Alberto Costa Portrait

Alberto Costa

Conservative - South Leicestershire


Select Committee Meeting
Monday 6th December 2021
14:30
Scottish Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Secretary of State for Scotland 6 December 2021
6 Dec 2021, 2:30 p.m.
At 3.00pm: Oral evidence
Rt Hon Alister Jack MP - Secretary of State for Scotland at Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
Iain Stewart MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Scotland) at Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
The Lord Offord of Garvel - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
Laurence Rockey - Director at Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 14th December 2021
09:45
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 11th January 2022
09:00
Scheduled Event
Friday 21st January 2022
Private Members' Bills - Main Chamber
Microplastic Filters (Washing Machines) Bill: Second Reading
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Division Votes
Wednesday 1st December 2021
Finance (No. 2) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 298 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 301 Noes - 206
Speeches
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Microplastic Filters (Washing Machines)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require manufacturers to fit microplastic-catching filters …

Written Answers
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Midwives: Labour Turnover
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to retain NHS …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Microplastic Filters (Washing Machines) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to require manufacturers to fit microplastic-catching filters to new domestic and commercial washing machines; to make provision about …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 18th October 2021
3. Gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources
Name of donor: Delphi Economic Forum (non-profit, non-partisan organisation)
Address of donor: 9 Karneadou Street, 106 75 Athens, Greece
Amount …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021
A Bill to make provision about the administration to persons under the age of 18 of botulinum toxin and of …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Alberto Costa has voted in 338 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(10 debate interactions)
Luke Evans (Conservative)
(6 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(6 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(20 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(15 debate contributions)
Home Office
(5 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Alberto Costa's debates

South Leicestershire Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Alberto Costa has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Alberto Costa

Alberto Costa has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Alberto Costa, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Alberto Costa has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Alberto Costa has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Alberto Costa


A Bill to require manufacturers to fit microplastic-catching filters to new domestic and commercial washing machines; to make provision about the promotion of the use of microplastic-catching filters in washing machines and raising awareness about the consequences of microplastics from washing machines for pollution in rivers and seas; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 30th November 2021
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 21st January 2022
Order Paper number: 11
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

163 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the increase in hate crimes committed against people of the Jewish faith.

Antisemitism has absolutely no place in our society, which is why we are taking a strong lead in tackling it in all its forms. We are clear that victims should be supported and the individuals who carry out these heinous attacks must be brought to justice. The Government is providing £14 million this year for the Protective Security Grant to protect Jewish schools and community buildings and we have encouraged the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism across universities and local authorities.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including the construction of low-level tree houses within permitted development rights.

In determining whether planning permission would be required for a particular treehouse the first consideration for the local planning authority would be to determine whether it constituted ‘development’ as defined under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act. If the proposed treehouse did not constitute such development, no planning permission would be required.

The householder permitted development rights enable homeowners to extend their homes and erect outbuildings without the need to apply for specific planning permission. To protect the privacy of neighbours the rights do not enable the construction of verandas, balconies or raised platforms over 0.3 metres without planning permission.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when the Government plans to publish its response to the Reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 consultation.

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act would have an impact across several different public services and it is imperative that any changes work effectively and have support. We have analysed the 100,000+ responses to the consultation and are working hard with colleagues across Whitehall and relevant agencies to consider the appropriate next steps. We will publish our response to the consultation once these have been agreed in due course.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether wedding breakfasts will be able to proceed under Step 3 of the Government's roadmap out of covid-19 lockdown.

In the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021, the Government has set out the gradual and cautious approach to reopening different sectors in England, guided by science and the data.

We understand the unique significance that marriages and civil partnerships hold in people’s lives, but we have to take necessary steps to limit transmission of COVID-19. This includes restrictions on wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, as well as other forms of social contact. By their very nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

Alternative wedding ceremonies are permitted in line with the regular wedding or civil partnership rules, in the same locations, at each step.

From 29 March, wedding and civil partnership ceremonies have been able to take place indoors or outdoors in COVID-Secure venues that are not expressly closed by the Regulations, or where a broader exemption applies. From 12 April, 15 people are permitted to attend. This approach allows couples to marry in legally binding licensed venues for wedding ceremonies (where outdoor options are limited) while remaining in line with the reopening of sectors and venues as set out in the roadmap. Wedding ceremonies should follow government guidance to reduce the risk of transmission.

Receptions (of up to 15 people) can resume from 12 April. The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors. That is why receptions are only permitted outdoors at this Step and should be in a COVID-Secure venue.

From Step 3, no earlier than 17 May 2021, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-Secure venues that are not required to close, or where a broader exemption applies. Receptions can also proceed with up to 30 people in a COVID-Secure indoor venue, or outdoors, which includes private gardens.

Guidance for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-wedding-and-civil-partnership-receptions-and-celebrations

At each step, the limits on the number of attendees includes children of all ages, but not workers.

For further information, please refer to the guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether children under the age of five count toward the number of attendees allowed at weddings under Step Two of the Government's covid-19 roadmap.

Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships was published on 22 March and can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships#wedding-and-civil-partnership-ceremony-venues

We recognise that any restrictions on wedding venues may be disappointing for those planning such events, but we have to take necessary steps to limit transmission of COVID-19. This includes the closure of some settings and restrictions on social contact, including wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. By their very nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate the sacrifices people have had to make across the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not wish to keep any restrictions in place longer than we need to.

In the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021, the Government has set out the gradual and cautious approach to reopening in England, guided by science and the data, including the staged return of weddings and civil partnerships, as well as sporting events.

In order to inform the pace and sequencing of the roadmap, the Government commissioned advice and modelling from SAGE and its sub-groups. Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus is regularly published here - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a timeline for the return to normal proceedings for wedding ceremonies.

On 4 January, the Prime Minister announced a National Lockdown for all of England, in accordance with growing evidence of virus prevalence. Under these new restrictions, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies should only take place in exceptional circumstances. Up to six people can attend (including the couple). Anyone working is not included in that limit.

We recognise the restrictions may be disappointing for those planning such events. By their nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, including from across the country and sometimes across the world, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We do not wish to keep restrictions in place for any longer than we have to, and restrictions will be kept under review in line with the changing situation. For further information, please refer to the guidance for small weddings and civil partnerships https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships. There is different advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government continues to regularly make available scientific evidence supporting its COVID-19 response, including at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

On 22 February, the Prime Minister will set out the plan for reopening schools, and gradually reopening the economy and society, in a sustainable way in England.

For further information, please refer to the Coronavirus (COVID‑19) page on gov.uk, which will publish further information regarding the roadmap on 22 February, https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that lenders and insurance companies do not unfairly penalise homeowners who have had spray foam insulation installed in their homes as part of the Green Homes Grant.

Customers participating on the Green Homes Grant scheme are advised to make sure the options they choose are appropriate for them. The voucher scheme places the responsibility on the homeowner to decide which measures they would like to install and does not recommend or promote any types of insulation.

Spray foam insulation is only permitted in the Green Homes Grant scheme where customers are protected by guarantee.

Installers under the Green Homes Grant scheme must be TrustMark registered and meet Publicly Available Specification standards when installing energy efficiency measures, ensuring the highest levels of quality and customer protection. It is the responsibility of registered installers to abide by building regulations and relevant industry standards.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has issued to tile retailers on their continued operation during (a) the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown and (b) all tiers of the localised covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister addressed the nation on Monday 23 November setting out the Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan. The COVID-19 Winter Plan sets out that the current national restrictions will be lifted on 2 December.

The Safer Working guidance was updated to reflect the national restrictions and again on 26 November to reflect the Prime Minister’s announcement of the new tiering regime.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support small town centres in recovering from the economic effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government is?fully?committed to supporting the businesses and communities that make our high streets and town centres successful as the nation responds to the?impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.? Now more than ever, it is vital that we continue to help our local economies by supporting town centres and high streets, adapt and evolve.

This Government has provided a comprehensive package of support of well over £200 billion. Many of the measures introduced, including loan schemes, tax deferrals, Self Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, remain open and have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

On 25 May, the Government announced the £50m Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF) to support Local Authorities in England to safely reopen their high streets, town centres and other commercial areas through Covid-19 related advice, awareness and practical measures to support safe trading.

On 22 October, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced that further grant funding will be made available to support businesses in Very High Covid-19 local alert levels that are required to close by law in order to tackle Covid-19 and save lives. Funding for business grants will also be provided via local authorities to support businesses in High Covid-19 local alert level areas that are not required to close but will have had their trade affected, particularly by restrictions on household mixing.

Our immediate response to?Covid-19?builds on an ongoing programme of interventions. This includes the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, where we brought forward over £80m funding this year to support immediate improvements in 101 towns selected for deals. The fund will support local areas in England to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that improves experience, drives growth and ensures future sustainability.

Government is also providing support through the High Streets Task Force, helping local leaders in their work revitalising their high streets and town centres by providing proactive support to local areas to develop data-driven innovative strategies and connect local areas to relevant experts. The High Streets Task Force is rolling out its expert, training and data offer across the country, and has launched a range of online support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that pensioners are able to access the Green Homes Grant Scheme.

People in receipt of certain benefits, including Pension Guarantee Credit, will also qualify for the low-incomes scheme and be eligible for a more generous voucher of up to 100% of eligible costs up to a maximum of £10,000 rather than two thirds up to a maximum of £5,000.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has provided to tanning salons on safe reopening as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government published new guidance for Close Contact Services, such as tanning salons, on 23 June. This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/close-contact-services.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure compatibility of smart meters between providers.

Energy suppliers are now installing second generation smart (SMETS2) meters, which are connected to the national smart metering communications network run by the Data Communications Company (DCC) from the point of installation, so are already compatible between suppliers.

First generation smart (SMETS1) meters are being moved onto the DCC’s network so that consumers regain and keep smart services if they switch supplier. Meters are being enrolled remotely, without consumers needing to take any action. Priority is being given to those which have temporarily lost smart functionality.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he is taking steps to encourage highly skilled UK nationals based overseas to return to this country following the UK's departure from the EU; and if he will make a statement.

The rights of UK nationals who wish to continue living in the EU beyond 31st December 2020 have been secured through the Withdrawal Agreement. UK citizens living and working in the EEA or Switzerland by the end of the transition period can bring their close family members back to the UK with them under current conditions, to enable their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, until 29 March 2022, as long as the relationship was formed by 31 January 2020. We will continue to maintain up-to-date guidance on the Gov.uk website for any UK national living abroad who is considering returning to the UK. We would welcome UK nationals of whatever skill level who wish to return to the UK, whether from within or beyond the EU.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the timeframe is for the completion of the Fan-led review of football governance.

