Daniel Zeichner Portrait

Daniel Zeichner

Labour - Cambridge

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

(since April 2020)
Petitions Committee
12th Mar 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Transport Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow Minister (Transport)
18th Sep 2015 - 29th Jun 2017
Science and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 26th Oct 2015
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
13th Jul 2015 - 26th Oct 2015


Department Event
Wednesday 18th May 2022
14:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Second Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
18 May 2022, 2:30 p.m.
The draft Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (Amendment) Order 2022
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Department Event
Wednesday 25th May 2022
11:30
Wales Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
25 May 2022, 11:30 a.m.
Wales
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Department Event
Thursday 23rd June 2022
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
23 Jun 2022, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Department Event
Wednesday 6th July 2022
11:30
Wales Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
6 Jul 2022, 11:30 a.m.
Wales
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Division Votes
Wednesday 27th April 2022
Elections Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 152 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 306 Noes - 213
Speeches
Monday 16th May 2022
Making Britain the Best Place to Grow Up and Grow Old
It is right that when the Government bring forward their programme, the Opposition criticise it, but it is slightly surprising …
Written Answers
Monday 16th May 2022
Food: UK Trade with EU
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of his …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 17th October 2019
Safety of taxi and private hire sector
That this House notes the hard work of the taxi and private hire trade, and that some of the legislation …
Bills
Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) 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 15th November 2021
1. Employment and earnings
6 January 2021, received £75 for December 2020 Parliamentary Panel Survey. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 02 November 2021)
EDM signed
Thursday 24th March 2022
Access to telemedical abortion care beyond September 2022
That this House is dismayed by Government plans to end the availability of telemedical abortion care services for early medical …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 26th February 2019
Terms of Withdrawal from the EU (Referendum) (No. 2) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Daniel Zeichner has voted in 557 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

10 Nov 2020 - Environment Bill (Thirteenth sitting) - View Vote Context
Daniel Zeichner voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Labour No votes vs 4 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 4 Noes - 9
View All Daniel Zeichner 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
Victoria Prentis (Conservative)
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(184 debate interactions)
Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(73 debate interactions)
Robert Goodwill (Conservative)
(32 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Transport
(23 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(18 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Daniel Zeichner's debates

Cambridge 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 most Cambridge signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Shooting of Badgers is licensed by Natural England as part of the DEFRA Badger cull. 24,000+ Badgers were shot in 2019.

Mark Allen, aged 18, drowned after jumping into a freezing reservoir on a hot day in June 2018.

In May 2019 we watched whilst 3 throwlines were installed where he died.

Mark could have possibly been saved if they were in place beforehand.

Given how many animals are sold online, we want Government to introduce regulation of all websites where animals are sold. Websites should be required to verify the identity of all sellers, and for young animals for sale pictures with their parents be posted with all listings.

Breed Specific Legislation fails to achieve what Parliament intended, to protect the public. It focuses on specific breeds, which fails to appreciate a dog is not aggressive purely on the basis of its breed. It allows seizure of other breeds, but the rules are not applied homogeneously by councils.


Latest EDMs signed by Daniel Zeichner

22nd March 2022
Daniel Zeichner signed this EDM on Thursday 24th March 2022

Access to telemedical abortion care beyond September 2022

Tabled by: Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Labour - Streatham)
That this House is dismayed by Government plans to end the availability of telemedical abortion care services for early medical abortions up to 9 weeks and 6 days gestation, beyond September 2022; notes that access to this temporary service during the covid-19 lockdowns was crucial to ensuring that women needed …
20 signatures
(Most recent: 28 Apr 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 14
Independent: 2
Plaid Cymru: 2
Green Party: 1
Conservative: 1
23rd September 2021
Daniel Zeichner signed this EDM on Thursday 21st October 2021

Campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall

Tabled by: Afzal Khan (Labour - