Ben Lake Portrait

Ben Lake

Plaid Cymru - Ceredigion

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media & Sport)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (Housing, Communities & Local Government)

(since July 2020)

Shadow PC Spokesperson (The Constitution and Welsh Affairs)

(since July 2020)


Department Event
Monday 29th November 2021
HM Treasury
Motion - Main Chamber
Motion to approve a Ways and Means Resolution relating to the Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill
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Department Event
Monday 29th November 2021
HM Treasury
Motion - Main Chamber
Motion to approve a Money Resolution relating to the Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill
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Oral Question
Monday 29th November 2021
14:30
Topical Question No. 9
If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.
Department Event
Monday 29th November 2021
14:30
Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
Oral questions - Main Chamber
29 Nov 2021, 2:30 p.m.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (including Topical Questions)
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Department Event
Tuesday 30th November 2021
09:25
Department of Health and Social Care
Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
30 Nov 2021, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Coronavirus Act 2020 (Early Expiry) (No. 2) Regulations 2021
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Department Event
Wednesday 1st December 2021
14:30
HM Treasury
Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
1 Dec 2021, 2:30 p.m.
The draft Financial Services Act 2021 (Prudential Regulation of Credit Institutions and Investment Firms) (Consequential Amendments and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2021
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Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 2nd December 2021
08:45
Welsh Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: The Benefits System in Wales
2 Dec 2021, 8:45 a.m.
At 9.30am: Oral evidence
Jane Hutt MS - Minister for Social Justice at Welsh Government
Paul Neave - Head of Social Welfare Advice and DWP Policy at Welsh Government
At 10.30am: Oral evidence
Gwennan Hardy - Senior Policy Officer at Citizens Advice Cymru
Alison Corriea - Welfare Adviser at Cartrefi Conwy Housing Association
Cordelia Deady - Welfare Rights Supervisor at Wrexham County Borough Council
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Department Event
Monday 6th December 2021
14:30
Department for Education
Oral questions - Main Chamber
6 Dec 2021, 2:30 p.m.
Education (including Topical Questions)
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Department Event
Tuesday 7th December 2021
11:30
HM Treasury
Oral questions - Main Chamber
7 Dec 2021, 11:30 a.m.
Treasury (including Topical Questions)
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 8th December 2021
09:30
Department Event
Thursday 9th December 2021
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
9 Dec 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 15th December 2021
14:00
Division Votes
Tuesday 23rd November 2021
Health and Care Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 2 Plaid Cymru Aye votes vs 0 Plaid Cymru No votes
Tally: Ayes - 240 Noes - 304
Speeches
Tuesday 9th November 2021
Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill (Second sitting)

Q Minette, other witnesses this morning suggested that there is an omission from the Bill, in that there are no …

Written Answers
Friday 26th November 2021
Telecommunications Systems: Wales
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate her Department has made of the …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 2nd November 2021
Decarbonising Welsh Housing Stock
This House notes with concern that energy use in homes accounts for 14 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas …
Bills
Tuesday 27th February 2018
Access to Banking Services Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 2nd March 2020
3. Gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources
Name of donor: S4C
Address of donor: Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, Carmarthen SA31 3EQ
Amount of donation or nature and …
EDM signed
Friday 26th November 2021
16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2021
That this House notes that 25 November 2021 marks the first day of 2021’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Trade Agreements (Exclusion of National Health Services) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to exclude requirements relating to National Health Services procurement, delivery or commissioning from international trade agreements; to require …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Ben Lake has voted in 303 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Ben Lake Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(16 debate interactions)
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
Chancellor of the Exchequer
(11 debate interactions)
Christian Matheson (Labour)
Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(58 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(28 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Ben Lake's debates

Ceredigion 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).

Petitions with highest Ceredigion signature proportion
Petitions with most Ceredigion signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.


Latest EDMs signed by Ben Lake

22nd November 2021
Ben Lake signed this EDM on Friday 26th November 2021

Protections for shop workers

Tabled by: Robert Halfon (Conservative - Harlow)
That this House recognises the need to protect shop workers; further recognises that shop workers are too often subjected to abuse, threat and assault; acknowledges the difficulties experienced by hardworking employees such as residents in the constituency of Harlow, who have faced such behaviour; praises the incredibly important service that …
14 signatures
(Most recent: 26 Nov 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 3
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Scottish National Party: 1
22nd November 2021
Ben Lake signed this EDM on Friday 26th November 2021

Family Business Week 2021

Tabled by: Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat - Orkney and Shetland)
That this House supports Family Business Week 2021, a week-long celebration of family businesses and local communities across the UK; notes that family-owned and -run business are often some of the most vital to communities both rural and urban, providing both economic growth and social support; calls on the Government …
11 signatures
(Most recent: 26 Nov 2021)
Signatures by party:
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Scottish National Party: 2
Liberal Democrat: 1
Labour: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Conservative: 1
View All Ben Lake's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Ben Lake, 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.


Ben Lake has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Ben Lake has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Ben Lake


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision about access by customers, in particular those in rural areas, to banking services; to make provision for community banking hubs; to review access to banking services through the Post Office network; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 27th February 2018
(Read Debate)

446 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2 Other Department Questions
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the Elections Bill on the (a) conduct and (b) administration of devolved elections in Wales.

The measures in the Elections Bill will considerably strengthen the delivery of UK Parliament General Elections and other reserved polls. Devolution means that there are already different arrangements for devolved and reserved elections.


We have been and will continue working closely with the Devolved Administrations, the Electoral Commission and the wider electoral sector across the UK on our plans for implementing the measures in the Bill to provide clarity for voters, administrators and those regulated by electoral law.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities plans to publish the results of its call for evidence on ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities aims to provide its full report to the Prime Minister by the end of February 2021, as agreed following Dr Sewell’s letter to me of 26 November 2020.

The Commission intends to separately publish the results of the Call for Evidence on GOV.UK following provision of its full report to the Prime Minister.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
20th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential immunological risks of covid-19 status certification.

The Government committed to explore whether and how COVID-status certification might be used to reopen our economy, reduce restrictions on social contact and improve safety. As set out in the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021,’ the Government will set out its conclusions on the COVID-status Certification Review in advance of Step 4 of the Roadmap, in order to inform the safe reopening of society and the economy.

An update on the Roadmap Reviews was published on 5 April and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021-reviews-terms-of-reference/roadmap-reviews-update.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate his Department has made of the number of business that have relocated outside Wales since January 2021 due to problems with the flow of essential supplies between the EU and UK.

The Government maintains efforts to support businesses to adapt to the new trading environment. There are a number of online tools available to support businesses, such as the Brexit checker tool and HMRC’s Brexit transition communications resources, and helplines for those who wish to speak to someone. The Government are regularly speaking with businesses and trade representative organisations at the Brexit Business Taskforce in order to hear businesses’ feedback, work through particular issues and discuss what further steps the government may be able to take to help businesses adapt and to thrive.

The Cabinet Office does not hold information on the number of businesses, if any, that have relocated outside of Wales.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what support his Department has provided companies in Wales with regard to the disruption to the flow of essential products between the EU and the UK since 1 January 2021.

The Government maintains efforts to support businesses to adapt to the new trading environment. There are a number of online tools available to support businesses, such as the Brexit checker tool and HMRC’s Brexit transition communications resources, and helplines for those who wish to speak to someone. The Government are regularly speaking with businesses and trade representative organisations at the Brexit Business Taskforce in order to hear businesses’ feedback, work through particular issues and discuss what further steps the government may be able to take to help businesses adapt and to thrive.

The Cabinet Office does not hold information on the number of businesses, if any, that have relocated outside of Wales.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of postponing the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the question on 13 January 2021.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he has had with the Electoral Commission regarding the potential postponement of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections due to be held in May 2021.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the question on 13 January 2021.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Officer, what the timeframe is for the establishment of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

I refer the Hon. members to the answer given to PQ 40706 on 4 May 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government plans to secure further covid-19 vaccination doses via COVAX.

We have already secured the doses we need for everyone in the UK who requires a booster this Autumn/Winter therefore procurement through COVAX is not needed to support the current booster campaign: I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to the Hon. Member for Slough on 1st November 2021 to Question 63848

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support small- and medium-sized enterprises to transition to net zero.

Ahead of COP26, BEIS has launched the Together for Our Planet Business Climate Leaders’ campaign, which has encouraged over 1,900 small and micro businesses across the UK to join the Race to Zero by making the SME Climate Commitment.

To help SMEs overcome barriers to investing in energy efficiency the Government launched the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency innovation competition. The competition offered up to £6m to fund the development of new, innovative market solutions that can provide businesses with tailored energy efficiency advice, as well as simplifying the energy efficiency investment processes through the creation of one-stop-shop platforms.

The British Business Bank a new mission to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by supporting access to finance for smaller businesses. Between 2014 and the third quarter of 2020 a total of £160m has been invested into clean technology businesses by equity funds backed by the British Business Bank.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using hydrated vegetable oil to decarbonise off-grid residential properties which use standard residential heating oil.

The Government is consulting on new regulations to phase out heating systems using high carbon fossil fuels in homes, businesses and public buildings in England off the gas grid, during the 2020s.

Although the Government view, heat pumps as being the primary technology for decarbonising these homes and businesses, not all off-grid properties will be suitable for a heat pump and that biofuels such as bio-LPG and hydrotreated vegetable oil biodiesel (HVO) may play a role in future off-gas-grid decarbonisation. However, further evidence is needed to consider what role these biofuels could play, and to help, develop the policy framework which would support such a role.

A Call for Evidence was recently published by the department to inform the development of a Biomass Strategy. This strategy will review the amount of sustainable biomass available to the UK, including liquid biofuels, and how this could be best used across the economy to achieve the net zero target.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with (a) officials in the Department for Work and Pensions and (b) the Welsh Government on the distribution of the Investment Reserve arising from the Miners’ Pension Scheme.

No such discussions have taken place.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment has he made of the efficacy of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme for its members.

The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was considered by the BEIS Select Committee earlier this year. In the Government’s response, we highlighted that the Government continues to believe that the arrangements agreed in 1994 work well and are fair and beneficial to both Scheme members and taxpayers. That response is available to view here. The Rt. Hon. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the then Minister responsible, met the Scheme Trustees in June to discuss the Committee’s report and the future of the Scheme. We await their thoughts.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the level of financial and other support required by households dependant on liquefied petroleum gas to transition to green alternatives.

The Government committed to phasing out the installation of fossil fuels in homes and buildings off the gas grid this decade. Alongside the publication of the Heat and Building Strategy, we are planning to consult on new regulations to meet this commitment.

We accept that for some the cost of installing a heat pump may be prohibitive, which is why we are providing support through schemes like the Renewable Heat Incentive and forthcoming Clean Heat Grant. The Home Upgrade Grant scheme will provide support to low income off grid households installing energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Government's proposed Clean Heat Grant to meet the needs of people living in areas where conditions are not suitable for open-loop ground-source heat pumps.

Heat pumps are a cost-effective way of decarbonising heat and can be widely used in existing homes and buildings, including those not connected to the gas grid.

The Clean Heat Grant will provide upfront capital grants to support the installation of both air source and ground source heat pumps, in domestic and small non-domestic properties. The Government recognise that some properties may not be suitable for heat pumps and will therefore also provide targeted support for biomass boilers through the Clean Heat Grant, where these are installed in off gas grid, rural properties.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of reducing the amount of VAT payable on green home improvements for people living off-grid installing ground or water-source heat pumps.

Tax is a matter reserved for my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer. All tax policy changes are considered at the Budget, however I understand that there are currently no plans to change these provisions at this time.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the average time taken by HM Land Registry to decide on an application and (b) trends in that time so taken in the last three years.

HM Land Registry (HMLR) processed over 70,000 requests to search or change the Land Register every day in 2020/21.

Searches constitute approximately 80% of requests. Over 90% of these are delivered instantly via digital services, with almost all of the remainder delivered within three days.

Applications to change the Register make up the other 20% of requests and vary widely in type and complexity. Over the last quarter, on average, across all applications, changes took less than 5 weeks to be processed. Over a third are completed within a week. However, the most complex applications (around 1.5% of cases) took around 26 weeks on average.

Precise comparisons with three years ago are not straightforward due to differences in processes for customers and categorisation of case type. Overall, average processing times are trending higher than the last three years, partly due to COVID-19 restrictions, and partly because HMLR has chosen to rebalance its resources to prevent waiting times for complex applications increasing further. Whilst this has increased the overall average waiting time for all applications to change the Register, HMLR believes that this is the right balance to ensure it is serving all its customer needs.

Because applications to change the Register occur after the transaction is completed, the time taken to process them should not impact a property sale. However, if this is not the case, customers can ask for their application to be fast tracked and processed within 10 working days for no extra charge. HMLR reported in its 2020/21 Annual Report and Accounts that it is processing nearly four times as many requests to fast track applications for its customers as it did prior to the pandemic, reflecting the unique circumstances facing the organisation and the property market overall.

HM Land Registry is making significant investment in long-term transformation to significantly improve customer waiting times in the future through greater digitisation and automation, and building more expert land registration capacity.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps his Department has taken to progress the Energy White Paper published in December 2020.

Delivering the Energy White Paper’s policy commitments is a key priority for the Department and subject to regular reporting as part of the implementation of my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan.

Since the White Paper’s publication, we have launched the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy. Also, earlier this year, the Department announced up to £95 million of Government investment for two new offshore wind port hubs to be constructed on the Humber and Teesside. In addition, GE Renewable Energy have announced an investment in a major new offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing plant, the first investment at the Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre. We will deliver other commitments in due course, including the publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy. The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and Energy White Paper also confirmed our commitment to publish the UK’s first ever Hydrogen Strategy, which we will bring forward soon.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to evaluate the potential merits for wider society of smart meter infrastructure as part of the Smart Energy Savings Innovation Competition.

The Smart Energy Savings (SENS) competition is supporting the development, trialling and evaluation of innovative products and services that use smart meters to help consumers to reduce their energy consumption.

As part of the SENS competition, the Government has commissioned a full evaluation of products and services supported by the project. This will be published in due course, following the conclusion of consumer trials in 2022.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Energy White Paper published in December 2020, what recent steps his Department has taken to support the progress of Energy Local Clubs.

We do not have the specific information requested on the number of households involved in Energy Local Clubs. However, the Government recognises that community energy can play a role in supporting the UK’s national net zero targets and the Net Zero Strategy will set out further information on how we intend to work with community groups to achieve net zero.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many households in (a) Ceredigion, (b) Wales and (c) the UK receive their energy from an Energy Local Club.

We do not have the specific information requested on the number of households involved in Energy Local Clubs. However, the Government recognises that community energy can play a role in supporting the UK’s national net zero targets and the Net Zero Strategy will set out further information on how we intend to work with community groups to achieve net zero.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many households in (a) Ceredigion, (b) Wales and (c) the UK have joined Energy Local Clubs since 2019.

We do not have the specific information requested on the number of households involved in Energy Local Clubs. However, the Government recognises that community energy can play a role in supporting the UK’s national net zero targets and the Net Zero Strategy will set out further information on how we intend to work with community groups to achieve net zero.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2021 to Question 184534 on Biofuels and Carbon Capture and Storage, how many times did (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department meet with representatives of (i) Drax Power Ltd and (ii) environmental NGOs to discuss biomass; and what plans he has for future discussions with environmental NGOs on that topic.

Sustainable biomass is making an important contribution in our efforts to decarbonise the economy. Ministerial colleagues and I have met with a number of organisations to discuss biomass, on a number of occasions during the period in question, and we will continue to engage on this issue. This is a broad and wide ranging area which may also have featured in other ministerial meetings.

The Department regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2021 to Question 184534 on Biofuels and Carbon Capture and Storage, on how many occasions (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department met representatives of Drax Power Ltd in (i) July, (ii) August and (iii) September 2020; and (A) what was discussed and (B) who attended each of those meetings.

Ministerial colleagues and I have met with a number of organisations to discuss biomass, on a number of occasions during the period in question. This is a broad and wide ranging area which may also have featured in other ministerial meetings.

The Department regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2021 to Question 184534 on Biofuels and Carbon Capture and Storage, whether biomass with carbon capture and storage was discussed during his meetings with representatives of Drax Power Ltd in 2020.

Sustainable biomass is making an important contribution in our efforts to decarbonise the economy. Ministerial colleagues and I have met with a number of organisations to discuss biomass, and biomass with carbon capture and storage on a number of occasions during the period in question. This is a broad and wide ranging area which may also have featured in other ministerial meetings.

The Department regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2021 to Question 184534 on Biofuels and Carbon Capture and Storage, on how many occasions did (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department meet with representatives of Drax during (i) October, (ii) November and (iii) December 2021: and if he will publish details of what was (A) discussed at each meeting and (B) who attended.

Sustainable biomass is making an important contribution in our efforts to decarbonise the economy. There are currently no plans to meet with Drax in October, November or December 2021.

The Department regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of proposals for a high voltage direct current transmission line from Morocco to the UK.

The UK is supportive of electricity interconnection with other markets. We have not undertaken a specific assessment of the merits of a transmission line from Morocco to the UK. The regulation of specific interconnector projects within the existing regulatory framework is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the South Wales Industrial Cluster will publish its first progress report.

The South Wales Industrial Cluster is supported by £20 million of UK Government funding through the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge to support the rollout of decarbonisation technologies. It is not required to publish progress reports, although it may decide to do so as part of its public engagement activities. However, the cluster is required to attend quarterly monitoring meetings with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to ensure that progress is in line with agreed scope and milestones and that any risks are being managed appropriately.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effect on employment levels and (b) costs associated with retaining primary steelmaking capacity at Port Talbot.

The Government recognises the importance of steelmaking at Port Talbot to the supply chains for many key advanced UK manufacturing sectors, as well as for direct and indirect jobs in South Wales.

We are firmly committed to supporting a sustainable, long-term future for steelmaking in the UK. We continue to work closely with Tata, the Welsh Government and trade union representatives as the company shapes its future business strategy for the plant.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what his Department's plans are to (a) ensure the long-term future of the steel industry in Wales and (b) decarbonise Welsh steelmaking.

The Government recognises the vital role the sector plays in all the areas of the UK and our economy.  On 12 March, my noble Friend the Minister for Investment (Lord Grimstone) launched the Steel Procurement Taskforce to explore what government and industry can do to address challenges the sector has reported facing and it is due to report its findings in the autumn.

Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the Government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published on 17 March, commits to work with the newly constituted Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’.

In order to support these efforts, the Government has announced a £250 million Clean Steel Fund to support the UK steel sector to transition to lower carbon iron and steel production, through investment in new technologies and processes.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the ability of the Welsh hydrogen sector to support hydrogen-based steelmaking in Wales.

The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published on 17 March, commits to working with the newly constituted Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’.

Hydrogen-based steelmaking, CCUS and electrification are some of the technological approaches being examined as part of this process. The Steel Council offers the forum for government, industry and trade unions to work in partnership on the shared objective of creating an achievable, long-term plan to support the sector’s transition to a competitive, sustainable and low carbon future.

In order to support these efforts, the Government has announced a £250 million Clean Steel Fund to support the UK steel sector UK Steel sector, including in Wales to transition to lower carbon iron and steel production, through investment in new technologies and processes. The decarbonisation of the steel sector and industry more widely will also be supported through the £1 billion CCUS Infrastructure Fund (CIF) and £240m Net-Zero Hydrogen Fund.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using (a) hydrogen and (b) carbon capture, utilisation and storage to decarbonise steel production at Port Talbot.

Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published on 17 March, commits government to work with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’.

The UK is engaged in key international initiatives focused on industry decarbonisation and we are engaging with a range of stakeholders in Germany, Sweden and China (as well as other countries) to better understand the latest plans to decarbonise steel production.

Hydrogen, electrification, and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) are the main technological options being examined as part of this process. The industry decarbonisation pathways technical annex of the strategy (pg. 153-155) presents two possible options for the decarbonisation of the iron and steel industry: Our wide-ranging support also includes: providing over £500m in recent years to help with the costs of energy; a £315m Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, which aims to support businesses with high energy use to cut their bills and reduce carbon emission; and our £250m Clean Steel Fund that will support the decarbonisation of the steel sector.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made any recent representations to Amazon UK on (a) the adequacy of working conditions for its delivery drivers, (b) requests from their delivery drivers for a meeting with Amazon’s leadership team and (c) the potential merits of reviewing the delivery targets for Amazon UK delivery drivers.

The Government actively encourages businesses to ensure their supply chains are robust, especially by ensuring partners treat workers fairly and in accordance with the law. The specific issues raised by the Hon. Member for Ceredigion about Amazon and their contractors are internal matters of a private company on which I cannot comment.

I am thankful to our valuable retail workers who continued to work over the last year in warehouses, supply chains and as delivery drivers throughout this challenging period, ensuring consumers have safe access to goods. I look forward to continuing to work with Amazon, in particular through the Retail Sector Council.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to establish a commission similar to the Scottish Government's Just Transition Commission to make practical recommendations on how the UK can make a transition to a net zero economy that is equitable to everyone.

Delivering net zero and levelling up our country are at the forefront of Government’s plans to build back better from the pandemic.

In order to support this, HM Treasury is conducting a review into the costs of reaching Net Zero, which will assess how to do so in a way that works for households, businesses and public finances, as well as maintaining our international competitiveness.

In addition, BEIS has established the Green Jobs Taskforce working with industry, unions and skills providers, together with the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions, to advise on how we can develop plans for new, long-term, good quality green jobs, and support workers in high-carbon sectors.

This work will feed into our Net Zero Strategy, which will set out our vision for transitioning to a net zero economy, making the most of new growth and employment opportunities across the UK.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 169005 on Biofuels, how many meeting requests (a) he and (b) his Ministers have received to discuss biomass or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage from (a) NGOs, (b) Drax and (c) industry representatives since 1 September 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Sustainable biomass is making an important contribution in our efforts to decarbonise the economy. The Ministerial team have met with a number of organisations to discuss biomass, and biomethane at least 8 times during the period in question. This is a broad and wide ranging area which may also have featured in other ministerial meetings.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

The previous answer referred to the forthcoming Biomass Call for Evidence. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now launched a Call for Evidence to seek the views of interested parties on the future role of sustainable biomass. The Call for Evidence, which closes on 15 June, can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/role-of-biomass-in-achieving-net-zero-call-for-evidence.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 169005 on Biofuels, how many meetings (a) he and (b) his Ministers have had on biomass with (i) NGOs, (ii) Drax and (iii) industry representatives since 1 September 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Sustainable biomass is making an important contribution in our efforts to decarbonise the economy. The Ministerial team have met with a number of organisations to discuss biomass, and biomethane at least 8 times during the period in question. This is a broad and wide ranging area which may also have featured in other ministerial meetings.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy regularly publishes a list of ministerial meetings which can be accessed here, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

The previous answer referred to the forthcoming Biomass Call for Evidence. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now launched a Call for Evidence to seek the views of interested parties on the future role of sustainable biomass. The Call for Evidence, which closes on 15 June, can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/role-of-biomass-in-achieving-net-zero-call-for-evidence.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 169004 on Committee on Climate Change, what steps his Department has taken to increase civil society and charity sector representation on the Committee on Climate Change; and if he will make a statement.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent, statutory body made up of highly esteemed academics and experts across a range of key sectors.

In appointing members to the Committee, UK Government and the Devolved Administrations ensure the CCC can draw on experience in and knowledge of a range of backgrounds, so that it is able to provide advice on climate mitigation and adaptation.

In order to do so, the Climate Change Act 2008 requires that national authorities, in UK Government and Devolved Administrations, must have regard to the desirability of securing that the Committee (taken as a whole) has experience in or knowledge of the following: business competitiveness; climate change policy at national and international level, and in particular the social impacts of such policy; climate science, and other branches of environmental science; differences in circumstances between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the capacity of national authorities to take action in relation to climate change; economic analysis and forecasting; emissions trading; energy production and supply; financial investment; technology development and diffusion.

The names of the members of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), with a description of their careers and interests can be found here on the CCC’s website: www.theccc.org.uk/about.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 169004 on Committee on Climate Change, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that industry representation on the Committee on Climate Change does not advance policies favourable to their specific interests; and if he will make a statement.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent, statutory body made up of highly esteemed academics and experts across a range of key sectors. BEIS carries out thorough due diligence exercises on each new board member prior to approving their appointment to identify conflicts of interest so that they can be managed appropriately on appointment. In some cases, it will not be appropriate to offer a role if the conflict is too great.

All Committee Members and staff are required to recognise and disclose activities that might give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The CCC has a formal policy process on conflicts of interest which is reviewed annually. The process for existing Committee members to raise conflicts of interest is managed by the Committee secretariat at the start of every Committee meeting. All members are asked to identify and declare material interests, at the earliest opportunity. The secretariat will review each case to determine whether an individual needs to step down from the Committee to avoid an actual or perceived serious conflict of interest arising or to decide on how to manage whilst remaining in role.

The CCC’s conflicts of interest policy, along with a register of interests for Committee members, and the minutes of each Committee meeting are published in the Transparency section of the CCC’s website at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/transparency/.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 169003 on the Committee on Climate Change, if he will provide details of the due diligence exercises he undertook on each of the Board Members of the Committee on Climate Change to ensure there is no conflict of interest; and when that process was last reviewed.

BEIS carries out thorough due diligence exercises on each new board member of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), prior to approving their appointment, to identify conflicts of interest so that they can be managed appropriately on appointment. As part of due diligence checks, Government considers anything in the public domain related to potential members’ conduct or professional capacity. This includes undertaking searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. In some cases, it will not be appropriate to offer a role if the conflict is too great.

After appointment, all Committee members and staff are required to recognise and disclose activities that might give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The CCC has a formal policy process on conflicts of interest which is reviewed annually.

The CCC’s conflicts of interest policy, along with a register of interests for Committee members – both of which are annually updated – and the minutes of each Committee meeting are published in the Transparency section of the CCC’s website at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/transparency/.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department takes to ensure decisions taken on biomass are evidence-based.

In the Government’s response to Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) latest annual progress report to Parliament, we announced that we will publish a new Biomass Strategy in 2022. This will review what amount of sustainable biomass could be available to the UK, and how this resource could be best utilised across the economy to help achieve our net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.

The Strategy will also assess the UK’s current biomass sustainability standards, which are some of the most stringent in the world, to see where and how we can improve them even further.

As part of the strategy development, we will be launching a “Call for Evidence” on the role of biomass to help achieve Net Zero, enabling interested stakeholders to contribute their views on biomass. The final strategy will be based on evidence gathered during the call for evidence and other sources. Other decisions on biomass are also evidence based, drawing on a variety of sources and analysis which is rigorously quality assured as part of our policy making process.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will list the members and board members of the Committee on Climate Change that are (a) involved in academia, (b) former politicians, (c) involved in corporate affairs and (d) members of the not-for-profit sector, broken down by (i) charities and (ii) not-for-profit organisations.

The names of the members of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), with a description of their careers and interests, can be found here on the CCC’s website: www.theccc.org.uk/about.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) staff and (b) board members at the Climate Change Committee do not have a conflict of interest.

BEIS carries out thorough due diligence exercises on each new board member prior to approving their appointment to identify conflicts of interest so that they can be managed appropriately on appointment. In some cases, it will not be appropriate to offer a role if the conflict is too great.

The Climate Change Committee has a formal policy process on conflicts of interest which is reviewed annually. All Committee Members and staff are required to recognise and disclose activities that might give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

The process for existing Committee members to raise conflicts of interest is managed by the Committee secretariat at the start of every Committee meeting. The secretariat will review the case to determine whether the individual needs to step down from the Committee to avoid an actual or perceived serious conflict of interest arising or to decide on how to manage whilst remaining in role.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the potential merits of including the sale of unsafe goods within the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

The UK Government is committed to tackling the sale of unsafe consumer products online. The UK’s national regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), works with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in considering the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce.

There is already an extensive regulatory framework aimed at ensuring the safety of goods, including those sold online. The OPSS is currently reviewing that framework to ensure it is fit for purpose, protects consumers, and enables businesses to innovate and grow. This is the best way to achieve a coherent and comprehensive framework for product safety. The OPSS will continue to work with DCMS and will consider any wider implications of the approach to other online harms in any future policy proposals on product safety.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timescale is for publication of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) new voluntary commitment for online marketplaces; and what plans the OPSS has for protection of consumers using online marketplaces not signing up to the voluntary commitment.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the UK and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is working to ensure that major online marketplaces play their part in protecting UK consumers from unsafe goods.

As part of this work, the OPSS is developing a new voluntary commitment for online marketplaces to agree actions they will take to reduce the risks from unsafe products being sold online. This will enable online marketplaces to demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their consumers in the UK by publicly promising to work with UK regulators and details will be published in due course.

The OPSS is also conducting a review of the Product Safety framework to ensure it is fit for purpose, protects consumers, and enables businesses to innovate and grow. The review will consider the impact on product safety of new technologies and new business models, including e-commerce.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has for protection of protect consumers from the sale of unsafe goods on social media marketplaces.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe electrical goods can be sold in the UK. All distributors have a duty to act with due care to ensure products they are selling are safe, this includes online retailers.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) proactively engages with major online marketplaces to ensure that they are playing their part in protecting UK consumers from unsafe products. The OPSS have recently taken action to ensure that a number of non-compliant products being sold by overseas 3rd party sellers have been removed from sale, including electrical appliances.

In order to ensure that the UK’s Product Safety framework is flexible and fit for the future, the OPSS is conducting a review. The review will ensure we have a framework that delivers safety for consumers while supporting businesses to innovate and grow and will consider the impact on product safety of new business models, including e-commerce and social media marketplaces.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to protect consumers from unsafe electrical goods being sold online.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe electrical goods can be sold in the UK. All distributors have a duty to act with due care to ensure products they are selling are safe, this includes online retailers.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) proactively engages with major online marketplaces to ensure that they are playing their part in protecting UK consumers from unsafe products. The OPSS have recently taken action to ensure that a number of non-compliant products being sold by overseas 3rd party sellers have been removed from sale, including electrical appliances.

In order to ensure that the UK’s Product Safety framework is flexible and fit for the future, the OPSS is conducting a review. The review will ensure we have a framework that delivers safety for consumers while supporting businesses to innovate and grow and will consider the impact on product safety of new business models, including e-commerce and social media marketplaces.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) Pfizer/BioNTech and (b) Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines have been procured by the UK Government; how many of each vaccine have reached the UK to date; and if he will publish the number of doses of each vaccine which have been distributed to (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland to date.

The Government has procured 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccines.

The UK was the first country in the world to start a vaccination programme using these vaccines. Due to our swift and decisive action there has been a regular and steady supply of vaccine doses arriving into the UK since early December 2020.

As of 20 January 2021, almost five million people across the UK have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. We continue to work to meet our target of vaccinating all four priority groups, as advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, by the middle of February.

Vaccines are a precious resource in very high demand across the world; therefore, for security reasons it is not possible to provide detail about the size of our supplies and exact detail about deliveries.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many of the covid-19 Pfizer vaccines procured by the Government have arrived in the UK; and how many doses of those vaccines have been distributed to (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland.

The UK was the first country in the world to start a vaccination programme using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Our swift and decisive action has ensured a regular and steady supply of vaccine doses arriving into the UK since early December 2020.

We have sufficient doses to maintain our vaccination programme as it continues to accelerate, and as of 25 December, we have received 22 deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the UK. We have plans in place with the company to ensure sufficient supply throughout 2021.

Vaccination will be managed by the health services in each nation: NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland. We have procured vaccines on behalf of all parts of the country. The Government is working with the devolved administrations and overseas territories to ensure it is deployed fairly across the entire UK.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the economic effect on Royal Mail of (a) Amazon and (b) other private delivery companies.

The Government’s aim in relation to post is to secure a sustainable, efficient and affordable universal postal service. The UK has one of the most competitive postal services markets in the world.

On 26 November 2020, Ofcom, the independent regulator for the postal services sector, published a review of postal users’ needs and an annual monitoring update on postal services. The Government is reviewing both reports.

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, whether he plans to meet with (a) disabled people and (b) disability organisations to co-produce information for employers on the rights of disabled employees during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has published extensive guidance on employment and safer working throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. This can be found on GOV.UK and through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Further guidance on employment rights and aspects of good practice has been published by other bodies such as ACAS and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Government has also produced guidance around some new situations which have arisen from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example for those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and on self-isolation. This suite of guidance covers the employment rights of disabled people alongside other groups in the workforce.

I have asked BEIS officials to discuss this employment rights guidance with disability groups to ensure the published material continues to meet the needs of disabled workers and their employers.

The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work, including during the Covid-19 outbreak. Through the Disability Confident scheme, we are engaging employers and providing them with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace. Our new Employer Help site provides advice on recruitment and employment of disabled people, explaining how Disability Confident and Access to Work can help businesses to ensure their practices are fair and inclusive.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether her Department plans to publish guidance for (a) employers and (b) employees on the rights of disabled workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has published extensive guidance on employment and safer working throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. This can be found on GOV.UK and through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Further guidance on employment rights and aspects of good practice has been published by other bodies such as ACAS and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Government has also produced guidance around some new situations which have arisen from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example for those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and on self-isolation. This suite of guidance covers the employment rights of disabled people alongside other groups in the workforce.

I have asked BEIS officials to discuss this employment rights guidance with disability groups to ensure the published material continues to meet the needs of disabled workers and their employers.

The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work, including during the Covid-19 outbreak. Through the Disability Confident scheme, we are engaging employers and providing them with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace. Our new Employer Help site provides advice on recruitment and employment of disabled people, explaining how Disability Confident and Access to Work can help businesses to ensure their practices are fair and inclusive.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to assess the potential merits of local electricity supply.

The issue is being considered. For example, Ofgem are reviewing the use of supply licences that are restricted by geographic location, and Ofgem's Access & Forward-Looking Charges Review aims to improve the signals sent to all network users, which could support more localised supply.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of a California-style zero emission vehicle mandate to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles.

We recognise that we need to go further than the existing regulatory regime to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport to deliver our climate goals. We are considering our options as part of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of grid capacity required for electrification to deliver net zero by 2050.

As we move towards Net Zero in 2050, an increase in electricity demand is anticipated, in part due to the electrification of transport and heat. The electricity system will need increased generation capacity to meet higher peak demand and, ensure security of supply. National Grid Electricity System Operator, in their 2020 Future Energy Scenarios (FES)[1], estimate that peak demand will increase from 59GW in 2019 to 76 – 96GW by 2050. In order to meet this peak demand, they estimate that total installed generation capacity will have to increase from 112GW in 2019, to 224 – 334GW in 2050[2].

These changes will also require upgrades to grid capacity. Electricity networks are regulated by the independent regulator, Ofgem, through the price control, which provides the framework for network investment. Ofgem is working to set the next price control to enable investment for Net Zero.

[1] https://www.nationalgrideso.com/future-energy/future-energy-scenarios/fes-2020-documents

[2] Total installed capacity and total storage capaicty including vehicle-to-grid. Includes all network connected generation.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the forthcoming energy white paper is planned to include detailed policy on the next steps of the Government’s plans for delivering net zero by 2050.

The Energy White Paper will contribute to the delivery of net zero by setting out how we will make the transition to clean energy and support a green economic recovery in the process, while keeping energy bills affordable.

In addition to the White Paper, the Government will publish decarbonisation plans for key sectors such as agriculture and industry as part of its green agenda in the run up to COP26. The Government has already published the first part of its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, setting out an ambitious strategy to drive our transport emissions towards net zero.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department with Ofgem to attract investment in (a) innovation and (b) development of the electricity network as part of the Government's 2050 net zero commitment.

Monopoly energy network companies, which transport energy to homes and businesses, are regulated by the independent energy regulator, Ofgem, to ensure that they adequately maintain a safe and secure network whilst investing for the future and ensuring a fair price for consumers. In order to do this, Ofgem uses price controls to determine the revenues network companies may recover, the investment they may make and the performance standards they must deliver.

The regulatory price control is by law a matter for Ofgem who ensure, through the regulatory framework, that energy networks are able to deliver our net zero target, and Government will continue to engage with Ofgem on this. Ofgem has also established a Net Zero Advisory Group, with members from across government and the public sector, to advise on how price controls can best enable decarbonisation, including by bringing forward appropriate investment.

Since the start of the current electricity distribution price control (RIIO-ED1) in 2015, around £270m of innovation funding has been allocated to Electricity Distribution Network Operators, which is already supporting the move to net zero. Ofgem has also announced the introduction of a new Strategic Innovation Fund for the upcoming energy network price controls (RIIO-2). This fund, alongside funding to individual companies, will provide £450m for research and development into crucial green energy projects, with the potential to fund more if required.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the number of new jobs that will be created as a result of the Government’s commitment to net zero by 2050.

As my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out in his speech on 30 June, we intend to build back greener. Many of the actions we need to take to reach our UK climate targets - net zero - will support our economy to recover from COVID-19, generate new economic opportunities and support new green jobs. The UK has shown that growing our economy and cutting emissions can be achieved at the same time – growing our economy by 75% while cutting emissions by 43% over the past three decades.

There are already 460,000 people employed in the low carbon economy and its supply chains across the UK. By one estimate, the UK low-carbon economy could grow more than four times faster than the rest of the economy by 2030 and support up to 2 million jobs. As one example, the recently announced £2 billion Green Homes Grant will upgrade more than 600,000 homes across the country, save households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills and could support up to 80,000 green jobs.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking with Ofgem to help ensure that the UK attracts international investment as part of the Government’s ongoing work on net zero by 2050.

The Government’s Green Finance Strategy set out our overall approach to accelerating green finance and catalysing private investment to support delivery of the UK’s climate objectives.

Ofgem consults widely with industry and others on the methodology for future network investment through its price control process. This process is a matter for Ofgem, and by law Government has no role in network regulation.

With significant investment required going forward, it is essential there is a stable regulatory regime which provides both the sector and investors with the confidence to invest. At the same time, Ofgem has a statutory duty to ensure that value is delivered for consumers, and Government supports Ofgem’s core priority to help the UK achieve net zero by 2050, including securing the necessary investment in networks, at the lowest cost to consumers.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ask Ofgem to include representatives from the electricity network supply chain in their Net Zero Advisory Group.

Ofgem has recently published the Terms of Reference for the Net Zero Advisory Group (link here). The Group aims to strengthen strategic coordination amongst key government departments and public sector organisations involved in the energy system transition. Where appropriate, the Group may invite internal or external experts to specific meetings and seek views from these parties outside of the meetings. The Terms of Reference may be reviewed and updated periodically.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors of energy companies classifying those companies as high risk as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he is taking to ensure the equitable treatment of those sectors by energy companies.

The hospitality sector is a vital part of our economy, and the Government has introduced a wide range of economic measures to support businesses of all sizes through this difficult period.

Contractual terms offered to businesses are a commercial matter for energy suppliers. An offer of a supply contract will depend upon the type of business, estimated and volatility consumption, the customer’s credit score and length of contract required. We would encourage businesses to look at terms from multiple suppliers to find the best deal.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to establish a sector council for energy networks to bring together Government, industry and other stakeholders to advise on the UK's energy system development.

The Government and Ofgem, as the independent regulator, are responsible for the policy and regulatory framework in which the energy system develops. We regularly engage with industry and other stakeholders on the development of the energy system, for example through Ofgem’s RIIO price control process.

Network companies also engage with industry and other stakeholders in developing future energy scenarios and network system plans. Examples of this include the Electricity System Operator’s Future Energy Scenarios and the annual Ten-Year Development Statements published by the Gas and Electricity System Operators.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the hydrogen strategies published by (a) Germany, (b) Denmark and (c) the European Commission.

The Government is committed to the development of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier. We are closely monitoring international hydrogen developments and participate in a range of international fora, including the International Partnership for Hydrogen for Fuel Cells in the Economy, Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial. These forums offer opportunities to discuss international activity on hydrogen, including strategies put forward by Germany, Denmark, and the European Commission. This contributes to understanding of, for example, respective drivers for interest, levels of ambition, innovation priorities and policy support frameworks. This is informing our own strategic approach to the development of hydrogen in the UK context, including opportunities for partnership and economic benefit.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the development of sustainable hydrogen production facilities.

The Government is committed to exploring the option of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier. In line with this we are currently investing up to £121 million in hydrogen innovation, supporting a range of projects exploring the production and potential of low carbon hydrogen across the value chain. This includes a £33 million Hydrogen Supply programme that is supporting development of low and zero carbon hydrogen supply solutions. A mixture of hydrogen production technologies will be required to help reach our net zero target, and the learning provided from these programmes will be key. In addition, we are developing sustainable business models to support hydrogen production and will be engaging with Industry on the £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Fund later this year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

The Government undertook a thorough analysis of Tidal Lagoon Power’s proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay and their plans for a follow-on programme of lagoons in June 2018. The statement made to Parliament by the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out the government’s position. In that statement, he stated that neither the Swansea Bay project nor TLP’s follow on programme of lagoons represented value for money. Our understanding is that the costs of the project remain at approximately £1.3 billion.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he had made an assessment of the potential merits of a regulated asset based model to finance the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

Contracts for Difference are the main policy vehicle supporting the delivery of low carbon electricity. They provide long-term price stabilisation for low carbon plant, allowing investments to come forward at a lower cost of capital and therefore lower cost to consumers. This was the basis under which the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project was considered and assessed.

The analysis clearly showed that the project did not represent value for money for consumers and tax payers.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it remains his policy to invest £9.2 billion to improve the energy efficiency of (a) homes and (b) public buildings.

Tackling climate change and reaching our legally-binding emission reduction targets continue to be a top priority for the Government.

We remain committed to our aspiration for as many homes as possible to reach Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective, and affordable. Improving the energy efficiency of existing homes will play a critical role in delivering our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, including Net Zero by 2050 as well as lifting households out of fuel poverty.

We continue to enable greenhouse gas emission reductions in public buildings through the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, and the fund for England will stand at £385 million by the end of 2020/21.

BEIS remains committed to energy efficiency and decarbonising buildings, in line with the Manifesto commitment to invest £9.2 billion in low carbon buildings. The funding decisions are a matter for my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to help stimulate demand for energy efficiency retrofitting schemes.

The Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy in due course, which will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

These actions include the deployment of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating as part of an ambitious programme of work required to enable key strategic decisions on how we achieve the mass transition to low-carbon heat and set us on a path to decarbonising all homes and buildings.

The Department remains committed to delivering the aspiration set out in the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), that as many homes as possible, where practical, cost-effective and affordable, will be upgraded to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the availability of skilled workers to complete energy efficiency retrofitting for housing stock throughout the UK.

A good supply of skilled workers is essential in order to meet our aspiration for as many UK homes as possible to be EPC band C by 2035, where practical, cost-effective and affordable. The Government has sponsored the development of Trustmark and PAS 2035 to ensure high standards among energy efficiency installers. We will continue to work with installers and training providers in order to grow the sector.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether (a) temporary and (b) agency workers will accrue holiday pay while on furlough; whether agencies and umbrella companies are able to reclaim holiday pay through the furlough grant; what steps companies can take to support their workers who come from agencies and umbrella companies if those agency or umbrella companies do not agree to furlough employees.

The Government has been clear that employment rights remain unchanged under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Therefore, all workers’, including agency and temporary workers’, right to holiday accrues to the extent and in the same way it did prior to being placed on to furlough under the CJRS, as provided by the individual’s statutory and contractual rights.

Employers are able to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant to cover wages paid to their workers, up to 80% of the worker’s usual pay. This includes holiday pay, but where holiday pay owed exceeds the amount in the grant, the employer is required to make up the difference.

Further guidance to help employers manage holiday pay during Coronavirus is available on gov.uk.

In this unprecedented time, we would urge employers and agencies to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce. Employers and workers, including agency workers, should come to a pragmatic agreement about these arrangements. We have been clear that employers should carefully consider the guidance.

However, access to the scheme is not an employment right and it is up to the employer to decide whom to furlough.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of extending (a) maternity and (b) paternity leave in response to the covid-19 outbreak and associated social distancing guidance.

During this difficult time parents retain their entitlements to Maternity and Paternity Leave, allowing parents to bond and care for their new child and for mothers to recover from birth. We have no plans to extend Maternity or Paternity Leave at this stage.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on rural communities of changes in fuel prices.

The Government believes that it is essential that consumers get a fair deal and that a competitive market is the best way to keep prices low. At a national level most movements of average pump price are driven by global prices for oil and exchange rates.

The Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme administered by HMRC provides support for rural motorists by compensating fuel retailers in specific rural areas with high road fuel prices. These areas were chosen because, before the scheme was introduced, pump prices in those areas were significantly higher than the UK average. Further information on this scheme is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-2001-rural-fuel-duty-relief-scheme/excise-notice-2001-rural-fuel-duty-relief-scheme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the findings published by the ONS on 16 January 2020 that the number of (a) people employed in the low carbon and renewable energy economy and (b) businesses in that sector have declined since 2014; and what the implications of those findings are for her policy on the UK reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

It is misleading to compare estimates from the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey from 2014 with this year’s survey because of changes in the sample methodology and size between 2014 and 2015.

There are now over 460,000 people working in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, up from the revised 2017 estimate of 447,000. Turnover in the direct low carbon economy was estimated at £46.7 billion in 2018, up from £40.4 billion in 2015.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what her Department's policy is on encouraging the development of a domestic manufacturing base for renewable energy technologies.

In the Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Strategy, the Government set out its ambition to have a strong, industrialised UK supply chain, proving its capability and increasing its capacity in order to win export orders. Delivering economic benefit is a Government priority and we are working together with industry to deliver growth, build a thriving UK supply chain and seize commercial opportunities in the UK and abroad.

Through the measures set out in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the offshore wind sector will invest up to £250 million over 10 years into a new Offshore Wind Growth Partnership aimed at helping UK companies become more competitive and productive in the context of a growing global market.

The UK has a strong track record in the supply of offshore wind development services, engineering design, and the supply of inter array cables and offshore substations. Approximately 75% of the value of operations and maintenance contracts for UK offshore wind farms are won by UK businesses.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many properties connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network are not included in any fibre broadband network plans that will be implemented before 2025 in (a) Wales and (b) Ceredigion.

The upgrade of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is an industry-led initiative which is regulated by Ofcom. Providers are moving from the old PSTN to new digital Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

VoIP landlines do not require fibre broadband to function but simply a stable connection speed of 0.5Mbps. For current landline-only customers it will be possible to order a VoIP landline without purchasing a general internet connection.

According to Ofcom there are over 16 million lines on the Openreach network which are being upgraded to VoIP services. For more specific information relating to Wales and your constituency, I would advise you to contact Openreach or Virgin Media O2, who are leading the migration process of their networks.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate her Department has made of the number of properties connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network that do not have access to a fixed or wireless internet connection in (a) Wales and (b) Ceredigion.

The upgrade of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is an industry-led initiative which is regulated by Ofcom. Providers are moving from the old PSTN to new digital Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

VoIP landlines do not require fibre broadband to function but simply a stable connection speed of 0.5Mbps. For current landline-only customers it will be possible to order a VoIP landline without purchasing a general internet connection.

According to Ofcom there are over 16 million lines on the Openreach network which are being upgraded to VoIP services. For more specific information relating to Wales and your constituency, I would advise you to contact Openreach or Virgin Media O2, who are leading the migration process of their networks.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when she plans to make a decision on whether to close, continue or expand the Young Audience Content Fund.

The Young Audiences Content Fund is a three-year pilot project due to end on 31 March 2022. As part of the pilot Contestable Fund programme, a full evaluation will determine its impact on the provision and plurality of public service content. A decision on its future will be announced in due course.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will bring forward proposals to strengthen online protections for children by requiring technology firms to tackle cross-platform risks as part of the Online Safety Bill which would place a duty on the companies to (a) assess cross-platform risks when designing their sites and (b) share information with other companies on (i) offender behaviour, (ii) threats to children’s safety and (iii) new features which could lead to child abuse.

The Online Safety Bill will create a safer online ecosystem and address cross-platform harms to children. Companies in scope likely to be accessed by children will need to put in place appropriate systems and processes which protect children from encountering harmful content by means of their service. This could include protecting children from being directed to harmful content or activity on other sites.

The regulator will undertake research and horizon-scanning to identify cross-platform emerging issues, backed up by robust information-gathering powers. In addition, the super-complaints process will enable organisations to submit evidence of systemic issues that are causing harm to certain groups across more than one service.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will bring forward proposals to (a) bring pornography sites which do not host user-uploaded content within the scope of the Online Safety Bill and (b) strengthen age verification processes for those sites.

The strongest protections in the draft Online Safety Bill, published in May 2021 for pre-legislative scrutiny, are for children. Where pornography sites host user generated content or facilitate online user interactions, they are in scope of the Online Safety Bill.

The Online Safety Bill will capture the most visited pornography sites, social media platforms, video-sharing sites, forums and via image or video search engines. Companies will be required to protect children from harmful content such as online pornography or face tough enforcement action by the regulator.

The government recognises the concerns that have been raised about protecting children from online pornography on services which do not currently fall within the scope of the Bill. The government will use the draft Bill’s pre-legislative scrutiny to explore ways to provide wider protections for children from online pornography.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential impact that the privatisation of Channel 4 TV Corporation will have on its aim of promoting cultural identity in the UK nations and regions.

Channel 4’s network of relationships across the whole of the UK, and its strong representation of the entire nation on screen are attributes to be celebrated and maintained into its future, and that is not at odds with private investment. In fact, Channel 4’s access to networks out of London and its ability to speak to such a diverse range of audiences are likely to be an attractive asset to nurture and develop for any potential buyer. Whatever decision is made about Channel 4’s ownership, we are clear that any changes will not compromise our commitment to the independent production sector or the wider creative economy, including our creative powerhouses across the UK. The government has also been clear that, whatever decision is made about Channel 4, we want it to remain a public service broadcaster, with public service obligations.

Channel 4 is one of this country’s greatest assets but we must think long-term about the challenges ahead and make sure it has the capital it needs to continue to contribute to the UK’s success in public service broadcasting for years to come.

We have consulted on the best ownership model to support this aim, and we are in the process of examining all the evidence we have received.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential impact that the privatisation of Channel 4 TV Corporation will have on its investment in training schemes, including the Factual Fast Track scheme and the Production Training Scheme.

Channel 4’s network of relationships across the whole of the UK, and its strong representation of the entire nation on screen are attributes to be celebrated and maintained into its future, and that is not at odds with private investment. In fact, Channel 4’s access to networks out of London and its ability to speak to such a diverse range of audiences are likely to be an attractive asset to nurture and develop for any potential buyer. Whatever decision is made about Channel 4’s ownership, we are clear that any changes will not compromise our commitment to the independent production sector or the wider creative economy, including our creative powerhouses across the UK. The government has also been clear that, whatever decision is made about Channel 4, we want it to remain a public service broadcaster, with public service obligations.

Channel 4 is one of this country’s greatest assets but we must think long-term about the challenges ahead and make sure it has the capital it needs to continue to contribute to the UK’s success in public service broadcasting for years to come.

We have consulted on the best ownership model to support this aim, and we are in the process of examining all the evidence we have received.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential impact that the privatisation of Channel 4 TV Corporation will have on the Channel's (a) recent steps to establish hubs outside London and (b) ability to commission more from production companies in the nations and regions.

Channel 4’s network of relationships across the whole of the UK, and its strong representation of the entire nation on screen are attributes to be celebrated and maintained into its future, and that is not at odds with private investment. In fact, Channel 4’s access to networks out of London and its ability to speak to such a diverse range of audiences are likely to be an attractive asset to nurture and develop for any potential buyer. Whatever decision is made about Channel 4’s ownership, we are clear that any changes will not compromise our commitment to the independent production sector or the wider creative economy, including our creative powerhouses across the UK. The government has also been clear that, whatever decision is made about Channel 4, we want it to remain a public service broadcaster, with public service obligations.

Channel 4 is one of this country’s greatest assets but we must think long-term about the challenges ahead and make sure it has the capital it needs to continue to contribute to the UK’s success in public service broadcasting for years to come.

We have consulted on the best ownership model to support this aim, and we are in the process of examining all the evidence we have received.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many authors received compensation through the Public Lending Right in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England in 2019.

For the Public Lending Right (PLR) Scheme year 2019/20, PLR payments were made to 20,911 registered authors in the United Kingdom. The British Library, which administers the PLR Scheme on behalf of the department, does not maintain a record of payments to authors by country of residence in the United Kingdom.



Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with the Welsh Government on increasing the Public Lending Right.

There has been no recent discussion with the Welsh Government on increasing the Public Lending Right (PLR). My department will shortly consult with sector stakeholders, including the Welsh Government, on a revised PLR rate per loan for the PLR Scheme year 2020/21. It is intended that the revised PLR rate per loan be introduced in January 2022.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the total cost to the public purse was of the Public Lending Right in (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

The Public Lending Right was allocated £6.6 million for the PLR Scheme year 2019/20; and £6.6 million for the PLR Scheme year 2020/21.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Llanon exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Talybont exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Aberaeron exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the New Quay exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Bow Street exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Lampeter exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Cardigan exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions her Department has had with Openreach on (a) progress on the update of the Borth exchange and (b) the timeline for completion of that work.