We are currently working through the structure of the review with the Chair, including the timeline for publication of the report, and will provide updates shortly. Given the seriousness of these issues, we will be looking to move at pace on this.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when indoor personal training sessions can resume as part of the Government's Covid Roadmap.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health. That’s why we have continued to make sure that people can exercise throughout the national restrictions and why we have ensured that grassroots and children’s sport is front of the queue when easing those restrictions.

On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. One to one coaching and personal training can continue outdoors under the same rules as during national restrictions. As part of step 2, the majority of indoor leisure facilities will be able to open for individual use including one to one coaching and personal training. As part of step 3, we expect exercise classes to be able to resume.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance his Department has issued to ice/inline skating rinks for their safe reopening in areas subject to tier 3 covid-19 restrictions.

As the Prime Minister said on 23 November national restrictions ended on Wednesday 2 December, and gyms and sport facilities are reopening across all tiers. Outdoor skating rinks can stay open across all tiers and indoor skating rinks can open in Tiers 1 and 2.

Under Tier 3, Ice Rinks are able to open for disability sport, sports as part of the curriculum in education and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020). Elite and professional athletes may continue to use facilities including ice rinks to train and to compete Behind Closed Doors.

Government has published overarching guidance for grassroots sport but does not publish guidance for individual sports. It is for the National Governing Body of the sport to consider the steps that would need to be taken, and the conditions that would need to be met, for their activity to resume. The National Governing Body should also publish relevant guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support youth charities and associated services for young people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government recognises the significant impact of Covid-19 on young people, particularly the most vulnerable, and on the youth services that support them. A £16.5m Youth Covid-19 Support Fund has been announced which will protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations across the country.

This funding will be allocated from the Government’s unprecedented £750 million package of support which is benefiting tens of thousands of frontline charities, so they can continue their vital work. More than £60 million of this package has already been provided to organisations working with vulnerable children and young people. This is in addition to sports and arts youth groups receiving funding as part of Sport England’s (£27m) and the Art Council’s (£50m) covid-19 emergency funding packages.

The Youth Investment Fund remains a manifesto commitment for transformative levelling up across the country over the course of the parliament. In the recently announced Spending Review, £30m of this was committed as capital investment for 2021-22. This will provide a transformational investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people, so they can access support youth workers, and positive activities out of school, including sport and culture. Further details of the timetable for allocation will be announced in due course.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with the Royal British Legion on enabling the safe attendance of Remembrance Sunday events during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has provided advice for those planning to hold local services for Remembrance Sunday across the country.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-authority-preparations-for-remembrance-sunday/local-authority-preparations-for-remembrance-sunday

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport continues to work closely with The Royal British Legion to prepare safe plans for this year’s National Remembrance Sunday Service, delivered on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, London.

1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support his Department is providing to professional Rugby Union teams who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This government’s multi-billion-pound package of business support has enabled many of our sports clubs to survive, but we know that the decision not to reopen stadia to spectators on 1 October will have economic consequences for sports and clubs across the country who relied on those fans for income, including professional rugby union teams.

We have asked for detailed financial returns to see what support they need, and we will work at pace with them to understand the issues that organisations in the most challenging circumstances are facing and what support they may require.

I met with the CEO of Premiership Rugby on 1 October to discuss this very issue and we will continue to engage directly with both the RFU and with Premiership Rugby as part of this process.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for safety of the reintroduction of large brass band rehearsals.

As of 14 September non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras, wind and brass or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than six at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than six (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.

We will continue to work with the Performing Arts sector to understand how the new regulations affect those engaging in activity. We have always been clear that the easing of restrictions depends on the prevalence of COVID-19.

Following concerns that singing, wind and brass were potentially higher risk activities DCMS commissioned further scientific studies to be carried out to develop the scientific evidence on these activities. The outcome of these studies has allowed us to reconsider appropriate mitigations and remove the need for extended social distancing that was previously required. Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance. People should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible. Venues, performers and audiences should ensure 2m distancing applies wherever possible.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what criteria his Department used when deciding to delay the proposed reopening of bowling alleys due to take place 1 August 2020.

As the Prime Minister stated on 31st July, our assessment at the time was that we should pause reopening activity slightly in order to keep the virus under control. As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

Bowling alleys have been permitted to reopen in line with Covid-19 Secure guidelines since 15th August, except in specific areas where local restrictions are in place.

Bowling alleys are able to benefit from the reduced rate of VAT which the Government has applied to attractions, accommodation and hospitality from 15 July 2020 until 12 January 2021. To support businesses - including bowling alleys - through Covid-19, the Government has also introduced a comprehensive support package, including business rates relief for eligible leisure businesses and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

We have supported bowling alleys by working closely with stakeholders to develop further Covid-19 Secure reopening guidance for venues. Specific guidance on bowling alleys has been published within UKHospitality’s ‘COVID-19 Secure Guidelines for Hospitality Businesses.’ We continue to meet regularly with the wider sector through the Cultural Renewal Taskforce’s Sport and Visitor Economy working groups.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance his Department has issued to soft play areas for their safe reopening as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

On 13 August, the Government announced that indoor play and indoor soft play venues could open from 15 August. We worked with BALPPA, the trade body that represents the industry to develop guidance that lays out detailed measures for indoor play and indoor soft play operators to make venues COVID-secure. These include closing ball pits and sensory areas, reducing capacity of venues and soft play frames, regular deep cleaning, pre-bookable timed sessions, increased sanitation, and a rigorous process to support track and trace. We will continue to engage with the sector and will keep the guidance under regular review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of permitting a limited number of spectators to attend non-league football matches as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

On 18th August, the Government amended its guidance to provide extra clarification for organisers of non-elite sports events to help them manage and admit spectators safely, adhering to social distancing.

Non-league football clubs from level seven of the pyramid, below the National League North / South, can admit spectators in line with the FA’s definition of non-elite football.

We continue to work closely with all sports, including the interests of football from National League and above to support the safe return of spectators to stadia more widely from October 1st. As announced by the Prime Minister, this remains subject to successful pilots events and wider prevailing public health factors, both of which remain under active consideration.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support his Department is providing for the provision of girls football at a grassroots level in (a) England and (b) Leicestershire.

Through Sport England, the government is investing £24.6m in The Football Association (The FA) over the course of 2016-21 for its work on grassroots participation, the football
talent pathway, and coaching programmes. Within this, there is no specific ring fencing of funding between men's and women's programmes apart from £2.6m which is specifically reserved for women and girls talent programmes.

In addition, Sport England has awarded The FA £544,500 to date to deliver The FA FIVES, a mass participation five a side football competition for men and women. They have also invested £987,000 to support the infrastructure and opportunities for recreational football in each of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 host cities (London, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Milton Keynes, Wigan/Leigh, Brighton and Southampton).

Separately, the government has invested £18 million in football facilities through the Football Foundation in each of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Football Foundation has invested £22.95 million in football facilities in the Leicestershire County FA region since 2000. It is not possible to separate out the investment amounts by gender.

We want to see women’s sport continue to thrive. I recently wrote to the Football Association, alongside the other major sport governing bodies, to underline the importance of maintaining the momentum of women’s and girl’s football.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance his Department has issued on the safe reopening of bowling alleys as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. From 1 August, we will reopen bowling alleys.

The Government is committed to reopening leisure facilities and visitor attractions, including bowling alleys, as soon as it is safe to do so. The Sport Working Group and the Visitor Economy Working Group both feed into the Cultural Renewal Taskforce, and ensure strong sector and expert support for the co-development of guidance. This will help ten pin bowling alleys become Covid-19 Secure and re-open as early as possible.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support his Department will provide to independent music venues during the covid-19 outbreak.

On Sunday 5 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors.

We continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading music industry. Our recovery work for this sector is being delivered via the ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group, which was established to support the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce. The Music Venue Trust is an active and valued member of the Working Group, the focus of which is to produce sector-led guidance for the safe reopening of a range of creative industries sectors, including live music venues.

25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the closure of swimming pools on professional and amateur swimming clubs.

The consideration of different venues and the activities involved are underpinned by understanding the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 associated with particular activities.

We recognise the importance of re-opening our indoor and outdoor pools and we agree that swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy. There are concerns about transmission around points of contact within such facilities, like changing rooms due to the high volume of contacts. As such, we need to provide reassurance that these facilities will be safe, and are working hard to achieve this in the coming weeks.

The Government is actively working towards a safe way to re-open these facilities, with supporting guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the planned timeframe for the reopening of children's rides, miniature golf, boating lakes and other similar outdoor leisure activities.

We will look at opening the tourism sector and allowing more leisure activities in Step 3 of the Government’s recovery strategy, currently planned for 4 July at the earliest. This will be subject to the further scientific advice and the latest risk assessment at the time.

My Department has been working closely with the sector, through the Visitor Economy Working Group to produce guidance on the reopening of the tourism sector. We remain in regular contact with visitor attraction stakeholders through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group. The Government is committed to reopening leisure activity facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.

Many outdoor recreational areas, including outdoor play areas, remain closed in law as there is a higher risk of close contact and people touching surfaces. Over the coming months, the Government will introduce a range of adjustments to current social distancing controls. The Government will monitor closely the effect of each adjustment, using the effect on the epidemic to gauge the appropriate next step. Any changes to rules in relation to outdoor play areas will be widely communicated.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has provided guidance to schools on pre-booked overseas trips with Camp International.

In line with the Government’s COVID-19 response roadmap, the Department advises against all domestic and international residential educational visits until at least Step 3 and no earlier than 17 May. Guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#educational-visits.

The Department will update guidance in line with the timetable set out in the roadmap, including advice on international educational visits, after the Global Travel Taskforce has reported its findings.

Any disputes regarding travel provider, and/or travel insurer, performance or behaviour should be resolved in line with the contractual arrangements and in line with the relevant industry and sector representative body disputes process.

The Association of British Insurers provide information and support at: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/travel-insurance/.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing schools with the flexibility to decide on how to manage their summer school programmes in order to ensure that programmes take into account the specific needs of their pupils in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

£200 million will be made available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will have the flexibility to plan a summer programme that best meets the needs of the school and its pupils. The Department will be publishing guidance for schools shortly.

Although schools are free to involve other pupils where the school has identified a particular need, the Department expects that most will want to focus summer schools on pupils making the transition into Year 7.

The aim of the programme, drawing on the evidence of good practice, is to deliver a summer school that offers a blend of academic education and enrichment activities, but the specific design will be for schools to decide.

19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the outbreak of covid-19, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that school pupils can sit exams safely in summer 2021.

The COVID-19 contain framework guidance sets out how national and local partners will work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks.

The Department has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to develop specific guidance for school settings. Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in our September reopening guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, PHE and DHSC confirm that they create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

The Department is working with Ofqual and engaging widely with the education sector to identify any risks to examinations at a national, local, and individual student level, and to consider measures needed to address any potential disruption. This could be a student unable to sit examinations due to illness or self isolation, or schools affected by a local outbreak during the examination season resulting in examination centres not being able to open. More details will be published later in the autumn.

14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Eduaction, what plans his Department has to work with the university sector to introduce free sanitary products on campuses.

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

Higher education providers such as universities are autonomous bodies, independent from the government. It is for each individual provider to make their own decisions about how best to support their students. However, many providers may choose to provide certain services to support inclusion.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has provided to dance schools to prepare for their safe reopening as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Indoor dance lessons for children are considered to be an out-of-school setting. Out-of-school settings are currently not able to reopen. However, as my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed on 23 June, holiday clubs and out-of-school clubs for children will be able to restart over the summer, subject to the science and with safety measures in place. Adjustments to current measures for these clubs will be part of Step 3 of the recovery strategy (from 4 July). We will be providing guidance for the sector on how to implement the protective measures necessary to open safely as soon as possible, this will cover group sizes and social distancing measures.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of releasing an online version of the proposed Key Stage Two SATs examinations that were cancelled due to the covid-19 outbreak so that pupils can measure their own learning.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on schools, the department has removed all requirements on schools and local authorities relating to the 2020 statutory primary assessments, including statutory trialling activities.

The cancellation of statutory trialling means the rigorous process undertaken by the department for developing statutory assessments has been disrupted and it has not been possible to complete trialling for all the assessments intended for administration in 2021. As a result, the department will preserve the 2020 assessments for use in the next academic year, which also provides value for money for the taxpayer.

The statutory test papers from previous years are available online, so suitable high-quality alternatives are available without the release of the 2020 test papers.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that GCSE pupils taught by external providers have their learning validated in the absence of exams due to the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Our latest guidance on GCSEs is set out below:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020.

The independent qualifications regulator Ofqual is working closely with exam boards to develop and implement a system for awarding GCSE grades this summer that is as fair as possible. Ofqual is consulting until 29 April on a range of aspects of that system, including the issues the hon. Member has raised. The consultation is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/exceptional-arrangements-for-exam-grading-and-assessment-in-2020.

Ofqual will be responding on those issues as soon as possible after the consultation has closed.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve (a) access to and (b) funding for creative subjects.

The Department wants all pupils to have access to high-quality creative education. Music, art and design, dance and drama, and design and technology are all statutory subjects in the National Curriculum.

Between 2016-20 the Department is investing nearly £500 million of funding for a diverse portfolio of music and creative arts education programmes including Music Education Hubs, the Music and Dance Scheme and the Dance and Drama awards. In early January, we also announced funding of £85 million for music and arts in 2020-21; £80 million for music hubs coupled with further investment in film, dance, theatre and design.

The Department believes that the arts help young people to learn creative skills and widen their horizons, so our Manifesto committed to offer an ‘arts premium’, worth over £100 million, to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing a 1p levy per garment at the point of retail to fund improved clothing recycling and collection.

The Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy identified textiles as one of five priority sectors for consideration of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. Our draft Waste Prevention Programme, recently consulted on, affirms this commitment and sets out our consultation approach.

We have commenced the process of developing options, with EPR at the core but also including complementary policies. We will consult with stakeholders on policy options by the end of 2022.

As part of this policy development, we will consider the fee levels required to drive industry change and support real reprocessing costs. We will take on board the experience in France, which has faced challenges in doing so.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for textiles.

The Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy identified textiles as one of five priority sectors for consideration of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. Our draft Waste Prevention Programme, recently consulted on, affirms this commitment and sets out our consultation approach.

We have commenced the process of developing options, with EPR at the core but also including complementary policies. We will consult with stakeholders on policy options by the end of 2022.

As part of this policy development, we will consider the fee levels required to drive industry change and support real reprocessing costs. We will take on board the experience in France, which has faced challenges in doing so.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the water industry on implementing an environmental quality standard on plastics in water.

Addressing plastic pollution in our waterways is a priority for the Government, and water infrastructure is recognised as a key pathway for microplastics entering the wider environment. However, there are currently no established methodologies for measuring microplastics in the water environment, which means that implementing an environmental quality standard at this time is not practicable.

Defra is therefore working with the Environment Agency, academics and the UK water industry to establish consistent methods to identify, quantify and characterise the types of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants. Defra and the Environment Agency are also working with the water industry to evaluate the efficiency of treatment processes for the removal of microplastics from domestic wastewaters, and to assess the fate and biological effects of microplastics in receiving rivers.

The UK is already making great strides to tackle plastic pollution. Our world-leading ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products has helped stop billions of tiny pieces of plastic from potentially entering the aquatic environment every year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the appliance industry on introducing microfibre catching filters in washing machines to help mitigate microfibre plastic pollution.

The Government currently has no plans to require manufacturers to install microfibre catching filters on new washing machines and is working with industry to encourage improved environmental outcomes and reduce water pollution on a voluntary basis.

In 2020 Defra published the outcome of research into the sources and pathways of synthetic fibres and vehicle tyre wear contamination into the marine environment. A key conclusion from this research was that there are a large number of textile fibres in the air close to roads, particularly those with pedestrians, which could settle into waterways. This amount is much greater than the number of textile fibres entering the water environment from waste-water treatment plants, suggesting that washing machine filters would have a minimal effect on the number of microplastic fibres that enter the water environment.

Defra will continue to assess new and emerging evidence in this area to inform policy options for tackling microplastic pollution.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to tackle fly-tipping.

Our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy set out our strategic approach to prevent, detect and deter waste crime. This included a commitment to strengthen sentences for fly-tipping and develop a fly-tipping toolkit. The toolkit, which will be developed with the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group, will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping.

In recent years we have also bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping. We have introduced the power to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 to both fly-tippers and householders who pass their waste to an unlicensed waste carrier. We have also provided local authorities with powers to stop, search and seize vehicles of suspected fly-tippers.

In April 2021 we commissioned a research project considering the drivers, deterrents and impacts of fly-tipping. This research project is due to be completed before the end of this year and will support informed policy making. We are exploring additional funding opportunities, including the role of digital solutions.

We are also preparing a number of legislative reforms to tackle waste crime, which should help to tackle fly-tipping. We are taking forward the commitment in the Resources and Waste Strategy to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. We also intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. Digital records of waste movements will allow regulators to detect when waste doesn’t reach the next stage, which may indicate illegal activity including fly-tipping.

We are bringing forward several measures in the Environment Bill to ensure agencies and authorities can work more effectively to combat waste crime through better access to evidence and improved powers of entry. These new powers will help ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the long-term sustainability of the rural economy.

On 30 November, Defra published ‘The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024’. This document will help farmers and land managers better understand what changes are coming as part of the seven-year agricultural transition period, now that the UK has left the EU. The Environmental Land Management scheme is the cornerstone of our new agricultural policy and it is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy.

Defra is working with other departments on a range of other measures to support rural economies and help address long-term productivity challenges. This includes the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which will support investment in rural infrastructure and businesses and the £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme targeted at connecting hard to reach areas. Defra will shortly publish the first annual rural proofing report on how the needs of rural areas in England are being addressed.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to reassure farmers concerned about the potential effect on their sector of the end of the transition period.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain. We have carried out extensive planning with industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year, and we are committed to ensuring the continued supply of agri-food goods across the UK. We are equally committed to minimising disruption to movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Government has been clear that it seeks a free trade agreement with the EU, based on friendly cooperation and maintaining tariff and quota free access. We continue to monitor the market and using the powers available to us under the Government’s new Agriculture Act will be ready to respond in the event that market disruption occurs.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the import of animal feeds of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

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. The Government intends to achieve a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU and the aim is for a zero tariff and zero quota FTA which we are working hard to achieve.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation (MFN) terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with. The MFN principle means that the same tariff must be applied to all WTO trading partners, unless an exception applies such as an FTA. The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Ensuring that UK food and feed remains safe and what it says it is remains a top priority. We are committed to having in place a robust and effective regulatory regime which will mean businesses can continue to run as normal and therefore there are no changes in terms of imports of animal feed to the UK. The majority of feed imported into the UK will not be subject to import checks and this will continue to be the case at the end of the Transition Period. The UK will retain EU legislation that is applicable at the end of the Transition Period to ensure feed is safe, and our high standards of food and feed safety and consumer protection will be maintained.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of whether the introduction of the Environmental Land Management Scheme has the potential to be an income source for farmers.

Our new Environmental Land Management scheme will provide an opportunity for farmers to derive an additional income stream through the delivery of environmental benefits. This will be centred around support aimed at incentivising sustainable farming practices, creating habitats for nature recovery and establishing new woodland and other ecosystem services to help tackle challenges like climate change.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of allowing local authorities to identify publicly people prosecuted for (a) fly-tipping and (b) hiring an unlicensed waste carrier.

Fly-tipping is unacceptable wherever it occurs, and we are committed to tackling this crime.

The naming of fly-tipping offenders is not current Government policy. The Government is committed to encouraging local solutions for local problems. This is particularly relevant in tackling fly-tipping, which requires a local approach, tailored to the characteristics of the area and the community in which the problem occurs. It is therefore not for central government to assess or promote a single approach.

In our Resources and Waste Strategy we committed to developing a web-based toolkit to tackle fly-tipping. This will include advice and guidance on how local authorities can set up and run effective fly-tipping partnerships and share intelligence. Through the establishment of effective partnerships, it will be possible for local partners to share intelligence and evidence of fly-tippers operating across administrative boundaries.

Furthermore, the Police National Computer holds details of people who are, or were, of interest to UK law enforcement agencies following a conviction for a criminal offence, or are subject to legal proceedings, including for fly-tipping offences.

We are also taking action to tackle waste crime, which includes fly-tipping, through the Environment Bill. It will enable the Government to mandate the use of electronic waste tracking; simplify the process for enforcement authorities to enter premises under a warrant; introduce a new power to search for and seize evidence of waste crime; and reduce the cost and bureaucracy when the police seize vehicles involved in waste crime on behalf of the Environment Agency.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing fines for fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping is an unacceptable crime and we committed to increasing penalties for fly-tipping in our manifesto. We also undertook to strengthen sentences for waste crimes, including fly-tipping, in our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy. We will do this, by among other measures, working with the independent Sentencing Council to ensure that the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline is kept up to date. Our ‘fly-tipping toolkit’ will also cover how councils can present robust cases to the courts to secure tougher penalties.

