talks process throughout July.

The Ireland and Northern Ireland Protocol will be delivered by the end of the Transition Period. There will be no new physical customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland and we see no need to build any.

We will be making the necessary adjustments to existing entry points for agrifood goods to provide for proportionate additional controls, including some checks to help movements of live animals and agri-food from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. This is in order to respect the pre-existing status of the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological unit. We will also work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive, and with the EU in the Joint Committee, to seek to simplify and minimise any requirements.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is working closely with colleagues across Cabinet and with minsters from the Northern Ireland Executive in support of this, taking account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

3 Jul 2020, 1:22 p.m. Defence and Aerospace industry Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on the defence and military aerospace industry of reaching the end of the transition period without a deal with the EU.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

The United Kingdom left the EU with a deal on the 31 January 2020. We are willing to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal and to this end have agreed an intensified talks process throughout July.

Planning for the end of the transition period is well underway – coordinated by the Cabinet Office and informed by dialogue with the defence sector.

2 Jul 2020, 3:14 p.m. Malawi: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Malawi.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK welcomes the peaceful conduct of fresh Presidential elections in Malawi on 23 June. Malawi has a long history of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Malawians can be rightly proud of their commitment to resolving political differences through their country's democratic institutions and processes, including in the aftermath of the contested 2019 Presidential elections. I sent my congratulations to President Chakwera on 29 June. As a long term friend of Malawi, I look forward to working with the new Government to tackle the issues that matter to all Malawians.

The UK has consistently encouraged all political parties in Malawi to respect the rule of law, follow due process under the constitution, and respect the rulings of Malawi's courts. Following the May 2019 Presidential elections, we urged de-escalation of inflammatory rhetoric and peaceful campaigning from all sides. We also urged the parties to be mindful of the risks of holding an election campaign during the Covid pandemic. I reiterated these messages in a phone call with then Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 15 May, as did the UK Chargé d'Affaires in his meeting with then President Mutharika on 11 May.

2 Jul 2020, 1:49 p.m. Post Offices: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of Post Office Ltd on the operation of post offices as covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

Answer (Paul Scully)

BEIS Ministers and Officials have regular discussions with Post Office Ltd to discuss a range of issues, including the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the Post Office.

The Government announcement on 23 March made it clear that the Government views the services provided by the Post Office as essential and, subject to social distancing guidelines, post offices have been allowed to remain open throughout lockdown. However, for those post offices co-located in a non-essential retailer which therefore had to close for a period, the easing of lockdown measures mean that they can re-start trading. Postmasters, as self-employed businesspeople, will need to consider how best to maintain social distancing at their workplace in line with the latest Government guidance which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches.

This may include restricting the number of customers in a shop at any one time and making this clear to customers and other visitors. Post Office workers who cannot work from home should go to work as soon as it is practical if their workplace is open and follows the safer working guidelines.

1 Jul 2020, 5:46 p.m. Bangladesh: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Bangladesh.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

Bangladesh is an important partner for the UK on a wide range of issues and is a fellow member of the Commonwealth. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) makes regular assessments of the political situation in Bangladesh, including through the British High Commission in Dhaka.

Like the UK, Bangladesh has made some tough decisions to protect its people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladesh is also generously hosting over 900,000 of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The UK remains a leading partner in the international response to the Rohingya crisis.

Bangladesh remains a human rights priority country for the FCO. Ministers, and our High Commission in Dhaka, frequently raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Bangladesh, including on freedom of expression.

The UK will continue to engage with the Government of Bangladesh on a broad range of issues and will support efforts towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Bangladesh.

1 Jul 2020, 5:44 p.m. Sri Lanka: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

Sri Lanka is an important partner for the UK on a wide range of issues and is a fellow member of the Commonwealth. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes regular assessments of the political situation in Sri Lanka, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. We are monitoring political developments in Sri Lanka very closely. Parliamentary elections, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are due to take place on 5 August. We have noted with concern the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka following the outbreak of COVID-19, and some concerning developments in the human rights situation.

The Minister of State for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, recently raised these concerns with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 24 June. We continue to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka on a broad range of issues. The UK is also a member of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council.

1 Jul 2020, 5:42 p.m. India: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in India.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

India is the world's largest democracy, influential global leader and key partner on a full range of issues. Together we are a force for good in the world. Like the UK, India has made some tough decisions to protect its people during the pandemic. The UK and India are stronger when we work together as partners, building back better to sustainable economic growth, delivering resilience, prosperity and security for both our peoples.

1 Jul 2020, 5:06 p.m. Employment: Mental Health Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of incidences of (a) stress, (b) anxiety and (c) depression for those in work.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The information requested is not available.

The Government recognises the need to monitor trends in mental health and work as the UK responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department is actively reviewing available information on mental health and work, which will enable examination of trends in due course, and intends to examine changes in mental health for people in work as data becomes available.

1 Jul 2020, 4:30 p.m. Egypt: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Eqypt.

Answer (James Cleverly)

Egyptians have repeatedly demonstrated their desire for a secure, prosperous, and democratic country. In that context, we look forward to better protection of Egyptians' constitutional rights, freedom of expression and more space for Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society. We believe that these rights and freedoms are essential for Egypt's long-term stability. Egypt is a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights Priority Country and the UK continues to urge the Egyptian Government to ensure the full implementation of the rights and freedoms set out in Egypt's constitution.

1 Jul 2020, 4 p.m. Economic Situation: Scotland Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what recent assessment the Government has made of the economy of Scotland.

Answer (Mr Alister Jack)

Recent GDP figures show that, in line with many other economies around the world, coronavirus is having a severe impact on the UK and Scottish economy.

The latest official figures show that Scotland’s GDP is provisionally estimated to have fallen by 18.9% in real terms during April, after a fall of 5.0% in March. These results are very similar to the pattern seen across the UK as a whole, and reflect the direct economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland. Between March 2020 and April 2020, UK GDP has fallen by 20.4%, after a fall of 5.8% in March.

We have taken unprecedented actions to protect jobs and incomes, and support businesses, in order to prevent the severe but temporary economic disruption from leaving permanent scars on the economy.

1 Jul 2020, 3:51 p.m. UK Relations With EU: Scotland Ruth Jones

Question

What discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the UK’s future relationship with the EU in relation to Scotland.

Answer (Iain Stewart)

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland speaks to the Prime Minister regularly on a variety of areas of interest to Scotland, including the future relationship with the EU.

1 Jul 2020, 9:54 a.m. Broadband and Mobile Phones Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps his Department has taken to increase mobile and broadband coverage.

Answer (Matt Warman)

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband as soon as possible. This will be done through promoting network competition and commercial investment wherever possible and by intervening with public subsidy where necessary.

To deliver this we are taking action to reduce barriers to commercial deployment including through the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill currently before Parliament. This will make it easier to connect tenanted properties with an unresponsive landlord. At Budget 2020, we also committed to invest £5 billion to deliver gigabit capable deployment to the hardest to reach areas across the UK.

This investment is on top of our existing funding for gigabit broadband, including the £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme. In addition in March 2020 the Government’s broadband Universal Service Obligation went live. This provides everyone in the UK with the legal right to request an upgraded broadband connection that provides a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps and upload speed of 1 Mbps.

With regards to mobile connectivity, the Government announced in March 2020 that it had agreed a £1 billion deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. This will see operators collectively increase mobile phone coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of 2025, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments.

The Government is also committed to being a world leader in 5G technology and providing a 5G signal to a majority of the population by 2027. As a part of this, we have invested millions in a programme of 5G Testbeds and Trials, including the recent £30 million 5G Create competition.

30 Jun 2020, 5:02 p.m. Brazil: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Brazil.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The UK and Brazil have a close dialogue on both bilateral and global issues of mutual interest including the environment, science and trade. Brazil is a key partner in the global response to Covid-19 and our countries are working together to find a vaccine. UK Ministers and our Embassy and Consulates in Brazil regularly engage with the Brazilian Government and we will continue to monitor the situation.

30 Jun 2020, 2:18 p.m. Economic Situation: Northern Ireland Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment the Government has made of the economy of Northern Ireland.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

Whilst the Northern Ireland economy has its challenges, I am confident that Northern Ireland has a promising economic future as we recover from this crisis. This Government will always stand by the people of Northern Ireland.

We want Northern Ireland not only to recover but to prosper. For this to happen we need to ensure that we are driving innovation and sustainability, enhancing connectivity, developing a skilled workforce, promoting exports and attracting investment.

We will continue to work collaboratively with businesses, the Northern Ireland Executive and local partners to get the economy back up and running, laying the foundations for a stable and sustainable economic future.