The department regularly engages with Openreach on the progress of their commercial rollout. Details of specific exchanges can be found on the Openreach website at the following address: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. The Government is investing £5 billion as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. This will ensure communities are not left behind as the country benefits from a faster, further-reaching commercial investment. More generally across the UK, over half of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to promote Welsh cultural and language programming as part of her Department's planned changes to broadcasting requirements for public service broadcasters.

The government is committed to the future of Welsh language broadcasting and recognises the significant cultural impact of programming in Welsh for Welsh speakers across the UK. That commitment will inform any changes made to broadcasting requirements for public service broadcasters.

The government is also currently determining the licence fee settlement with S4C which will provide it with sufficient funding to support its unique cultural and social position for Welsh Language speakers.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 June 2021 to Question 16192 on Broadband: Voucher Schemes, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential effect of a commercial plan taking five years or more to deliver to premises on the success of Project Gigabit.

DCMS remains committed to encouraging as much commercial build as possible, while using the £5bn Project Gigabit to fund build in areas that are not commercially viable for suppliers to connect. The government’s target, laid out in the National Infrastructure Strategy published last year, is for 85% of UK premises to have gigabit capable connectivity by 2025. Our current analysis expects commercial suppliers to connect at least 80% of UK premises, with Project Gigabit delivering at least a further 5% in this timeframe.

A key component of Project Gigabit are the pre-procurement processes (Open Market Reviews / Public Reviews) to survey the market on their commercial build plans ahead of our major procurements. These will help us to identify premises in every part of the UK that the market does not intend to target commercially. This ensures that public money is not being used to subsidise gigabit capable connections that we know would otherwise be supplied commercially, which would limit the funding available for Project Gigabit to subsidise homes and businesses that are genuinely uncommercial.

DCMS will be continually monitoring the market’s progress against their commercial build so we will be able to react to any changes in their plans and update the targeting of our interventions to ensure they remain focused on the areas that need our support.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 15 June 2021 to Question 12253 on Broadband: Voucher Schemes, when his Department next plans to conduct a performance review of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

We monitor the performance of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme as part of the day to day operation of the scheme. We also conduct a detailed performance review every 6 months. The next product review is due at the end of September/beginning of October. We are aiming to prepare the review towards the end of September which should see the evidence ready to be presented for assessment at the beginning October. However, this timeline may be subject to change.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 15 June 2021 to Question 12253 on Broadband: Voucher Schemes, what length of time his Department defines as a reasonable timeframe for premises to benefit from a commercially delivered gigabit programme.

At the start of Project Gigabit we are prioritising areas that are not likely to receive commercial rollout, to ensure that the £5bn investment supports those communities that will otherwise not have access to gigabit capable connections.

Therefore, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) currently excludes premises that are likely to benefit from commercial plans. As Project Gigabit develops, assessments of commercial plans will continue to be made at a local level as part of the Project Gigabit pre-procurement processes (Open Market Review and Public Review). These processes will be used by the Department to determine whether commercial plans will deliver to premises within a reasonable time frame and define what that time frame is.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many premises in Ceredigion attempted to register for the Broadband Upgrade Fund but were deemed ineligible for that Fund.

All visitors to the Broadband Upgrade Fund were encouraged to check their eligibility using a postcode tool on the home page. This instantly confirmed whether or not they were eligible. Only those who were deemed eligible were then able to register their interest through the site. Address details for ineligible premises were not collected so we are unable to confirm how many Ceredigion residents and businesses used the postcode tool and were deemed ineligible.

We do know that across all Broadband Upgrade Fund Pilot areas, a total of 17,717 premises were checked that were not eligible. This is reflective of the fact that the Broadband Upgrade Fund Pilot attracted significant media attention from outlets with a cross regional and national audience.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many pre-registered packet applications his Department has received under the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme for projects located in Ceredigion.

We currently have been able to find 5 registered projects submitted in Ceredigion.

The transition from community interest through to final project approval can take a number of months so we are expecting more projects to come through as a result of the Broadband Upgrade Fund pilot scheme.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what length of time his Department constitutes in the near future for the purposes of determining premises eligible for support under the Gigabit Voucher Scheme.

Ofcom, the market regulator, has identified areas where network providers are likely to build gigabit-capable connectivity via the Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review (WFTMR) they conducted in 2020. The decisions were a result of an extensive consultation programme with the market, and we have taken their view as a starting point for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. By using Ofcom’s classifications for assessing the likelihood of commercial investment in an area, it ensures the voucher scheme is consistent across the UK.

The data that is used to assess the eligibility criteria for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) changes according to the dynamic nature of commercial activity so postcodes or premises can come in and out of scope for a variety of reasons. We will continue to build on that view as we gather more data from Open Market Reviews and Public Reviews that are taking place over the coming months. As our understanding of network providers’ build plans develops, voucher eligibility will be reviewed. We will complete regular performance reviews of the voucher scheme and make adjustments where necessary.

As set out in the ‘Project Gigabit: Phase One Delivery Plan’, the GBVS is one part of the wider Project Gigabit, and it works alongside gigabit procurements as we work towards the target of gigabit-capable connectivity. Ineligibility for a voucher doesn’t mean that government support won’t be available in the future via other interventions; if it becomes clear that premises are unlikely to benefit from a commercially delivered gigabit programme within a reasonable timeframe, then DCMS will take action to address this market failure.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many proposals were received from alternative network providers to improve broadband connectivity in Ceredigion through the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

A total of 50 approved areas of interest in Ceredigion were created by suppliers through the broadband Upgrade Fund website.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many premises in Ceredigion registered for the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

1,840 eligible premises in Ceredigion were registered through the Broadband Upgrade Fund website.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to review the effectiveness of the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

The Broadband Upgrade Fund Pilot provided an opportunity to test an innovative approach to demand stimulation in the broadband market. The final stage of the Broadband Upgrade Fund completed in January 2021, and many suppliers are still in the process of engaging with communities to put together project proposals to submit to BDUK for approval. A full assessment of the effectiveness of the Broadband Upgrade Fund Pilot will be undertaken once there has been sufficient opportunity for proposals to turn into gigabit-capable connections.

This evaluation will look at the effectiveness of campaign elements, and the number of projects and gigabit-capable connections delivered that can be attributed to the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Gambling Commission's investigation into BetIndex Ltd, the operators of Football Index, was initiated in response to rulings made by the Advertising Standards Authority regarding their breaches of Advertising Codes.

The Gambling Commission requires operators to act in a way that meets the licensing objectives to be fair and open. They are also required to present their products in a way that is compliant with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules regarding advertising and marketing. Where the ASA determines that an operator has breached these rules, the Commission can also consider whether further regulatory action is required as a result.

Following the rulings from the ASA in August and September 2019, Football Index was required to make clear both in a banner on each webpage and within the text that it was a betting product and should not be considered an investment vehicle. The Gambling Commission’s formal review into the licence under section 116 of the Gambling Act commenced in May 2020, and looked wider than breaches of the advertising codes.

The Gambling Commission suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operator of Football Index, on 11 March after learning of BetIndex’s plans to restrict customer access to account funds. Further information, including additional background to its regulatory action, is available at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/News/betindex-update

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the recommendations of the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee’s report, Exploring the devolution of broadcasting.

The government responded to the recommendations made by the Senedd Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee report on 6 April.

In the response, the government reaffirmed its manifesto commitments to continue to support S4C and support the Welsh Government’s ambition for one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

However, the response made clear that broadcasting policy will remain a reserved matter and that there are no plans to establish an independent funding commission for the TV licence.

In addition, the government continues to consider carefully the future of the public service broadcasting landscape, including the regional Channel 3 licences, and the appropriate regulatory structure for commercial radio.

24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Gambling Commission on the Football Index's presentation of its product as a football stock market.

The Gambling Commission has suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operators of Football Index, and a live investigation is ongoing. Further information, including an update on the status of customer funds, can be found on the Commission’s website: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2021/BetIndex-update.aspx

The government is taking the collapse of Football Index and the concerns of those affected by it very seriously, and the Secretary of State and I have met the Gambling Commission to receive urgent updates. We are particularly keen to understand both how this situation came about and what lessons we can learn from these events.

It is a condition of a gambling operating licence that customers should be able to withdraw funds from their accounts. The Commission acted to suspend BetIndex’s licence on learning that the operator planned to freeze access to funds. Operators who hold customer funds must tell customers whether funds are protected in event of insolvency and the level of the protection offered. Football Index provides a medium level of customer funds protection, which means customer funds are kept in accounts separate from business accounts, and arrangements are made to ensure assets in the customer accounts are distributed to customers in the event of insolvency.

The government has launched a Review of the Gambling Act 2005 and has called for evidence on a range of issues across the sector, including the powers and resources of the Gambling Commission. The call for evidence closes on 31 March, and we will be led by the evidence received.

24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 24 March 2021 to Question 170705 on Football Index, whether his Department received an indication from the Gambling Commission on when that body will (a) conclude its investigation and (b) publish a report of its findings.

The Gambling Commission has suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operators of Football Index, and a live investigation is ongoing. Further information, including an update on the status of customer funds, can be found on the Commission’s website: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2021/BetIndex-update.aspx

The government is taking the collapse of Football Index and the concerns of those affected by it very seriously, and the Secretary of State and I have met the Gambling Commission to receive urgent updates. We are particularly keen to understand both how this situation came about and what lessons we can learn from these events.

It is a condition of a gambling operating licence that customers should be able to withdraw funds from their accounts. The Commission acted to suspend BetIndex’s licence on learning that the operator planned to freeze access to funds. Operators who hold customer funds must tell customers whether funds are protected in event of insolvency and the level of the protection offered. Football Index provides a medium level of customer funds protection, which means customer funds are kept in accounts separate from business accounts, and arrangements are made to ensure assets in the customer accounts are distributed to customers in the event of insolvency.

The government has launched a Review of the Gambling Act 2005 and has called for evidence on a range of issues across the sector, including the powers and resources of the Gambling Commission. The call for evidence closes on 31 March, and we will be led by the evidence received.

17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the Gambling Commission on the gambling platform Football Index.

The Gambling Commission has suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operators of Football Index, while it carries out an investigation.

The Secretary of State and I have met the Gambling Commission twice to discuss this issue, and have requested and received urgent reports.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support consumer choice and (b) protect against overcharging during the rollout of gigabit capable broadband to rural properties in Wales.

In its Statement of Strategic Priorities, the department set out a clear strategy to deliver the rapid rollout of gigabit capable broadband by promoting network competition. We expect that - in time - consumers in up to 80% of the country will be able to choose between two or more gigabit capable networks. Competition will protect consumers against overcharging.

In addition, during the next market review period from April 2021 to March 2026, Ofcom is proposing to continue to regulate BT Openreach’s network across the whole of the UK to ensure that retail Internet Service Providers like Sky and TalkTalk can continue to access their network at a regulated price to provide retail choice to consumers using this network.

Around 20% of the country is harder to reach and only likely to be able to support one gigabit capable network, which is why the government is proposing to invest £5 billion to ensure that these areas get gigabit capable broadband. The department’s proposed contracts require the successful bidders to make their government subsidised network available to retail Internet Service Providers on a similar basis to that required by Ofcom in relation to BT Openreach.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what (a) key dates by which key milestones will be met and (b) other metrics his Department has developed to measure progress of the UK Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme in Wales.

In relation to gigabit coverage, at UK level key milestones and metrics include:

  • One in three UK premises can now access gigabit-capable broadband (38%), up from 12% in 2019.

  • By the end of 2021 more than half of the country will be connected to gigabit-capable networks.

  • We are on track to build up to an annual build rate of 4.5 million premises or more, higher than build rates in comparable countries.

As part of the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, the government has funded the following projects which are delivering gigabit connections to public sector sites in Wales:

  1. Projects with the Welsh Government (i) in the Cardiff Capital Region covering approximately 180 public sector sites and (ii) across ten local authorities covering approximately 100 rural public sector sites;

  2. A project with Denbighshire across the six local authorities in North Wales covering approximately 350 public sector sites;

  3. A project with Pembrokeshire to cover approximately 70 public sector sites.

This totals approximately 700 public sector sites to be delivered between 2019-2021.

In addition, residents and businesses in rural areas of Wales have been able to apply for vouchers under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. As at February 2021, in Wales there are 351 connected premises worth £646,000 and a further 932 premises in the pipeline worth £1.79m. This scheme is closing on 31 March 2021 and it is proposed that a replacement scheme will continue from April 2021 as part of the UK Gigabit Programme

The government is now taking forward further work with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025, as part of our £5 billion Gigabit programme and our 100% target. Within this, the UK government is working with the Welsh Government to develop gigabit-capable interventions in Wales. This includes exploring opportunities to utilise the current Superfast Cymru (Wales) project to extend gigabit capable coverage to premises which do not currently have superfast broadband capability, in addition to the 39,000 premises in Wales which will get gigabit capable coverage under this programme by the end of 2022.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits for (a) the heritage sector, (b) the Welsh economy and (c) rural jobs of lifting the cap on Sideways Loss Relief for heritage attractions for the 2020-21 financial year.

The UK’s heritage assets are important to tourism and are internationally admired, but any change in the current Sideways Loss Relief system, such as an increase in the cap to £100,000, must be thoroughly considered and protected against abuse.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been working hard to support our sectors through this period of uncertainty, including the heritage sector. DCMS will continue to explore this proposal with HMT as we move forward into future fiscal events.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much funding he plans to allocate to Wales under the UK Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme.

The UK Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme launched in May 2019, with voucher and public sector site elements.

Through RGC, the UK government has continued the roll-out of gigabit capable full-fibre in Wales, with nearly £3.7m committed:

a) 351 connected (£646k) and 932 pipeline (£1.79m) rural vouchers

b) £1.25m to for 103 public sites in 11 Local Authority areas - Welsh Government will oversee the project that covers public sites in Anglesey, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys, and Swansea.

In addition to rural vouchers, in Wales there was the previous gigabit voucher scheme with 562 connected (£1.24m) and 66 pipeline (£147k).

In addition to the RGC public site project, in Wales there are a number of other Local Full Fibre Network Challenge Fund projects that are connecting public sites with nearly £24.5m committed:

  • across North Wales with the six local authorities for 350 public sites

  • in Pembrokeshire for 70 public sites

  • along the South Wales Strategic Road Network

  • across the Cardiff Capital Region with the ten local authorities for 174 public sites

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has had discussions with his counterparts in the Scottish and Welsh Governments on the implementation of the Outside-In programme in Scotland and Wales.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, met with Paul Wheelhouse Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands - Scottish Government on 16 December 2020, to discuss the UK Gigabit programme and the implementation of the Outside-In programme in Scotland.

He highlighted that UK government has started the roll-out of gigabit capable full fibre in Scotland with more than £22m invested already in a number of projects including:

a) The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme with over £4.9m committed

b) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £4.3m in the Highlands for 152 public sites

c) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £1.9m in Unst and Yell (Shetland) for 21 public sites

d) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £5.9m in Tay Cities for 228 public sites

e) Rural Gigabit Connectivity project awarded £1.4m in Dumfries and Galloway for 35 public sites

f) Rural Gigabit Connectivity project awarded £2.1m for NHS Scotland for 51 public sites

g) Rural Gigabit Connectivity project awarded £2m in the Highlands for 37 public sites (in addition to the Local Full Fibre Network sites above)

Similarly the UK government has also started the roll-out of gigabit capable full-fibre in Wales with more than £29m committed in a number of projects including:

a) Support to the Superfast Wales project, which is delivered by the Welsh Government, and has provided almost 733,000 properties across Wales with access to fast fibre broadband. The contract intervened where the Private Sector had no plans to do so (at the time of procurement). The current phase, which runs to June ‘22, will reach up to 39k more prems.

b) The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme with over £3.8m committed

c) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £8m in North Wales with 6 local authorities for 350 public sites

d) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £1.2m in Pembrokeshire for 70 public sites

e) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £12m to the Welsh Government for the South Wales Strategic Road Network project

f) Local Full Fibre Network project awarded £3.16m to the Welsh Government for the Cardiff Capital Region project for 174 public sites in the ten authorities in SE Wales

g) Rural Gigabit Connectivity project awarded £1.25m to the Welsh Government for 103 public sites in 11 Local Authority areas

The UK government, through BDUK, has commenced regular collaborative engagement with Scottish and Welsh Government Officials on the planning for the UK Gigabit programme. They have set up a number of workstreams to ensure the optimal mix of approaches to Outside-In in Scotland and Wales is achieved.

The Minister also met with Lee Waters MS, the Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport on 1 May 2020, to discuss the Shared Rural Network. They discussed the benefits of the programme and acknowledged that the SRN was positive but Mr Waters had some concerns about the length of time for the full benefits of the programme. Both ministers agreed to meet again in the near future to discuss how they can collectively create an environment in which they can accelerate developments whilst maximising existing resources and infrastructure to reduce overall cost on the public purse. The Minister is committed to continue working collaboratively with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts on the implementation of the Outside-In programme in Scotland and Wales.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the ability of UK journalists to travel frequently across national borders in the EU without visa requirements.

For short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, the EU has legislated so that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area for tourism and other limited purposes. This should include business meetings, visitors coming for journalistic or media purposes and short-term study. Some Member States may also allow additional activities without a visa beyond those stipulated in the Schengen rules. However, Member States can require a visa for what they regard as a paid activity. UK nationals should check with their host state(s) before travelling.

26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on Central Libraries Funding.

My department regularly discusses with the Welsh Government issues related to our respective library services. Public library policy and funding of libraries and their services is a devolved matter and is for each government to determine.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Government’s response to the online harms white paper, what steps his Department has taken in respect of Welsh language internet users on the (a) design of the proposed regulatory framework, (b) use and futureproofing of AI in tackling hate speech and other evolving online harms and (c) development of best practice guidance for digital product and platform designers.

We have been working with the Devolved Administrations, including the Welsh Government, throughout the development of our proposals and will continue to do so throughout the legislative process.

As set out in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper, we also expect the regulator to ensure that devolved considerations are effectively built into their work.

24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what level of Barnett consequential funding the Welsh Government will receive in respect to the Sports Winter Survival Package for England.

The Barnett formula will apply in the normal way for the devolved administrations, as set out in the Statement of Funding Policy.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Welsh Government's covid-19 funding guarantee will be revised as a result of the £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package fund for sports in England.

The devolved administrations have been provided with an upfront guarantee this year of £16 billion above their Spring Budget 2020 funding to support their response to Covid-19. There are no plans to revise the Welsh Government's covid-19 funding guarantee as a result of the £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package fund for sports in England.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the (a) Barnett formula funding for Wales deriving from the Sport Winter Survival Package and (b) the projected £35 million loss that Welsh Rugby Union has estimated this financial year, whether he has plans to provide further financial support for Welsh Rugby Union.

The Barnett formula will apply in the normal way for the devolved administrations, as set out in the Statement of Funding Policy, and it will be for the Welsh Government to decide how to allocate any additional funding it receives as a result.

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, how much funding the Government plans to allocate to the implementation of the Shared Rural Network in each of the UK's nations.

Shared Rural Network programme will ensure that the £1 billion jointly committed by government and industry will increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of 2025. Technical work is underway to determine how to most efficiently reach targets and the department is unable to provide any further details on funding allocations at this stage. Government funds will be directed to areas where there is no current coverage while industry funds will be directed towards filling gaps where there is only partial coverage.

3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether local authorities in Wales are eligible to become strategic partners with the Government for the purposes of identifying public sector buildings to be included in the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme.

Building Digital UK (BDUK) continues to extend opportunities to Local Authorities across the UK, including Wales, to become strategic partners by sharing their public sector buildings for possible inclusion within the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, which runs until March 2021.

BDUK welcomes dialogue with Local Authorities on digital connectivity, and also encourages them to work closely with neighbouring Authorities to collectively identify hub sites that may be eligible for programme inclusion.

BDUK is already in dialogue with Welsh Government on a proposal to upgrade ~110 public sector sites, which will act as hub sites. Welsh Government is overseeing the development of the proposal for a project that involves Anglesey, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys, and Swansea.

Should other Local Authorities in Wales be interested in participating in the programme, they can express their interest by completing a Hub Site Submission sheet which is available at this address: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rgc-programme-key-information. Once complete, this should be sent to rgc@dcms.gov.uk.

Although the completion of a Submission sheet is not a guaranteed commitment that BDUK will invest in that particular area, it is a mandatory part of the selection process. If a completed sheet looks to be in alignment with the aims and objectives of the RGC programme, BDUK will contact the Local Authority.

BDUK also has Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) projects underway in Wales, which are upgrading public buildings in North Wales, Cardiff City Region and Pembrokeshire. We are also jointly funding, with Welsh Government, the deployment of a fibre optic backbone along the South Wales Motorway and Trunk Road network between Newport and Pembrokeshire.

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent estimate the Government has made of the number of premises in Ceredigion that do not have access to an internet service with a download speed of at least 10Mbps.

The broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) provides every UK household with the legal right to request a broadband connection that provides download speeds of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps, where this is not already available or is not due to be made available within a year through a publicly funded intervention.

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report, published in December 2019, found that 5132 (or 13.7%) of premises in Ceredigion have a fixed broadband connection that is delivering speeds below the USO specification. However, some of these premises are likely to be able to access a 4G mobile data service that provides USO level speeds or higher.

As the Universal Service Obligation only launched on 20 March 2020, no assessment of its progress in Ceredigion has yet been made. However, as the Universal Service Provider, BT is required to report at least every six months on progress to Ofcom, who are implementing and monitoring the broadband USO on behalf of the Government.

In addition to the USO, the Government is also investing to bring gigabit capable broadband to harder to reach areas through the existing £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme and, from next year, through its new £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme.

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment the Government has made of progress towards at least 10Mbps download speeds under the Universal Service Obligation at qualifying premises in Ceredigion.

The broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) provides every UK household with the legal right to request a broadband connection that provides download speeds of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps, where this is not already available or is not due to be made available within a year through a publicly funded intervention.

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report, published in December 2019, found that 5132 (or 13.7%) of premises in Ceredigion have a fixed broadband connection that is delivering speeds below the USO specification. However, some of these premises are likely to be able to access a 4G mobile data service that provides USO level speeds or higher.

As the Universal Service Obligation only launched on 20 March 2020, no assessment of its progress in Ceredigion has yet been made. However, as the Universal Service Provider, BT is required to report at least every six months on progress to Ofcom, who are implementing and monitoring the broadband USO on behalf of the Government.

In addition to the USO, the Government is also investing to bring gigabit capable broadband to harder to reach areas through the existing £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme and, from next year, through its new £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme.

4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 41576, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on enabling furloughed workers employed by faith-based organisations to participate in activities usually undertaken by volunteers in their faith community.

DCMS is working with other Government departments and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to identify areas where volunteers can contribute to the COVID-19 response.

The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to support people who would otherwise have been made redundant. To prevent fraudulent claims, the Government has made clear that furloughed individuals cannot continue to work or volunteer for their organisation.

10th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 6 February 2020 to Question 8437 on World Wide Web Foundation, whether the Government has plans to sign up to the Contract for the Web.

Government supports many of the aims of the Contract for the Web and we continue to engage with the World Wide Web Foundation on these issues.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions she has had with representatives of the World Wide Web Foundation on signing the Contract for the Web.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with stakeholders, such as the World Wide Web Foundation, on a range of issues, including their work in relation to the Contract for the Web. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding (a) projects and (b) institutions in Wales have received through Erasmus+ in each year since 2015.

The National Agency collect and publish data on projects funded as part of Erasmus+ by devolved administration, which can be found here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

The table below shows the value of Erasmus+ projects funded in Wales from call year 2015 to 2017. This is the latest data available and can be found in table 14 here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/file/14125/download.

Value of Erasmus+ projects funded in Wales (in euros)

2015 Call

2016 Call

2017 Call

Total value of projects funded

€6,847,551

€8,513,375

€8,821,941

The Turing scheme will be backed by at least £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021 and across the UK. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

We are also pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the £100 million allocated to the Turing scheme will be spent on the administration costs of facilitating that scheme.

The National Agency collect and publish data on projects funded as part of Erasmus+ by devolved administration, which can be found here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

The table below shows the value of Erasmus+ projects funded in Wales from call year 2015 to 2017. This is the latest data available and can be found in table 14 here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/file/14125/download.

Value of Erasmus+ projects funded in Wales (in euros)

2015 Call

2016 Call

2017 Call

Total value of projects funded

€6,847,551

€8,513,375

€8,821,941

The Turing scheme will be backed by at least £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021 and across the UK. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

We are also pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial assistance will be available for (a) institutions and (b) projects for the administration costs of bidding for funding under the Turing scheme.

The Turing scheme will be backed by at least £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021. We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in spring 2021 for placements taking place from September 2021. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

I am pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity.

Further details of the scheme will be published shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many participants there were in the Erasmus+ programme in 2020-21; and how many of those participants were from Wales.

The government is committed to international education exchanges. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers across the UK to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks for placements to take place from September 2021. This will include information on how applications will be assessed, and funding allocated and we plan to have a call for bids much like Erasmus+. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

This scheme will be demand-led and will be open to bids from providers across the UK. As such, there is no projection as to the number of students from each nation or specific limits for any specific region.

On tuition fees, we expect these to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.

On participant numbers, the National Agency collects data on Erasmus+ participation by devolved administration, available here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

Data for the programme year 2020/2021 is not currently available.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide details of the funding arrangements for (a) universities, (b) colleges and (c) schools under the proposed Turing scheme; and whether those institutions will be required to participate in a competitive bidding process for that scheme.

The government is committed to international education exchanges. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers across the UK to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks for placements to take place from September 2021. This will include information on how applications will be assessed, and funding allocated and we plan to have a call for bids much like Erasmus+. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

This scheme will be demand-led and will be open to bids from providers across the UK. As such, there is no projection as to the number of students from each nation or specific limits for any specific region.

On tuition fees, we expect these to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.

On participant numbers, the National Agency collects data on Erasmus+ participation by devolved administration, available here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

Data for the programme year 2020/2021 is not currently available.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department plans to allocate under the Turing scheme to (a) projects and (b) institutions in Wales in (i) 2021-22 and (ii) future years.

The government is committed to international education exchanges. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers across the UK to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks for placements to take place from September 2021. This will include information on how applications will be assessed, and funding allocated and we plan to have a call for bids much like Erasmus+. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

This scheme will be demand-led and will be open to bids from providers across the UK. As such, there is no projection as to the number of students from each nation or specific limits for any specific region.

On tuition fees, we expect these to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.

On participant numbers, the National Agency collects data on Erasmus+ participation by devolved administration, available here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

Data for the programme year 2020/2021 is not currently available.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether UK students will liable for fees in their host countries under the Turing programme.

The government is committed to international education exchanges. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.

We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers across the UK to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks for placements to take place from September 2021. This will include information on how applications will be assessed, and funding allocated and we plan to have a call for bids much like Erasmus+. Successful applications will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience.

This scheme will be demand-led and will be open to bids from providers across the UK. As such, there is no projection as to the number of students from each nation or specific limits for any specific region.

On tuition fees, we expect these to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.

On participant numbers, the National Agency collects data on Erasmus+ participation by devolved administration, available here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/statistics.

Data for the programme year 2020/2021 is not currently available.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department had with the Welsh Government on the allocation and distribution of Wi-Fi vouchers from telecommunication companies for disadvantaged children in 2020.

Mobile networks are currently providing internet access for pupils in England to engage with remote learning. All devolved nations have set up separate initiatives to support their schools.

Last year, the Department ran a pilot in partnership with British Telecom (BT) to provide children and young people free access to a BT WiFi hotspot. Through this, 10,000 BT codes were sent to local authorities and academy trusts for them to pass onto disadvantaged families so that they could access a BT WiFi connection until 31 December 2020. The pilot was not extended because, following testing, it did not suitably meet children and young people’s needs for a reliable and consistent internet connection to access remote education.

The Department has kept colleagues in the devolved administrations updated throughout the COVID-19 outbreak response on our progress with providing laptops and internet access for remote education.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the agreement with mobile network operators to provide free data for key educational sites will include Wales; and what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on that agreement.

The mobile networks are currently providing internet access for pupils in England to engage with remote learning, and the devolved nations have set up separate initiatives to support their schools. The Department has kept colleagues in the devolved administrations updated throughout the COVID-19 response on its progress with providing laptops and the internet for remote education.

3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support he plans to allocate to (a) exam invigilators and (b) moderators appointed by examination boards who have been unable to work during the covid-19 outbreak; and what discussions he has had with representatives from the Welsh Government on that support.

Invigilators are mostly employed directly by school and other exam centres, while moderators are employed by exam boards.

The Department’s guidance states that where schools or local authorities had expected to use their public funding to engage workers, and had budgeted for this, but work is no longer needed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we encourage them to follow the approach for casual workers set out in paragraph 20 of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 and 4/20 on contingent workers. This will ensure that directly hired casual workers have access to the same levels of support as casual agency workers on live assignment during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance sets out that in certain circumstances, public bodies can make payments of up to 80% of previously agreed rates to contingent workers. Whilst we encourage schools to follow this guidance, including for invigilators where appropriate, it is advisory and does not mandate or prescribe what schools should do in individual circumstances.

The exam boards that employ moderators are independent organisations. As such, they are responsible for deciding on payment arrangements and discussing with HMRC as appropriate. The situation is complex given the status of different examiners, but we know that the boards are providing information and updates to those involved.

Given that invigilators and moderators are employed by either exam centers or exam boards and covered by general Government guidance as set out above, we have not discussed this specific issue with the Welsh Government.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the Government's policy is on the (a) fee and (b) immigration status of students from the EU starting courses at UK universities in 2021.

We recognise how important it is that students and providers have information on eligibility for student support before applications for courses open. Applications for courses starting in the academic year 2021/22 do not open until September 2020. We will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021/22 academic year and subsequent years in the future.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has considered the suspension of student loan repayments in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The repayment of student loans, which includes borrowers from Wales, is governed by the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009 (as amended). Department officials are in regular contact with the Devolved Administrations and will continue to liaise with them on Student Loan Repayment policy.

The current system protects borrowers if they see a reduction in their income. Repayments are made based on a borrower’s monthly or weekly income, not the interest rate or amount borrowed, and no repayments are made for earnings below the repayment thresholds. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold - if income drops, so do repayments made. Any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

If, at the end of the year, the borrower’s total income is below the relevant annual threshold, they may reclaim any repayments from the Student Loans Company made during that year.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has held discussions with the Welsh Government on suspending student loan repayments in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The repayment of student loans, which includes borrowers from Wales, is governed by the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009 (as amended). Department officials are in regular contact with the Devolved Administrations and will continue to liaise with them on Student Loan Repayment policy.

The current system protects borrowers if they see a reduction in their income. Repayments are made based on a borrower’s monthly or weekly income, not the interest rate or amount borrowed, and no repayments are made for earnings below the repayment thresholds. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold - if income drops, so do repayments made. Any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

If, at the end of the year, the borrower’s total income is below the relevant annual threshold, they may reclaim any repayments from the Student Loans Company made during that year.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) the National Union of Students, (b) Universities UK, (c) University and College Union, (d) Unison and (e) Unite on university use of non-disclosure agreements.

The government consulted on the misuse of confidentiality clauses in employer/employee relationships in 2019, and in response announced that we will legislate to prevent the misuse of Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the workplace – including those being used to cover up harassment and discrimination. This will strengthen protections for individuals and create a create a fairer workplace for all.

In responding to that consultation, the University and College Union (UCU) and other unions expressed concern about the misuse of NDAs to 'gag' staff after experiencing poor behaviour in the workplace, including bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct.

The department does not hold data on the use of NDAs in higher education and therefore has not made any specific analysis of their use. While there are a range of legitimate reasons why universities may use NDAs, including, for example, the protection of commercially sensitive information related to university research, we recognise their misuse is an area of concern.

We have clear expectations that universities should only use NDAs where necessary and appropriate. Any misuse of these agreements to hide workplace harassment or withhold details of student complaints is completely unacceptable and can not only distress individuals but also risk bringing the reputation of our world-leading higher education system into disrepute.

Sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable in higher education, as elsewhere, and government expects higher education providers to have robust and appropriate policies and procedures in place to effectively handle disclosures and reports of such behaviour by students and staff.

The Office for Students (OfS) is currently consulting on its approach to regulation and its expectations for providers in addressing sexual misconduct and harassment in their institutions. This consultation closes on 27 March. Government officials meet at least quarterly with both the OfS and Universities UK specifically to discuss making progress on tackling harassment in higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) vice-chancellors and (b) student union presidents of universities that have been used non-disclosure agreements.

The government consulted on the misuse of confidentiality clauses in employer/employee relationships in 2019, and in response announced that we will legislate to prevent the misuse of Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the workplace – including those being used to cover up harassment and discrimination. This will strengthen protections for individuals and create a create a fairer workplace for all.

In responding to that consultation, the University and College Union (UCU) and other unions expressed concern about the misuse of NDAs to 'gag' staff after experiencing poor behaviour in the workplace, including bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct.

The department does not hold data on the use of NDAs in higher education and therefore has not made any specific analysis of their use. While there are a range of legitimate reasons why universities may use NDAs, including, for example, the protection of commercially sensitive information related to university research, we recognise their misuse is an area of concern.

We have clear expectations that universities should only use NDAs where necessary and appropriate. Any misuse of these agreements to hide workplace harassment or withhold details of student complaints is completely unacceptable and can not only distress individuals but also risk bringing the reputation of our world-leading higher education system into disrepute.

Sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable in higher education, as elsewhere, and government expects higher education providers to have robust and appropriate policies and procedures in place to effectively handle disclosures and reports of such behaviour by students and staff.

The Office for Students (OfS) is currently consulting on its approach to regulation and its expectations for providers in addressing sexual misconduct and harassment in their institutions. This consultation closes on 27 March. Government officials meet at least quarterly with both the OfS and Universities UK specifically to discuss making progress on tackling harassment in higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of use of non-disclosure agreements by universities.

The government consulted on the misuse of confidentiality clauses in employer/employee relationships in 2019, and in response announced that we will legislate to prevent the misuse of Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the workplace – including those being used to cover up harassment and discrimination. This will strengthen protections for individuals and create a create a fairer workplace for all.

In responding to that consultation, the University and College Union (UCU) and other unions expressed concern about the misuse of NDAs to 'gag' staff after experiencing poor behaviour in the workplace, including bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct.

The department does not hold data on the use of NDAs in higher education and therefore has not made any specific analysis of their use. While there are a range of legitimate reasons why universities may use NDAs, including, for example, the protection of commercially sensitive information related to university research, we recognise their misuse is an area of concern.

We have clear expectations that universities should only use NDAs where necessary and appropriate. Any misuse of these agreements to hide workplace harassment or withhold details of student complaints is completely unacceptable and can not only distress individuals but also risk bringing the reputation of our world-leading higher education system into disrepute.

Sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable in higher education, as elsewhere, and government expects higher education providers to have robust and appropriate policies and procedures in place to effectively handle disclosures and reports of such behaviour by students and staff.

The Office for Students (OfS) is currently consulting on its approach to regulation and its expectations for providers in addressing sexual misconduct and harassment in their institutions. This consultation closes on 27 March. Government officials meet at least quarterly with both the OfS and Universities UK specifically to discuss making progress on tackling harassment in higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 3 February 2020 to Question 9128 on Educational Exchanges, if he will publish the publish his proposals for the potential domestic alternatives.

?As I stated in my answer to question 9128, the UK government is preparing for every eventuality and is considering a wide range of options with regard to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including a potential domestic alternative.

Now is not the time to set out any more detail on the potential alternatives as we prepare to enter negotiations with the EU. If the appropriate time arises, then we will do so.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) economic and (b) social effects of Erasmus+ membership for UK students.

As stated in the Political Declaration, the UK is open to participation in certain EU programmes, such as the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-27), if it is in our interest to do so.

The proposed regulations for the next 2021-27 Erasmus+ programme are still being discussed in the EU and have yet to be finalised. Future participation in EU programmes will be a subject of our negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship. Any economic and social effects on Erasmus+ membership for UK students given the UK’s exit from the EU will be considered as part of wider discussions about the UK’s relationship with the EU.

The Government supports initiatives for our young people to gain international experience, both through study and work placements abroad, to increase their language skills and cultural awareness, and improve their life chances and employability. We want to ensure that UK and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems. We are considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including potential domestic alternatives.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 17 January 2020 to Question 2671 on access to educational and cultural exchange programmes, what plans his Department has for the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training after the UK leave the EU.

The UK government wants to ensure that UK and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems. We highly value international exchange and cooperation in education and training. Even after we leave the EU on the 31 January, the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that students, young people, and learners will be able to participate fully in the remainder of the current Erasmus+ programme and organisations should continue to bid for programme funding until the end of 2020.

As noted in the political declaration, the UK is open to participate in certain EU programmes, such as the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027), if it is in our interest to do so. The proposed regulations for the next programme are still being discussed in the EU and have yet to be finalised. Future participation in EU programmes will be a subject of our negotiations on the future of UK-EU relationship.

The UK government is preparing for every eventuality and is considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including potential domestic alternatives. Officials from the Department of Education are liaising with their colleagues in the devolved administrations on a potential domestic alternative should it be needed.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 17 January 2020 to Question 2671 on access to educational and cultural exchange programmes, what steps his Department has taken to maintain international exchange and collaboration in education and training in the event that the UK does not participate in the Erasmus+ programme.

The UK government wants to ensure that UK and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems. We highly value international exchange and cooperation in education and training. Even after we leave the EU on the 31 January, the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that students, young people, and learners will be able to participate fully in the remainder of the current Erasmus+ programme and organisations should continue to bid for programme funding until the end of 2020.

As noted in the political declaration, the UK is open to participate in certain EU programmes, such as the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027), if it is in our interest to do so. The proposed regulations for the next programme are still being discussed in the EU and have yet to be finalised. Future participation in EU programmes will be a subject of our negotiations on the future of UK-EU relationship.

The UK government is preparing for every eventuality and is considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including potential domestic alternatives. Officials from the Department of Education are liaising with their colleagues in the devolved administrations on a potential domestic alternative should it be needed.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 17 January 2020 to Question 2672 on access to educational and cultural exchange programmes for Welsh students, what (a) representations and (b) data his Department has received from Wales’ Education Minister on the effect of the Erasmus programme on Welsh students who have taken part in that programme.

The government highly values international exchange and cooperation in education and training and recognises the benefits that such cooperation brings. As we prepare to leave the EU, the department has engaged widely with stakeholder groups across the UK, which we will continue to do. We have received representations from many sector bodies such as Universities UK, the Association of Colleges, the Russell Group, MillionPlus and the National Union of Students.

As the Prime Minister, has made clear, the government wants to work to continue to build academic cooperation between the UK and the EU. As we enter negotiations on our future relationship with the EU, we want to ensure that UK students and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems.

As stated in my answer to 2672 on 17th January 2020, the Secretary of State for Education and I regularly discuss matters relating to education and EU exit with the Welsh Government including on Erasmus+.

My officials also hold regular meetings on the topic of Erasmus+ with officials from the Welsh Government to ensure close cooperation on this matter.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on ensuring that students at Welsh universities have access to educational and cultural exchange programmes after the UK leaves the EU.

The government highly values international exchange and cooperation in education and training and recognises the benefits that such cooperation brings.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has made clear, the government wants to continue to build academic cooperation between the UK and the EU. As we enter negotiations on our future relationship with the EU, we want to ensure that UK and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems.

The UK as a whole participates in the current Erasmus+ programme and the Department for Education is the National Authority for the programme in the UK. The department oversees the work of the UK National Agency, which is responsible for the management and delivery of the programme across the UK, including in the devolved administrations.

My right hon. Friend, Secretary of State for Education and I regularly discuss matters relating to education and EU exit with the devolved administrations including on Erasmus+.

The department officials also hold regular meetings on the topic of Erasmus+ with officials from the devolved administrations to ensure close cooperation on this matter.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that students have access to educational and cultural exchange programmes after the UK leaves the EU.

The government highly values international cultural exchange and cooperation in education and training and recognises the benefits that such cooperation brings.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has made clear, the government wants to work to continue to build academic cooperation between the UK and the EU. As we enter negotiations on our future relationship with the EU, we want to ensure that UK students and European students can continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading education systems.

As stated in the Political Declaration, the UK is open to participating in certain educational and cultural EU programmes, such as the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-27), if it is in our interest to do so.

The UK government is preparing for every eventuality and is considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including potential domestic alternatives.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions his Department has had with British Wool on wool prices.

British Wool is a public body who work on behalf of the wool industry to collect, grade, monitor, market and sell British wool to the international wool textile industry.

Defra officials meet regularly with British Wool, who share regular reports on auction sales and wool values. Although prices fell below 50p per kg for the first time from March 2020 onwards following the outbreak of Covid 19 they have recently recovered to 77.5p per kg.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent studies his Department has undertaken on green alternatives to liquefied petroleum gas.

The Government is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and, as part of the work to meet that commitment, has taken great strides to promote green alternatives to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and other fossil fuels in a range of sectors. This has included gathering evidence on a number of different potential technologies including electrification, hydrogen and biofuels.

For the transport sector, the Government has not undertaken any recent studies into the alternatives to LPG specifically. Our recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan set out how we plan to cut emissions in the transport sector. This includes the phase-out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and, from 2035, the requirement for all new cars and vans to be 100% zero emission at the tailpipe. Renewable alternatives to LPG, including for example bio-LPG, are supported through the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which has been in place since 2008. In regard to hydrogen as an alternative, the Government has recently published the first ever UK Hydrogen Strategy, which builds on the Government’s ambition for 5GW low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.

On heating in particular, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy commissioned research into the alternatives to using fossil fuels for heating off the gas grid. These can be found here and include Electric and bioenergy heating in off-gas grid homes: evidence gathering & Electric heating in rural off-gas grid dwellings: technical feasibility.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on relaxing the rules of origin requirements for (a) cigars and (b) cigarillos.

Rules of Origin are a standard feature of all free trade agreements. The Rules of Origin in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement ensure the vast majority of UK exports will benefit from zero tariffs, while protecting industry from unfair competition from products from other countries being imported through the EU.

Overall, businesses have been adjusting well to the new rules and continue to trade effectively. The Government appreciates that increasing business understanding of the rules is a key factor in facilitating tariff-free trade.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishes a Specialised Committee on Customs and Rules of Origin, through which we can work with the EU to resolve implementation issues. EU exporters facing problems accessing the UK market may also wish to engage with the European Commission regarding difficulties faced due to Rules of Origin.

The Government is confident that the general provisions and product specific rules secured in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will support UK-EU trade across the vast majority of sectors, with valuable facilitations agreed which reflect the nature of UK-EU goods trade.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will bring forward measures to prevent companies from destroying new and unused stock of electrical and other non-perishable goods.

We are aware of the recent news regarding Amazon and the alleged destruction of unsold stock and are closely monitoring the situation.

Businesses that handle waste, including companies such as Amazon, are obliged to follow the waste hierarchy, under our Waste Regulations 2011, which requires action to prevent waste as the priority option. Failure to meet the legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to apply this can lead to enforcement action from the Environment Agency in England.

No business should be sending unwanted electricals to landfill or incineration. We have a producer responsibility system in place to ensure all waste electricals are collected and treated properly, in line with the waste hierarchy.

We are in contact with Amazon regarding this issue and have been absolutely clear that more goods must be reused or recycled to support the government’s ambition to build a more circular economy. Ministers and officials will shortly be meeting with Amazon to discuss this further.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2021 to Question 180582 on Bees: Imports, what steps his Department is taking to minimise the risk that exports from the affected region in southern Italy could enter Northern Ireland via the Republic of Ireland.

The region of Italy affected by Small hive beetle is not permitted to export honey bees, whether to EU member states or to the UK.

Imports which are permitted to enter the Republic of Ireland from other EU member states are subject to requirements involving advance notification and health certification to confirm that consignments are free of key pests and diseases including Small hive beetle.

Similar requirements apply to imports from any EU country including the Republic of Ireland into any part of the UK. We carry out checks on EU honey bee imports into the UK to ensure that consignments are compliant with the rules.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce instances of livestock worrying and (b) implement the recommendations made by the National Police Chiefs' Council in February 2018 on addressing the challenges of enforcing the Dogs (protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

My Department takes the issue of livestock worrying very seriously, recognising the distress this can cause farmers and animals, as well as the financial implications.

All reported crimes should be taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 provides a specific offence of allowing a dog to worry livestock with a maximum fine of £1,000.

The report published by the National Chiefs’ Police Council, as well as other recent reports on livestock worrying, have recommended reforming the 1953 Act to address current enforcement challenges and ensure it remains fit for purpose. We are currently engaging closely with key stakeholders to improve our understanding of the scale of the issue and the views of both livestock keepers and dog owners. That includes considering the effectiveness of this law and opportunities to reduce the occurrence of livestock worrying.

In addition to the 1953 Act, the police can and do take action under the Dogs Act 1871 where there are dogs that are out of control and dangerous to other animals. Section 2 of the 1871 Act allows a complaint to be made to a Magistrate’s court by any individual, the police or local authorities, where a dog is “dangerous and not kept under proper control”. The court may make any Order it considers appropriate to require the owner to keep the dog under proper control, or if necessary, that it be destroyed. The court may specify measures to be taken for keeping the dog under proper control, such as muzzling and remaining on a lead when in public.

Guidance is available to educate owners about handling their dogs responsibly in the vicinity of livestock, in order to prevent the occurrence of attacks or chasing.

The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs provides owners with information on how to provide for their dog’s natural needs as required by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Code of Practice explains how to handle dogs responsibly in the vicinity of other animals, including livestock, in order to prevent the occurrence of attacks or chasing. It also clearly sets out that all dogs need to be trained to behave well, ideally from a very young age and should be introduced gradually and positively to different environments, people and animals. If owners become aware of changes in behaviour, or their dog is fearful of, or aggressive, towards other dogs and people, they should avoid the situations which lead to this and seek veterinary advice. The Code asks owners to ensure that they prevent their dogs from chasing or attacking any other animals, including livestock and horses; for example, through use of a lead or avoidance of such situations.

Natural England has recently published a refreshed version of the Countryside Code: advice for countryside visitors (www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/the-countryside-code-advice-for-countryside-visitors). Both the short and long versions of the Countryside Code make specific reference to keeping dogs under control and in sight to make sure they stay away from wildlife, livestock, horses and other people unless invited. The Code helpfully sets out certain legal requirements, encouraging visitors to always check local signs as there are situations when you must keep your dog on a lead for all or part of the year. An associated campaign will run throughout 2021, which will include a broader conversation with stakeholders about what a ‘post Covid’ Code for the 21st century would look like and how to promote more awareness and positive behaviour.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government plans to negotiate a veterinary agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary rules with the EU to reduce the barriers for UK food exporters.

The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) puts in place a framework (including an SPS Specialised Committee) that allows the UK and the EU to take informed decisions to reduce their respective SPS controls, with a commitment to avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. It is in both Parties' interests to use this framework to reduce the rate of SPS checks required.

We are open to discussions with the EU on additional steps we can take to further reduce trade friction, but these cannot be on the basis of future alignment with EU rules as this would compromise UK sovereignty over our own laws.

Defra's reach and engagement with the agri-food sector is extensive and well established. We have maintained and built on conversations with stakeholders over the last four years, to ensure a strong two-way dialogue at both a ministerial and official level. We engage directly with the largest exporting businesses (the top ten of whom alone account for around 25% of exports). We also reach businesses through trade associations. The Secretary of State meets fortnightly with the F4 group, representing the four main business representative organisations across the agri-food chain: the Food and Drink Federation, National Farmers' Union, UK Hospitality and the British Retail Consortium.

In order to hold productive discussions on specific issues, Defra holds regular forums with the different food and drink sectors. For example, we engage the farming sector through groups such as the Arable and Livestock Chain Advisory Groups, manufacturers through the Food and Drink Manufacturers Roundtable and meat processors through the M4 forum. Defra also holds a Retailer Forum and has regular calls with Wholesale stakeholders.

Regular meetings such as the F4 and F4 sub-groups have allowed for productive two-way engagement with stakeholders across the supply chain. They are an important source of intelligence and industry feedback is that this approach of bringing stakeholders and policy experts together is making good progress towards resolving issues.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to minimise the risk of importing small hive beetle into the UK.

Small hive beetle is an invasive, non-native pest which the Government recognises as presenting a serious threat to our honey bee population.

We are working with the National Bee Unit, beekeepers and other stakeholders to stop this pest from entering the UK. We have an extensive surveillance programme in place for exotic pests. National Bee Unit inspectors currently conduct around 6,500 apiary inspections each year. Our Sentinel Apiary Programme ensures that there is enhanced surveillance at high-risk apiaries near ports and airports. Inspectors also provide training and guidance on pest recognition to beekeepers.

Almost all imports of honey bees into the UK come from EU countries. In Europe, the only region where the presence of Small hive beetle has been confirmed is in the far south of Italy. Imports of honey bees from the affected region of Italy are currently prohibited.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the risk to the health of domestic bee colonies of the importation of honey bees.

The Government is committed to preventing pests and diseases reaching our borders. We are promoting biosecurity internationally, at UK borders and inland.

Imports of honey bees are only accepted from approved countries, and are subject to rules relating to notification and health certification to ensure that imports are free of key pests and diseases. Post-import checks are also carried out, including follow-up inspections and laboratory testing for evidence of statutory controlled pests. These checks are done using a risk-based approach.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of additional Official Veterinarians required to (a) meet the demand for Export Health Certificates for goods leaving Great Britain and (b) perform physical checks on imports into Great Britain from the EU in the event that the EU does not agree to extend the current grace periods.

As part of the pragmatic and proportionate implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, the Government is taking several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges as engagement with the EU continues through the Joint Committee. These recognise that appropriate time must be provided for businesses to implement new requirements and support the effective flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

For supermarkets and their suppliers, as part of the operational plan the UK committed to at the UK-EU Joint Committee on 24 February, the current scheme for temporary agrifood movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI) will continue until 1 October in which they do not need to complete health certificate paperwork for agri-food produce. Certification requirements will then be introduced in phases alongside the roll-out of the digital assistance scheme.

Once STAMNI arrangements end, we estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year. Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual number of EHCs and OV requirement will depend on multiple factors, many of which we cannot quantify with certainty. The number of OVs qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently.

Defra has provided £14 million funding to local authorities in England to support Port Health Authorities with the recruitment and training of over 500 new staff, including Official Veterinarians, for the purpose of undertaking new checks on EU imports of animal products, including physical checks.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of additional Official Veterinarians required to (a) meet the demand for Export Health Certificates in Great Britain once the current authorised trader grace period for movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland comes to an end on 1 April 2021 and (b) perform physical checks when full sanitary controls are applied on imports into Great Britain from the EU from July 2021.

As part of the pragmatic and proportionate implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, the Government is taking several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges as engagement with the EU continues through the Joint Committee. These recognise that appropriate time must be provided for businesses to implement new requirements and support the effective flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

For supermarkets and their suppliers, as part of the operational plan the UK committed to at the UK-EU Joint Committee on 24 February, the current scheme for temporary agrifood movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI) will continue until 1 October in which they do not need to complete health certificate paperwork for agri-food produce. Certification requirements will then be introduced in phases alongside the roll-out of the digital assistance scheme.

Once STAMNI arrangements end, we estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year. Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual number of EHCs and OV requirement will depend on multiple factors, many of which we cannot quantify with certainty. The number of OVs qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently.

Defra has provided £14 million funding to local authorities in England to support Port Health Authorities with the recruitment and training of over 500 new staff, including Official Veterinarians, for the purpose of undertaking new checks on EU imports of animal products, including physical checks.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has made on the review of the concurrent fisheries functions which allow a Minister of the Crown to regulate British fishing boats, apart from Welsh fishing boats, in the Welsh zone.

Defra is committed to working with the Welsh Government and the other Devolved Administrations on a review of concurrent fisheries functions in UK law and retained EU law and we will seek to commence discussions shortly.

The Fisheries Act 2020 provides a framework for each administration to license its own vessels wherever they fish, but also provides that a vessel fishing in another administration’s waters should be subject to the same licence conditions as are applied by that administration to its own vessels in its waters.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of rural proofing for Government policies.

The Government will soon publish its first annual report on rural proofing in England, setting out what departments are doing to address the challenges and opportunities facing rural communities and businesses.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the role of rural shops during the covid-19 outbreak; what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on support for those shops during the outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Rural shops are an important element of the social and community infrastructure of rural areas and many have played a valuable role in supporting their communities during the outbreak, remaining open to sell essential items. Those required to close by Covid-19 regulations have been able to access Government support schemes.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the operation of new trading arrangements for the export of Welsh red meat to the EU.

Officials in the devolved administrations were closely involved in preparations for the export of animals and products of animal origin to the EU from 1 January.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his French counterpart on the operation of new trading arrangements for the export of red meat to the EU.

We speak regularly to EU Member states and the European Commission to ensure we share a common understanding of the rules that apply to exports to the EU, of animals and products of animal origin.

The Chief Veterinary Officer met French counterparts for technical discussions on 20 January.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of Official Veterinarians required to meet the demand for Export Health Certificates in the UK; and how many Official Veterinarians the Government employs.

1633 Official Veterinarians (OVs) are authorised to undertake export health certification of products of animal origin (POAO). A further 197 Government vets have completed training for POAO exports. We estimate there are sufficient OVs to certify exports, although localised shortages may still arise in certain circumstances.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has issued guidance for consumers on distinguishing whether products that are labelled as produce of Morocco are from the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The underlying principles of food labelling rules are that information provided on food should enable consumers to make informed choices and that any misleading information, including on the origin or provenance of food, is prohibited. In order to comply with the legal requirement not to mislead consumers established in Article 7.1 of the retained Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, produce grown in Western Sahara which requires origin labelling or has it indicated on a voluntary basis, should be labelled as origin Western Sahara, not as origin Morocco.

The UK-Morocco Association Agreement applies in the same way as the EU-Morocco agreements. It treats products originating in Western Sahara subject to controls by customs authorities of Morocco in the same way as the EU-Morocco Association Agreement, in line with the European Court of Justice's ruling on that issue and the subsequent amendment of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement.   It means that products originating in Western Sahara subject to controls by customs authorities of Morocco benefit from the same trade preferences as those granted by the UK to products covered by the UK-Morocco Association Agreement.

The UK is clear that the application of parts of the UK-Morocco Association Agreement to certain products originating in Western Sahara, in line with European Court of Justice's ruling on that issue, is without prejudice to our position on the status of Western Sahara, which we regard as undetermined.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the emergency authorisation of products containing neonicotinoid thiamethoxam.

The application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB, containing thiamethoxam, was made in respect of use in England only, because there is no significant commercial sugar beet production elsewhere in the UK. This application was not discussed between Defra and the Welsh Government, but Welsh officials were kept informed of the application and the decision.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to raise the minimum age for dogs to be imported into the UK from 15 weeks to six months after the transition period ends.

Now that the transition period has ended, we have the opportunity to manage our own rules applying to pet travel movements into Great Britain. We are listening to the concerns of stakeholders around future requirements and the Government is developing a range of options to ensure there are robust controls on disease and animal welfare while allowing pet owners to continue to be able to travel with the minimum of disruption.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote the (a) use and (b) consumption of alternatives to palm oil by UK (i) businesses and (ii) consumers.

Oil Palm is a very efficient crop, producing more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil crops. Substitution with other oils (e.g. soybean, rapeseed, sunflower) which typically require significantly more land to produce may lead to greater deforestation as more land is converted to agricultural use. The Government is therefore committed to reducing the environmental impact of palm oil production while at the same time building demand for sustainable palm oil in the UK.

In 2012 the Government established the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil which brings together key UK businesses and supports them to transition to fully sustainable palm oil supply chains. Latest reports show that the UK has achieved 70% certified sustainable palm oil in 2019 – up from 16% in 2010.

In addition, the Government recently tabled amendments to the Environment Bill to introduce new legislation to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. The amendments passed in the Commons Committee Stage last month.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and (b) similar schemes in preventing environmental and ecological destruction arising from the production of palm oil.

The Government-convened UK Sustainable Palm Oil Initiative produced four briefings in March this year, each providing information on a palm oil standard including its approach to sustainability and providing information on impact. This was a continuation of work produced under the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil in 2015, which aimed to provide technical assistance to support UK industry users of palm oil to transition to fully sustainable palm oil supply chains.

The briefings included the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Standard. In addition, the briefings also covered the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Standard, Malaysian Palm Oil Standard and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification. A fifth briefing was also produced to provide information on 'No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation' policies.

The briefings are available at: https://www.efeca.com/our-work/resources/palm-oil-briefings-and-annual-progress-reports/

It is not for Government to comment on the effectiveness of specific certification schemes. RSPO is set through an independent process, which does not involve Governmental input; we do not provide advice on any specific standard. Our forthcoming due diligence legislation will provide a common standard across all commodities, based on legality in producer countries.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 24 November 2020 to Question 118087 on glass recycling, whether his Department plans to undertake an assessment of market shifts in materials as a result of a deposit return scheme before the consultation on the regulations is opened.

We plan to consult on our proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2021.We do not plan to conduct further research ahead of this consultation, but will seek views in our consultation on potential market shifts in materials as a result of the proposed materials to be included in scope of the DRS.

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 recent discussions he has had with local authorities on materials to be included in his Department's proposed deposit return scheme.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. This has included several meetings with representatives from local authorities. The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, the Local Government Association and a Local Authority representative from both Northern Ireland and Wales are also members of our DRS industry working group which has met to discuss materials to be included in a DRS.

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, whether his Department has assessed the potential effect of including glass in a future deposit return scheme on levels of plastic packaging.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

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 assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies of the increase in the amount of (a) PET bottles and (b) aluminium cans on the market in countries where glass beverage containers are included in deposit return schemes.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

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 assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of glass beverage bottles on the market in countries where glass beverage containers are included in a deposit return scheme.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

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 assessment his Department has made of the effect on emissions from waste collection of including glass in a deposit return scheme.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

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 discussions he has had with the glass industry on the scope of his Department's proposed deposit return scheme.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

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 assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of a deposit return scheme on glass recycling rates.

Waste is a devolved matter. As part of the Government's ambitious commitments to reforming producer responsibility systems, we have committed to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. A first consultation on the issue was held in 2019 where we consulted jointly with the Welsh Government and on behalf of Northern Ireland.

Officials have been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. They have met with the glass industry on several occasions to discuss the inclusion of glass in a DRS. British Glass is also a member of our DRS Industry Working Group and sits on Defra’s Packaging and Collections Working Group which provides input on Defra’s major waste reforms.

We have conducted further cost benefit analysis on the inclusion of glass in a DRS. The interim findings demonstrate that the inclusion of glass in the long term has a higher value than not including glass given the potential for increased collection and recycling rates and the resulting greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will be presented in an Impact Assessment alongside the second consultation.

Our analysis has not included an assessment of market shifts in materials. Further research would be needed to distinguish the effects on consumer purchasing habits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the introduction of a DRS.

The proposed scope of a DRS will be presented in a second consultation in 2021.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances in non-essential packaging on (a) the environment and (b) UK ecosystems.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Swansea West on 16 November, PQ UIN 113464.


A number of PFAS are already banned or highly restricted. The UK is a Party to the Stockholm Convention, which has already agreed restrictions on the use of certain PFAS; there are also restrictions in place under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation.

At the end of the Transition Period the UK will put in place its own domestic chemicals regulatory framework. Existing restrictions under REACH will be brought into UK law. Our commitments under the Stockholm Convention will continue to apply. Future UK decisions to control the environmental and human health impacts of substances will be taken under our independent regime and will be based on rigorous assessment of the scientific evidence, including looking at approaches taken by chemical regimes across the world.

We are working to improve our understanding of the emissions and risks of PFAS in the UK, and how we manage these chemicals will be considered in our forthcoming Chemicals Strategy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also regularly reviews new information on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and will be considering the upcoming review by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) of the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) latest scientific opinion on PFAS in food.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning the use of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances in (a) food packaging and (b) other non-essential packaging.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Swansea West on 16 November, PQ UIN 113464.


A number of PFAS are already banned or highly restricted. The UK is a Party to the Stockholm Convention, which has already agreed restrictions on the use of certain PFAS; there are also restrictions in place under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation.

At the end of the Transition Period the UK will put in place its own domestic chemicals regulatory framework. Existing restrictions under REACH will be brought into UK law. Our commitments under the Stockholm Convention will continue to apply. Future UK decisions to control the environmental and human health impacts of substances will be taken under our independent regime and will be based on rigorous assessment of the scientific evidence, including looking at approaches taken by chemical regimes across the world.

We are working to improve our understanding of the emissions and risks of PFAS in the UK, and how we manage these chemicals will be considered in our forthcoming Chemicals Strategy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also regularly reviews new information on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and will be considering the upcoming review by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) of the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) latest scientific opinion on PFAS in food.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it is his policy for England and Wales to be included on the World Organisation for Animal Health's list of countries at negligible risk of BSE at the 2021 General Session.

England and Wales have been included on the World Organisation for Animal Health’s list of countries with a controlled BSE risk since 2008. Due to the need to prioritise efforts in gaining access to third country markets, work associated with EU Exit, and in recent months responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been possible to develop and submit a dossier for England and Wales to be included on the list of countries at negligible risk prior to the deadline for the 2021 General Session. England and Wales will remain on the list of countries with a controlled BSE risk, and we will consider submitting a dossier in early 2021 to be included on the list of countries at negligible risk of BSE.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on sales of wool.

Defra does not regularly collect or monitor information on sales of wool. The British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) is a public, non-financial corporation, that collects, grades, monitors, markets and sells British wool on behalf of its producers to the international wool textile industry for use in flooring, furnishings and apparel.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on tackling the difference between the cost of milk production and the price paid for milk.

We want all milk producers to get a fair price for their produce and are committed to tackling the unfairness that can exist in the dairy supply chain.

Through the Government’s Agriculture Bill, introduced on 12 September, we will launch a range of initiatives to improve the position of milk producers. We will introduce and enforce statutory codes of practice to address unfair trading practices which can occur between milk producers and purchasers.

We remain committed to a full consultation on dairy contracts to take account of the range of stakeholder views. We have worked closely with officials in all Devolved Administrations to develop this consultation and are committed to creating a statutory code that is sustainable and effective in each nation.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, whether he plans to take steps to support milk processors.

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.

About 5 per cent 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 set aside some elements of competition law to make it easier for processors to come together and voluntarily work out how to ease production down in order to create the space in the market for excess milk and to support a recovery in the spot price.

We have asked the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (which supports the interests of dairy farmers) and Dairy UK (which represents the processors) to coordinate a proposal and discussions are already underway. 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’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)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to provide financial support to dairy farmers whose milk payments have been deferred by milk processors.

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.

About 5 per cent 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 set aside some elements of competition law to make it easier for processors to come together and voluntarily work out how to ease production down in order to create the space in the market for excess milk and to support a recovery in the spot price.

We have asked the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (which supports the interests of dairy farmers) and Dairy UK (which represents the processors) to coordinate a proposal and discussions are already underway. 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’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)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when field trials of cattle vaccination and accompanied DIVA tests will commence.

In order to start the field trials, we need permission from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the form of Animal Test Certificates (ATC). We submitted applications on 17 October and have more recently answered a number of detailed follow up questions and submitted further information requested by VMD. Subject to award of the ATCs, invitations to tender for delivery of elements of the field trials will commence as soon as possible.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to roll out the use of the actiphage test for bovine TB in cattle.

The tuberculin skin test continues to be the foundation of our bovine TB eradication programme, supplemented by the interferon-gamma blood test to remove residual infection in affected herds.

Actiphage is a non-validated test. Defra allows the use of non-validated tests in chronic and persistent TB breakdown herds in England under certain conditions. Private veterinarians are able to apply to APHA for permission to use these tests, provided they comply with the protocol published on the APHA Vet Gateway - http://apha.defra.gov.uk/vet-gateway/non-valid-tb-testing/index.htm.

There is currently insufficient information on the diagnostic performance of the Actiphage test. In order for it to be validated, further studies with larger sample sizes taken from a range of cattle herds of different TB status would be required to assess its diagnostic accuracy.

Validation of a new test to international (World Animal Health Organisation - OIE) standards would enable consideration to be given to its statutory use as part of the Government’s bTB testing programme.

A factsheet on the Actiphage test is available on the TB hub website:

https://tbhub.co.uk/resources/downloads/

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for the UK's net imports of carbon dioxide per head of the potential increase in imported beef from sub-Saharan Africa.

Defra has published experimental statistics which estimate imported greenhouse gas emissions compared with emissions from domestic production.

Emissions from beef cattle are predominantly methane (CH4) from enteric fermentation. Methane emissions from beef cattle depend on species, pasture types, feed type, and animal weight amongst other factors. This data is not routinely published for sub-Saharan African countries making it difficult to carry out an explicit assessment for this region.

The Government is clear that increased trade should not come at the expense of the environment and we will develop a trading framework that supports foreign and domestic policy, sustainability, environmental and development goals.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans she has to protect the UK's beef from imports from countries with lower regulatory standards.

Any future trade agreements must work for consumers, farmers, and businesses. Leaving the EU presents fantastic new trading opportunities for British food, which is world renowned for its quality and high standards on safety, animal welfare and environmental protection. UK success in the global marketplace depends on us continuing to maintain this reputation, competing at the top of the value chain. We are clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

With regard to beef specifically, current EU regulations which prohibit the use of artificial growth hormones in both domestic production and imported products have been transposed into law across the UK.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether her Department has identified potential growth markets for British wool exports; and what steps she is taking to increase British wool exports to those markets.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is developing a UK-wide, cross-government Export Strategy, driving economic recovery and the levelling-up agenda. On the 1st October, DIT launched the Export Support Service, allowing UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. DIT also has expert trade advisers locally and overseas, which support both wool and textile exporters, providing access to UK Export Finance and a range of online services unlocking opportunities globally.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans her Department has to increase British wool exports.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is developing a UK-wide, cross-government Export Strategy, driving economic recovery and the levelling-up agenda. On the 1st October, DIT launched the Export Support Service, allowing UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. DIT also has expert trade advisers locally and overseas, which support both wool and textile exporters, providing access to UK Export Finance and a range of online services unlocking opportunities globally.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent steps she has taken to promote British wool exports overseas.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is developing a UK-wide, cross-government Export Strategy, driving economic recovery and the levelling-up agenda. On the 1st October, DIT launched the Export Support Service, allowing UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. DIT also has expert trade advisers locally and overseas, which support both wool and textile exporters, providing access to UK Export Finance and a range of online services unlocking opportunities globally.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions her Department has had with the Welsh Government on (a) the cancellation of and (b) a replacement scheme for the Tradeshow Access Programme.

A range of stakeholders have been, and continue to be, engaged by Department for International Trade (DIT) officials on plans for a revised trade show support programme, and DIT will announce further details when discussions with HM Treasury are concluded.

DIT Ministers and officials engage regularly with the Devolved Administrations, including the Welsh Government, on a wide range of trade and investment support available across the UK.

13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support her Department is providing to UK maritime businesses to attend overseas trade shows.

I refer the Hon. Member for Ceredigion to the answer I gave to the Rt Hon. Member for North Durham on 16 July 2021, UIN: 28979.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential cumulative effect on UK emissions of providing (a) duty-free and (b) tariff-free access to agricultural goods from Australia.

The Government has always been clear that any free trade agreement it signs will not threaten the UK’s ability to meet its environmental commitments or its membership of international environmental agreements. The Government is seeking a deal with Australia that will further environmental and climate policy priorities and the UK will not compromise on high environmental protection.

The Government carried out a public consultation and scoping assessment for its free trade agreement negotiation with Australia, which can be found on the Government’s website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uks-approach-to-negotiating-a-free-trade-agreement-with-australia/uk-australia-free-trade-agreement-the-uks-strategic-approach). This preliminary scoping assessment considered illustrative scenarios. Following the conclusion of negotiations, a full impact assessment will be published prior to implementation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of a free trade agreement with Australia on (a) Ceredigion and (b) Wales.

The economic analysis, published on 17 June 2020, seeks to identify the potential scale of the long-term additional benefit to the UK from having a deal with Australia.

This deal is for the whole union. The Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Scoping Assessment found that Wales benefits in all modelled scenarios. Top Welsh goods exports to Australia, including medicinal and pharmaceutical products, currently face tariffs of up to 5%, and will benefit from the liberalisation of tariffs on these products. Welsh foods and drinks producers will also benefit from the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

DIT is establishing a trade hub in Wales as part of a new strategy to boost exports and bring the benefits of the government’s global trade policy to the whole of the UK. Providing exporters with a direct feed into UK trade policy, to take better advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets like the Indo-Pacific region.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of a free trade agreement with Australia on farmers and food producers in Wales.

The economic analysis, published on 17 June 2020, seeks to identify the potential scale of the long-term additional benefit to the UK from having a deal with Australia.

This deal is for the whole union. The Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Scoping Assessment found that Wales benefits in all modelled scenarios. Welsh foods and drinks producers will benefit from the removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Any deal the Government signs with Australia will include protections for the agriculture industry and will not undercut UK farmers or compromise high standards.

DIT is establishing a trade hub in Wales as part of a new strategy to boost exports and bring the benefits of the Government’s global trade policy to the whole of the UK. Providing exporters with a direct feed into UK trade policy, to take better advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets like the Indo-Pacific region.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to promote British wool exports.

Trade promotion campaigns in key markets; partnership working with stakeholders, such as the UK Fashion and Textiles Association, at tradeshows, like Premier Vision; leveraging of the DIT’s teams in 110 countries; financing and insurance from UK Export Finance; and the global promotion of the GREAT campaign; are some of the many measures being taken to support British wool exports.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of (a) support and (b) advice for businesses exporting to the EU.

The Department supports exporters across the UK, including through overseas posts, great.gov.uk, international events and missions. A Europe Trade Hub provides in-market support to British businesses exporting to European markets, and businesses can also access sector-specific expertise. The Department conducts an independent annual Export Client Survey with c.6000 businesses to assess services: for example, of those using Posts in 2018/19, 73% were satisfied / very satisfied. Additionally, Government is conducting roundtables and webinars to understand UK business needs better. Companies in Wales also receive support from the Welsh Government, in line with devolved responsibilities.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of banning the import of palm oil into the UK.

The Government does not propose to ban the import of palm oil. 70% of the UK’s palm oil imports were from sustainable sources in 2019. An import ban on unsustainable palm oil risks substitution with other oils which typically require significantly more land to produce and may lead to greater deforestation. We continue to work with producer countries to tackle the underlying issues of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Last month, the Government tabled a new ‘due diligence’ requirement under the Environment Bill to tackle illegal deforestation.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to prevent the import of unsustainably produced palm oil into the UK.

The Government does not propose to ban the import of palm oil. 70% of the UK’s palm oil imports were from sustainable sources in 2019. An import ban on unsustainable palm oil risks substitution with other oils which typically require significantly more land to produce and may lead to greater deforestation. We continue to work with producer countries to tackle the underlying issues of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Last month, the Government tabled a new ‘due diligence’ requirement under the Environment Bill to tackle illegal deforestation.

4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions her Department has had with UK businesses that are seeking to export hydrogen technology internationally.

Understanding the UK’s hydrogen capability and matching it with relevant high value export opportunities forms part of the work of the Department for International Trade’s Renewable Energy sector team. The Department has been engaging with UK suppliers from within the hydrogen industry, sector specific research centres and UK Government departments to understand the UK capability. UK Export Finance, regional offices and the department’s overseas network are all part of the support offer available.

26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 24 February 2020 to Question 744 on Agriculture: Expert Trade Advisory Groups, when the Agri Food Expert Trade Advisory Group last met.

The Agri Food Expert Trade Advisory Group is one of the formal engagement mechanisms to allow stakeholders the opportunity to feed into trade policy, ensuring the UK position is well-informed and reflects the interests of the whole of the UK. The Group meets regularly and last met on Wednesday 12 February 2020.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether there is an Expert Trade Advisory Group for agriculture.

The Department for International Trade has established a number of cross-government Expert Trade Advisory Groups (ETAGs), including a dedicated Agri Food ETAG set up jointly with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs. ETAGs enable the Government to draw on external knowledge and expertise to ensure that the UK’s trade policy is backed up by evidence at a detailed level.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans she has to increase the import of Ugandan beef into the UK.

Uganda is eligible to trade with enhanced access to the UK via the Everything But Arms (EBA) tier of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences. The EBA tier grants duty-free quota-free market access on all products except arms and ammunitions to all least developed countries (LDCs). The UK will provide the same level of access as the current EU trade preference scheme. The UK’s scheme will come in to effect after the EU transition period, which will encourage imports from developing countries, including Uganda.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason the Government does not recognise Botswana as having an approved proof of covid-19 vaccination.

We are taking a phased approach to the rollout of our inbound vaccination programme to other countries and territories to reopen travel in a safe and sustainable way. Vaccine certification between countries and territories varies considerably. We need to ensure that certificates/apps meet our published minimum requirements on content, that carriers are clear about the certification we shall accept, and that we are taking into account public health and wider considerations.

Our policy to date has not been to exclude any countries or territories, but rather to work internationally as we continue to explore expanding the policy to more countries and territories where it is safe to do so.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to publish the interim report outlining the initial findings of the e-scooter trials.

The Department is currently considering and quality assuring the initial findings and will look to publish as soon as possible, once finalised.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the Jet Zero strategy's alignment with the UK's (a) Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and (b) sixth Carbon Budget.

The approach set out in the Jet Zero Consultation, which commits the UK aviation sector to net zero by 2050 and sets out our proposals for how that will be achieved, is aligned to our economy wide and legally-binding net zero commitment.

Our Nationally Determined Contribution and the Sixth Carbon Budget are both informed by the net zero commitment, and guidance from the Climate Change Committee.

We have committed to include the UK’s share of International Aviation and Shipping (IAS) emissions in the Sixth Carbon Budget. Emissions from IAS are not included in the scope of the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution, in line with international expectations and the guidance of the CCC.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation in its June 2021 Progress Report to develop a demand management framework for aviation.

The Jet Zero Consultation set out our vision for the aviation sector to reach net zero by 2050. The consultation presented a draft strategy to decarbonise the sector, focussing on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel and maximises the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring for the UK.

Analysis developed for the Jet Zero Consultation shows that there are scenarios that can achieve net zero aviation by 2050 without capping demand. Indeed, our ‘high ambition’ scenario is in line with the Climate Change Committee’s Balanced Pathway, with similar levels of residual emissions by 2050.

As a responsible government, we recognise that we will need to keep our strategy under review and intend to assess progress on the sector’s emission reduction pathway and update our strategy where necessary through five-year reviews.

We plan to publish the final Jet Zero Strategy early next year.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to introduce a decibel limit as part of the MOT test.

The MOT already includes a non-metered check of exhaust noise. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) oversees authorised garages to ensure MOT standards are correctly applied. The DVSA has no plans to implement a dB limit and a metered check of it, primarily due to the practical challenges of such a check, but this is kept under review as technology changes.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether official in hi department have held discussions with representatives of Ceredigion County Council on the Highways England proposal to to undertake infilling work to the bridge at Pont Llanio, Ceredigion.

No discussions have taken place with either the Welsh Government or with representatives of Ceredigion County Council as there are no proposals by Highways England to undertake infilling work to the bridge at Pont Llanio, Ceredigion.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the total value is of contracts awarded under the High Speed Two project to suppliers based in Wales.

Across Wales, 26 suppliers have already worked on HS2, a figure which continues to grow and can be seen on HS2 Ltds supply chain map (click here) and the total value of the contracts awarded to suppliers based in Wales so far is £12,524,479.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether EU nationals whose driving licences are valid in the UK will need to amend or exchange their driving licenses after the transition period.

Department for Transport officials are engaging in bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States to agree the arrangements that will apply from 1 January 2021. These discussions are still ongoing. We intend to publish the future arrangements that are agreed with Member States in respect of driving licences before the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 14 September 2020 to Question 85098 on a hydrogen hub, what assessment his Department has made of the role of hydrogen passenger vehicles in hydrogen transport.

The Government’s £23m Hydrogen for Transport Programme is increasing the uptake of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and growing the number of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations. The programme is delivering new refueling stations, upgrading some existing stations as well as deploying hundreds of new hydrogen vehicles. Our FCEV Fleet Support Scheme has also increased the number of hydrogen passenger vehicles in use, by supporting both public and private sector fleets to become early adopters of FCEV cars and vans. We are investing in hydrogen buses and 62 are being delivered through our Low and Ultra Low Emission Bus Schemes.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to bring forward plans for a hydrogen hub.

The Transport Secretary is exploring options for green hydrogen in transport across freight, buses, trains, maritime and aviation and how the UK can lead the world in its deployment and use. Further details will follow in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to bring forward plans for hydrogen trains.

The Government supports using hydrogen powered trains on the railway to help deliver our target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Department is working with Network Rail and the rail industry to determine which parts of the network will be best suited to electrification, and which to hydrogen as well as battery. This work will support the Department’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, to be published at the end of this year.

The Government is supporting development of hydrogen technology through innovation funding and research, including work on safety and wider issues that will have to be considered to allow the smooth entry into service on the network of hydrogen trains.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to bring forward plans for a nationwide hydrogen refuelling network.

The UK has one of the largest hydrogen refuelling networks in Europe, with thirteen publicly accessible stations. We have taken a strategic approach in its delivery to date, funding stations and the local fleets that they will serve together. This is ensuring station utilisation as the hydrogen transport market develops. The Government’s £23m Hydrogen for Transport Programme is further increasing the uptake of fuel cell electric vehicles and growing the number of publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations. The programme is delivering new refuelling stations, upgrading some existing stations and deploying hundreds of new hydrogen vehicles.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a trust account model for flight bookings made through online travel agents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of challenges. Going forward, the department is keen to work with the regulator, industry and consumer groups on potential options for strengthening our schemes and models.

The Department has recently acted to ensure that if ATOL-protected holidaymakers who have package holidays including a flight accept refund credit notes rather than a cash refund for their cancelled holiday as a result of COVID-19, they will be protected by the ATOL scheme if necessary even if the company they have booked with later collapses.

By providing confidence to holidaymakers that their refund credit notes are protected if they choose them over refunds, this will mean customers are able to support the travel sector’s recovery from the pandemic by accepting a refund credit note.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on (a) introducing regulations to ensure that customer funds cannot be withheld by airlines and (b) ensuring airlines comply with CAA's requirements when issuing refunds for cancelled flights.

The Department and the Civil Aviation Authority has been clear that airlines should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund, if it is requested.

On 1 July 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority provided an update on its website about its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic. They are reviewing the refund policies of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The review is considering how airlines are handling refunds for flight-only bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department has also recently acted to ensure that if ATOL-protected holidaymakers who have package holidays including a flight accept refund credit notes rather than a cash refund for their cancelled holiday as a result of COVID-19, they will be protected by the ATOL scheme if necessary even if the company they have booked with later collapses.

By providing confidence to holidaymakers that their refund credit notes are protected if they choose them over refunds, this will mean customers are able to support the travel sector’s recovery from the pandemic by accepting a refund credit note.



17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that refunds for cancelled (a) flights and (b) holidays are more easily accessible.