Anyone caught fly-tipping may be prosecuted, which can lead to a fine or up to 12 months imprisonment, or both, if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract a fine or up to five years imprisonment, or both, if convicted in a Crown Court. The latest 2018/19 fly-tipping prosecution outcome figures showed that the value of total fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000 compared to 2017/18.

Instead of prosecuting, councils may choose to issue a fixed penalty notice (on-the-spot fine). Local authorities have the power to issue fixed penalties of up to £400 for fly-tipping offences, including to those caught fly-tipping and to householders who pass their waste to a fly-tipper. Vehicles of those suspected of committing a waste crime, including illegal dumping, can be searched and seized.

Prior to introducing the fixed penalties for those who commit a fly-tipping offence, Defra issued a call for evidence in 2015. The responses to this and further analysis undertaken when finalising the policy resulted in the maximum value of the fixed penalty notice being set at £400. Furthermore, we undertook a consultation in advance of granting local authorities the power to issue a fixed penalty notice of up to £400 to householders who fail in their duty of care in January 2019. Almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) felt that the proposed value (£200 default, maximum value of £400) was correct.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the fines given to those who (a) are caught fly-tipping and (b) fail to check if those disposing of waste have a valid waste carriers' licence.

Defra issued a call for evidence in 2015 prior to introducing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for those who have committed a fly-tipping offence. The responses to our call for evidence and further analysis when finalising the policy led to the maximum value of the FPN being set at £400.

In January 2019 we gave local authorities the power to issue a FPN to householders who fail in their duty of care. When consulting on this FPN, almost three-quarters of respondents felt that the proposed value (£200 default, maximum value of £400) was correct.

With regards to criminal prosecution for more serious fly-tipping offences, the punishment could be a fine of up to £50,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment or both when tried in a magistrates’ court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine or up to five years imprisonment or both if convicted in a Crown Court.

We committed in our manifesto to increase penalties for fly-tipping and will continue to work with magistrates, the Sentencing Council and the Judicial Office to ensure magistrates are aware of the prevalence and the significance of fly-tipping and its impact on local communities, with a view to securing tougher penalties.

The latest 2018/19 fly-tipping prosecution outcome figures showed that the value of total fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000 compared with 2017/18.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to support Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire during the covid-19 outbreak.

We continue to engage regularly with some of the major zoos and aquariums, including Twycross Zoo, to identify the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on larger organisations.

A number of schemes have been made available to businesses and charities that should help them during this emergency. Zoos are eligible to apply for the Job Retention Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan schemes, the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay and grant funding of up to £25,000.

As announced by the Prime Minister on 10 June, outdoor areas of zoos and safari parks are now allowed to reopen, subject to appropriate social distancing measures being in place. Allowing zoos to reopen is an integral step towards supporting an early financial recovery.

Consideration of proposals for any longer-term support that might be needed for the sector is ongoing. With the help and support of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums we are working diligently to find the best way forward.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle microfibre plastic pollution originating from clothes washing.

There has been substantive research reporting the presence and impacts of microplastics and microfibres in the marine environment. However, little is known about their sources, release and impact on freshwaters and their transport to the marine environment. Defra has therefore commissioned evidence reviews based on the following questions:

  • Are the current sampling and analytical methods used to provide data on the presence of microplastics in freshwater matrices, as well as other environmental materials, scientifically robust and appropriate?
  • What are the sources of microplastics reported to have been found in freshwater environments?
  • What is/are the impact(s) of microplastics on freshwater biota?

Defra is also working with the Environment Agency and the UK water industry to establish methods to detect, characterise and quantify microplastics entering wastewater treatment works, to evaluate the efficiency of treatment processes for their removal from domestic wastewaters and to assess their fate and biological effects in receiving rivers. In addition, Defra has commissioned the University of Plymouth to carry out research into textiles and tyres which are estimated to be significant sources of microplastics in the marine environment, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate has commissioned research on removal of microplastics by drinking water treatment processes.

The outcomes from these research projects will be used in the development of policy options to help mitigate the impact of microplastics in the aquatic environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support dairy farmers facing difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Defra is working closely with the dairy industry to manage the impact of Covid-19. Though demand for milk and some dairy products has increased in supermarkets, farmers supplying milk to processors that sell into the food service sector have seen a significant reduction in demand.

Between 5 and 10% of total milk production goes to the service trade and there is therefore a small proportion of milk production that currently has no home. The vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at the usual price. In order to support affected farmers, we have eased some elements of competition law to make it easier for processors to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and ensure as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products.

We have asked the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (which supports the interests of dairy farmers) and Dairy UK (which represents the processors) to work with farmers and processors to ensure that the industry can benefit from these easements. We stand ready to support them throughout this pandemic. This approach will allow the market for milk to adjust to the change in demand for milk while allowing production to be restored when shops, restaurants and pubs are able to open again.

The Government took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and the wider sector. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers’ hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

The Government’s Covid-19 Business Interruption Loans scheme is available to the dairy industry. Defra has held urgent discussions with the major banks to ensure they understand that farmers, milk buyers and milk processors are eligible for this scheme and communications are being prepared to increase awareness across the dairy industry.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to support consumers moving from wood-burning stoves to more environmentally friendly alternatives.

The Government has a range of support mechanisms in place. There are Government initiatives for those living in fuel poverty burning solid fuels. The Energy Company Obligation is a requirement on larger energy suppliers to reduce heating costs through the installation of energy efficiency measures and new heating systems. It includes the installation of central heating in homes which have not had it before. Additionally, there is a minimum requirement to deliver measures in rural areas and incentives to deliver to homes off the gas grid. The Private Rented Sector Regulation 2019 also requires landlords to improve the energy performance of F&G rated properties they let out. Looking ahead, the Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy later this year, which will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

In addition, we recently announced proposals to introduce legislation for cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels. This will introduce restrictions on the sale of wet wood for domestic burning so that it can only be purchased in volumes over 2m3. Burning a dry log which has below 20% moisture can reduce emissions by 50% compared with a log which has not been dried. It is also much more cost effective to burn on a heat output basis, and leaves less tar and soot in the appliance and chimney. Therefore dry wood will still be available for sale under these proposals.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to make the labelling of food suitable for vegetarians a legal requirement.

The fundamental principles of our food labelling rules are that information provided to consumers must not mislead and must enable consumers to make informed decisions. While our rules lay out what information must be given to consumers and how it must be provided, there is no legal definition for vegetarian food in our legislation. Nor is there a legal requirement to label food as either vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Food manufacturers are free to label products as vegetarian voluntarily and so inform consumers who seek such information, providing they do not mislead consumers. Organisations such as the Vegetarian and Vegan Societies provide accreditation services to food producers, allowing food products which fulfil their respective requirements to carry their logos.

Looking forward, we have an opportunity to review food labelling to make sure that consumers can have confidence in the food that they buy.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support the Government will provide to businesses that sell wet wood and coal following the announcement of a ban on the sale of those items.

The Government intends to introduce a mandatory certification scheme demonstrating that wood sold in volumes under 2m³ is dry (less than 20% moisture). This will apply from one year from publication of the Government Response to allow existing stocks to be used up. Small suppliers will have an extra year to comply. This is to give them time to season their wood down to the required level or consider changes to their business model. A proportionate approach to enforcement will be taken, with enforcement agencies working with and educating small foresters to support them in meeting the new requirements.

We intend to introduce a ban on the sale of all bagged traditional house coal one year from publication of the Government Response. For a transitional period of two years, approved coal merchants will be able to sell loose traditional house coal directly to customers. A phased transition gives additional time for the market for smokeless fuel to develop in response to the legislation and for small businesses to adjust.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of equalising compensation payments to farmers in England for TB-affected cattle with those paid to farmers in devolved areas of the UK.

Responsibility for animal health policies, including statutory compensation schemes, is fully devolved. Defra carried out a statutory review of the relevant legislation in England - the Cattle Compensation (England) Order 2012 (SI 2012 No.1379) and the Individual Ascertainment of Value (England) Order 2012 (SI 2012 No.1380) - in 2016. A summary report of that review published in July 2017 is available on the GOV.UK website.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the powers available to local authorities to prosecute people responsible for fly-tipping.

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

Local authorities also have the ability to take those accused of fly-tipping to court. If a fly-tipper is convicted, it is punishable by up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Defra has already worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for magistrates to ensure that they are aware of local fixed penalty levels for these offences. The Resources and Waste Strategy published in December 2018 includes a number of commitments to improve this, including working with the Sentencing Council to increase magistrates’ awareness of the prevalence and importance of waste crime, helping local authorities improve the quality of cases and ensuring that the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline is kept up to date and that magistrates are effectively trained on it.

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

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what covid-19 related financial support her Department has made available for charities based overseas.

Civil society organisations (CSOs), including charities based overseas, are key partners for DFID. Many of DFID’s programmes support local and international CSOs in order to deliver humanitarian and development outcomes, including providing humanitarian support to tackle the spread and consequences of COVID-19. As DFID’s programming adapts to respond to COVID-19, we are also considering what work needs to be adapted or paused as our partners are affected by the pandemic, either directly or in response to the risk.

DFID’s recent announcement of £200 million of funding to the global response, brings the total announced funding to £744 million to support the global efforts to combat the outbreak of the pandemic. This includes £20 million directly to CSOs to support them on humanitarian response, the majority of which will go through the Rapid Response Facility. It also includes £130 million for the UN agencies. CSOs based overseas will be able to access some of this funding as downstream partners. Extra funding opportunities will also be available through DFID’s new partnership with Unilever to support hygiene practices in developing countries.

We are reviewing our programme portfolio in light of the COVID-19 response which will enable us to identify existing activities which can already support the response and others which can be adapted or scaled up, such as our support to health systems and humanitarian crises.

DFID is offering support to suppliers and partners where this is appropriate, and will apply the provisions of the Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Note and associated guidance for grants, which allows for relief on services and goods provided in the UK to DFID aid programmes as a last resort, and on a case-by-case basis for DFID contracts and grants.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to increase suicide prevention awareness signage at (a) motorway bridges and (b) other bridges across the road network.

The Government and National Highways takes its responsibility to support vulnerable people on the road network extremely seriously.

National Highways has also worked in partnership with Samaritans to develop specific guidance for placing crisis signs on the Strategic Road Network and Road Investment Strategy includes dedicated funding through to 2025 for its regional teams to place signs when a need is identified.

Local authorities already have powers to provide suicide prevention signs. It is for them to work with relevant charities, public health bodies, and other stakeholder groups to consider whether such signing would be beneficial and in what locations.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points on the motorway network.