29 Jun 2020, 5:14 p.m. Nigeria: Religion Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will introduce mandatory training for her Department’s staff in Nigeria on (a) patterns of discrimination and (b) conflict on grounds of religious characteristics and (c) how religion and religious actors interact with the societal context.

Answer (James Duddridge)

Our staff are encouraged to develop an understanding of religion and its role within society, including in conflict situations and in countries like Nigeria where religion is important to most people's identity. Specific training on religion is available to DFID staff through the FCO’s Diplomatic Academy. DFID’s cadre of Social Development Advisers specialise in understanding religious diversity and religious freedom and provide support across the DFID Nigeria office. In addition, our Nigerian local staff provide first-hand insight into the role of religion and religious actors within Nigerian society, including conflicts affecting the country. DFID also use expertise from the FCO’s Africa Research Group and conflict-prevention experts.

We are now working on an enhanced training offer related to religion as part of our commitment to implement the recommendations made in the Bishop of Truro's independent review. This work is being led by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP.

29 Jun 2020, 3:24 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Nigerian counterpart on implementing the National Livestock Transformation Plan to help reduce conflict involving farmers and herders in that country.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK worked closely with international partners to provide technical support to the Vice President's office to develop the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). The plan sets out a long-term approach to transition towards more sedentary forms of cattle-rearing and explicitly addresses some of the factors underpinning intercommunal violence.

The NLTP is currently being implemented in eight 'Middle Belt' states. The British High Commission will continue to engage with the Vice President's office and relevant ministries on its further roll out. A number of additional states have expressed interest in the plan; we are encouraging their adoption of it through discussions with state governments

29 Jun 2020, 3:23 p.m. Nigeria: Internally Displaced People Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to support Nigerians who have been displaced by violence between herders and farmers.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK Government has engaged closely with the Federal Government, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council to help address the drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions.

The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in affected states. For example, a team visited Plateau State in December to discuss the situation with the Governor, Christian and Muslim faith leaders, organisations working on reconciliation, and communities displaced by the violence.

The UK does not currently provide direct humanitarian funding to people displaced by intercommunal conflict in Nigeria. DFID is designing a programme to address conflict over natural resources in Nigeria, which will help to address some of the root causes of the violence. We are exploring whether this will include support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

29 Jun 2020, 3:23 p.m. Nigeria: Agriculture Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will provide NGOs that are running effective reconciliation programmes between farmers and herders in Nigeria with (a) funding and (b) capacity building to scale-up their programmes.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK Government has engaged closely with the Federal Government, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council to help address the drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions.

The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in affected states. For example, a team visited Plateau State in December to discuss the situation with the Governor, Christian and Muslim faith leaders, organisations working on reconciliation, and communities displaced by the violence.

The UK does not currently provide direct humanitarian funding to people displaced by intercommunal conflict in Nigeria. DFID is designing a programme to address conflict over natural resources in Nigeria, which will help to address some of the root causes of the violence. We are exploring whether this will include support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

25 Jun 2020, 9:37 a.m. Nigeria: Religion Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will introduce mandatory training for staff of his Department in Nigeria on (a) patterns of discrimination and conflict with religious characteristics and (b) how religion and religious actors interact with the societal and conflict context.

Answer (James Duddridge)

Our staff are encouraged to develop an understanding of religion and its role within society, including in conflict situations and in countries like Nigeria where religion is important to most people's identity. Specific training on religion is available to all staff through the FCO's Diplomatic Academy. In addition, our Nigerian local staff provide first-hand insight into the role of religion and religious actors within Nigerian society, including conflicts affecting the country. We also use expertise from the FCO's Africa Research Group and conflict-prevention experts.

We are now working on an enhanced training offer related to religion as part of our commitment to implement the recommendations made in the Bishop of Truro's independent review. This work is being led by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP.

24 Jun 2020, 4:33 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the report published by the all-party Parliamentary group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief on 15 June 2020 entitled Nigeria: unfolding genocide.

Answer (James Duddridge)

We welcome the APPG's report and the detailed analysis it provides on the complex issues of intercommunal violence across multiple states of Nigeria and acts of terrorism committed by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in North East Nigeria. The UK Government strongly condemns all acts of violence in Nigeria. We are considering the report and its recommendations in detail and I will provide a full response in due course.

24 Jun 2020, 4:33 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will provide (a) financial, (b) technical and (c) capacity building support to his Nigerian counterpart to implement the recommendations in the report published by the all-party Parliamentary group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief on 15 June 2020 entitled Nigeria: unfolding genocide.

Answer (James Duddridge)

We welcome the APPG's report and the detailed analysis it provides on the complex issues of intercommunal violence across multiple states of Nigeria and acts of terrorism committed by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in North East Nigeria. The UK Government strongly condemns all acts of violence in Nigeria. We are considering the report and its recommendations in detail and I will provide a full response in due course.

22 Jun 2020, 5:23 p.m. Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the proposals to repaint the RAF Voyager aircraft.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

The total forecast cost for completing the repaint of the RAF Voyager VIP aircraft (including related costs) is approximately £900,000. The project will be carried out by Marshall Aerospace Defence Group (MADG) in Cambridge.

The decision to repaint the VIP Voyager - and approval of a design that best projected Global Britain - was taken on a cross-Government basis, to be funded by the Ministry of Defence.

18 Jun 2020, 8:55 a.m. Fisheries: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the fishing industry of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

The closure of export markets, and the domestic hospitality sector, has affected the fishing sector. This is evidenced in statistics published by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on fishing activity in April, the first full month of lockdown in the UK. These statistics show that landings by UK vessels in April 2020 were down by 35% compared to a year ago. The value of these landings was down more steeply by 54%. The MMO has published statistics for March and April. The MMO's ad hoc COVID-19 impact statistics will be published monthly, on the final Tuesday of the subsequent month, while the impact of the pandemic on fisheries continues to be acute.

17 Jun 2020, 6:08 p.m. Civil Servants: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that civil servants in public-facing roles are able to work safely during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Chloe Smith)

Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has also been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during Covid-19. In addition, a Workplace Incident Framework, developed with trade unions, sets out the activity that must take place when an individual develops Covid-19.

Departments are working closely with individuals to ensure their personal circumstances are fully factored into decisions about their working arrangements. This includes supporting ethnic minority individuals based on their particular circumstances and ensuring they have the right to challenge a proposed return to the workplace if they have concerns, to have those concerns properly considered and addressed and to not return where they feel this has not been done.

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 for temporary agency workers have been put in place, including a payment scheme to support the pay of temporary agency workers who cannot work for reasons associated with Covid-19 (up to the value of 80% of their salary to a cap of £2,500 per month) and the use of virtual pre-employment screening checks and interviews.

17 Jun 2020, 6:08 p.m. Ethnic Groups: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the risk to BAME (a) civil servants and (b) contracted workers working in Government Departments of (i) contracting and (ii) spreading covid-19.

Answer (Chloe Smith)

Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has also been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during Covid-19. In addition, a Workplace Incident Framework, developed with trade unions, sets out the activity that must take place when an individual develops Covid-19.

Departments are working closely with individuals to ensure their personal circumstances are fully factored into decisions about their working arrangements. This includes supporting ethnic minority individuals based on their particular circumstances and ensuring they have the right to challenge a proposed return to the workplace if they have concerns, to have those concerns properly considered and addressed and to not return where they feel this has not been done.

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 for temporary agency workers have been put in place, including a payment scheme to support the pay of temporary agency workers who cannot work for reasons associated with Covid-19 (up to the value of 80% of their salary to a cap of £2,500 per month) and the use of virtual pre-employment screening checks and interviews.

17 Jun 2020, 5:58 p.m. Prisons: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans his Department has to introduce mass testing for covid-19 for (a) prisoners and (b) prison staff.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

We are conducting testing for all consenting staff and prisoners at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire as part of surveillance study to inform future outbreak and infection control within a vulnerable prisoner population.

Further, we will be conducting universal testing of consenting prisoners and staff at 28 prisons across England as part of a surveillance study taken forward in partnership with DHSC, PHE and the University of Southampton. This is one of several studies to be undertaken by the Department of Health and Social Care in England which also includes schools and in the wider community.

17 Jun 2020, 11:59 a.m. Coastal Areas: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to support coastal communities affected by coastal erosion during the covid-19 lockdown.

Answer (Rebecca Pow)

Local Authorities are best placed to manage their coastline and develop appropriate approaches to manage risks from coastal change.

Local Resilience Forums identify risks in their areas and develop plans with partners, including local authorities, to manage these risks. This forward planning will ensure appropriate and timely responses to an emergency event.

We also expect Local Authorities to have well established contingency arrangements to respond and support their local communities.

17 Jun 2020, 11:44 a.m. Floods: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on communities recovering from the 2019 winter floods.

Answer (Rebecca Pow)

The Secretary of State recognises the impact of COVID-19 on flood-affected householders and businesses and sympathises with those affected.

Flood recovery is a devolved matter and in England the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the lead Government department for recovery.

In response to the flood events of 2019 and 2020, the Government activated the Flood Recovery Framework in England. This framework aims to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Defra leads on two recovery schemes: the Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Scheme and the Farming Recovery Fund (FRF). The PFR fund enables eligible flood-affected properties to receive up to £5,000 to improve their resilience to future flooding. Both the November 2019 and February 2020 schemes remain open despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra officials are working closely with local authorities to monitor the situation and provide support if necessary.

Officials are also in close contact with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to understand the progress insurers are making within the recovery process in light of COVID-19. In general, insurers are stepping up their use of technology to work around the need to be in properties in person. They have access to the required protective equipment where needed, and suitable accommodation is being found where required. The ABI has been active in providing customers with regular updates and keeping officials informed of the progress on the ground.

The FRF was opened to support the recovery from the June and July 2019 floods in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This was extended to cover the further flooding in parts of South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and the Midlands in November 2019. Delivery is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

16 Jun 2020, 3:56 p.m. Fisheries: UK Relations with EU Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish the UK’s negotiating position on a future fisheries agreement with the EU.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

The Government published its approach to fisheries negotiations on 27 February and has since published its draft Fisheries Framework Agreement legal text, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement laid before the House on 19 May.

16 Jun 2020, 11:39 a.m. Coronavirus: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that there is close co-operation between the UK and Welsh Governments during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Simon Hart)

The UK Government has worked hand in hand with the Welsh Government in our response to Covid-19, including through the COBR Ministerial Committee and the Ministerial Implementation Groups, totalling 116 engagements since the start of the crisis. I have suggested to the First Minister of Wales that this level of co-operation could be even closer if the Parliamentary Under-Secretary or I were able to attend meetings of the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Core Ministerial Group.

We will continue to work closely with all the devolved administrations to ensure the most effective measures are in place in all parts of the UK. Where there are differences in the approach between Wales and England, it is vital that the rationale is founded on robust evidence and is clearly explained to people on both sides of the border.

15 Jun 2020, 2:37 p.m. Employment: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on support for people in Wales whose employment has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Simon Hart)

The Government has taken unprecedented measures UK-wide to support the economy during these difficult times. This includes injecting over £6.5bn into the welfare system, for example by increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element by £20 a week.

The Government has also implemented a package of measures to support businesses and their employees through the covid-19 outbreak, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. In Wales, 316,000 jobs have been supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and 102,000 self-employed have claimed the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

26 May 2020, 2:39 p.m. Asylum: Housing Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what financial support the Government is providing to people living in asylum accommodation to ensure that they can access soap, hand sanitiser and other essential personal hygiene items during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Chris Philp)

Asylum seekers receiving support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are generally provided with accommodation and a cash allowance to cover other essential living needs, including hygiene products. For those in section 98 Initial Accommodation and hotel or hostel accommodation, hygiene products are provided to them.

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis a higher proportion of asylum seekers than usual are being accommodated in full-board hostels and hotels.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and we are making adjustments to our processes and procedures where necessary and appropriate. There are currently no cases of Covid-19 in the immigration detention estate.

21 May 2020, 3:01 p.m. China: Uighurs Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Chinese Government on the humanitarian situation of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

On 9 March, the Foreign Secretary directly raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang with his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. We will continue to make clear to the Chinese authorities our serious concerns about the human rights and humanitarian situation in the region, including the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in "political re-education camps".

13 May 2020, 3:02 p.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the African Union on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK is grateful for the continued support of our international partners, including African Union member states. Our African partners have assisted us in flying our citizens home, including by keeping key transit hubs open to air traffic. FCO officials at diplomatic missions in African Union member states maintain close engagement with local authorities to support UK residents in these countries and to discuss issues related to the repatriation of British Nationals. On 21 April, I spoke with the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission. We discussed the African Union-UK collaborative response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the work of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC). We also have a Senior Public Health England Advisor seconded to Africa CDC, to whom I spoke in April, and I have also spoken to our Ambassador in Addis Ababa on multiple occasions over the last three months, most recently on 7 May.

13 May 2020, 1:41 p.m. Religion: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what Government financial support is being provided to faith groups, institutions and organisations in (a) Newport West constituency, (b) Wales and (c) the UK who have lost income as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Luke Hall)

Financial support provisions for faith groups, institutions and organisations in Newport West and Wales in general are devolved matters and the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly, with matters in Scotland and Northern Ireland the responsibility of the respective governments.

As the Department responsible for Faith, MHCLG continues to play a facilitative role in ensuring Government understands the needs of faith communities and the challenges they may be currently facing due to the pandemic. We are working closely with a range of faith and community groups to better understand how Government can support them to respond to the pressures they face on sustaining their organisations during this period of time.

There are a range of Government-backed financial support measures that these organisations in the United Kingdom can access.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme are both available to registered charities, and therefore places of worship registered with the Charities Commission. Registered charities have now been exempted from the requirement that the applicant derives at least 50 per cent of its income from its trading activity, so that more charities can access the scheme.

Any person or organisation, including places of worship, that is unable to pay any HMRC bill due to Covid-19 should get in contact through the HMRC Coronavirus helpline. HMRC will be able to agree payment plans, which can include a gap before any initial payment is required. If charities or places of worship are VAT registered, they are also able to use the VAT deferral scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides support for entity with a UK payroll - small or large, charitable or non-profit, to be reimbursed 80 per cent of furloughed worker wages by HMRC, up to a cap of £2500 per month.

However, we know that some charities cannot furlough staff as they are contributing to the frontline response. There is a substantial package of targeted support for charities on the frontline of responding to Covid-19. The Chancellor on 9 April announced overall £750 million of funding for charities providing key frontline services to vulnerable people affected by the pandemic. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-sets-out-extra-750-million-coronavirus-funding-for-frontline-charities £60 million of the funding will be allocated through the Barnett formula so the devolved administrations are funded to provide similar support in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

12 May 2020, 4:28 p.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Caribbean Community on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The welfare of British nationals remains our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring that British travellers around the globe are able to return home. The British Government is working closely with host governments of the Caribbean Community to help bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by the Foreign Secretary on 30 March - with up to £75 million available for special charter flights from priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers. On 8 May, we have brought back more than 300 people from Jamaica and Guyana on charter flights organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. However, we have supported nearly 11,000 to return home from the Caribbean via commercial means.

We are aware that there are British nationals remaining overseas in the Caribbean region and our effort is focused on supporting their return as quickly and safely as possible.

12 May 2020, 1:52 p.m. Universal Credit Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the monthly assessment period for universal credit takes into account a claimant's fluctuating income.

Answer (Will Quince)

Universal Credit replaced a highly complex system of multiple benefits with a single monthly payment and introduced a simple taper system to ensure that claimants were better off in work keeping more of what they earn compared to the Legacy system

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

12 May 2020, 12:23 p.m. UK Relations With EU Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent progress the Government has made on negotiating the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Answer (Penny Mordaunt)

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 39669 on 4 May 2020.

12 May 2020, 11:53 a.m. Life Expectancy Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of life expectancy.

Answer (Chloe Smith)

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

12 May 2020, 9:44 a.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the EU on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The welfare of British nationals remains our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring that British travellers around the globe, and British nationals who are resident overseas but wish to return home to the UK, are able to do so. We have been working closely with our European partners to support our respective repatriation efforts, including coordinated lobbying on maintaining commercial routes for nationals to return.

11 May 2020, 4:52 p.m. Prison Sentences Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of sentences of less than six months in reducing reoffending rates.

Answer (Chris Philp)

We are clear that sentencing must match the severity of a crime, and public protection is our priority.

The latest proven reoffending rate for adult offenders released from sentences of six months or less in the quarter January to March 2018 was almost two thirds (64.8%).

If we are to break the cycle of reoffending, solutions will often lie in community sentences, including those which address offenders’ behaviour, answer their mental health and alcohol or drug misuse needs, or provide reparation for the benefit of the wider community. However, sentencers should continue to have the option of imposing a short custodial sentence, where appropriate.

In the Queen’s speech in December, the Government announced plans to introduce new sentencing laws. Ahead of any legislation, we intend to canvass proposals in a White Paper. This will contain proposals for community penalties that offer an appropriate level of punishment, while tackling the underlying drivers of re-offending.

11 May 2020, 3:09 p.m. Asylum: Employment Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on permitting asylum seekers to accept work outside the shortage occupancy list.

Answer (Chris Philp)

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. The review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. It is crucial we take the time to get this right.

28 Apr 2020, 4:01 p.m. Fisheries: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans the Government has to provide support for fishers facing difficulties paying their boat mortgages in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) Engand during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

Mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19), including through payment holidays, among other options. Vessel owners across the UK can contact their lender directly to discuss whether a mortgage payment holiday or other arrangement would be suitable for their particular situation.

Fisheries management is a devolved matter and each Devolved Authority is responsible for determining and delivering appropriate financial interventions in their region. Each of the Devolved Administrations has now announced financial schemes to assist vessel owners meet their fixed costs. The appropriate authority should be contacted for further information on the financial assistance available in their area.

In England, a £10 million fund has been created to help the fishing industry during this period. Of this fund, £9 million in grants will be available to vessel owners and aquaculture businesses to help them meet the fixed-costs of maintaining their business. This includes interest on loans and mortgages, but not the capital cost of the loan itself.

In England, the level of financial assistance to vessel owners will be determined by the vessel length. The Marine Management Organisation has begun the process of contacting eligible owners. Further details of the scheme may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-financial-support-for-englands-fishing-businesses.

28 Apr 2020, 3:52 p.m. Fisheries: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government plans to provide support for owners with mortgages on fishing boats in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

Mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19), including through payment holidays, among other options. Vessel owners across the UK can contact their lender directly to discuss whether a mortgage payment holiday or other arrangement would be suitable for their particular situation.

Fisheries management is a devolved matter and each Devolved Authority is responsible for determining and delivering appropriate financial interventions in their region. Each of the Devolved Administrations has now announced financial schemes to assist vessel owners meet their fixed costs. The appropriate authority should be contacted for further information on the financial assistance available in their area.

In England, a £10 million fund has been created to help the fishing industry during this period. Of this fund, £9 million in grants will be available to vessel owners and aquaculture businesses to help them meet the fixed-costs of maintaining their business. This includes interest on loans and mortgages, but not the capital cost of the loan itself.

In England, the level of financial assistance to vessel owners will be determined by the vessel length. The Marine Management Organisation has begun the process of contacting eligible owners. Further details of the scheme may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-financial-support-for-englands-fishing-businesses.

27 Mar 2020, 1:33 p.m. India: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in India.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

As the world's largest and one of the world's oldest democracies, India and the UK have a broad and deep relationship. The Prime Minister discussed the strength of that relationship in a phone call with Prime Minister Modi on 12 March, in which they committed to deepening bilateral cooperation on a range of areas including trade, cultural relations, defence, and technology.

27 Mar 2020, 12:20 p.m. Zero Hours Contracts: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department plans to take to support people on zero hour contracts in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and (c) the UK as a result of the outbreak of covid-19.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus.

If infected, many people who are on Zero-Hour Contracts will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Those who are not eligible to receive sick pay are able to claim Universal Credit (UC) and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), where they qualify.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover 80% of the wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500, for their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. This scheme aims to support all those employed through the PAYE system regardless of their employment contract, including those on zero-hour contracts.

Businesses and Employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website.

26 Mar 2020, noon Legal Aid Scheme: Civil Proceedings and Low Pay Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of legal aid available for (a) civil cases and (b) people on low incomes.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

Legal aid statistics are published quarterly, and include assessments of recent and long-term trends. These can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/legal-aid-statistics-quarterly-july-to-september-2019

In February 2019 we published the Post-Implementation review of LASPO to review the effectiveness and accessibility of legal aid in England and Wales. Alongside the PIR, and to tackle the issues raised, we published a Legal Support Action Plan. This set out the government’s vision for the future and set out a number of changes to legal aid and legal support designed to improve the accessibility of legal aid and legal support, particularly for those on low incomes. These changes include a comprehensive review of the legal aid means tests, improvements to the exceptional case funding scheme, the removal of mandatory element of the Civil Legal Advice telephone gateway, and the launch of a campaign to raise awareness of legal support, including legal aid.

25 Mar 2020, 3:49 p.m. Zimbabwe: Humanitarian Situation Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK is seriously concerned about the challenging humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian needs are rising, due to the combination of poor and erratic rains and a deteriorating economic situation. Recent analysis shows that without support 5.5 million people in rural areas and 2.2 million in urban areas will not have access to the food they need. In response to these needs, the Department for International Development has committed £49 million through a new Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme to support people who do not have access to the food they need.

Our Embassy in Harare continues to monitor developments closely, encouraging the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the Staff Monitored Programme (which runs until March this year) agreed with the International Monetary Fund. Our Ambassador discussed the humanitarian crisis facing the country and reinforced the need for comprehensive political and economic reform and the protection of the poorest during her meeting with Vice President Chiwenga on 9 December 2019. On 11 March the Zimbabwean Finance Minister announced a set of measures intended to stabilize the exchange rate and inflation. Whilst we welcome the measures, which are in line with the recent IMF recommendations, we will monitor closely how the measures are now implemented.

25 Mar 2020, 2:19 p.m. Internet: Safety Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the availability of harmful online material to children.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. The regulator will have strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Our proposals assume a higher level of protection for children than for the typical adult user.

We expect companies to use a proportionate range of tools, including age assurance and age verification technologies, to prevent children accessing age-inappropriate content and to protect them from other harms.

25 Mar 2020, 12:45 p.m. Low Incomes: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department plans to take to support people on low incomes in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and (c) the United Kingdom during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government is continuously analysing the COVID-19 outbreak and its policies in order to support people better. The Government will make sure it protects, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes across the United Kingdom.

At Budget, the Government widened the scope of Statutory Sick Pay and made accessing benefits easier for those affected by COVID-19. As a result of the COVID-19 Budget measures, the UK Government has already provided the Welsh Government with £1.6 billion.

Last week the Government introduced further measures to support those on low incomes, including a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, a relaxation of earnings rules for self-employed Universal Credit claimants, and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to the 30th percentile of market rents.

25 Mar 2020, 11:50 a.m. Economic Situation: Newport West Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the local economy in Newport West constituency of the UK leaving the EU.

Answer (John Glen)

The UK wants a relationship with the EU based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, and centered on free trade. We are looking for a deal like those the EU has struck with countries such as Canada.

We recognise that leaving the EU will result in change - we are leaving the customs union and single market. But I can assure you of this Government’s commitment to spreading prosperity to every region and nation in the UK. Alongside the Government’s goals for British trade, we are levelling up opportunity across the UK, supporting enterprise, and investing in infrastructure and people, in all parts of the country.

We will continue to keep Parliament informed with appropriate analysis at appropriate times in a way that does not impede our ability to strike the best deal for the UK.

25 Mar 2020, 11:40 a.m. Small Businesses: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support small businesses in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and (c) the UK in response to the outbreak of covid-19.

Answer (John Glen)

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The devolved administrations will receive over £5.2 billion from the UK Government to make sure they have the resources they need to support people, businesses and public services through COVID-19. In total we have provided the Welsh Government with £1.6 billion to date.

This funding is in addition to the UK-wide support in all four corners of the country, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

25 Mar 2020, 9:43 a.m. Legal Aid Scheme Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness, (b) accessibility of legal aid in England and Wales.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

In February 2019 we published the LASPO Post-Implementation Review to review the effectiveness and accessibility of legal aid in England and Wales. Alongside this, we published the Legal Support Action Plan which set out the government’s vision for the future and a number of changes to improve access to legal aid in England and Wales. These include a comprehensive review of the legal aid means tests, improvements to the exceptional case funding scheme, the removal of the mandatory element of the Civil Legal Advice telephone gateway, and the launch of a campaign to raise awareness of legal support, including legal aid.

23 Mar 2020, 11:54 a.m. Terrorism: Northern Ireland Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

The threat from dissident republican terrorism continues to be SEVERE in Northern Ireland. This Government’s first priority is to keep people safe and secure right across the United Kingdom. Vigilance against this continuing threat is essential and we remain determined to ensure that terrorism never succeeds.

19 Mar 2020, 4:29 p.m. Local Growth Deals: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on funding for the proposed growth deals for Wales.

Answer (Simon Hart)

I have held recent meetings with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and with the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government to discuss a range of issues, including the City and Regional Growth Deals in Wales. The Government is committed to ensuring that these deals deliver economic growth and jobs across the whole of Wales and I will continue to work closely with my colleagues to enable that to happen.

13 Mar 2020, 3:21 p.m. Brexit: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the length of the transition period following the outbreak of covid-19 in Europe.

Answer (Penny Mordaunt)

The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law. Our preparations for the end of the transition period continue as normal and remain a priority.

12 Mar 2020, 12:03 p.m. UK Trade with EU: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Welsh business community on future trading arrangements with the EU.

Answer (Simon Hart)

I have frequent discussions with a wide range of representatives of the Welsh business community including representatives from the agriculture, automotive, and broader business sectors. As part of these discussions, I regularly discuss the Government’s ambitions for future trading arrangements with the EU and the opportunities offered by trade deals with the US, Japan and other priority partners.

10 Mar 2020, 11:26 a.m. Social Security Benefits: Muscular Dystrophy Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the implications for her policies of Muscular Dystrophy UK's report entitled, Below standard: MDUK’s assessment of the benefits system, published on 28 February 2020.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Department places a strong emphasis on engaging with stakeholders to inform health and disability policy to ensure we are addressing the right problems in the welfare system. Muscular Dystrophy UK’s report entitled ‘Below standard: MDUK’s assessment of the benefits system’ offers insights into the challenges faced by people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

Government will reflect carefully on these findings in the DWP Green Paper on health and disability benefits and support.

3 Mar 2020, 11:58 a.m. Universal Credit: Disability Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of universal credit on the financial circumstances of disabled claimants.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Government has made a commitment to publish a new National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020, focusing on removing barriers to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fully participate in British society. The strategy will be developed with disabled people, disability organisations and charities, and will support disabled people in all aspects and phases of their lives, including housing, education, transport and jobs.

Millions of people who move onto Universal Credit from legacy benefits are better off, including around a million disabled households who will gain on average around £100 per month.

The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants, and wants the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible, ensuring that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. We have listened to feedback on how we can improve Universal Credit to support our claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as extending advances, removing waiting days, and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to those who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) gateway has been in place for over a year to prevent those claimants entitled to the SDP as part of their legacy benefit from claiming Universal Credit. We have successfully identified eligible former SDP claimants who have already moved to Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances, providing them with monthly payments and a lump sum in arrears, where appropriate.

As of 17 January 2020, 15,397 claims have been paid an SDP transitional payment. The median value of the lump sum payments is £2,280. To date, over £51.5m has been disbursed to support former SDP claimants, including the recurring payments that have now commenced.

Through our network of Jobcentres, the Department is taking a range of action to support disadvantaged groups, working closely with employers and partners in their local community to provide opportunities to help them move closer and into employment.

12 Feb 2020, 11:22 a.m. Universal Credit: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of universal credit on the cost of living of low-income families in (a) Newport West and (b) Wales.

Answer (Simon Hart)

Universal Credit is helping parents to move into and remain in work, offering the best opportunity for families to move out of poverty and to improve children’s long-term outcomes. Universal Credit helps families with the cost of living by providing budgeting support and paying up to 85% of childcare costs.

Since the introduction of Universal Credit to Newport West at the end of 2017, unemployment has fallen by over 40%, with 1,000 fewer people unemployed. The employment rate in Newport West is above the average for Great Britain.

Universal Credit continues to have a positive effect on the labour market in Wales with 34.4% of claimants in Wales in employment. Unemployment in Wales is at a new record low, with an unemployment rate of 3.0%, below the UK average of 3.8%.

12 Feb 2020, 11:21 a.m. Renewable Energy: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the renewable energy sector in Wales.

Answer (Simon Hart)

I discuss a range of issues with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy including the renewable energy sector in Wales. The Government is committed to ensuring that renewable energy is part of the UK’s future energy mix.

8 Jan 2020, 3:51 p.m. Children: Poverty Ruth Jones

Question

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the level of child poverty in Scotland.

Answer (Douglas Ross)

This Office has regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on a range of issues.

The Hon. Lady will know, the Scottish Government also controls a number of powers to tackle poverty, and I believe that it is important that Scotland’s two Governments work together to address the critical issue of child poverty.

8 Oct 2019, 4:49 p.m. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much her Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (George Eustice)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 4:49 p.m. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (George Eustice)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 4:07 p.m. Attorney General: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Attorney General, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The Government publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK. Information on costs on overseas travel from July to September 2019 is expected to be published in December 2019.

It is not possible to calculate the amount spent on domestic Ministerial travel without incurring disproportionate cost.

8 Oct 2019, 4:07 p.m. Attorney General: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Attorney General, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The Government publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK. Information on costs on overseas travel from July to September 2019 is expected to be published in December 2019.

It is not possible to calculate the amount spent on domestic Ministerial travel without incurring disproportionate cost.

8 Oct 2019, 4:02 p.m. Attorney General: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Attorney General, how much his Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The following table shows how much the Attorney General’s Office spent on refreshments in 2017 and 2018 respectively:

2017

2018

Refreshments spending (£)

0.00

603.44

8 Oct 2019, 3:59 p.m. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much her Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 3:58 p.m. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 3:57 p.m. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much her Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 3:38 p.m. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Jake Berry)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 3:37 p.m. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Jake Berry)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

8 Oct 2019, 10:24 a.m. Occupational Pensions: Newport West Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrolment minimum contribution in Newport West constituency in the latest period for which figures are available.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

Automatic enrolment has achieved a quiet revolution through getting employees into the habit of pension saving, and reversing the decline in workplace pension participation in the decade prior to these reforms. Since automatic enrolment started in 2012 participation rates have been transformed with 87% of eligible employees saving into a workplace pension in 2018, up from 55% in 2012.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. However, we do know that overall around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates; and our latest evaluation report shows that, in April 2017, approximately 5.9 million eligible employees were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution rates.

I am providing the following information about the impact of automatic enrolment in your constituency, as of August 2019:

In the Newport West constituency, since 2012, approximately 11,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 1,400 employers have met their duties.

Automatic Enrolment Evaluation Report 2018, available via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764964/Automatic_Enrolment_Evaluation_Report_2018.pdf.

The Pensions Regulator’s data on Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance by constituency, available via the following weblink:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/research-and-analysis/data-requests.

7 Oct 2019, 4:30 p.m. Ministry of Justice: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Chris Philp)

In the 2018 calendar year, the ministers’ private offices spend on air and rail travel was:

Air (standard/economy class) – £12,935.60

Air (business/first class) – £4005.60

Rail (standard class) – £16,730.70

Rail (first class) – None

Total - £33,671.90

7 Oct 2019, 4:19 p.m. Department for International Development: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park)

Information on ministerial travel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Department for International Development publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears at the following link: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/8167ded1-0d4c-41ee-afd7-a6b39f2d1205/ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings-with-external-organisations-in-the-department-for-international-development

We do not routinely publish any national travel costs for Ministers.

7 Oct 2019, 4:19 p.m. Department for International Development: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park)

Information on ministerial travel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Department for International Development publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears at the following link: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/8167ded1-0d4c-41ee-afd7-a6b39f2d1205/ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings-with-external-organisations-in-the-department-for-international-development

We do not routinely publish any national travel costs for Ministers.

7 Oct 2019, 3:59 p.m. Ministry of Justice: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Chris Philp)

In the 2017 calendar year, the ministers’ private offices spend on air and rail travel was:

Air (standard/economy class) – £8,984.12

Air (business class) – £16,802.00

Rail (standard class) – £18,482.03

Rail (business & premium economy class) – £2,098

Total - £46,366.15

7 Oct 2019, 2:56 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) expenditure is tracked by financial year. Spend on refreshments is captured as part of the FCO's total Catering costs.

The total spent on Catering Services for the financial year 2018/19 was £2,460,089.42 . The total spent on Catering Services for the financial year 2017/18 was £2,588,495.42 .

7 Oct 2019, 2:53 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is by definition a global organisation which uses travel as an essential part of its role.

The table below details the FCO's expenditure for financial years 2017/18, and 2018/19 on ministerial travel by First class rail; Second class rail; Business class air travel; Premium Economy class air travel; Economy class air travel; and a total of these five sums.

The figures represent travel booked through the Government's nominated travel agency.

Financial Year

First Class Rail Travel

Standard Class Rail Travel

First Class Air Travel

Business Class Air Travel

Premium Economy Air Travel

Economy Air Travel

Total

2017/18

£0.00

£324.40

-£2,916.27

£752,078.99

£39,535.85

£87,474.29

£876,497.26

2018/19

£230.00

£87.30

£2084.00

£827,716.94

£46,250.87

£116,323.74

£992,692.85

7 Oct 2019, 2:48 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign annd Commonwealth Office (FCO) is by definition a global organisation which uses travel as an essential part of its role.

The table below details the FCO's expenditure for financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18 on ministerial travel by First class rail; Second class rail; Business class air travel; Premium Economy class air travel; Economy class air travel; and a total of these five sums.

The figures represent travel booked through the Government's nominated travel agency.

Financial Year

First Class Rail Travel

Standard Class Rail Travel

First Class Air Travel

Business Class Air Travel

Premium Economy Air Travel

Economy Air Travel

Total

2016/17

£0.00

£159.10

£2,057.00

£802,152.04

£16,095.19

£65,341.90

£885,805.23

2017/18

£0.00

£324.40

-£2,916.27

£752,078.99

£39,535.85

£87,474.29

£876,497.26

7 Oct 2019, 1:29 p.m. Universal Credit Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of the roll-out of universal credit on trends in the level of referrals to food banks.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Department does not keep official statistics on food bank use, so no such assessment has been completed. Some food aid providers produce statistics on the number of food parcels distributed, but the Government has no plans to require individual food banks to keep records as this would place a significant burden on charitable and voluntary organisations.

We have listened to feedback on how we can improve Universal Credit to support our claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as extending advances, removing waiting days, and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to vulnerable people who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

7 Oct 2019, 1:18 p.m. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The Department publishes data on ministerial travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK.

7 Oct 2019, 1:18 p.m. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The Department publishes data on ministerial travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK.

7 Oct 2019, 1:09 p.m. Poverty: Children Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of child poverty.

Answer (Will Quince)

National statistics on the number of children in relative and absolute low income are set out in the annual "Households Below Average Income" publication available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/789816/hbai-2017-2018-tables-ods-files.zip

In the latest low income statistics, the number of children in low income increased in three of the four measures.

Since 2009/2010 there has been a 1 percentage point reduction in child poverty on an absolute before housing cost (BHC) basis.

The evidence shows that work is the best route out of poverty and there are 730,000 fewer children in workless households compared with 2010.

7 Oct 2019, 12:46 p.m. Social Security Benefits Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of (a) sanctions and (b) conditionality on the (i) health and well-being of claimants and (ii) the ability of claimants to enter employment.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Evidence from international studies indicates that benefit systems supported by conditionality are effective at moving people into work and that sanctions are a key part of conditionality. Transitions into work typically increase following a sanction.

The Department has committed to doing an evaluation of the effectiveness of Universal Credit sanctions at supporting claimants to search for work in response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report on benefit sanctions. The Department will look to publish this by the end of 2019.

With regards to health and well-being, the Department has not made such assessment. We engage at a personal and individual level with all claimants; Legislation already enables work coaches to tailor conditionality, apply easements, set ‘voluntary’ work-related requirements (therefore, there is no risk of a sanction) or even switch off work-related requirements altogether where it is more appropriate for the individual, in light of their circumstances, including health conditions or disability.

7 Oct 2019, 9:17 a.m. Economic Situation: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on the Wales economy of the UK leaving EU without a deal.

Answer (Alun Cairns)

The UK Government’s preferred position is to leave the EU with a deal that works for Wales.

In the event of no-deal, the Government would of course take economic measures to mitigate any short-run disruption, support the economy through the transition, and to boost the long-term potential of the Welsh economy. The Welsh economy approaches EU exit from a strong position, unemployment is down and the employment rate has reached a record high.

7 Oct 2019, 6:30 a.m. Department for Education: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Michelle Donelan)

In 2017, the department spent £456.00 on first class rail travel and £1,870.70 on standard class ministerial rail travel. Further to this, the department spent £16,946.69 on business class air travel and £4,390.77 on economy class air travel. In total, the department spent £23,664.16 on ministerial travel.

In 2018, the department spent £2,399.70 on first class rail travel, £3,931.15 on standard class ministerial rail travel and £576.00 on premium economy Eurostar travel. Further to this, the department spent £15,994.92 on business class air travel and £3,481.64 on economy class air travel. In total, the department spent £26,383.41 on ministerial travel.

7 Oct 2019, 6:30 a.m. Department for Education: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Michelle Donelan)

In 2017, the department spent £456.00 on first class rail travel and £1,870.70 on standard class ministerial rail travel. Further to this, the department spent £16,946.69 on business class air travel and £4,390.77 on economy class air travel. In total, the department spent £23,664.16 on ministerial travel.

In 2018, the department spent £2,399.70 on first class rail travel, £3,931.15 on standard class ministerial rail travel and £576.00 on premium economy Eurostar travel. Further to this, the department spent £15,994.92 on business class air travel and £3,481.64 on economy class air travel. In total, the department spent £26,383.41 on ministerial travel.

4 Oct 2019, 2:33 p.m. Department for Work and Pensions: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The information requested is not collated centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

4 Oct 2019, 12:45 p.m. Immigration: Windrush Generation Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department is taking to support the Home Office in its internal investigation into the causes of the Windrush scandal.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

My Rt Hon. Friend the Home Secretary commissioned a lessons-learned review to consider the key policy and operational decisions that affected the Windrush generation and appointed Wendy Williams as its independent advisor. We understand that Wendy Williams has been considering a great deal of material during the course of the review and has spoken with a wide range of people. The government will publish her report following its receipt.

4 Oct 2019, 12:30 p.m. Department for Work and Pensions: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The information requested can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

However, the Government publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK. Links to this information for 2017 and 2018 can be found below.

Jan 17 – Mar 17

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/623402/ministers-overseas-travel-jan-mar-2017.ods

Apr 17 – Jun 17

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651138/ministers-overseas-travel-apr-jun-2017.ods

Jul 17 – Sep 17

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666399/dwp-ministers-overseas-travel-jul-sep-2017.csv/preview

Oct 17 – Dec 17

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/693210/dwp-ministers-travel-oct-dec-17.csv/preview

Jan 18 – Mar 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/751896/ministers-overseas-travel-jan-mar-2018.csv/preview

Apr 18 – Jun 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/750512/dwp-ministers-travel-apr-jun-2018.csv/preview

Jul 18 – Sep 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/763723/dwp-ministers-travel-jul-sep-2018.csv/preview

Oct 18 – Dec 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/786896/dwp-ministers-travel-oct-dec-2018.csv/preview

4 Oct 2019, 12:30 p.m. Department for Work and Pensions: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The information requested can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

However, the Government publishes data on ministerial overseas travel on a quarterly basis in arrears on GOV.UK. Links to this information for 2017 and 2018 can be found below.

Jan 17 – Mar 17

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/623402/ministers-overseas-travel-jan-mar-2017.ods

Apr 17 – Jun 17

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651138/ministers-overseas-travel-apr-jun-2017.ods

Jul 17 – Sep 17

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666399/dwp-ministers-overseas-travel-jul-sep-2017.csv/preview

Oct 17 – Dec 17

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/693210/dwp-ministers-travel-oct-dec-17.csv/preview

Jan 18 – Mar 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/751896/ministers-overseas-travel-jan-mar-2018.csv/preview

Apr 18 – Jun 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/750512/dwp-ministers-travel-apr-jun-2018.csv/preview

Jul 18 – Sep 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/763723/dwp-ministers-travel-jul-sep-2018.csv/preview

Oct 18 – Dec 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/786896/dwp-ministers-travel-oct-dec-2018.csv/preview

3 Oct 2019, 3:55 p.m. Cabinet Office: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Cabinet Office does not routinely collect information on the amount spent on refreshments. They are part of catering figures which can not be disaggregated without incurring disproportionate cost.

3 Oct 2019, 2:30 p.m. Cabinet Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office, and the answer is for the Cabinet Office as a whole.

The information regarding the spend on travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

3 Oct 2019, 2:30 p.m. Cabinet Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office, and the answer is for the Cabinet Office as a whole.

The information regarding the spend on travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

3 Oct 2019, 2:30 p.m. Prime Minister: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much the Prime Minister's office spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office, and the answer is for the Cabinet Office as a whole.

The information regarding the spend on travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

3 Oct 2019, 2:30 p.m. Prime Minister: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much the Prime Minister's office spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office, and the answer is for the Cabinet Office as a whole.

The information regarding the spend on travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

6 Sep 2019, 10:40 a.m. Wales Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales spent the following on ministerial travel (rail, cars and air) in 2017 and 2018:

Financial Year

First Class Travel* (Rail only)

Second Class Travel (Rail, Cars and Air)

Total Spend on Ministerial Travel

£

£

£

2017-18

Nil

64,016

64,016

2018-19

1,037

91,764

92,801

*First class travel was by rail only.