On 1 July 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority provided an update on its website about its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic. They are reviewing the refund policies of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The review is considering how airlines are handling refunds for flight-only bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Competition Markets Authority launched its COVID-19 Taskforce in April to identify, monitor and respond to competition and consumer problems arising from coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it. Where there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law, the CMA will take enforcement action if warranted.

The Department has been clear that airlines should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund, if it is requested and this should be done in a timely manner.

The Department has also recently acted to ensure that if ATOL-protected holidaymakers who have package holidays including a flight accept refund credit notes rather than a cash refund for their cancelled holiday as a result of COVID-19, they will be protected by the ATOL scheme if necessary even if the company they have booked with later collapses.

By providing confidence to holidaymakers that their refund credit notes are protected if they choose them over refunds, this will mean customers are able to support the travel sector’s recovery from the pandemic by accepting a refund credit note.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that online travel agents are able to access customer refunds from airlines to ensure they meet their legal obligation to refund customers within seven days.

On 1 July 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority provided an update on its website about its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic. They are reviewing the refund policies of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The review is considering how airlines are handling refunds for flight-only bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Competition Markets Authority launched its COVID-19 Taskforce in April to identify, monitor and respond to competition and consumer problems arising from coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it. Where there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law, the CMA will take enforcement action if warranted.

The Department has been clear that airlines should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund, if it is requested and this should be done in a timely manner.

The Department has also recently acted to ensure that if ATOL-protected holidaymakers who have package holidays including a flight accept refund credit notes rather than a cash refund for their cancelled holiday as a result of COVID-19, they will be protected by the ATOL scheme if necessary even if the company they have booked with later collapses.

By providing confidence to holidaymakers that their refund credit notes are protected if they choose them over refunds, this will mean customers are able to support the travel sector’s recovery from the pandemic by accepting a refund credit note.

9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to increase the (a) production and (b) use of hydrogen buses.

The Government has supported the use of a range of low carbon bus technologies, including hydrogen buses and supporting infrastructure, through funds including the Low Emission and Ultra-Low Emission Bus Schemes.

In February, the Government announced a £5 billion funding package for buses and cycling, which includes support for the purchase of at least 4,000 zero-emission buses. The details of these programmes, including technology options and how funding will be distributed, will be announced in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential benefit of extending the Renewal Transport Fuel Obligation to incentivise the production of green hydrogen.

Renewable hydrogen supplied in the UK is eligible for support under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), a certificate trading scheme. It is categorised as a development fuel, which potentially benefits from a higher tradeable certificate value.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a phased approach for the reduction of carers allowance payments to claimants who permanently stop their caring duties, as a means of reducing the potential for financial hardship.

Entitlement to Carer's Allowance can continue for up to eight weeks following the death of the disabled person who was being cared for. This eight-week run-on helps carers who have recently been bereaved by giving them some time to adapt to their new circumstances.

When caring ceases for any reason, carers may have access to means-tested and other benefits depending upon their circumstances.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the level of child poverty in (a) Wales and (b) Ceredigion.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling poverty. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to support the most vulnerable including through spending an additional £7.4billion to strengthen the welfare system, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £112 billion in 2020/21. Additionally, in December 2020 we introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme, providing funding to Local Authorities in England to enable them to support people with food and essential utility bills during the coldest months. It will now run until June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

National Statistics on the number and percentage of children in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. Data for Ceredigion is unavailable due to insufficient sample size.

Latest statistics for the levels of children who are in low income in Wales, covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020,“children-hbai-timeseries-1994-95-2019-20-tables” in table 4.16ts (relative low income, before and after housing costs) and in table 4.22ts (absolute low income, before and after housing costs).

In the three years to 2019/20 the absolute levels of child poverty, before housing costs, for Wales, was 16%, down 8 percentage points since the three years to 2009/10

The Department now publishes supplementary official statistics on the number of children in low income families at constituency level. Children in Low Income Families data is published annually.

In 2019/20 the absolute levels of child poverty, before housing costs, in Ceredigion was 16%. The latest figures on the number of children who are in low income in Ceredigion and in Wales covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-2014-to-2020/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-fye-2015-to-fye-2020.

Due to methodological differences, the figures in these two publications are not comparable.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the £20 uplift in universal credit on levels of child poverty in (a) Wales and (b) Ceredigion.

No assessment has been made.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending an estimated £112 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This included around £7.4 billion of Covid-related welfare policy measures.

We introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme providing funding to Local Authorities in England to help the most vulnerable children and families stay warm and well fed during the coldest months. It will now until June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

As the economy recovers, our ambition is to help people move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. We are investing over £30 billion in our ambitious Plan for Jobs which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure the Access to Work fast track scheme is available to all disabled workers who need reasonable adjustments to be able to work during the covid-19 outbreak.

Access to Work already prioritises applications from disabled people who have a job to start within 4 weeks of their application. Recognising the impact Covid has had on disabled people, Access to Work has expanded the prioritisation to include those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group and keyworkers. Applications will be fast tracked to ensure that the employer and the disabled person are supported in the workplace from the outset.

Background

Access to Work (ATW) is a demand-led, discretionary grant to de-risk the recruitment and retention of disabled people for employers. The grant contributes to the disability related extra costs of working faced by disabled people and those with a health condition that are beyond reasonable adjustment, but it does not replace an employer’s duty under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments. The grant provides personalised support and can provide workplace assessments, travel to/in work, support workers, specialist aids and equipment for individuals to enable disabled people and those with a health condition to move into or retain employment. And can fund up to £60,700 worth of flexible, personalised support per person per year.

Recognising the challenges Covid-19 has for employers and disabled people, Access to Work has introduced a new more flexible offer to support disabled people to move into and retain employment. The new offer complements support provided by employers and contains a flexible mix of support that can be adapted to meet the needs of new Covid-19 working arrangements. The offer includes:

  • support to work from more than one location,
  • a package of home working support which can be blended with workplace support,
  • mental health wellbeing support for people returning to work after a period of furlough or shielding,
  • travel-to-work support for those who may no longer be able to safely travel by public transport due to the nature of their disability, and
  • prioritising Access to Work applications from disabled people in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group.

If Access to Work were to extend the categories of prioritisation further, the ability to prioritise applications would be lost as the majority of Access to Work applications would be in the prioritised category, resulting in all applications being treated the same.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to integrate the Access to Work fast track scheme into the Kickstart scheme.

Job placements created through the DWP’s Kickstart Scheme are normal jobs, and so young people finding work through the Kickstart Scheme can get advice from their Work Coach about making the transition into employment. This may include support with the Access to Work process.

Young people who are successful in securing a job offer through Kickstart, and submit their application to Access to Work within 4 weeks of their start date, will have their application automatically prioritised by Access to Work.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the removal of the spare room subsidy on levels of household income.

There has been no such assessment.

The policy allows for the provision of an additional bedroom in certain circumstances, such as to support the needs of disabled people as well as exempting households in receipt of pension age Housing Benefit.

If a claimant’s ability to mitigate any shortfall between their housing support and rent has changed Discretionary Housing Payments can be considered by their local authority. We announced last year an additional £40 million for Discretionary Housing Payments for 2020/21 in England and Wales

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that specific information on Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is available on NHS Choices and NHS Inform websites through a dedicated FND page.

The NHS Choices website has been rebranded as NHS.UK and is managed by NHS Digital. Information on functional neurological disorder is available on NHS.UK and can be found at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/medically-unexplained-symptoms/.

NHS Digital receive regular requests for new content on the NHS.UK website which are prioritised. NHS Digital are currently reviewing their process for how content is maintained and expanded.

NHS Digital are not responsible for the content on NHS Inform as this is managed by NHS Scotland.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has received confirmation from EU counterparts that UK citizens who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 will not find their travel to EU countries affected as a result of their having received a dose of the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine from batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactures both Vaxzevria and Covishield, branded vaccines which are the same as the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. All SII-made doses approved by the United Kingdom regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and administered in the UK were branded as the ’COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca’ which is now known commercially as ‘Vaxzevria’. The MHRA has not approved doses branded as ‘Covishield’ and none have been administered in the UK. All AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS COVID Pass as Vaxzevria.

The European Medicines Agency has authorised the Vaxzevria vaccine and it is therefore recognised by the European Union.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with (a) groups representing people affected by eating disorders and (b) other stakeholders on proposals to require calorie labelling on menus.

Ministers and officials in the Department have engaged with BEAT, the eating disorder charity, as well as other groups representing the views of people living with eating disorders, on several occasions since the Government published “Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives” last July. Discussions have included out-of-home calorie labelling. We have also been careful to consider the views of a wide range of experts in response to our public consultation on introducing mandatory out-of-home calorie labelling and we will continue with this engagement going forward.

The final impact assessment for introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector considered the potential effect on people living with eating disorders. The impact assessment is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/903712/Calorie_Labelling_-_Impact_Assessment.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of veterinarians available to fulfil the the duties of Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors as required by the Food Standards Authority to deliver veterinary official controls in meat establishments.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) works with a Service Delivery Partner (SDP) to provide Official Veterinarian (OV) resource and some of the Meat Hygiene Inspector (MHI) resource to deliver Official Controls in 244 abattoirs in England and Wales.

Appropriate contingency arrangements have been implemented to enable the FSA to maintain service delivery throughout this period. The FSA continues to work with our SDP which recruits suitably qualified personnel from a variety of sources to ensure that appropriate numbers of OVs and MHIs continue to be available.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
What recent discussions he has had with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on the covid-19 vaccination of immuno-suppressed individuals.

As per the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) advice, many immunosuppressed individuals qualify for vaccination in priority groups four or six. For those whom the vaccination is not advised, a general practitioner or relevant clinician will host a consultation. It is important that clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue following government advice on reducing risk. The United Kingdom is leading the way on vaccine research. As soon as sufficient evidence becomes available, the JCVI will provide advice on strategies to protect immunosuppressed individuals and consider if certain vaccines are preferred for particular groups.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent progress he has made on monitoring the effectiveness of the (a) Pfizer/BioNTech and (b) Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines on people who are immunocompromised.


Public Health England is monitoring the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on a broad range of outcomes including symptomatic disease, infection and hospitalisations as set out in the COVID-19 vaccine surveillance strategy

Vaccine effectiveness assessments are reported regularly to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to inform vaccine policy recommendations. This will include assessment of vaccine effectiveness in immunocompromised individuals using general practice’s electronic health record data. Once sufficient evidence becomes available the JCVI will consider options for a protection strategy for immunosuppressed individuals, including whether any specific vaccine is preferred in this population.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the supplier of Pethidine medication on increasing availability of that medication in the UK.

There are two suppliers of pethidine 50 milligram tablets and we are aware that both suppliers experienced supply issues during 2020 due to manufacturing difficulties. One of the suppliers now has stock available and does not anticipate any further issues. Supply should be sufficient to cover entire market demand.

The Department has worked closely with both suppliers during this time to try and expedite resupply and communicated the supply issue to the National Health Service in August 2020. During the time where both suppliers were out of stock, we worked with specialist importer companies to source unlicensed pethidine 50 milligram tablets from abroad to ensure patients could continue to access treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government’s covid-19 vaccine distribution strategy takes into account whether certain covid-19 vaccines should be prioritised for certain groups.

The Government has now accepted the recommendations from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise three COVID-19 vaccines for use from Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, and Moderna. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that both vaccines met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

The National Health Service began to deploy the AstraZeneca vaccine from the week commencing 4 January. Through the Vaccines Taskforce, we have 100 million doses ordered for delivery over the coming months of this particular COVID-19 vaccine, enough to vaccinate millions of people.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines have proven in clinical trials to give very high protection against severe disease, which is the primary aim of the first phase of the programme and both vaccines have demonstrated good safety profiles. The logistical challenges posed by the storage and distribution requirements for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine mean that in some populations, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is the only vaccine which can be deployed rapidly and without substantial vaccine wastage. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation does not advise a preference for either vaccine in any specific population. For operational, logistical and programmatic reasons, such as to enable more extensive and timely vaccine coverage, one vaccine may be offered in certain settings in preference over another vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the capacity is for (a) pillar I and (b) pillar II covid-19 tests.

Testing capacity in the United Kingdom across all pillars between 26 November and 2 December was at 4,684,727 tests. Data on individual capacity across all pillars throughout England is published each week alongside other Test and Trace statistics at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nhs-test-and-trace-statistics-england-weekly-reports

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average daily per patient cost is of hospital treatment.

The Department does not hold the information requested.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average cost is of transporting a patient from hospital to their home or suitable care facility.

The information is not available in the format requested.

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, if he will publish a data protection impact assessment of the app being developed by Google and Apple for tracking and tracing covid-19.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced on 18 June that NHSX has begun the next phase of development in building an app that supports the end-to-end NHS Test and Trace service. This app will use the Google/Apple exposure notification system. We will carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on trends in the level of post-viral complications in relation to people with ME.

Public Health England has made no assessment on the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on trends in the level of post-viral complications in relation to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis.

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, if he will issue guidance on the support grandparents who are not shielded can provide to single parents during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are currently no plans to issue guidance on the support that grandparents who are not shielded can provide to single parents. Grandparents who are not shielding should follow the latest advice on staying alert and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic which can be found on the GOV.UK website at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether covid-19 is recognised as an industrial disease when contracted by health care professionals.

The classification of COVID-19 in relation to occupational exposure is determined by the circumstances of each individual case. All such dangerous occurrences, cases of disease and work-related fatalities, must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).

Guidance on how such events are to be reported and classifications determined, has been made publicly available on the HSE website.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the 19 March 2020 WHO interim guidance on the prevention and control of infection in health care when covid-19 is suspected.

The guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) is part of COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

The United Kingdom PPE guidance continues to recommend the highest level of protection for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. The guidance is updated regularly, in line with emerging evidence.

The World Health Organization has stated that the national guidelines currently used in the UK and other countries are consistent with their recommendations and it does not fall short of their standards. Further information is available to view at the following link:

https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department's guidance on covid-19 personal protective equipment aligns with the 27 February 2020 WHO interim guidance on that equipment.

The guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) is part of COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

The United Kingdom PPE guidance continues to recommend the highest level of protection for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. The guidance is updated regularly, in line with emerging evidence.

The World Health Organization has stated that the national guidelines currently used in the UK and other countries are consistent with their recommendations and it does not fall short of their standards. Further information is available to view at the following link:

https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the 27 February 2020 WHO interim guidance on the use of personal protective equipment for covid-19.

The guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) is part of COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

The United Kingdom PPE guidance continues to recommend the highest level of protection for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. The guidance is updated regularly, in line with emerging evidence.

The World Health Organization has stated that the national guidelines currently used in the UK and other countries are consistent with their recommendations and it does not fall short of their standards. Further information is available to view at the following link:

https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will update the Covid-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan, published on 10 April 2020, to state that care providers in Wales and Scotland may be supplied with PPE.

The Government’s Personal Protective Equipment is United Kingdom-wide, making sure that frontline workers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have the PPE they need to stay protected while taking care of patients. We are working closely with the devolved administrations to co-ordinate the distribution of PPE across the UK.

We continue to prioritise ensuring that the National Health Service and social care sector have the equipment and support they need. The safety of all frontline staff is our top priority.

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 discussions he has had with the Welsh Government prior to the purchase of testing equipment for covid-19.

The United Kingdom Government is committed to operating on a UK-wide basis in its response to COVID-19 and is working closely with the devolved administrations to coordinate and align testing efforts where possible.

As part of our UK-wide testing strategy, we are committed to ensuring the UK gets its fair share of proprietary test kits to deliver the full capability that we are making available.

The four nations are working together closely to ensure a joined-up and aligned approach to the UK’s testing response at both a strategic and operational level, including on the provision and supply of testing kits to key workers. This will ensure that all testing needs across the UK can be considered.

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 medical equipment his Department has procured for the Welsh Government in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Personal protective equipment supplies are being coordinated at a United Kingdom-wide level and allocation is made based on clinical need across the whole country, which ensures a planned and coordinated response to this global pandemic. Furthermore, the Department, working with NHS England, has sourced a large number of oxygen and ventilation devices for the UK. These devices have been distributed across the devolved administrations and crown dependencies. Devices have included oxygen concentrators, ventilators, patient monitors and syringe drivers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether there are agreements in place between the UK Government and the Welsh Government to prevent competitive bidding for medical equipment needed to respond to the covid-19 outbreak.

Health is a devolved matter. There is not an agreement between the UK and Welsh Government to prevent competitive bidding.

The UK Government continues to work well with the devolved administrations. We have no record of competitive bidding practices taking place with the Welsh Government.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve early diagnosis rates of (a) brain, (b) lung, (c) stomach, (d) oesophageal, (e) liver and (f) pancreatic cancer.

Cancer is a priority for this Government and survival rates are at a record high1. Since 2010 rates of survival from cancer have increased year-on-year.

We recognise, however, that there is more to do, The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition that, by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half to three-quarters of cancer patients. The National Health Service is finding and treating more complex cancers at an early stage in line with the ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England has committed funding of over £1.3 billion over the next five years to deliver the commitments on cancer in the NHS Long Term Plan. This includes £200 million investment in diagnostic equipment, the implementation of optimal timed diagnosis pathways and new Rapid Diagnostic Centres and actions to increase staff in key cancer and diagnostic professions.

Notes:

Between 2002 and 2017 one-year survival for all cancers combined increased from 62.6% to 73.3%. Between 2002 and 2013 five-year survival for all cancer combined increased from 44.5% to 53.6% (Years quoted are years of diagnosis. Source: Office for National Statistics)

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government plans to take to improve coordination of research into (a) brain, (b) lung, (c) stomach, (d) oesophageal, (e) liver and (f) pancreatic cancers.

Together with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the National Cancer Research Institute, the Department joined the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce recent research roundtable event to consider how the number of high-quality research applications can be increased for these difficult-to-treat cancers.

The Department convened an independent Task and Finish Working Group on Brain Tumour Research, chaired by Professor Chris Whitty, which reported in February 2018. Following this report the Department is participating actively in the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. In May 2018 the Government announced £40 million over five years for brain tumour research.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has forreplacement for the four-hour A&E target time to improve the efficiency of (a) health services and (b) patient care.

At the Government’s request, NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with clinical leaders across the system to review our standards as part of the clinically-led review of access standards. The recommendations of the review will be carefully studied, and any recommended changes will be based on clinical evidence to ensure the best outcome for patients. We will update on this in due course.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to Answer of 22 September 2021 to Question on Western Sahara: Self Determination of States, whether the inclusion of independence as an option in the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara was raised during discussions with the parties.

The UK supports UN-led efforts to reach a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, based on compromise, that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We strongly support the work of the new Personal Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and look forward to the start of the renewed political process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 20 April 2021 to Question 91447 on Western Sahara: Politics and Government, whether her predecessor raised the inclusion of independence as an option in the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara during discussions with the Moroccan Foreign Minister.

The UK supports UN-led efforts to reach a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We regularly discuss the situation in Western Sahara with the parties and encourage them to re-engage with the UN-led political process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to support British nationals and eligible Afghans to leave Afghanistan, transit third countries and reach the UK; and what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) Pakistan, (b) Uzbekistan and (c) Tajikistan on that matter.

The former Foreign Secretary visited Qatar and Pakistan from 1-3 September. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from 1-3 September. The former Foreign Secretary had a telephone conversation with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan on 15 and 27 August, the Tajik Foreign Minister on 2 September, and the Uzbek Foreign Minister on 6 September. Lord Ahmad has additionally called the Deputy Foreign Minister of Tajikistan on 23 and 25 August and the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan on 25 August and the Deputy Foreign Minister on 8 September. Discussions focused on securing safe passage for those fleeing Afghanistan and advancing the government's international priorities. In addition, FCDO Rapid Deployment Teams have been sent to Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to reinforce our Embassy staff to process arrivals from Afghanistan.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, on how many occasions he has had discussions on the matter of Afghanistan with his counterparts in (a) Pakistan, (b) Uzbekistan and (c) Tajikistan in the last six months.

The former Foreign Secretary visited Qatar and Pakistan from 1-3 September. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from 1-3 September. The former Foreign Secretary had a telephone conversation with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan on 15 and 27 August, the Tajik Foreign Minister on 2 September, and the Uzbek Foreign Minister on 6 September. Lord Ahmad has additionally called the Deputy Foreign Minister of Tajikistan on 23 and 25 August and the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan on 25 August and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan on 8 September.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what proportion of UK financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority has been spent on the Palestinian National Security Forces in the last three years.

The UK has not provided financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority National Security Forces in the last three years. UK financial assistance has helped to deliver essential health and education services in the West Bank. The UK does provide technical assistance to support the development of capable, accountable, sustainable, and inclusive Palestinian security forces.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of allegations that Turkey used chemical weapons in Iraqi Kurdistan.

We have not made an assessment of the allegations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many discussions he has had with his Iraqi counterparts on Turkish military interventions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The UK continues to follow the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan closely. The Foreign Secretary met with Iraqi President Saleh, Prime Minister Kadhimi and Foreign Minister Hussein during his visit to Iraq on 8-9 June, and welcomed recent discussions between Iraqi and Turkish Defence Ministers regarding Ankara's military operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He also reiterated the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians. The UK continues to engage with Turkey on a broad range of regional issues.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions has he had with his Turkish counterparts on Turkish military intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The UK continues to follow the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan closely. The Foreign Secretary met with Iraqi President Saleh, Prime Minister Kadhimi and Foreign Minister Hussein during his visit to Iraq on 8-9 June, and welcomed recent discussions between Iraqi and Turkish Defence Ministers regarding Ankara's military operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He also reiterated the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians. The UK continues to engage with Turkey on a broad range of regional issues.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) parliamentary and (b) public engagement on the UN Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction process to negotiate a treaty covering the high seas.

Further to my answer given on 21 May 2021 to questions 851 and 852, Lord Goldsmith, the Minister of State for the Pacific and the Environment, who leads on UK international ocean policy, regularly discusses the BBNJ Agreement in his engagement with parliamentarians and public stakeholders and in his speeches on biodiversity and ocean protection. The draft text is complex and technical and the UK delegation actively engages key stakeholders including in the NGO, marine science, academic and bio-industry community in the UK. The negotiations themselves take place at the United Nations in New York, are broadcast on UN TV and accredited observer organisations can participate. UK and international environmental organisations are fully aware of the UK's role and objectives.

21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what reports the Government has received on the incident at Jau Prison in Bahrain on 17 April 2021.

Since the incident on April 17, we have been monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Ombudsman, who has published its investigation into the event. We understand from the authorities that this was an organised and violent disruption, that prison staff took necessary measures to respond to, to mitigate the threat to the prison's overall security, staff and other inmates. We encourage those with concerns over mistreatment during the incident to share these details with the relevant oversight bodies, in order to allow them to conduct their ongoing monitoring.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the incident at Jau Prison on 17 April 2021, what representations he will make to his Bahraini counterpart on (a) inviting the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit and (b) allowing (i) Human Rights Watch, (ii) Amnesty International and (iii) other human rights organisations and monitoring bodies to enter Bahrain.

We understand that the Government of Bahrain has taken steps to engage with the United Nations, and we continue to encourage this engagement. We understand that the Ombudsman has reached out to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, noting that they are keen to work cooperatively on accusations raised by the Non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We encourage both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to accept this offer of engagement.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the incident at Jau Prison on 17 April 2021, what plans he has to make representations to his Bahraini counterpart on (a) the welfare of political prisoners in Bahrain, (b) ensuring that victims of the incident at the prison receive adequate and timely medical care and (c) ensuring that prisoners are able to access phone calls.

We have regularly discussed the challenge of managing the Covid-19 pandemic in prisons with senior members of the Bahraini Government. We continue to monitor these conditions through our regular contact with the oversight bodies.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the incident at Jau Prison on 17 April 2021, what representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart to ascertain the welfare and whereabouts of (a) Sayed Alawi Alwadaei and (b) Saeed Abdulemam.

We have been informed that prison policy is to disperse those involved in this sort of activity amongst the other inmates. Both Sayed Alawi Alwadaei and Saeed Abdulemam have been moved to the new facilities at the Jau Reform and Rehabilitation Centre, which have been inspected by the Ombudsman and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) and the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR). We understand that they have access to medical services, and they do not have any health care issues.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
What recent discussions he has had with his Moroccan counterpart on the UN designated Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara.

We continue to closely monitor the situation in Western Sahara. We call upon the parties to show restraint in order to avoid further escalation, to return to the ceasefire agreement, and to re-engage with the UN-led political process.

I also spoke to Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in January, including to discuss Western Sahara. I reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the UN-led process, to find a lasting and mutually acceptable solution that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

We strongly support the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to appoint a Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. We call upon the parties to engage constructively with the UN.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 9 March to Questions 151798 and 160767 on Western Sahara: Trade Agreements, whether the consultations included seeking the consent of the UN recognised representatives of the Saharawi people, the Polisario.

The European Commission's report, which includes the list of stakeholders consulted, including the Polisario Front, can be found here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=SWD:2018:346:FIN&from=FR(opens%20in%20a%20new%20tab)

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 9 March 2021 to Questions151799 and 160768 on Western Sahara: Politics and Government, if will he ask the UN Secretary-General when the UN Commission announced in 2016 on the situation in Guerguerat plans to publish a report.

UN reports on Western Sahara can be found on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) website: https://minurso.unmissions.org/secretary-general-reports

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his Department's future funding plans are for the Voluntary Service Overseas programme.

The impact of the global pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take the tough but necessary decision to temporarily reduce our aid budget.

We are now working through the implications of these changes for individual programmes, including for the Volunteering for Development grant. No decisions have yet been made. We understand the need to communicate with VSO in a timely manner regarding this grant.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 17 February 2021 to Question 151799, Western Sahara: Politics and Government, whether the UN commission announced in 2016 on the situation in Guerguerat, Western Sahara, conducted the investigation; and if he will ask the UN Secretary-General when he plans to publish the report of that investigation.

UN reports on Western Sahara, including on the situation in Guerguerat in 2016, can be found on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) website: https://minurso.unmissions.org/secretary-general-reports

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 17 February 2021 to Question 151798, on Western Sahara: Trade Agreements, if he will ask the European Commission for what reason the (a) UN recognised representatives of the Saharawi people, the Polisario Front, were not formally consulted and (b) consent of those representatives was not sought.

The European Commission's report, which includes the list of stakeholders consulted, including the Polisario Front, can be found here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=SWD:2018:346:FIN&from=FR(opens%20in%20a%20new%20tab)

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to secure the return of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iran to the UK.