In May last year, we published an ambitious vision for rapid charging infrastructure along strategic roads in England over the next decade. By 2023 we aim to have 6 rapid chargepoints at every motorway service area in England. By 2030 we aim to have 2,500 across the SRN and 6,000 by 2035. To support this goal, the Government will invest £950 million in the Rapid Charging Fund which will future-proof electrical capacity at motorway and major A road service areas to prepare the network for 100% ZEV uptake ahead of need. We are also working closely with devolved administrations to provide support for their plans to improve chargepoint availability on the motorway networks in their areas.

Today, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along England’s motorways and major A roads.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to make further financial support available to taxi businesses and drivers in response to the delayed relaxation of the covid-19 restrictions originally planned for 21 June 2021.

The Government has announced several measures available to UK businesses, including the taxi and private hire sector, to support them through the pandemic. The majority of taxi and PHV drivers are self-employed and can therefore apply for grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

On 3 March, the Chancellor announced that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of 3 months average trading profits paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500.

A fifth grant covering May 2021 to September 2021 will be open to claims from late July 2021. The amount awarded will be determined by how much an operator’s turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021. More information on support will be provided on GOV.UK by the end of June 2021.

Operators can continue to apply for the Additional Restrictions Grant via their Local Authority, which is a discretionary grant to businesses not receiving other support or who are extremely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the economic effect on British businesses of the international shortage of shipping containers.

We have not conducted a specific economic assessment. Government has been working closely with the freight sector and wider business to mitigate the impact on UK supply chains of this global issue.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the two-year period for passing a practical driving test from the date of a successful theory test for people waiting to take practical driving tests during the covid-19 outbreak.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation and the Government has taken the decision not to lay further legislation to extend it. The primary reason is that the two-year validity is in place to ensure that a candidate’s theoretical knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point they drive on their own for the first time. Extending the validity would provide less reassurance that this is the case. Those whose certificate previously expired and have since passed the theory test will now have a further two years in which to pass the practical test.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the provision of improved warning signage for vehicle users on prominent cycling routes.

The provision of traffic signs is the responsibility of local highway authorities and as such the Department has made no assessment of signs on the network. All traffic signs and road markings placed on a public highway must be either prescribed in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, as amended, or authorised by the Secretary of State for Transport. The Department provides guidance to local authorities in the Traffic Signs Manual which can be viewed at:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-signs-manual

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve road safety for cyclists on rural roads.

In November 2018 we published the Government response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review which committed to update The Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. One of the proposals under consideration is the inclusion of safe passing distances which would also benefit cyclists on rural roads.

In July 2019, the Government published the Road Safety Statement 2019: a lifetime of road safety. This includes a two-year action plan to address a range of road safety issues which will improve safety for all road users including cyclists, including establishing a working group to address rural road safety issues.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support his Department is providing for the provision of new local cycling routes.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2 billion package of funding for cycling and walking over the next five years. £225 million will be available to local authorities this financial year for immediate measures including new cycle lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions. Indicative funding allocations from the £225 million have been published and funding will be provided in two tranches, subject to local authorities satisfying the Department that they have sufficiently ambitious and credible plans in place. Leicestershire has been indicatively allocated £300,000 for tranche one and £1,200,000 for tranche two.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the covid-19 outbreak on MOT testing.

The effect of COVID-19 on vehicle testing has been under constant review as the situation has developed. As announced on 25th March, vehicle owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to blue badge parking bays for people with disabilities.

Local authorities are responsible for the administration of the Blue Badge scheme and for the provision of disabled parking bays in their areas, ensuring for example that there are sufficient numbers and that they are located in the right places. Local authorities are also responsible for the enforcement of all parking regulations, including those regarding disabled parking bays on-street (the scheme only applies to on-street parking and not to off-street car parks). They will be making their own arrangements for business continuity to ensure appropriate on-street parking enforcement continues.

To support the role that local authorities play, the Department has issued non-statutory guidance to local authorities in England on how to administer the scheme. This includes advice on how to use the powers provided to them in legislation to enforce on-street parking bays.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to electrify the Midland Mainline from London to Leicester.

We are currently investing in the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870. From December 2020, there will be faster journeys in the peak and more seats, with a fleet of brand new bi-mode trains starting service in 2022.

As part of the upgrade, electrification is currently planned to extend from London to Kettering in 2020, and subsequently Market Harborough, subject to design. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy, currently being developed, will identify the other areas of the network likely to need electrification to decarbonise the railway.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of guidelines for the provision of pedestrian crossings.

Provision of pedestrian crossings is a matter for local traffic authorities. In December 2019 the Department published updated guidance on pedestrian crossing assessment and design, in Chapter 6 of the Traffic Signs Manual. It is available to download from

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-signs-manual.

Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the 2019 guidance on hidden disabilities and blue badge parking.

The Department for Transport will review the impact of the expanded criteria on the Blue Badge scheme 12 months after implementation.

In the first 3 months of the new criteria being in operation, 12,299 people in England who had applied using the non-visible condition criteria were awarded a badge.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve road safety for guide dog users.

The Department provides guidance to local authorities on how to make streets safe and accessible for all users, including those with visual impairments. It has been carrying out research to inform possible revisions of two of its key guidance documents: Inclusive Mobility and Guidance on the use of Tactile Paving Surfaces. A collaborative project with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland on inclusive street design is also underway. The Department will be providing further updates when the results of this research are available later this year.

Additionally, the Department’s two-year cycling and walking safety action plan, published in November 2018, included a commitment to review certain elements of The Highway Code to improve safety for vulnerable road users. The Department will consult on proposed changes to The Highway Code later this year.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the charity sector continues to have access to airline charity fares.

The Government recognises the importance of charity fares provided by airlines to assist charitable organisations in performing charity work overseas. However, this is a commercial decision and a matter for individual airlines.

24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to review the level of state pension received by British nationals living overseas.

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide and annual index-linked increases (up-rating) are paid where there is a legal requirement to do so. For example, in countries where we have a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating. This policy is longstanding and has been supported by successive post-war Governments and Parliaments for over 70 years.

The government doesn’t intend to change long standing policy.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the Kickstart scheme to allow smaller businesses to take on fewer than 30 new workers under the scheme.

Companies looking to recruit fewer than 30 Kickstart applicants are still able to benefit from Kickstart by bidding for placements via an intermediary organisation. Intermediaries can gather employers keen to offer Kickstart jobs to make a collective bid of 30 or more vacancies. Smaller employers will have support from the intermediary to create high quality roles and additional support so that young people get the most out of their placement. This also reduces the administrative burden falling on the small employer. The department has received significant interest from a wide range of bodies including local authorities, charities and trade/industry bodies looking to become intermediaries.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that child maintenance payments are being reviewed on a regular basis.

Child maintenance calculations are reviewed annually using income information from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), meaning they stay up to date, and the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) does not need to rely on clients to report changes in their circumstances. However, a parent can report a change of circumstances at any time, if the income information received is not representative of the individual’s current earnings. The CMS will consider re-assessing their current earnings, if found to be 25 per cent different from the figure received from HMRC.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what financial support her Department is providing to low-income families to help towards the cost of funerals during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government provides support to bereaved families in a number of ways. The Funeral Expenses Payments scheme provides a significant contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by recipients of certain income based benefits or tax credits. The scheme pays necessary burial and cremation costs in full, as defined by legislation, plus up to £1000 for other expenses such as the cost of a coffin, church and funeral director fees, which was increased from £700 on 8 April. Scotland has a similar scheme, the Funeral Support Payment scheme. Support for funeral costs for all young people under 18 is provided by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England, with similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. Interest-free Social Fund Budgeting Loans and Universal Credit Budgeting Advances can also be used for funeral expenses. Further financial support is available through Bereavement Support Payments which help working age people whose spouse or civil partner dies.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of increasing the national living wage on people's potential to exceed the weekly income limit for carer's allowance.

We are proud of the National Living Wage and the significant increases the Government has been able to make to it. Universal Credit flexes to take increased earnings into account. Carer’s Allowance has a weekly earnings rule.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, this will increase from £123 to £128 net a week from April 2020, in line with average earnings growth.

The Department is to undertake research into carers employment and potential barriers to working. We will look at the findings from the research and other evidence with an open mind when the level of the earnings limit is next considered.

22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to retain NHS midwives.

The NHS People Plan, published in July 2020, focuses on building resilience with a recruitment, retention and support package. The People Recovery Task Force is developing a framework and set of interventions to ensure that National Health Service staff, including midwives, are safe and supported as we deliver the restoration of services. All staff have access to a psychological support package, including apps, a text service and 40 mental health hubs across the country.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to recognise covid-19 vaccines administered to British citizens residing in Mexico.

Vaccine certification from all countries and territories must meet the minimum criteria taking into account public health and wider considerations. We are taking a phased approach to the inbound vaccination programme to other countries and territories, including Mexico and we will keep this under regular consideration.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to introduce a covid-19 travel pass for those aged under 16 years.

The NHS COVID Pass is currently available to those aged 16 years old and over. Few countries require childrens’ vaccination status testing is generally available or entry on the parent/guardians’ status. However, we recognise that a small proportion of children aged over 12 years old have or will receive a full course of vaccination following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice and the growing requirement abroad for children to demonstrate their status. The international standards for travel require a full course to be recognised as ‘fully vaccinated’. We are exploring ways for fully vaccinated children aged over 12 years old to demonstrate their vaccination status for travel. Those aged 12 to 15 years old offered one Pfizer dose should continue to follow destination countries’ entry requirements for unvaccinated arrivals.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help improve the dispensing of prescriptions when patients are waiting to be discharged to avoid delays.

NHS England and NHS Improvement support systems to improve their discharge processes through the Emergency Care Improvement Support Team and provide a number of resources that share best practice.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that the transition to a midwifery-led continuity of care model is accessible to women who are pregnant following the death of a previous baby.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have committed to midwifery-led continuity of carer, so that it becomes the default model of care for women using maternity services across England by March 2023.

Upcoming NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance on continuity of carer will include advice on the implementation of maternal medicine-focused teams, which could be used to accommodate women deemed higher risk due to previous loss, whilst still offering continuity of the midwife caring for them.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the NHS plans to (a) resume administering vaccinations for tuberculosis and (b) begin offering appointments for people who were not offered that vaccination as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The significant decline in tuberculosis (TB) in England has meant the BCG vaccination programme is now targeted at protecting the children of people from TB high prevalence countries. The BCG vaccination is given at birth while the mother and baby are in hospital. The potential impact of COVID-19 on the provision of TB services including BCG vaccination was recognised early on and guidance was published in March 2020 which included maintenance of neonatal BCG provision.

Subsequently updated guidance was published in January 2021, which stated: “Childhood vaccination programmes are continuing, including the neonatal BCG vaccination. Therefore, maternity services and other providers of the BCG vaccination should continue to vaccinate for BCG.” General practices continue to offer routine vaccination services, using social distancing and personal protective equipment according to national guidelines.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of revising the treatment approach for lymphedema to help ensure people with that condition can access long term and preventative treatments.