6 Sep 2019, 10:40 a.m. Wales Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales spent the following on ministerial travel (rail, cars and air) in 2017 and 2018:

Financial Year

First Class Travel* (Rail only)

Second Class Travel (Rail, Cars and Air)

Total Spend on Ministerial Travel

£

£

£

2017-18

Nil

64,016

64,016

2018-19

1,037

91,764

92,801

*First class travel was by rail only.

5 Sep 2019, 12:18 p.m. Environment Protection Ruth Jones

Question

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on environmental policy of the effect of the UK leaving the EU .

Answer (James Duddridge)

We continue to have regular conversations with ministerial colleagues across Government on all aspects of exiting the European Union.

The Government has been clear that it will not weaken our current environmental protections as we leave the European Union and will maintain and enhance our already high environmental standards.

As part of this we will set up a new, ambitious domestic framework for environmental governance.

31 Jul 2019, 1:06 p.m. Germany: Muslims Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise with his German counterpart the decision by the City of Koblenz to ban the burqa at public swimming pools.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

Thank you for asking me to consider the ban on the burqa at swimming pools in Koblenz. I can confirm that the ban is no longer in place.

30 Jul 2019, 2:55 p.m. Commonwealth: Females Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government will be represented at the 12th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers meeting in Kenya in September 2019.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

Her Majesty’s Government will be represented at the 12th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, which is an important meeting in the run up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda. We look forward to exploring how the Commonwealth can continue to work together to promote gender equality and ensure the empowerment of women and girls.

30 Jul 2019, 2:40 p.m. Sudan: Foreign Relations Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Sudanese counterpart on engagement between the Sudanese population and the diaspora community in the UK.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

​The British Government frequently engages with a broad range of Sudanese diaspora in the UK. While the former Foreign Secretary has not recently spoken to his Sudanese counterpart about engagement between the Sudanese population and the diaspora community in the UK the UK Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan discussed engagement with the diaspora with the Sudanese authorities when he was in Khartoum on 23 June. He last met with members of the diaspora on 13 June. The Government is committed to working with all Sudanese parties and members of civil society both in Sudan and the UK to support the transition to a civilian-led government.

25 Jul 2019, 4:19 p.m. Maternal Mortality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the MBRRACE-UK maternal deaths and morbidity statistics 2014-16 showing that (a) Asian women are nearly twice as likely, (b) mixed race women are twice as likely and (c) black women are five times as likely to die during or up to six weeks after pregnancy than white women.

Answer (Jackie Doyle-Price)

The NHS Long Term Plan takes a concerted and systematic approach to reducing health inequalities and addressing unwarranted variation in care. NHS England and NHS Improvement are leading the work through the Maternity Transformation Programme to support maternity services to provide high-quality maternity care for all women.

Targeted and enhanced continuity of carer can significantly improve outcomes for women from ethnic minorities. The NHS Long Term plan sets out that 75% of black women will receive continuity of carer from midwives by 2024.

The Department is also funding research to investigate the factors associated with the excess perinatal mortality experienced by black/black British and Asian/Asian British ethnic groups and identify the factors associated with the excess risk of maternal death for black and South Asian women.

18 Jul 2019, 1:50 p.m. Sri Lanka: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes regular assessments of the political situation in Sri Lanka, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. Sri Lanka is a close partner of the UK and a fellow Commonwealth member, and we welcome our joint reaffirmation of democratic values at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting on 10 July.

We are concerned about the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric since the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. We have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to take stronger action to protect minorities and prevent extremists in all communities from inciting violence. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific most recently raised these concerns with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in June.

We are also concerned about President Sirisena's statements reiterating his intention to end the country's moratorium on the death penalty, and issued a statement on 26 June. While we welcome the Supreme Court ruling on 5 July halting executions until October, we have made clear our continued concern, including about the implications for our cooperation on counter narcotics, counter terrorism and other areas of law enforcement. We will continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium.

More broadly, the UK continues to believe that Sri Lanka's commitments to the UN Human Rights Council through Resolutions 30/1, 34/1 and 40/1 remain the best framework for establishing truth, justice and lasting reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We will continue to encourage and support Sri Lanka to deliver on these commitments.

17 Jul 2019, 3:06 p.m. Referendums: Brexit Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what preparations his Department has made for holding a second referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

Answer (Sir David Lidington)

The Government has not made preparations to hold a second referendum.

17 Jul 2019, 2:54 p.m. UK Membership of EU: Referendums Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what preparations his Department has made for holding of a second referendum on UK membership of the EU.

Answer (Kwasi Kwarteng)

The Government has been clear that it does not support a second referendum. The priority of the Government is to deliver on the result of the first referendum by trying to find a deal that could command majority support in Parliament.

17 Jul 2019, 2:50 p.m. Bangladesh: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in Bangladesh.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) makes regular assessments of the political situation in Bangladesh, including through the British High Commission in Dhaka. Bangladesh is a close partner of the UK and a fellow Commonwealth member, and we welcome our joint reaffirmation of democratic values at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers' Meeting on 10 July.

A general election took place in December in which the Awami League won 96% of seats in Parliament. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific issued a statement on 1 January noting credible accounts of obstacles and irregularities in the conduct of elections, and deploring the acts of intimidation and violence that took place. The UK called for the full and transparent resolution of complaints about the conduct of the elections.

The Foreign Secretary also wrote to Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen in January to express our concerns and to encourage the Government of Bangladesh to maintain dialogue with opposition parties and civil society. In April 2019, Minister Field reiterated these concerns and the importance of engaging with opposition parties and freedom of expression when he met the Prime Minister and ministers during his visit to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh remains a human rights priority country for the FCO. Ministers, and our High Commission in Dhaka, carry out a wide range of activities to promote human rights and freedom of expression in Bangladesh, working with civil society and other like-minded partners. We frequently raise these concerns with the Government of Bangladesh.

The UK will continue to engage with the Government of Bangladesh to address these concerns and will support efforts towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Bangladesh.

12 Jul 2019, 11:01 a.m. Food: Advertising Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to publish a response to the consultation on Further advertising restrictions for products high in fat, salt and sugar, published on 18 March 2019.

Answer (Seema Kennedy)

As part of delivering measures outlined in chapter two of the childhood obesity plan, we have held consultations on ending the sale of energy drinks to children, calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector, restricting promotions of fatty and sugary products by location and by price, and introducing further advertising restrictions on TV and online for products high is fat, salt and sugar. The consultation on Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services runs until 13 August.

We have received a high level of responses to the consultations and it is important we take the time to consider them carefully before we set out further action.

12 Jul 2019, 11:01 a.m. Obesity: Children Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for the implementation of the recommendations in chapter two of the Childhood Obesity Plan, published in June 2018; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Seema Kennedy)

As part of delivering measures outlined in chapter two of the childhood obesity plan, we have held consultations on ending the sale of energy drinks to children, calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector, restricting promotions of fatty and sugary products by location and by price, and introducing further advertising restrictions on TV and online for products high is fat, salt and sugar. The consultation on Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services runs until 13 August.

We have received a high level of responses to the consultations and it is important we take the time to consider them carefully before we set out further action.

5 Jul 2019, 9:43 a.m. Customs: Musical Instruments Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress he has made in negotiations with the European Commission on ensuring that musicians’ (a) instruments and (b) equipment can move freely between the UK and the EU when the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government’s priority is to keep goods moving and avoid delays at the border. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the same customs rules will broadly apply to transporting instruments and equipment to the EU as apply to trade between the UK and non-EU countries. This will include the use of temporary admission and applications for Returned Goods Relief.

ATA carnets are also available for commercial goods, professional equipment or goods going to trade fairs or exhibitions in participating countries, which are moved on a temporary basis to a new customs territory, which will not be sold and which will return to the country of origin. This includes musical instruments.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, the process of using an ATA Carnet (or a temporary admission declaration) will become an acceptable option for moving goods temporarily between the UK and EU, as the UK will become a single customs territory.

5 Jul 2019, 8:52 a.m. Musicians: Visas Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what progress he has made in discussions with the Home Secretary on a two-year, multi-entry touring visa for UK musicians in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on preparations for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals undertaking paid work such as tours in the EU should check with the Embassy of the countries they plan to travel to for what kind of visa or permit, if any, they will need. The FCO provides advice on their country-specific travel pages online. Information about entry requirements for those intending to work or provide a service in an EU Member State is listed on our advice pages for UK businesses on gov.uk.

The Political Declaration agreed between the UK and the EU acknowledges the importance of mobility for cultural cooperation. The UK is seeking to agree reciprocal mobility arrangements that would facilitate the temporary mobility of self-employed professionals and employees providing services. The detail will be discussed in the next phase of negotiations.