We are using every tool in our diplomatic arsenal to secure the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran. We raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case at the most senior levels in the Iranian Government: the Foreign Secretary continues to press Foreign Minister Zarif for her release, and the Prime Minister has raised her detention with President Rouhani. Our Ambassador in Tehran constantly raises dual British national detainees with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The FCDO remains in regular contact with both Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, and we continue to provide them with all support possible. We are doing everything we can to enable Nazanin to return home and to secure the release of all British dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran so that they can be reunited with their loved ones.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the UN commission announced in 2016 on the situation in Guerguerat, Western Sahara issued a report.

UN reports on Western Sahara can be found on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) website: https://minurso.unmissions.org/secretary-general-reports

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer to Question 142046, on Western Sahara: Trade Agreements, whether the EU (a) consulted the UN recognised representatives of the Saharawi people and (b) asked for consent.

The European Commission's report, which includes the list of stakeholders consulted, can be found here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=SWD:2018:346:FIN&from=FR(opens%20in%20a%20new%20tab)

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of whether the trade of natural resources originating in Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco without the consent of the Saharawi people is consistent with international law.

The UK notes the UN legal view from 2002, which stated that commercial activity in Western Sahara (including the exploration for, and exploitation of natural resources) is not inherently illegal but must not disregard the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara. We also note the European Court of Justice ruling of December 2016 on the applicability of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement to Western Sahara. The Association Agreement was subsequently amended to comply with the ruling following EU consultations with a wide spectrum of Western Saharan representatives, stake-holders, civil society, and other organisations. The UK-Morocco Association Agreement replicates the effects of the existing EU-Morocco Association Agreement, including on the current territorial application and products originating in Western Sahara subject to controls by customs authorities of Morocco.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of imposing sanctions against Bahrain in response to alleged human rights abuses by Bahraini security officials.

We regularly raise human rights issues and individual cases with the Government of Bahrain, at senior levels, both in private and public, most recently during my visit to Bahrain in November 2020. We urge that all allegations of this nature are reported to the appropriate Bahraini national oversight body and encourage them to carry out swift and thorough investigations into any such claims.

On 6 July, the UK Government established the Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky') sanctions regime by laying regulations in Parliament under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. This sanctions regime gives the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. It is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future, as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Bahraini counterpart on potential human rights violations by Bahraini authorities.

We regularly raise human rights issues and individual cases with the Government of Bahrain, at senior levels, both in private and public, most recently during my visit to Bahrain in November 2020. We urge that all allegations of this nature are reported to the appropriate Bahraini national oversight body and encourage them to carry out swift and thorough investigations into any such claims.

On 6 July, the UK Government established the Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky') sanctions regime by laying regulations in Parliament under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. This sanctions regime gives the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. It is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future, as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to end environmental and ecological destruction arising from the production of palm oil.

The Government is using a combination of diplomatic engagement, policy measures and development assistance to work towards ensuring all palm oil is being produced sustainably. Through the Partnerships for Forests programme, we provide support to develop industry standards for deforestation-free palm oil production, and work with companies, civil society groups and governments to develop and test new ways of growing palm oil, which provides sustainable jobs and livelihoods and protects forests. FCDO also funds the Tropical Forest Alliance, which brings together over 160 companies, governments and civil society group, working to end deforestation associated with palm oil and other agriculture commodities.

The Government recently set out a legislative proposal for a Due Diligence Obligation, which would prohibit larger UK companies from using commodities that have not been produced in line with national laws in the countries of origin. This follows recommendations made by the independent Global Resource Initiative Task Force. Building on this, for the COP26 climate change meeting in Glasgow in 2021, we are working to bring together countries that produce and that buy palm oil, to forge a stronger partnership that will lead to more international action to tackle deforestation associated with palm oil and other agricultural commodities, and support sustainable trade and production.

30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the (a) Indonesian and (b) Dutch Government on the independence movement in West Papua.

The Foreign Secretary discussed Papua with Foreign Minister Retno on 14 October. The UK Government fully respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia, which includes Papua and West Papua provinces. Within this framework we support the efforts of the authorities and civil society to address the needs and aspirations of the people both provinces. The Foreign Secretary has not discussed Papua with the Dutch Government.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Indonesian counterpart on self-determination in the territory of West Papua.

The Foreign Secretary discussed Papua with Foreign Minister Retno on 14 October. The UK Government fully respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia, which includes Papua and West Papua provinces. Within this framework we support the efforts of the authorities and civil society to address the needs and aspirations of the people both provinces.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart regarding on-going legal cases in the US where prosecutors are seeking evidence from UK citizens.

Ministers at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office have regular engagement with their counterparts in the US, which cover a broad range of issues, some of which may include legal matters.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the protection of West Bank Palestinians during the olive harvest season.

The UK condemns any incidence of violence by settlers against Palestinians. We recognise that there can be an increase in assaults on Palestinian farmers, the destruction of olive trees and the stealing of produce coinciding with the Palestinian olive harvest, which began earlier this month. We have expressed our concerns to the Israeli Government on a number of occasions.

Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from acts of violence. We continue to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population. We welcome the efforts of Israeli authorities to address settler violence, and urge them to thoroughly investigate every instance and bring those responsible to justice.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of DfID's merger with his Department on UK humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office allows us to bring together the UK's international effort and maximise our influence around the world, including in Gaza. Our recent £840,000 funding contribution is enabling the World Health Organization and UNICEF to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity. The Foreign Secretary also recently announced a further £2.7 million funding to UN agencies to provide food assistance, medical supplies and personal protection for the most vulnerable Palestinians.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. The current situation is unsustainable. In addition to our commitment to funding, our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate-General in Jerusalem frequently urge the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take steps to improve conditions in Gaza. The UK will continue to work to help address the humanitarian situation and improve the lives of the people of Gaza.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 8 June 2020 to Question 55878 on Israeli Settlements: Companies, what assessment he has made of the applicability of United Nations Security Council Resolution 465 to those companies.

The UK supports existing UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs), including UNSCR 465, and will do so until an agreement is negotiated by the parties. Our position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law and damaging to renewed efforts to launch peace negotiations. As I made clear in my answer of 8 June 2020 (55878), ultimately it is the decision of an individual or company whether to operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The British Government is clear that it neither encourages nor offers support to such activity.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Moroccan Ambassador on the detention of Sahrawi civilians in that country in prisons with recorded cases of covid-19.

We have regular discussions with Morocco on human rights and prison conditions. UK-Morocco engagement is currently focused on our collective efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. The Moroccan authorities released over 5,000 prisoners in April as a means of reducing overcrowding and limiting the spread of Covid-19.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the full Barnett consequential is to Wales of the proposed Integrated Rail Plan.

The UK Government is responsible for much of the rail infrastructure in Wales, and therefore spends money on this infrastructure rather than funding the Welsh Government to do so.

In line with this responsibility, the UK Government is currently delivering an ambitious programme to upgrade Welsh railways, including through the electrification of the Severn Tunnel and building a new station at Bow Street.

The Barnett formula is applied at fiscal events when departmental budgets are set rather than being applied when departments announce how they are spending their budgets. At the recent 2021 Spending Review the UK Government provided the Welsh Government with more than £18 billion on average each year over the Spending Review period. The Welsh Government will determine how to spend this on its devolved responsibilities.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 13 July 2021 to Question 28292, what assessment he has made of the effect of the change to house prices on the adequacy of the Help to Buy ISA price cap of £250,000 for properties outside London.

The Help to Buy: ISA scheme aims to help those struggling to save enough to get onto the housing ladder and includes a property price cap of £250,000 anywhere in the UK and a higher property value cap of £450,000 for properties in London.

The Government believes that this price cap is appropriate to focus our support on those that need it most, with the aim of providing support to the majority of first-time buyers across the UK.

The Government’s ambition is to provide the opportunity for first-time buyers to enter the market and has a number of policies in place to support this. In designing the Help to Buy: ISA scheme the Government had to balance the need to control public expenditure with helping those most in need of assistance, and keeps all aspects of savings policy under review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 13 July 2021 to Question 28292, whether his Department made an assessment of changes to average house prices when reviewing the Help to Buy ISA price cap for eligible properties.

The Help to Buy: ISA scheme aims to help those struggling to save enough to get onto the housing ladder and includes a property price cap of £250,000 anywhere in the UK and a higher property value cap of £450,000 for properties in London.

The Government believes that this price cap is appropriate to focus our support on those that need it most, with the aim of providing support to the majority of first-time buyers across the UK.

The Government’s ambition is to provide the opportunity for first-time buyers to enter the market and has a number of policies in place to support this. In designing the Help to Buy: ISA scheme the Government had to balance the need to control public expenditure with helping those most in need of assistance, and keeps all aspects of savings policy under review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to amend the Help to Buy ISA price cap of £250,000 for properties outside London.

The Help to Buy: ISA scheme aims to help those struggling to save enough to get onto the housing ladder. The property price cap allows the Government to target support at the first-time buyers who need it the most. The scheme includes a higher property value cap of £450,000 for properties in London compared to £250,000 anywhere else in the UK.

Since the scheme launched in 2015, 386,728 property completions have been supported through the scheme with a mean property value of £174,531 compared to an average first-time buyer house price of £210,727.

The Government keeps all aspects of savings policy under review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the total revenue raised for his Department was by The Crown Estate’s auctioning of Offshore Wind leases in territorial waters around the coast of Wales.

The Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 has not yet concluded and therefore no revenue has yet been received. Future revenue raised will depend on the outcome of the upcoming plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment, as well as how developers subsequently progress potential projects through to construction.

The Crown Estate publishes its financial returns in relation to all its activities on an annual basis. This includes a separate report on its activity in Wales - as set out in The Crown Estate’s most recent Wales Highlights Report, total revenue from offshore renewables in Wales in 2020-21 totalled £3.3 million, (£3.4 million in 2019-20). Figures are not published for individual leasing rounds. (https://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/3872/wales-highlights-2021-final.pdf)

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will introduce in the Autumn Statement a specific requirement in the Green Book for policies to align with the net zero objective.

The Green Book sets out guidance on how to appraise policies, programmes and projects, to help public servants give objective advice to decision makers. Achieving net zero is both a policy objective and a legal requirement and is already considered in the existing Green Book methodology. When setting out the strategic case for a policy, achieving net zero is regarded as an objective for any relevant proposals and as a legal constraint on all proposals. Also, as part of the economic case, the Green Book requires an assessment of environmental costs and benefits to objectively advise decision makers about these impacts.
Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will publish a breakdown of the (a) destination, (b) use, (c) type of product and (d) volume of Welsh steel exports in each year between 2010 and 2021.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are responsible for the collection and publication of data on UK imports and exports of goods to and from the UK. HMRC release this information monthly, as a National Statistic called the Overseas Trade in Goods Statistics (OTS), which is available via their dedicated website (www.uktradeinfo.com).

Unfortunately the data collected does not enable HMRC to specifically identify ‘Welsh steel’. However, HMRC are able to provide data on steel products allocated to Wales under their Regional Trade in Goods Statistics (RTS) methodology.

The resultant data can be viewed via: https://www.uktradeinfo.com/trade-data/rts-custom-table/?id=069c86fb-747d-4420-8124-0fddc365a663.

Notes:

  1. The RTS data provides a breakdown of imports and exports by regions of the UK, to other countries. Trade for an individual business is allocated to a region based on the proportion of its employees employed in that region. For that reason it is possible that trade in steel by businesses considered to be based in Wales, may appear in the RTS under other regions of the UK other than Wales (or vice-versa). A full description of how UK trade is allocated to a region can be found in the RTS Methodology paper: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/697012/RTS_Methodology_Revision.pdf.
  2. The RTS uses the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) which classifies goods more broadly. Steel exports have been defined here as ‘SITC 67 – Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material, Iron and Steel’.
  3. RTS data only describes the physical movement of goods between regions of the UK and other countries (not between the UK regions themselves).

HMRC’s RTS methodology was significantly changed to improve the allocation of region to a business. This affected data from 2013. Consequently, data for the period 2010 to 2012 is not comparable and so has not been provided.

HMRC trade statistics data does not provide any commentary on the ‘use’ of the exported items.

18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with high street banks on the treatment of mortgage applications by people in receipt of support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with lenders to understand their lending policies. However, decisions concerning the pricing and availability of loans, including application requirements, remain commercial decision for lenders which the Government does not seek to intervene in.

For individuals applying for new credit, it remains important that lenders are able to carry out the proper checks to ensure that these individuals are not lent to in an unaffordable way, especially if, for example, a borrower’s income has changed as a result of Covid-19.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recognises that lenders should have flexibility to decide what evidence of income they can accept from self-employed customers. Due to the wide variety of mortgage products available in the UK, self-employed borrowers may find it useful to contact a broker in order to find a lender that is prepared to lend based on the available evidence of income.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions officials in his Department has had with (a) officials in the Department for Work and Pensions and (b) the Welsh Government on the distribution of the Investment Reserve arising from the Miners’ Pension Scheme.

No such discussions have been held. Following the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee Report publication, the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth has arranged to meet the Scheme Trustees with a view to agreeing a way forward. The Government will then respond to the Committee’s report.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
14th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the efficacy of Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme for its members.

Members of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme receive pensions around 33% higher in real terms as a result of the current arrangements. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee have made a number of recommendations which the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth will discuss with the Scheme Trustees before responding to the report.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment has been conducted of IR35 reform on the locum veterinary sector.

The off-payroll working rules only apply to individuals who are working like employees under the current employment status tests, and do not apply to the self-employed.

The Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) published at Spring Budget 2021 set out that the reform of the off-payroll working rules is expected to affect up to 60,000 medium and large enterprises, about 180,000 individuals working through their own companies, and approximately 20,000 agencies nationally. The TIIN can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/off-payroll-working-rules-from-april-2021/off-payroll-working-rules-from-april-2021.

No specific assessment has been made of the potential effect on the locum veterinary sector.

11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to ensure that the new National Infrastructure Bank has a just transition mandate.

It is a Government priority to ensure that the shift to a green economy happens in a way that levels up across the whole country.

As set out in the Budget, the UK Infrastructure Bank will pursue two core policy objectives through its interventions in the infrastructure market: to help tackle climate change, particularly meeting the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050; and to support regional and local economic growth.

The Bank will make independent investment decisions and will need to develop assessment criteria to decide which investments it will take forward in line with its objectives.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason pension income, including taxable elements of any lump sum drawdowns, is included within non-trading income calculations for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Government recognises that many self-employed people have encountered immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has not been possible to support everyone as they would want.

The design of the SEISS, including the requirement that trading profits must be at least equal to non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who need it the most and who rely most on their self-employed trade. Non-trading income includes income from pensions. The scheme provides value for money to the taxpayer while reaching as many people as possible.

People ineligible for the SEISS on the basis of these criteria may be eligible for other elements of the package of support available, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the fourth instalment of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is accessible to people who have drawn a lump sum from their pension.

The Government recognises that many self-employed people have encountered immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has not been possible to support everyone as they would want.

The design of the SEISS, including the requirement that trading profits must be at least equal to non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who need it the most and who rely most on their self-employed trade. Non-trading income includes income from pensions. The scheme provides value for money to the taxpayer while reaching as many people as possible.

People ineligible for the SEISS on the basis of these criteria may be eligible for other elements of the package of support available, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on a (a) Digital Tax and (b) minimum corporation tax.

Securing a global solution to the tax challenges posed by digitisation remains a priority for the UK.

The Chancellor has made supporting progress towards a two-pillar solution a priority of the UK’s G7 presidency.

As such, he has been in regular discussion with his G7 counterparts on these issues, including with his US counterpart, with a view to supporting that aim.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to open the online claims service for the fourth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant to applicants.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 23 March 2021 to UIN 171650.
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has conducted a regional economic impact assessment by NUTS-1 region of the capital allowance super-deduction.

Conducting a regional economic impact assessment by NUTS-1 region for the super-deduction is not feasible as the data available would be inadequate for such an assessment. HMRC’s corporation tax outturns data reflects the geographic locations where companies are registered; rather than where the assets on which capital allowances are claimed are located. In addition, the ONS does not collect regional breakdowns of business investment.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans re-finance loans issued to development bodies in Wales prior to devolution by the National Loan Fund.

There are currently no plans to refinance loans issued from the National Loans Fund (NLF) to development bodies in Wales prior to devolution.

All loans made from, or financed by, the NLF are subject to important provisions of the National Loans Act 1968, which sets out that the Treasury may not lend at a loss from the NLF.

To refinance the loans issued from the NLF, the outstanding balances would be treated as being repaid in full and reissued on the same day. The repayment would be calculated as the present value at prevailing interest rates of all amounts due to the NLF under the original terms, to ensure that the NLF were left in the same position as if the original loans had run until maturity.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support his Department plans to provide to small businesses to meet the new requirements of Making Tax Digital.

HMRC have engaged extensively with representative bodies within business and with the accountancy and audit professions, as well as with software developers, to shape the design and implementation of MTD and to understand the potential impacts on businesses of all sizes.

HMRC will continue to work with stakeholders including businesses and their representatives in order to minimise costs and ensure effective support is in place during the transition.

HMRC are also committed to ensuring the availability of software products to meet the needs of those using MTD. HMRC have confidence that the software industry will provide free software products for VAT and ITSA, as well as products that incorporate business management tools.

Support for small businesses will be available directly from HMRC, for example through guidance, videos, webinars and software choices information, as well as through agents and software providers.

The Government published a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) for the smaller VAT businesses being brought into MTD from April 2022 at Budget. The Government will publish further details on the impacts of MTD for Income Tax from April 2023 later this year.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment his Department conducted of Making Tax Digital on small businesses.

HMRC have engaged extensively with representative bodies within business and with the accountancy and audit professions, as well as with software developers, to shape the design and implementation of MTD and to understand the potential impacts on businesses of all sizes.

HMRC will continue to work with stakeholders including businesses and their representatives in order to minimise costs and ensure effective support is in place during the transition.

HMRC are also committed to ensuring the availability of software products to meet the needs of those using MTD. HMRC have confidence that the software industry will provide free software products for VAT and ITSA, as well as products that incorporate business management tools.

Support for small businesses will be available directly from HMRC, for example through guidance, videos, webinars and software choices information, as well as through agents and software providers.

The Government published a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) for the smaller VAT businesses being brought into MTD from April 2022 at Budget. The Government will publish further details on the impacts of MTD for Income Tax from April 2023 later this year.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with the Development Bank of Wales ahead of the launch of the UK Infrastructure Bank.

The new UK Infrastructure Bank will operate across the whole of the UK, working closely with public and private sectors to support infrastructure investment in every nation. Building strategic relationships with the devolved administrations, local authorities across the UK and relevant institutions such as the Development Bank of Wales, will be a priority for the new Bank. The UK Government will be engaging further with representatives from the devolved administrations and relevant institutions in the next phase of the Bank’s design, before the Bank is launched and begins operations later in the spring.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many staff work as part of the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight email response team.

There are 36 staff working as part of Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight email response team. Complicated queries may need additional investigation or referral for technical advice, meaning they cannot be answered straight away. In order to help with this, there are an additional 51 staff supporting this team in resolving these complicated queries.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment HMRC has made of the effectiveness of tax relief to national heritage assets to ensure continued Public Rights of Way access.

The tax exemption scheme for heritage assets preserves and protects national heritage, which may otherwise have been sold or taken out of the UK, for the benefit of the public. It also ensures that the public have access to heritage assets in private ownership which they would otherwise not see.

Although public rights of way are not exclusive to land within the exemption scheme and are not regulated by HMRC, where they exist, they are, together with bridleways, byways and permissive paths, likely to form a part of the public access requirement. If so, the agreement with HMRC will normally include measures to keep the rights of way open.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to replace the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system.

In order to support the end of the transition period, the CHIEF system has been prioritised for GB goods movements and the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) for NI goods movements. The longer-term strategic aim is to move to a single customs declaration platform and to work with external delivery partners to agree a plan that meets HMG’s and businesses’ requirements.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional resources he will make available to improve the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

HMRC test the performance of CHIEF continuously and have already invested heavily to ensure the system continues to meet the needs of UK trade. Additional resources are assigned to further increase system capacity by the end of staged customs controls in July and to support sustainment of the system for as long as it is required.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to improve the performance of the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system for small and medium-sized enterprises.

HMRC test the performance of CHIEF continuously in order to maintain resilience for all users. The CHIEF computer system continues to work well and is already used successfully by hundreds of thousands of international traders to make customs declarations to HMRC.

HMRC are supporting businesses to comply with the new border processes following the end of the transition period.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 147960 on National Library of Wales: Finance, whether there was a 100 per cent Barnett consequential in respect of the National Library of Wales under the provisions of the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review.

In the “Statement of funding policy” published in November 2015, the comparability factor for Central Libraries was 100%. However, where UK government programmes provide services across the UK, the comparability factor should in principle be 0%. As it is absolutely clear that the legal extent of the British Library is the United Kingdom, it is right that the comparability factor for Central Libraries should be 0%.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 147960, on the funding of Public Libraries whether there was a 100 per cent Barnett consequential in respect of the National Library of Wales under the provisions of the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review.

In the “Statement of funding policy” published in November 2015, the comparability factor for Central Libraries was 100%. However, where UK government programmes provide services across the UK, the comparability factor should in principle be 0%. As it is absolutely clear that the legal extent of the British Library is the United Kingdom, it is right that the comparability factor for Central Libraries should be 0%.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to Answer of 1 February 2021 to Question 143882 on Public Libraries: Finance, for what reason the funding treatment of the National Library of Wales under the Barnett Formula has changed since 2015.

As outlined in the Statement of Funding Policy, where UK government programmes provide services across the UK, the comparability factor will be 0%.

The vast majority of Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) spending in relation to “Central Libraries” goes to the British Library. “The British Library” was established through the British Library Act 1972 which effected a national library for the United Kingdom.

The legal basis for the British Library makes it distinct from other libraries policy and spending. As it is absolutely clear that the legal extent of the British Library is the United Kingdom, it is right that the comparability factor should be 0%.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what level of Barnett consequential funding the Welsh Government will receive as a result of the £300 million announced for schools in England by the Prime Minister on 27 January 2021.

The Barnett formula will apply in the usual way to additional funding provided to the Department for Education in relation to this announcement.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department undertook to inform the comparability factor for Central Libraries funding in the 2020 Statement of Funding.

The comparability factors are included in the Statement of Funding Policy, which was published alongside the Spending Review 2020.

The majority of funding for ‘The British Library funding’ is UK wide. Given that Central Libraries predominantly comprise ‘The British Library’, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport concluded that the average territorial extent of Central Libraries was UK wide.

As outlined in the Statement of Funding Policy, where the UK government has responsibility for providing services across the UK, the comparability factor will be 0%.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what definition of Central Libraries his Department used in the 2020 Statement of Funding: Funding the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.

In the Statement of Funding Policy, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) concluded that ‘Central Libraries’ refer to ‘The British Library’ and public library spend that is not already captured as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement. DCMS allocate a small amount of programme spend that relates to supporting public libraries in England outside of this settlement, therefore the majority of spend relates to ‘The British Library’ which benefits the entire United Kingdom.

‘The British Library’ was established through the British Library Act 1972 which effected, for the United Kingdom, a national library. It is absolutely clear that the legal extent of the British Library is the United Kingdom.

As outlined in the Statement of Funding Policy, where the UK government has responsibility for providing services across the UK, the comparability factor will be 0%.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Welsh government on the need for a support fund for sheep farmers in the event that there is no agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is now in effect. Under this agreement there are no tariffs on the export of UK produced lamb and sheep meat to the EU.

The Government prepared extensively for the possibility of no agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, working closely with the Devolved Administrations, to put in place a range of contingency plans to minimise disruption for the food and farming sectors.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support he is providing to UK investors in the German Property Group formerly known as the Dolphin Trust.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are working closely with financial advisers who have advised customers to make these investments and operators of Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) whose customers currently hold investments with the German Property Group (GPG).

The FCA have published a joint statement with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The statement sets out what UK consumers should do if they invested in GPG via an FCA authorised firm, either a financial adviser firm or a SIPP operator, and they believe they were mis-sold. It can be accessed at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/gpg-companies-preliminary-bankruptcy-proceedings.

Companies under the German Property Group are incorporated in Germany and have never been authorised by the FCA. However, consumers should be assured that the FCA are working closely with all relevant external stakeholders on this matter and will share any further updates as and when they are able to.

The FCA also hold a public record that shows details of firms, individuals and other bodies that are, or have been, regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and/or the FCA. Consumers who are considering an investment opportunity are encouraged to use the register to check the regulatory status of the firm in question ahead of transferring any funds. The register can be found here https://register.fca.org.uk/.

The FCA’s ScamSmart website also aims to help consumers protect themselves against investment scams, by allowing users to search a warning list to check an investment opportunity and report scams or unauthorised firms.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support he is providing to UK investors in the German Property Group formerly known as the Dolphin Trust.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are working closely with financial advisers who have advised customers to make these investments and operators of Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) whose customers currently hold investments with the German Property Group (GPG).

The FCA have published a joint statement with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The statement sets out what UK consumers should do if they invested in GPG via an FCA authorised firm, either a financial adviser firm or a SIPP operator, and they believe they were mis-sold. It can be accessed at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/gpg-companies-preliminary-bankruptcy-proceedings.

Companies under the German Property Group are incorporated in Germany and have never been authorised by the FCA. However, consumers should be assured that the FCA are working closely with all relevant external stakeholders on this matter and will share any further updates as and when they are able to.

The FCA also hold a public record that shows details of firms, individuals and other bodies that are, or have been, regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and/or the FCA. Consumers who are considering an investment opportunity are encouraged to use the register to check the regulatory status of the firm in question ahead of transferring any funds. The register can be found here https://register.fca.org.uk/.

The FCA’s ScamSmart website also aims to help consumers protect themselves against investment scams, by allowing users to search a warning list to check an investment opportunity and report scams or unauthorised firms.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with his German counterpart on the German Property Group formerly known as the Dolphin Trust on behalf of UK investors.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are working closely with financial advisers who have advised customers to make these investments and operators of Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) whose customers currently hold investments with the German Property Group (GPG).

The FCA have published a joint statement with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The statement sets out what UK consumers should do if they invested in GPG via an FCA authorised firm, either a financial adviser firm or a SIPP operator, and they believe they were mis-sold. It can be accessed at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/gpg-companies-preliminary-bankruptcy-proceedings.

Companies under the German Property Group are incorporated in Germany and have never been authorised by the FCA. However, consumers should be assured that the FCA are working closely with all relevant external stakeholders on this matter and will share any further updates as and when they are able to.

The FCA also hold a public record that shows details of firms, individuals and other bodies that are, or have been, regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and/or the FCA. Consumers who are considering an investment opportunity are encouraged to use the register to check the regulatory status of the firm in question ahead of transferring any funds. The register can be found here https://register.fca.org.uk/.