No specific assessment has been made.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding support is available for families and children to access medicinal cannabis for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

Since November 2018, Epidyolex – a cannabis-based prescription medicine for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy - has been made available for prescribing on the National Health Service, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other unlicensed cannabis-based medicines, and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a national patient registry.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the provision of the second dose of the covid-19 vaccine for hospital patients.

We have sufficient doses to maintain the vaccination programme and to provide second doses to hospital patients and in other settings.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of prioritising frontline nursery care workers in the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that the priority for the current COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.

The Government will set out plans for phase two of the vaccination programme in due course, based on further advice from the JCVI. Phase two of the roll-out may include further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of approving pharmacists to administer the covid-19 vaccine.

No such assessment has been made.

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who undertake the training specified by NHS England and NHS Improvement as the commissioners of National Health Service pharmaceutical services, can administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to protect people from fraudulent advertising online of untested or misleading covid-19 vaccines.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 place strict regulatory controls on the manufacture, distribution, retail sale / supply and advertising of medicinal products for human use. Medicinal products, including vaccines, must hold a Marketing Authorisation (product licence) for legal sale and supply in the United Kingdom.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has responsibility for the regulation of medicinal products, blood and medical device and has a role as the law enforcement authority in respect of these products. The MHRA’s first priority is the protection of public health and any medicinal product or vaccine identified as being offered for sale without the appropriate authorisations will be investigated as a potential breach of the Human Medicines Regulations and a clear threat to health and safety of UK citizens.

Offences against the Human Medicines Regulations are criminal and non-compliance can and does result in prosecution through the criminal courts. Officials at the MHRA are actively assessing the nature and extent of such a threat and are working with partners in UK and elsewhere across the globe to provide an appropriate and effective response.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to introduce a form of proof for people who have received a covid-19 vaccine.

The careful and accurate recording of vaccination status is incredibly important both in terms of ensuring priority cohorts are offered the two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, and to ensure robust surveillance systems are in place to support patient safety.

The National Health Service’s National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) will be used as the national register of COVID-19 vaccinations. At the point that someone receives their COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccinating team will record it and this information will go onto the NIMS system and onto a patient’s general practice record.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the 30 day time period for patients to find a new GP surgery having left the catchment area of their old service.

No assessment has been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to expand covid-19 testing to teachers and school staff, outside of exceptional circumstances, ahead of the 2020-21 Christmas term break.

Before Christmas, symptomatic testing was available for all staff through the citizen’s portal, offering testing slots for regional and local testing sites and delivery of home test kits. Teachers had prioritised access to testing as they are classed as essential workers. This is alongside the polymerase contact reaction kits that were distributed to schools.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the present capacity limits in place for weddings in Tiers 1 and 2 of the proposed local lockdown restrictions; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing these capacity limits in line with relaxed restrictions in areas located in Tiers 1 and 2.

The Government are committed to publishing data that has informed its decision making, including the tier allocations. The Department publishes a weekly watchlist giving epidemiological COVID-19 data for each lower-tier local authority in England. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-cases-by-local-authority-epidemiological-data

Detailed data on hospital activity can be found at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-hospital-activity/

The public dashboard on the progress of the virus across a range of metrics is updated daily at the following link:

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk

The Contain framework sets out how national and local partners work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks, this includes the allocation of areas to the appropriate tier, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers

Epidemiological data and projection models on local restriction tiers, including commentary on individual tier allocation decisions is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938964/Coronavirus_England_briefing_26_November.pdf

This provides further information and context beyond the headline metrics as to why areas are in particular tiers currently.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to include privately run social care day centres within the remit of the CQC.

There are no plans to include privately run social care day centres within the remit of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Social care day centres do not generally provide personal care or any other regulated activity as defined in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. All providers of regulated activities must register with the CQC.

Personal care is defined by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 as regulated activity that involves supporting people in their homes (or where they're living at the time) with things like washing, bathing or cleaning themselves, getting dressed or going to the toilet.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what provision he is making for people who wish to have face-to-face appointments in order to discuss mental health issues with healthcare professionals.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Health Service has been clear on the importance of maintaining face to face care for those patients who need it, and of patient choice in determining suitability for digital appointments.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked all general practices to ensure they have clearly communicated that face-to-face appointments continue to be on offer, where clinically appropriate. This is in addition to video and phone consultations.

In secondary care, mental health services are working to accelerate the return to near-normal levels of non-coronavirus health services, subject to local circumstances and capacity. This includes the full resumption of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services delivered digitally, over the phone and face to face where appropriate.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to medicinal cannabis.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines, and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a new independent specialist clinical network to provide impartial evidence-based advice to clinicians treating patients with refractory epilepsy.

Two licensed cannabis-based medicines: Sativex – for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients; and Epidyolex – for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy, have recently been made available for prescribing on the National Health Service for patients where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of their safety, clinical and cost effectiveness. Further evidence is required to support the routine use of unlicensed cannabis-based products in the NHS.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the cost of personal protective equipment incurred by dental surgeries are not being passed on to patients.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are responsible for commissioning National Health Service dental services to meet local needs.

Dental practices may not levy any charge in respect of a NHS course of treatment except one of the three fixed patient charges. There is no ability to charge for personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS treatment and NHS England and NHS Improvement will investigate any claims of fraudulent behaviour as a result of a patient having paid for PPE for any NHS treatment.

For private treatment charges are a matter between dentist and patient.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to allow beauty salons in the Leicester Lockdown Area to reopen.

Additional businesses and venues were allowed to reopen in Leicester City from 19 August. This included nail bars and salons, tanning booths and salons, spas and beauty salons, massage parlours although close contact services, which are any treatments on the face, should not reopen.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of recommencing regular face-to-face GP surgery appointments as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

NHS England and NHS Improvement on 31 August issued guidance stating that general practitioners (GP) practices must offer face-to-face appointments at surgeries and continue to use remote triage, video, online and telephone consultations where appropriate – whilst also considering those unable to access or engage with digital services. The importance of providing face-to-face appointment for those who need them was reiterated in a further NHS England and NHS Improvement letter of 14 September.

The Government and devolved administrations have published clear guidance on appropriate personal protective equipment for health and social care workers, including GPs. This has been written and reviewed by all four United Kingdom public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention and control experts. The guidance is consistent with World Health Organization guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19 and should allow the safe recommencement of regular face-to-face GP appointments.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether enforcing the local covid-19 lockdown in Leicester will require the introduction of additional legislation.

With effect from 5 November until the start of December new national measures restrictions will be introduced. We hoped that by strong local action, and with strong local leadership, we could get the rates of infection down where the disease was surging. But it is now clear that we need to take action immediately to protect the National Health Service and to get ‘R’ decisively below 1. We must do this to curtail the exponential growth in hospitalisations and deaths. At the end of the period, we will look to return to a local and regional approach, based on the latest data.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people without photographic ID are able to receive a test for the covid-19 at designated testing centres.

Those attending in person testing sites are asked to show photographic ID. However, if they do not have photographic ID, site operators have been instructed to follow manual registration processes to ensure no one is turned away.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the safe disposal of personal protective equipment.

NHS England has set out guidance on the safe disposal of personal protective equipment in their Standard Operating Procedure. All disposal should be done in line with the rigorous legislative requirements set out by the Environment Agency.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to regulate the advertisement of vitamins and diet supplements on (a) social media and (b) other media platforms.

The advertising of vitamins and dietary supplements is governed by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, and the Food Safety Act 1990.

This legislation is incorporated into the United Kingdom Codes on Broadcast Advertising and Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing. These Codes provide the rules for advertising and marketing across social media and other media platforms. The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK’s independent advertising regulator, responsible for administering and assessing compliance with its codes, ensuring that the self-regulatory system works in the public interest. If advertisers and broadcasters persistently break the Advertising Codes they may be referred to other bodies for further action, such as Trading Standards or Ofcom.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide access to covid-19 testing for people in (a) South Leicestershire constituency and (b) England.

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

As of 19 May 2020, the Government has established a network of 50 Regional Testing Sites across the UK, of which 50 are in England. The sites at Birstall Park and Ride in Leicestershire and the RICOH Arena in Coventry are the closest to South Leicestershire, and there are also Mobile Testing Units and home delivery testing kits available based on local need.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to enable birthing partners to be present at (a) emergency and (b) unplanned births.

Guidance produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is clear that women should be encouraged to have a single birth partner, who has no symptoms of COVID-19, present with them during any type of labour and birth, unless the birth occurs under general anaesthetic. Having a trusted birth partner present throughout labour is known to make a significant difference to the safety and well-being of women in childbirth.

If the birth partner has symptoms of coronavirus, they will not be allowed to go into the maternity suite, to safeguard the health of the woman, other women and babies, and the maternity staff. However, an alternative, well birth partner can attend in their place.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to collect data on the impact of covid-19 on different (a) genders and (b) ethnicities.

Public Health England has established surveillance systems to collect and analyse data on COVID-19 infection by demographic characteristics including gender.

The number of deaths with confirmed COVID-19 by age and gender can be viewed on the National COVID-19 Weekly Summary Report at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-covid-19-surveillance-reports

NHS England and NHS Improvement lead on reporting deaths with confirmed COVID-19 in hospital. They publish a daily summary that includes a breakdown by ethnicity. These are updated weekly and can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-daily-deaths/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the development and production of flu vaccinations.

Public Health England remains in contact with all manufacturers of flu vaccines concerning any potential impact on vaccine production as a result of COVID-19. Flu vaccine production has already begun for the coming winter and there are currently no delays to schedules. Business continuity processes are in place to ensure that the flu vaccine can be delivered by manufacturers prior to the start of the next flu season.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support pregnant health care workers during the covid-19 pandemic.

Guidance updated on 21 April 2020 from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists emphasises that pregnant women of any gestation should be offered the choice of whether to work in direct patient-facing roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health care workers who are less than 28 weeks pregnant should practise social distancing but can choose to continue working in a patient-facing role, provided the necessary precautions are taken.

Women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant, or have underlying health conditions, should avoid direct patient contact and it is recommended that they stay at home.

If it is found that an employee or the pregnancy would be at risk were the employee to continue with their normal duties, the employer should provide suitable alternative work for which the employee will receive their normal rate of pay. Where it is not reasonably practicable to offer suitable alternative work, the employee should be suspended on full pay.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of oncologists in the NHS.