5 Jul 2019, 8:51 a.m. Health Services: Reciprocal Arrangements Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on ensuring the maintenance of the European Health Insurance Card for UK citizens when the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Mr Robin Walker)

DExEU Ministers and officials have regular discussions with their counterparts in the Department for Health and Social Care to discuss a wide range of issues related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Subject to the Withdrawal Agreement being agreed by Parliament, where the UK or an EU Member State is responsible for the healthcare of those within the scope of the Agreement, these individuals will continue to be entitled to reciprocal healthcare cover, including EHIC rights, from that country. For individuals not in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, and as part of our future relationship with the EU, we have said that we want continued participation in the EHIC scheme.

In the event of a no deal exit, reciprocal healthcare cannot be protected unilaterally and requires reciprocity from the EU or individual Member States. We have a duty to ensure that any potential harmful impacts on our citizens in the EU, and on EU citizens residing in the UK, are minimised as far as possible.

That is why, in the event of no deal, the UK is seeking an EU-wide approach or bilateral arrangements with Member States to transitionally apply the current social security coordination regulations, including reciprocal healthcare, in full until the end of 2020. This includes current EHIC arrangements. This will provide certainty to individuals who move to, visit or work in the UK or EU until that date. UK Government Ministers highlighted the importance of transitionally maintaining these arrangements in letters sent to Ministerial counterparts in each Member State.

4 Jul 2019, 12:29 p.m. Poverty: Wales Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Wales on the adequacy of the level of funding for tackling poverty in Wales.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

Work is the best route out of poverty. Since 2010 there are 667,000 fewer children living in workless households – a near record low. Employment is at a record high, unemployment is at its lowest rate since the 1970s, and wages have outstripped inflation for a year.

As a result of UK Government decisions at Budget, the Welsh Government benefited from a £550 million funding boost. This includes over £25 million resulting from a 5% uplift in Barnett consequentials as agreed in the Welsh Government’s Fiscal Framework. It is for the Welsh Government to decide how to spend this funding according to its priorities.

2 Jul 2019, 2:09 p.m. Construction: Musculoskeletal Disorders Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of joint and muscle ill health on the construction industry.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The Government has not conducted an assessment on the effect of joint and muscle ill health in the construction industry. The firms within the construction sector are best placed to conduct their own assessments to develop a better occupational health model for the industry.

2 Jul 2019, 1:29 p.m. Migrant Workers: Physiotherapy Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he plans to change the minimum earnings limit for physiotherapists renewing a work visa to increase the number of physiotherapists working in the NHS.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The Government values the important work that physiotherapists do for the NHS. The current Tier 2 system, through which physiotherapists can be recruited, ensures that experienced workers are paid the higher of either a minimum of £30,000 or the ‘going rate’ for this occupation, the latter of which is based on data provided by the Office for National Statistics. This system is designed to ensure that migrants are paid a fair wage and that the resident workforce is not undercut.


However, we have been clear that decisions on the future immigration system should be based on clear evidence. That is why, on 24 June 2019, the Government asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to consider the issue of minimum salary thresholds in more detail. As part of this new commission, we have asked the MAC to look at a number of issues including the approach to calculating salary thresholds, the levels at which they should be set, the case for greater regional variation and the impact of exemptions from minimum salary thresholds. This report is due by January 2020.

2 Jul 2019, 1:16 p.m. Police: Musculoskeletal Disorders Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate his Department has made of the number of working days lost in police forces in England and Wales as a result of musculoskeletal conditions.

Answer (Mr Nick Hurd)

The number of working days lost in police forces in England and Wales specifically as a result of musculoskeletal conditions is not collected centrally by the Home Office.

The Home Office collects and publishes information on the number of police officers on long-term absence as at 31st March each year, including long-term absence for sickness. Long-term absence includes officers on leave for 28 days or more.

These data are available in the Absence Open Data tables published alongside the annual ‘Police workforce’ statistical bulletin, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-workforce-open-data-tables

The Home Office also collects information on the number of police officers on short/medium term sick absence as at 31st March each year. Short/medium term absence due to sickness includes officers on leave for 28 days or less.

This information is published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in their Value for Money profiles, available here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/our-work/value-for-money-inspections/value-for-money-profiles.

1 Jul 2019, 3:34 p.m. Cannabis: Prescriptions Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines have been (a) issued and (b) fulfilled since January 2018.

Answer (Seema Kennedy)

NHS England and NHS Improvement are using extant systems to monitor use of the newly rescheduled unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in England. In England, these systems monitor the number of items dispensed and associated costs in primary care and the volume of products used and associated cost in secondary care. NHS England and NHS Improvement Controlled Drug Accountable Officers are also collecting local intelligence in both the National Health Service and independent sector.

The NHS Business Services Authority is only able to provide information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines that have been prescribed and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority. The NHS Business Services Authority does not hold information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines which have been issued but not fulfilled.

The following table shows the number of items for Nabilone and Sativex (licensed cannabis-based medicines) and unlicensed cannabis-based medicines that were prescribed on an NHS prescription, dispensed in the community and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reimbursement between January 2018 and April 2019.

NHS prescription items dispensed

January 2018 – April 2019

Nabilone

752

Sativex

2,672

Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines

8 (data currently only available for November 2018 – March 2019). Data not yet available for April 2019.

The following table shows the same products listed above covering the same time period but this data relates to private prescribing on an FP10PCD where the forms have been submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reporting and monitoring purposes only.

Private prescription items dispensed

January 2018 – December 2018

January 2019 – April 2019

Nabilone

0

1

Sativex

24

13

Epidiolex

0

1

Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines

0

9 (data currently only available for January 2019 to March 2019). Data not yet available for April 2019.

Unlike NHS primary care where all dispensed prescriptions are processed centrally, this is not the case for secondary care. This information is collected by a third party and not routinely published.

Intelligence from NHS England and NHS Improvement Controlled Drugs Accountable Officers is that, up until the end of March 2019, five patients have had private prescriptions issued for a cannabis-based product for medicinal use in independent secondary/tertiary care in England.

145 patients have accessed Epidiolex though GW Pharma’s early access programmes ahead of a licensing decision by the European Medicines Agency.

1 Jul 2019, 1:43 p.m. Animal Welfare: Sentencing Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty.

Answer (David Rutley)

I am pleased to report that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 26 June. The Bill, when passed, will increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from 6 months’ imprisonment to 5 years’ imprisonment.

27 Jun 2019, 5:16 p.m. Marriage: Humanism Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals on humanist marriages.

Answer (Paul Maynard)

The Government announced in last year’s Budget that it would ask the Law Commission to undertake a wider review of marriage ceremonies. We want to make marriage more accessible and meaningful and give couples greater choice in how they can celebrate their commitment. This includes greater flexibility for different faiths and for non-religious belief organisations.

We have been finalising the terms of reference for the review and will announce these shortly.

27 Jun 2019, 11:53 a.m. Abram Games Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will allocate funding to support proposals for a permanent home for the collection of designer, Abram Games.

Answer (Margot James)

We are not aware of plans to find a permanent home for Abram Games’ collection. The National Army Museum are currently hosting a major exhibition featuring the wartime poster of Abram Games (called The Art of Persuasion), running until 24th November. The exhibition features 49 original artworks from Abram Games that are part of the Museum’s permanent collection and is the majority of his wartime work. Seven of these works are on display in their permanent galleries and all items in the Museum’s Abram Games’ collection is available to access via our Online Collection. Most of the other items in the current exhibition are on loan from the Estate of Abram Games.

Other national museums also hold significant collections of his works, including the V&A, and the Imperial War Museum holds the official war artist archives of his work.

There is no central fund for museum acquisitions; there are though a number of government-backed initiatives that help museums acquire nationally significant collections. Arts Council England runs, on behalf of DCMS, the Cultural Gift Scheme, through which donors receive a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the item they donate. And the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund supports the purchase of a wide range of material for the permanent collections of non-nationally funded organisations in England and Wales.

23 May 2019, 2:15 p.m. Schools: Notice Boards Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will reclassify school notice boards as wall linings in his review of fire safety in schools.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

Schools must be safe places in which to study and to work. The Department intends to set a clear standard that is practical and achievable as well as easily understood.

The Department, as part of the regular review of its standards for school buildings, has completed research into the flammability of notice boards used in schools.

The outcome of this work is currently being used to clarify the specification the Department uses in relation to noticeboards in new school buildings and will also be included in an updated version of Building Bulletin 100 (Fire Safety) which is currently under review.

The classification of materials used in construction is controlled by Building Regulations which are a matter for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.