The FCA’s ScamSmart website also aims to help consumers protect themselves against investment scams, by allowing users to search a warning list to check an investment opportunity and report scams or unauthorised firms.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the matter of problem debt.

The Government is committed to promoting financial resilience, to minimising financial hardship, to tackling financial exclusion and to helping consumers who fall into problem debt to return to a stable financial footing.

The Government works closely with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) to monitor personal finances. MaPS monitor levels of problem debt through an annual survey of 22,000 people. The latest data will be published in due course.

The Government also notes the Financial Conduct Authority’s biennial Financial Lives Survey, which provides a comprehensive insight into the finances of 16,000 adults. The latest survey concluded in February and will be published in early 2021.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has considered the potential merits of a Jubilee Fund as proposed by the Reset the Debt campaign.

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

We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products


The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 15 November, have collectively supported over 1.4 million businesses with facilities worth in excess of £65bn. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support.

The Government recognises that some people are struggling with their finances at this challenging time. We must be fair to people who pay their bills on time by taking a proportional approach to those who do not. A Jubilee fund to provide grants to write-off debts accrued as a result of Covid-19 would not deliver this fairness


To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million


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

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Government's steps to tackle problem debt.

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


The Government has extended the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until 31 March 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 80 per cent of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500


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


These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to Local Housing Allowance rates


We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products


The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 18th October, have collectively supported over 1.4 million businesses with facilities worth more than £62 billion. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support


To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million


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


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


It would be premature to evaluate the impact of these measures, which seek to prevent financial hardship and to resolve problem debt where it does arise.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he had with the Welsh Government on Welsh farm payments prior to the 2020 Spending Review.

There has been significant engagement with the Welsh Government at ministerial and official level ahead of the 2020 Spending Review, including on the topic of farm payments.

At Spending Review 2020, the government provided £240 million of Exchequer funding for Welsh farmers, land managers and the rural economy for 2021/22. This meets the government’s manifesto commitment to maintain the current annual budget to farmers, ensuring that Welsh farmers will receive the same total funding in 2021/22 as they received in 2019 when the manifesto commitment was made.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with NFU Mutual on that organisation's treatment of covid-19 support grant payments to businesses as income in insurance claims.

Following the letters issued by the Treasury and the Association of British Insurers at the end of September, in which the majority of insurers committed to not make deductions from business interruption insurance settlements to account for specific government grant funds, I am aware that NFU Mutual has continued to make such deductions. As stated in my letter, these grants are intended to provide emergency support to businesses at this time of crisis, and it is the Government’s firm expectation that they are not to be deducted from business interruption insurance claims.

As such, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are looking into this matter further. The FCA sets the conduct standards required of insurance firms in relation to their business which aim to ensure customers are treated in a fair manner. You will note that the FCA has already written to relevant insurers providing clarification on how government support should be treated in claim calculations and asking that they consider very carefully the appropriateness of any deductions in the context of individual insurance policies. The FCA has also made it clear that it may intervene and take further actions where firms do not appear to be meeting the FCA’s expectations and treating their customers fairly, although neither the Government nor the regulator is able to confirm or comment on any discussions with individual firms.

I am monitoring this issue closely and will assess what, if any, further steps are needed to resolve this issue for policyholders.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing VAT relief for pet boarding businesses.

VAT is a tax on consumption and the standard rate of 20 per cent applies to most goods and services, including pet boarding kennels. Introducing further reliefs would have a significant cost to the Exchequer.

The Government has no plans to review the VAT treatment of pet boarding kennels at this time.

12th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on Green Sovereign Bonds.

On Monday 9 November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the UK’s intention is issue its inaugural Sovereign Green Bond (SGB), subject to market conditions, in 2021. This bond will be a UK-wide financing instrument, like a conventional UK government bond.

In the coming weeks and months, officials at HM Treasury and the Debt Management Office will be looking to engage with a range of stakeholders on this policy and would welcome discussions with officials representing the Welsh Government.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the Welsh Government will receive a Barnett consequential from the planned £10 million grant-in-aid funding to support National League football clubs.

In July we announced an unprecedented guarantee that the Welsh Government would receive at least £4 billion in additional resource funding this year to help them respond to Covid-19. We have now uplifted that by £400m, to at least £4.4 billion, on top of their Spring Budget 20 funding.

This gives the Welsh Government the certainty to plan their coronavirus response in the months ahead.

It is for the Welsh Government to decide how to use this funding irrespective of how UK government provides support in England.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on supporting private investment in UK hydrogen projects.

At Spring Budget 2020, the Chancellor announced a commitment of at least £800m for the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the 2020s. These assets will play an important role in the production of hydrogen made from fossil fuels, known as “blue” hydrogen.

Furthermore, in 2019, the Government announced a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund to incentivise future private sector investment in low carbon hydrogen, while earlier this year, the Government published a response to a consultation on CCS business models, including for low carbon hydrogen production.

These measures will ensure that the UK economy is well-placed for future strategic decisions on the use of hydrogen, and that the private sector has confidence to provide investment.

Treasury Ministers regularly meet with Ministerial colleagues across Government.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what VAT rating is given to non-surgical face coverings.

Face coverings attract the standard rate of VAT. Non-surgical face masks can be zero-rated for VAT purposes if they protect from infection and are of a type recommended in guidance published by Public Health England (PHE) dated 24 April 2020 in connection with the coronavirus emergency

1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending mortgage repayment holidays during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on next steps for mortgage payment holidays. Currently borrowers that are in financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 can take out a new 3-month mortgage holiday until 31 October 2020. Those that have already taken a 3-month payment holiday, can also extend this for a further 3 months until 31 October 2020 under the FCA’s current guidance.

The FCA recently published their consultation document on next steps for mortgage holidays, which can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/guidance-consultation/mortgages-and-coronavirus-additional-guidance-for-firms.pdf. Based on responses from this consultation the FCA, alongside Government, plan to set out next steps in due course.

We recognise that a mortgage holiday is not the right solution for everyone, and where consumers have taken a mortgage holiday and can afford to re-start payments, it is in their best interest to do so. There are also a number of other forbearance options available to borrowers through their lender if they are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments. Borrowers who are worried about their financial situation should get in touch with their lender as soon as possible.

The FCA requires that there should be no worsening of arrears status on a consumer’s credit file as a result of taking out a payment holiday. This was reconfirmed in the FCA’s updated guidance published in June and continues to be the case for any borrower taking a payment holiday until 31 October 2020.

However, it is important to remember that when borrowers apply for new credit, lenders will continue to carry out affordability assessments which uses a range of information beyond a credit file. This will include an analysis of income and expenditure, to assess future ability to make repayments, which may have been affected by COVID-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with the Financial Conduct Authority on repayment options for mortgage borrowers.

The Government is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on next steps for mortgage payment holidays. Currently borrowers that are in financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 can take out a new 3-month mortgage holiday until 31 October 2020. Those that have already taken a 3-month payment holiday, can also extend this for a further 3 months until 31 October 2020 under the FCA’s current guidance.

The FCA recently published their consultation document on next steps for mortgage holidays, which can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/guidance-consultation/mortgages-and-coronavirus-additional-guidance-for-firms.pdf. Based on responses from this consultation the FCA, alongside Government, plan to set out next steps in due course.

We recognise that a mortgage holiday is not the right solution for everyone, and where consumers have taken a mortgage holiday and can afford to re-start payments, it is in their best interest to do so. There are also a number of other forbearance options available to borrowers through their lender if they are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments. Borrowers who are worried about their financial situation should get in touch with their lender as soon as possible.

The FCA requires that there should be no worsening of arrears status on a consumer’s credit file as a result of taking out a payment holiday. This was reconfirmed in the FCA’s updated guidance published in June and continues to be the case for any borrower taking a payment holiday until 31 October 2020.

However, it is important to remember that when borrowers apply for new credit, lenders will continue to carry out affordability assessments which uses a range of information beyond a credit file. This will include an analysis of income and expenditure, to assess future ability to make repayments, which may have been affected by COVID-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to protect mortgage borrowers' credit history following the end of mortgage payment holidays.

The Government is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on next steps for mortgage payment holidays. Currently borrowers that are in financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 can take out a new 3-month mortgage holiday until 31 October 2020. Those that have already taken a 3-month payment holiday, can also extend this for a further 3 months until 31 October 2020 under the FCA’s current guidance.

The FCA recently published their consultation document on next steps for mortgage holidays, which can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/guidance-consultation/mortgages-and-coronavirus-additional-guidance-for-firms.pdf. Based on responses from this consultation the FCA, alongside Government, plan to set out next steps in due course.

We recognise that a mortgage holiday is not the right solution for everyone, and where consumers have taken a mortgage holiday and can afford to re-start payments, it is in their best interest to do so. There are also a number of other forbearance options available to borrowers through their lender if they are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments. Borrowers who are worried about their financial situation should get in touch with their lender as soon as possible.

The FCA requires that there should be no worsening of arrears status on a consumer’s credit file as a result of taking out a payment holiday. This was reconfirmed in the FCA’s updated guidance published in June and continues to be the case for any borrower taking a payment holiday until 31 October 2020.

However, it is important to remember that when borrowers apply for new credit, lenders will continue to carry out affordability assessments which uses a range of information beyond a credit file. This will include an analysis of income and expenditure, to assess future ability to make repayments, which may have been affected by COVID-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason a covid-19 test provided by an employer to an employee as part of their work will be treated by HMRC as a benefit in kind and will therefore be taxable; and whether that treatment will apply to tests provided by employers in Wales.

The Government is introducing an income tax exemption and National Insurance (NICs) disregard to ensure that coronavirus antigen testing provided by an employer to employees outside the Government’s national testing scheme will not attract tax and NICs liabilities. The new exemption will apply across the United Kingdom for the current tax year 2020-21.

30th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to leverage private sector participation in the G20 debt relief initiative.

The Chancellor and his G20 counterparts called upon private creditors to participate in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) on comparable terms to the official sector on a voluntary basis.

The G20 agreed a voluntary approach to private creditor participation partly due to concerns about borrowers’ long-term financing needs. It is important that developing countries do not see their access to international capital markets become too costly or restricted as mobilising private finance will be essential for crisis recovery and long-term sustainable development.

HM Government is working closely with Institute of International Finance (IIF) and UK-based private creditors to support implementation of comparable debt service suspensions. We welcome the recently released IIF Terms of Reference to support their members’ engagement with eligible borrowers.

HM Government will continue to monitor implementation of the DSSI by private lenders under this voluntary framework closely, as it is important that all creditors work together to help enable countries especially vulnerable to the pandemic to protect their citizens and economies.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much of the £1 billion schools rebuilding programme in England is new funding; and how much money the Welsh Government will receive in Barnett consequentials.

The government is committing over £1bn to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21. These projects will be confirmed in the autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.

Funding for these measures, including Barnett consequentials, will be set out at the Comprehensive Spending Review later this year.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he will take to ensure that insurance companies do not deduct the £10,000 Coronavirus Small Business Grant from insurance payouts relating to holiday booking cancellations; and what discussions he has had with representatives of the Financial Conduct Authority on that matter.

Insurers must treat customers fairly and firms are required to do so under the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) rules. The FCA sets the conduct standard required of insurance firms in relation to their business which aim to ensure customers are treated in a fair manner. For example, the FCA’s rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly; provide reasonable guidance to help a policyholder make a claim, and appropriate information on its progress; not reject a claim unreasonably; and settle claims promptly once settlement terms are agreed.

The Government is aware of the issue that some insurance companies are deducting the Coronavirus Small Business Grant from insurance payouts, on the basis that this would be compensating businesses twice for the same loss. The government is working closely with the FCA on this issue to understand whether this approach is consistent with their conduct rules.

The Government is also in continual dialogue with the insurance sector to understand its response to Covid 19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether British Wool is an arm's-length body of Government; and what plans he has to provide British Wool with support to help it tackle the effects of the covid-29 outbreak on that sector.

British Wool is not an Arm’s-Length Body, it is a public corporation. As such, it is not eligible to access the full range of coronavirus support provided to private businesses.

However, sheep farmers remain eligible for a number of the business support schemes the Government has launched. These include the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, Bounce Back Loans, Small Business Grant Funding and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Full details of the unprecedented support the Government has made available to businesses can be accessed on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans the Government has to provide support to SMEs to help ensure they can honour the holiday entitlement accrued by furloughed workers.

Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. Workers who have been placed on furlough continue to accrue statutory holiday entitlements, and any additional holiday provided for under their employment contract. If a worker on furlough takes annual leave, an employer must calculate and pay the correct holiday pay in accordance with current legislation. Where this calculated rate is above the pay the worker receives while on furlough, the employer must pay the difference. However, as taking holiday does not break the furlough period, the employer can continue to claim the 80% CJRS grant to cover most of the cost of holiday pay. Further details and guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The CJRS is one of the most generous schemes in the world. We are supporting over 1 million firms and have paid out over £25 billion in grants. If an average CJRS claim lasted 8 months, the total cost of employer contributions would represent around 5% of the total gross employment costs an employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed. In addition, SMEs continue to have access to a comprehensive range of support measures. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply - https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 24 June 2020 to Question 61760, how much of the (a) £650 million catch-up funding for schools and (b) £350 million for the establishment of a National Tutoring Programme is new funding.

The government will provide a £1 billion catch-up package for children in England. Additional funding that is required on top of existing departmental budgets in 2020-21, accounting for any changes in the forecast cost of programmes and wider budgetary underspends, will be provided at Supplementary Estimates in the usual way. Funding for costs that fall beyond 2020-21 will be reviewed at the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Department for Education's announcement of 19 June 2020, what estimate he has made of the Barnett consequentials for Wales arising from the (a) £650 million catch-up funding for schools and (b) £350 million for the establishment of a National Tutoring Programme.

Any new funding for the Department for Education will have the Barnett formula applied to it in the usual way.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many inspections HMRC has undertaken in relation to potential fraudulent use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

It would not be appropriate for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to publish detailed information about their operational response during the COVID-19 outbreak.

HMRC will subject Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims to scrutiny and use their usual compliance tools to carry out proportionate risk-based compliance checks before and after payment to test the veracity of CJRS claims. HMRC will take robust steps to prevent fraudulent claims being paid, to recover any payments made to those who are not eligible, and to respond to those who make fraudulent claims.

In doing so HMRC will protect essential public services and livelihoods at risk during these challenging times.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to allocate additional funding from the public purse to Job Centre Plus.

HMT is working closely with DWP to monitor pressures on the system and ensure Job Centre Plus are best placed to respond to the demand. Job Centre Plus funding is being kept under review.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support directors of limited companies during the covid-19 outbreak.

Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including owner-managers, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors, including companies with a sole director, need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose.

Dividends are not covered by the CJRS or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. Under current reporting mechanisms it is not possible for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity.

The Government has worked with stakeholders and carefully considered the case for providing a new system for those who pay themselves through dividends. However, targeting additional support for those who pay their wages via dividends is much more complex than existing income support schemes. Unlike announced support schemes, which use information HMRC already holds, it would require owner-managers to make a claim and submit information that HMRC could not efficiently or consistently verify to ensure payments were made to eligible companies, for eligible activity.

The Government has heard the suggestion made that HMRC could adopt a ‘pay now, claw back later’ approach. However, such an approach would be highly resource-intensive to ensure appropriate compliance, and there is a high risk that incorrect or fraudulent payments could not be recovered, ultimately at the cost of UK taxpayers.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS or CJRS. However, other support is available. The CJRS and SEISS continue to be just two elements of a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

4th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a separate covid-19 support scheme for directors of limited companies.

Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including owner-managers, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors, including companies with a sole director, need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose.

Dividends are not covered by the CJRS or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. Under current reporting mechanisms it is not possible for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity.

The Government has worked with stakeholders and carefully considered the case for providing a new system for those who pay themselves through dividends. However, targeting additional support for those who pay their wages via dividends is much more complex than existing income support schemes. Unlike announced support schemes, which use information HMRC already holds, it would require owner-managers to make a claim and submit information that HMRC could not efficiently or consistently verify to ensure payments were made to eligible companies, for eligible activity.

The Government has heard the suggestion made that HMRC could adopt a ‘pay now, claw back later’ approach. However, such an approach would be highly resource-intensive to ensure appropriate compliance, and there is a high risk that incorrect or fraudulent payments could not be recovered, ultimately at the cost of UK taxpayers.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS or CJRS. However, other support is available. The CJRS and SEISS continue to be just two elements of a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what economic support will be made available to (a) employees and (b) self-employed people who are asked to self-isolate in response to the track and trace system.

The Government is committed to supporting individuals financially through this difficult time, and has taken unprecedented steps to support people’s incomes. Many people are able to work from home, and those currently supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will not see their entitlement affected by needing to isolate.

For employees unable to work from home, DWP has laid new regulations to ensure that people asked to isolate by the Test and Trace service will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This is in addition to changes already made, which make SSP payable from day one rather than day four of an absence from work. Employees will still be entitled to claim SSP from their employers even if they are asked to self-isolate several times. The SSP Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget to support SMEs which may face a financial strain due to staff absences caused by Covid-19.

Self-employed people are eligible for “new style” Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are incapable of work due to Covid-19, including those who are required to self-isolate according to Government guidance. The Government has made it easier for people to claim by removing the seven-day waiting period which means people can get support from day one. In addition, the self-employed whose businesses have been adversely affected due to shielding or self-isolating may be able to claim a grant under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a time-limited exemption for bonuses awarded to care workers from income tax.

The UK Government greatly values the contribution of care workers, particularly during the current crisis.

Under the longstanding rules of tax treatment, any payments made in connection with an employment are chargeable to income tax and national insurance contributions.

The Government will work with the Welsh Government to understand the nature of any new payments and determine the tax treatment.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that people can continue to access cash and banking services during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that widespread access to cash remains extremely important to millions of people across the UK. The Government is working with the financial regulators and industry to monitor access to cash, including the impact of Covid-19.

At the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash, which builds on industry initiatives.

LINK, the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network, has existing arrangements in place to protect free-to-use ATMs that do not have another free-to-use ATM or Post Office within 1 kilometre. They have also made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash.

In response to Covid-19, banks, building societies, credit unions and Post Offices are working to maintain access to their services, including access to cash, while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. The Financial Conduct Authority have issued guidance to regulated firms, including on provision to allow a trusted third party to make payments on behalf of vulnerable customers who may be shielding or self-isolating.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) introducing a second phase of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme to align with the timescale of the Coronaviurs Job Retention Scheme and (b) introducing a further package of economic support for the self-employed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an extension of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme on 29 May and eligible individuals may now qualify for a second and final grant. This means the UK continues to have one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world as the economy reopens.

The extension of the SEISS now means that eligible individuals whose businesses are adversely affected by COVID-19 will be able to claim a second and final grant when the scheme reopens for applications in August. This will be a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. This is in line with changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as the economy reopens, and the eligibility criteria remain the same for this final grant. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant: for example, they may only have been adversely affected by coronavirus in this later phase.

The SEISS is one element of a comprehensive package of Government support for individuals and businesses, including the self-employed. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of excluding pension income from the definition of non-trading income for the purposes of the Self-Employment Support Scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19 and is one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. The SEISS, including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, is designed to be targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

Individuals receiving more than half of their income from other sources, such as pensions, could still be eligible for other support. The SEISS is part of a comprehensive package of support for self-employed people, including Bounce Back loans, income tax deferrals, rental support,?increases to Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and various business support measures. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

15th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support his Department plans to provide to help prevent youth unemployment.

The Government has provided unprecedented support for the economy during this crisis. This includes paying people’s wages to help keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs; loans to help support viable businesses to stay afloat; and protecting the incomes of the most vulnerable.

The Government’s aim is to maintain the productive capacity of the British economy. As the country starts to recover from coronavirus, the Government will continue to review what can be done to support that recovery.

13th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of people who are ineligible for a grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as a result of their receiving a higher level of income through working tax credit and child tax credit than they earn through self-employment.

No one will become ineligible for a grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as a result of tax credit or child tax credit payments.

Tax credit payments are not taxable income and are not included in the calculation for the Self-Employment Income Support eligibility checker or grant amount.

13th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of excluding working tax credit and child tax credit from the calculation of income for the purposes of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

No one will become ineligible for a grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as a result of tax credit or child tax credit payments.

Tax credit payments are not taxable income and are not included in the calculation for the Self-Employment Income Support eligibility checker or grant amount.

11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the hospitality sector beyond July 2020.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until October 2020. Extending the scheme in its current form until July will provide workers, businesses and the economy with clarity on this vital support. After July, the Government will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. From August through to the end of October, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time while still receiving support from the scheme. Employers using the scheme will start contributing some of the costs of their workers’ salaries, substituting in part the contribution that the Government is currently making. The Government will outline more details of how this will work by the end of May.

11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the tourism sector beyond July 2020.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until October 2020. Extending the scheme in its current form until July will provide workers, businesses and the economy with clarity on this vital support. After July, the Government will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. From August through to the end of October, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time while still receiving support from the scheme. Employers using the scheme will start contributing some of the costs of their workers’ salaries, substituting in part the contribution that the Government is currently making. The Government will outline more details of how this will work by the end of May.

11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the agriculture sector beyond July 2020.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until October 2020. Extending the scheme in its current form until July will provide workers, businesses and the economy with clarity on this vital support. After July, the Government will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. From August through to the end of October, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time while still receiving support from the scheme. Employers using the scheme will start contributing some of the costs of their workers’ salaries, substituting in part the contribution that the Government is currently making. The Government will outline more details of how this will work by the end of May.

11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many new job starters have been excluded by the start date of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

As a result of incomplete information supplied in some PAYE full payment submissions, such as employee start dates, it is not possible to provide an answer to the question.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support small businesses by relaxing the three-week furlough period requirement for small businesses with small workforces to provide flexibility.

Employees must remain on furlough for a minimum of three weeks. This was a difficult decision but it is important that the scheme is consistent with public health guidance seeking to minimise the number of people outside their homes on a regular basis. It also protects employees by providing some certainty over their working arrangement. However, employees can be placed on furlough more than once while the scheme is open, and employers may rotate staff on furlough (for the minimum of three weeks each) if they choose.

This scheme supplements the other significant support announced for UK businesses, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the deferral of tax payments.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will add an exemption to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance allowing furloughed workers employed by faith-based organisations to participate in activities usually undertaken by volunteers in their faith community.

The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to support people who would otherwise have been made redundant. To prevent fraudulent claims, the Government made clear that individuals cannot work or volunteer for their organisation. This aims to protect individuals too; if workers were allowed to volunteer for their employer, the employer could ask them to effectively work full time while only paying them 80% of their wages. DCMS is working with other Government departments and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to identify areas where volunteers can contribute to the COVID-19 response.

28th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that dentists are not adversely affected by the £50,000 threshold for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those adversely affected by COVID-19. Some 95% of people who are mainly self-employed could benefit from this scheme, based on 2017-18 data.

The design of the SEISS, including the £50,000 threshold, means it is targeted at those who need it the most, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income. Those who had more than £50,000 from self-employment profits in 2017-18 had an average total income of more than £200,000.

Those with average trading profits above £50,000 could still benefit from other support. Individuals may have access to a range of grants and loans depending on their circumstances, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish the evidential basis for his decision to set £50,000 as the threshold for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those adversely affected by COVID-19. Some 95% of people who are mainly self-employed could benefit from this scheme, based on 2017-18 data.

The design of the SEISS, including the £50,000 threshold, means it is targeted at those who need it the most, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income. Those who had more than £50,000 from self-employment profits in 2017-18 had an average total income of more than £200,000.

Those with average trading profits above £50,000 could still benefit from other support. Individuals may have access to a range of grants and loans depending on their circumstances, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of adapting the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to provide further support for businesses who are unable to furlough staff due to the critical nature of their work yet are facing severe financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to support people who would otherwise have been made redundant. Furloughed employees cannot work for their employer and must remain on furlough for a minimum of three weeks. This is consistent with public health guidance seeking to minimise the number of people outside their homes on a regular basis.

This scheme supplements the other significant support announced for UK businesses, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need to introduce a package of financial support for veterinary practices in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Veterinary practices are eligible for a number of the business support schemes the Government has launched in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. These include VAT deferrals, Small Business Grant Funding, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, and the Job Retention Scheme.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs continues to engage with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, British Veterinary Association and other key stakeholders to ensure that we understand any potential economic impacts to veterinary practices following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need to introduce a package of financial support for dental practices in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. This support includes a commitment to pay 80% of the regular monthly wages, up to £2,500, of furloughed workers for four months, via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and help for the self-employed with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which will provide grants to those who are self-employed, or members of partnerships, worth 80% of their trading profits/partnership trading profits, also up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. All employed staff in dental practices, including support staff, could also be eligible for these schemes.

Dental and other healthcare practices may also benefit from measures, including:

  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief;
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL)
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • Through the Time To Pay scheme, businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether a regional impact assessment was conducted to inform the Self-employed Income Support scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) applies to eligible self-employed individuals across the UK. The scale of the support in different regions and nations of the UK will be dependent on the number of eligible individuals applying for the SEISS because they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to support the UK steel industry.

Prior to Covid 19, the government had already begun to take wide-ranging action to support the UK steel industry, including compensation for energy costs, supporting innovation and clean steel production – through the £315m Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and £250m Clean Steel Fund, and working with the industry to introduce steel procurement guidance.

Since the outbreak, the government has announced a comprehensive package of support for businesses and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

They come alongside the more than £1.6 billion that has been allocated by the UK Government to help the Welsh Government meet this exceptional challenge.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has discussed steps to support Welsh steel production with his Welsh Government counterparts.

Prior to Covid 19, the government had already begun to take wide-ranging action to support the UK steel industry, including compensation for energy costs, supporting innovation and clean steel production – through the £315m Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and £250m Clean Steel Fund, and working with the industry to introduce steel procurement guidance.

Since the outbreak, the government has announced a comprehensive package of support for businesses and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

They come alongside the more than £1.6 billion that has been allocated by the UK Government to help the Welsh Government meet this exceptional challenge.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment his Department has undertaken of the potential effect of maintaining different duty rates for (a) alternative fuel, including compressed natural gas, and (b) road fuels.

To support the decarbonisation of the UK transport sector, fuel duty rates for alternative fuels (e.g. LPG, CNG etc.) are lower than the main duty rate. Budget 2018 confirmed that the differential between the main rate of fuel and alternative fuel rates would continue until 2032, subject to a review in 2024 to give individuals and industry greater certainty.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his department has made of the potential merits of devolving the Climate Change Levy to the Welsh Government.