The Cancer Workforce Plan (published in 2017), identified a range of measures to increase the numbers of clinical radiologists, histopathologists, oncologists and radiographers by 2021. This included improving working practices, attracting qualified people back to the National Health Service and international recruitment. Between March 2016 and March 2019, there has been a net increase of 2,515 full time equivalent staff across the seven priority professions identified in the Cancer Workforce Plan, including an increase of 167 clinical and medical oncologists.

The People Plan will build upon the progress already made and take targeted action to ensure the supply of NHS staff who play a vital role in delivering cancer care, including oncologists.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has for the future of Feilding Palmer Hospital in Lutterworth.

The local clinical commissioning groups have made no decisions with regard to any community hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. They are now considering changing services to help more people be cared for at home and in local communities.

Patients, carers, staff and stakeholders will continue to be involved in the redesign process through a variety of engagement activities. If any of the proposals being developed require a public consultation, then this will be undertaken with local communities including in Lutterworth.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the affordability of residential care for those that need it.

The Care Act 2014 placed a duty on local authorities to shape their local markets so that there is an adequate supply of provision which ensures all adult social care service users have a choice of high-quality services. In the case of state-funded care, local authorities negotiate with care providers to achieve a balance of quality, effectiveness and value for money for the public purse.

The level of fees charged to people who fund their own care is a private contractual matter.

The Care Act also placed a duty on local authorities to assess an individual’s finances to establish if they are able to pay for their care. This ensures everyone can rely on state support if they do not have the means to support themselves. The means test is reviewed annually.

14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is is taking to reduce waiting times for mental health treatment.

We have committed at least a further £2.3 billion a year to mental health services by 2023/24 which will see spending for children and young people’s mental health services growing faster than the overall spend on mental health, which will itself be growing faster than the overall National Health Service budget. This multi-billion investment, which is part of the NHS Long Term Plan, will give greater mental health support to an extra 345,000 more children and at least 380,000 more adults.

In addition, NHS England is working nationally with 12 pilot sites to test the feasibility of delivering a four-week waiting time for children and young people to access to NHS mental health support. This is an outcome of our Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health.

The agreed pilots end in 2020/21. Results will then be evaluated. The Department and NHS England will consider the results of the evaluation and will look at its implications for the development and rollout of access and waiting time standards for all children and young people who need specialist mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of (a) risk to travellers to Borneo during the covid-19 pandemic, and (b) Borneo's categorisation in the international travel Traffic Light System.

FCDO travel advice related to COVID-19 is based on the country assessments of Public Health England and the National Travel Health Network and Centre, the organisation mandated to provide health advice to British nationals travelling overseas. They judge the risks of exposure to COVID-19 in each country/territory. All FCDO travel advice pages remain under constant review to ensure they reflect the latest threat assessment to British nationals and include up-to-date information and advice.

The Government will set out in May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from 17 May 2021.As the 3 countries of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia govern different parts of Borneo, FCDO travel advice and traffic light ratings will be set out separately under each respective country.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
20th Apr 2021
What diplomatic steps his Department is taking to help de-escalate tensions between Greece and Turkey.

The UK is in regular contact with Turkish and Greek partners in support of their bilateral exploratory talks to reduce tensions in the Aegean. These talks were last held on 16 March, and we welcome the commitment from both sides to continue them.

We also welcome the constructive meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Dendias and Turkish President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu in Ankara on 15 April.

It is important that this dialogue continues, including through NATO military de-confliction talks between Turkey and Greece. The Foreign Secretary discussed this with the Greek Foreign Minister on 2 February, and with the Turkish Foreign Minister on 23 March.

In March, I discussed this with the Greek Foreign Minister and the Turkish Ambassador, and I plan to discuss this with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Kaymakci in the coming weeks.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans his Department has for extending the time limit for visa free travel for UK citizens within the Schengen Area.

The Government discussed arrangements with the EU for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as third-country nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens are able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

British Citizens planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State(s). This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe is available on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU confirms that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel. The UK keeps its visa system under regular review, and the new points-based immigration system has been developed in the national interest. The Government also keeps arrangements and advice for British Citizens travelling abroad under regular review.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans his Department has to review the covid-19 guidance on travel to Tanzania.

The FCDO continues to advise against non-essential travel to Tanzania as part of our global travel advisory during the pandemic. All travel advice is under constant review, in consultation with Public Health England, the National Travel Health Network and Centre and our overseas Posts. We will make exemptions from our global advice for countries where the risks to British people are reduced. In the case of COVID-19, we consider the expert UK assessments on risk of exposure to the virus, alongside other relevant linked factors such as the availability of local healthcare, the safety of any local quarantine measures and the resilience of transport options.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of establishing a travel corridor between the UK and (a) Latvia and (b) other Baltic States as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

A list of countries and territories from which passengers arriving in England will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days was published on 3 July. This follows the Government's first review of public health measures at the border, which were introduced in June 2020. The Government has always been clear that any decisions on border measures will be proportionate and science-led.

We are continuing to engage with all partners on all aspects of the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans his Department has to introduce additional repatriation flights for British citizens stranded in South Africa.

The British Government has helped 2,058 British nationals on ten charter flights return to the UK from South Africa. The British High Commission in Pretoria made British nationals in South Africa aware of these flights through the FCO's Travel Advice, social media, and appearances by the High Commissioner in local media. We are still working through future plans, identifying where needs are greatest, and where charter flights will have the greatest impact on vulnerable British nationals overseas.

The British High Commission in South Africa is working hard to ensure that British nationals who remain in South Africa are safe and getting the support they need.

11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor o the Exchequer, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on consumers of increases to custom charges on products sent between the EU and the UK.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement seeks to reduce the costs for traders of customs processes introduced following the end of the transition period with the EU. It supports efficient customs arrangements and ensures that goods originating in the EU or UK are not subject to tariffs. For goods that do not meet requirements of the rules of origin, tariffs still apply. Products sent between the EU to the UK may also be liable for other charges such as excise duty and import VAT. The extent to which any of these charges and impacts feed through to consumer prices is based on a range of factors including individual business decisions.
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing VAT on sales of alcohol to support the pub industry.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and is due to run until 31 March 2021.

The Government has also announced a significant support package to help businesses from a whole range of sectors through the winter months, which includes an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, and an extension of the application window for the Government-backed loan schemes. Alcohol duty was frozen at Budget 2020 to help pubs and the alcoholic drinks sector.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any future tax decisions will be made at Budget.
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of excluding privately run social care day centres from the requirement to pay VAT.

Many care services provided by charities, public bodies and regulated private welfare institutions to elderly people are exempt from VAT, meaning no VAT is charged on their services.

Introducing a zero-rate of VAT on adult social care would cost nearly £2 billion per year, and this must be viewed in the context of about £50 billion of other requests for relief from VAT since the EU referendum.

The Government has no current plans to review the VAT treatment of these services.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on British yacht and boat owners of the requirement to pay a second VAT payment upon their return to UK waters after the end of the transition period.

Returned Goods Relief from customs duties and import VAT will be extended to include goods in the European Union at the end of the transition period that otherwise meet the conditions for relief.

13th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of backdating the temporary reduction in Stamp Duty Land Tax to 1 July 2020.

To boost the housing market and confidence, the Government has decided to cut Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) by temporarily increasing the nil band rate of SDLT to £500,000. This applies from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 and will not be backdated

Property sales which have exchanged but not yet completed will still be eligible to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a stamp duty holiday for people purchasing new homes as a means of stimulating the economy after the covid-19 outbreak.

Vital measures to control the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, have resulted in a drop in property transactions. From 13 May in England, viewings can once again be held as long as social distancing measures remain in place, and people can move house safely.

The Government does not currently have any plans to change the amount of Stamp Duty on property purchases. However, the Government keeps all tax policy under review, including as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

15th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of people who are ineligible for assistance from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme due to their public sector pension accounting for over 50 per cent of their income.

HMRC are unable to report from the information held how many self-employed people may not be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as a result of their public sector pension.

The SEISS, including the £50,000 threshold and comparison between trading profits and other income, is designed to target those most in need, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

Some 95 per cent of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment could benefit from this scheme.

Those who are not eligible for the SEISS may still benefit from other support. Individuals may have access to a range of grants and loans depending on their circumstances, and the SEISS supplements the significant support already announced for UK businesses, including the Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether individuals who run and manage rental properties are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. It means the UK will have one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. Property income is distinct from trading income and is therefore not covered by the SEISS.

Those who are not eligible for the SEISS may be eligible for other elements of the Government’s financial support package. Following urgent discussions with the banking industry, the mortgage payment holiday of up to three months will be extended to landlords whose tenants are?experiencing difficulties?due to coronavirus.? In addition, the Government has announced immediate steps to give businesses access to cash to pay rent, salaries or suppliers. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to review the income threshold for child benefit eligibility.

Child Benefit remains a universal benefit. However, the Government introduced the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) from January 2013 to ensure that support is targeted at those who need it most. It applies to anyone with an individual income over £50,000, who claims Child Benefit or whose partner claims it. The charge increases gradually for taxpayers with incomes between £50,000 and £60,000.

The Government believes that these are currently the right levels for the HICBC thresholds, but as with all elements of tax policy this remains under review.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to tackle the increase of violent hate crimes in (a) Leicestershire and (b) England.

All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable.

Whilst the biggest driver for the increase in recorded crime is general improvements in police recording, along with increased victim willingness to come forward, we cannot be complacent. That is why we have committed to publishing a new Hate Crime Strategy this year to set out the Government’s plan for tackling these abhorrent crimes.

The Government will continue to work with the police and stakeholders to understand what more can be done to address hate crime trends.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support she is providing to police forces to help tackle rural crime.

We are committed to driving down rural crime, which is why the Government provides funding for the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit and fully supports the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Rural Affairs Strategy, which helps provide a better rural focus in policing. Delivery of the Strategy is supported by the Government’s recruitment of an additional 20,000 police officers over the next three years to ensure that the public are protected against crime, including rural crime. As of 30 June, this year Leicestershire have recruited 206 additional officers and have been allocated a total of 177 additional officers for years one and two of the uplift.

It is the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, who understand the priorities of their communities, to ensure that resources, including these new officers, are deployed accordingly.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the UK's capability to accommodate citizens from Hong Kong under the bespoke Hong Kong BN(O) Visa.

While this visa offer is a generous one, recognising our historic commitment to Hong Kong BN(O) citizens, it is not an unconditional offer. BN(O) citizens will need to support themselves independently while living in the UK; they will need to show they can support themselves in the UK for at least six months and will contribute to our brilliant NHS through the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Successful applicants to the route will be able to work in the UK in almost any capacity and have no recourse to public funds. This means they will be unable to claim most benefits, tax credits, or housing assistance that are funded by UK taxpayers for the full five years of the visa.

We are working closely with other government departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, to ensure BN(O) citizens coming into the UK can be self-sufficient, whilst integrating with and contributing to the betterment of society across our United Kingdom.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Latvian nationals have received British citizenship in the last 10 years.

The Home Office publishes data on Citizenship in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-statistics-quarterly-release). Data on grants of British citizenship are published in table Cit_D02 of the citizenship detailed datasets (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/managed-migration-datasets).

Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to the year ending March 2020. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the summary tables (attached). The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on citizenship.

Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’ (https://www.gov.uk/search/research-and-statistics?keywords=immigration&content_store_document_type=upcoming_statistics&organisations%5B%5D=home-office&order=relevance).

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Latvian nationals have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme; and if her Department will provide a geographical breakdown by region of where those applications were made from.

The latest published figures show the total number of applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) received up to 30 April 2020 was more than 3.5 million (3,536,000), of which 99,800 were from Latvian nationals. The latest figures can be found in the Home Office’s ‘EU Settlement Scheme monthly statistics’ available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eu-settlement-scheme-statistics-april-2020

Published information on EUSS applications by the applicant’s nationality, region and local authority in the United Kingdom (up to 31 March 2020), can be found in the Home Office’s ‘EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics’, local authority statistics tables, specifically table EUSS_LA_01, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eu-settlement-scheme-quarterly-statistics-march-2020.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent steps her Department has taking to improve the quality of mental health support provision for firefighters.

It is the responsibility of each fire and rescue authority in England to ensure that they have appropriate workforce support and wellbeing provisions in place and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board is driving positive change across the sector.

In support of this the Government has provided £7m since 2014, to fund emergency services workers’ mental health support through Mind’s Blue Light Programme.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of funding provided to (a) Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and (b) other fire and rescue services in the UK.

In 2020/21, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Authority will receive £36.1 million in core spending power. This is an increase of £1.2 million (3.5%) compared with 2019/20. In addition, at March 2018, the authority held £13.8 million in resource reserves.

Fire and rescue services in England have the resources they need to do their important work and will receive around £2.3 billion in 2020/21. Single purpose fire and rescue authorities will see an increase in core spending power of 3.2% in cash terms since 2019/20. At March 2018 single purpose Fire and Rescue Authorities held £545 million in resource reserves.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans his Department has to impose a statutory duty on the fire service in England to respond to flooding.

I refer my Hon Friend to the answer I gave to UIN 1261 on 24 February 2020 to the Hon Member for Cardiff Central.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of including parents' surnames in the passports of their children.

Details in passports are fixed at the time of issue for the life time of that document.

Any parental details included in a passport at issue may not reflect subsequent changes in parental responsibility and so could not be relied upon from a safeguarding context by either border staff or other public sector agencies.

The passport is a travel document and its purpose is to confirm identity and nationality for the purposes of travel rather than relationship status.

We therefore have no plans to include parents' surnames in child passports.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to help prevent mothers from being stopped at border control on entry to the UK as a result of having a different surname recorded in their passport to the surnames of their accompanying children.

Border Force officers have an obligation under Section 55 of the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to carry out their core function with due regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK. This includes being satisfied a child crossing the border is not accompanied by someone who poses a threat to them.

At the primary control point, Border Force officers are the first point of contact with UK authorities for many vulnerable children and adults as well as the criminals who traffic them. Where there are concerns, Border Force officers will seek to establish the relationship between children and accompanying adults before allowing them to proceed.

Border Force officers will therefore make relevant enquiries where there are concerns as to an arriving child’s welfare or safety. However, Border Force officers have been instructed that in the absence of any cause for concern, they should not routinely pose questions to an adult who is travelling with a child simply because they have different surnames.

There is also a leaflet which explains the reason an individual may be questioned at the primary checkpoint when travelling with a child, and Border Force’s legal obligations to keep children safe. The information in the leaflet is found on the GOV.UK website and it is also provided by way of the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-travelling-to-the-uk

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he plans to take to support leaseholders who will be required to pay costs towards new building cladding under proposals in the draft Building Safety Bill.

The new building safety regime will systematically address historical structural defects to buildings by requiring safety case reviews and reasonable improvements. It is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing these historic safety defects in their buildings that they did not cause. Government has repeatedly said that building owners should step up and not pass these costs on to leaseholders, where possible.

Where developers or building owners have been unable or unwilling to pay, we have introduced funding schemes providing £1.6 billion to?accelerate the pace of work and?meet?the costs of remediating the highest risk and most expensive defects – Aluminium Composite Material cladding and other unsafe cladding systems like High Pressure Laminates.

The department is working on proposals to protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs caused by historic building safety defects. We will provide an update before the Building Safety Bill returns to Parliament.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of requiring new commercial warehousing to be fitted with solar panels.

Mandating a particular renewable technology, such as solar panels, may not be appropriate for all commercial warehousing in all areas. This for reasons such as building orientation and other reasons such as structural strength of the roof. National planning policy encourages the use of renewables without requiring any particular technology. In the case of the Building Regulations, the Government sets minimum energy performance standards for non-domestic buildings and new homes. These are expressed in performance terms and do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used This allows builders and warehouse owners the flexibility to innovate and select the most practical and cost-effective solutions appropriate in a development. A new permitted development right was introduced in April 2015 to encourage solar panel take-up on non-domestic buildings. This right allows solar PV developments of up to 1 megawatt. This replaces a previous right and provides for a 20-fold increase in the amount of solar technology that can go onto the roofs of buildings such as warehouses without having to submit a full planning application, subject to strict safeguards to protect local amenity.

11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent steps he has taken to ensure the (a) transparency and (b) integrity of the planning system.

The Government is committed to ensuring the transparency and integrity of the planning system.

The Planning for the Future White Paper published on 6 August sets out our proposals for a reformed planning system. Central to that vision is a transparent system where local authorities, communities and developers can engage in an open and transparent way with the planning system, and where there is more certainty about where development is going to take place. By having a simple, clear, more rules based system, which has democracy and community engagement at its core, we will guarantee the integrity of the planning system.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities seeing to obtain High Court injunctions in planning disputes.

Planning injunctions are one of the tools available to local planning authorities to address breaches of planning control. We recently funded the National Association of Planning Enforcement Officers to update their planning enforcement handbook which provides information about these tools to enforcement officers.

We will also, as part of our planning reforms set out in the Planning for the Future White Paper, be reviewing and strengthening the existing planning enforcement powers and sanctions available to local planning authorities to ensure they support the new planning system.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to tackle any backlog of planning applications resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

Government has introduced a number of measures to prevent delays and to ensure the planning system has remained open during the Covid-19 pandemic. Guidance for local authorities is published here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-update

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of resources available to local authorities who are housing homeless people during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced that councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. With this funding councils can provide support to those who need it most, including rough sleepers. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion and follows on from the announcement of £3.2 million in targeted funding to ensure that we minimise the risk to those currently unable to self-isolate.

The Government has made clear that no one should be without a roof over their head, and this funding further demonstrates our commitment to assist the most vulnerable in society.

21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities that are facing (a) delays in the fulfillment of Section 106 obligations as a result of the shutdown of construction sites and (b) the risk that applicants use the covid-19 outbreak to avoid their legal obligations.

The Government is introducing a range of measures to make it easier to operate the planning system so that it is able to play its full part in the economic recovery to come. Contributions from developers play an important role in delivering the infrastructure that new homes, and local economies, require. We will continue to work closely with local authorities and the sector to understand the issues around the use of section 106 planning obligations and will respond in due course

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support the growth of manufacturing within the National Planning Policy Framework.

The latest 2018 revision of the National Planning Policy Framework provides more detail on how significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth and productivity, taking into account both local business needs and wider opportunities for development, this can include the growth of manufacturing where it is relevant. The Government has made clear in the Framework that planning policies and decisions should help create the conditions in which businesses can invest, expand and adapt.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support his Department is providing to District Councils in respect of the payment of the business rate levy due during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has deferred the payment of £2.6 billion which billing authorities, including district councils, were due to make over the next three months under the business rates retention scheme. The Government will also be paying authorities £9.57 billion to compensate them for waiving the business rates bills of ratepayers occupying retail, leisure and other premises, in line with the Government's policy in response to Covid-19 of reducing the rates burden on businesses.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has to review the adequacy of local land charges placed on new housing developments.

My Department has no plans to review local land charges placed on new housing developments, or more widely. HM Land Registry is working in partnership with local authorities in England to standardise and migrate local land charge data to a single register. Further information on the Programme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hm-land-registry-local-land-charges-programme

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department has plans to increase the retirement age for magistrates.

On 8 March, we published the government response to the Judicial Mandatory Retirement Age Consultation, which sets out our intention to legislate, when parliamentary time allows, to increase the mandatory retirement age of judicial office holders, including magistrates, to 75. The legislation will include a transitional provision to enable retired magistrates who are younger than the new MRA to apply to return to the bench subject to business need. The process by which such applications are to be made and considered will be set out in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of increasing sentences for people convicted of pet theft.

The government recognises the deep distress which the theft of a much-loved pet can cause. All reported crimes should be investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences.

The theft of a pet is a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment. The sentencing guidelines for theft, acknowledge that theft which causes emotional distress, or where the items stolen were of substantial value to the loser, regardless of monetary worth, will indicate a higher level of seriousness and the offender should be sentenced accordingly.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effect on the morale of magistrates of HM Courts and Tribunals Service's decision to no longer deliver certificates of service to magistrates.

The issuing of long service certificates was paused temporarily in March due to Covid-19. Since July 2020, Judicial Office have been processing all outstanding long service certificates.

In addition to certificates for twenty years’ service, in October 2020, we introduced long service certificates to recognise both ten- and 30- years’ service within the magistracy. The implementation of these have been backdated until January 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has been made of the potential merits of including Security Industry Authority licenced security staff in the provisions of the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018.

Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and an assault on any person whilst carrying out their job is completely unacceptable.

The Government has no current plans to extend the definition of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 to other workers. The Act was specifically created in response to an increasing rise in assaults on front-line emergency workers, those who are enforcing the law or saving lives.

However, a wide range of criminal offences currently exist that cover the type of abuse or violence that could be faced by any worker, including security staff, from common assault to attempted murder. Sentencing guidelines state that where an assault is committed against a person who works with the public this will be considered as an aggravating factor, meriting a higher sentence.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of including hon. Members in the Parole Board's decision-making process for parole for people convicted of very serious crimes.

Parole Board decisions are inherently judicial in nature. It is well established in case law, and clearly set out in the ECHR compliant provisions relating to the Board’s processes, that the detention of prisoners beyond the minimum period set by the sentencing court must be decided independently by a court or court-like body.

The Government is committed to reviewing the Parole process to ensure that the system is transparent and effective.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)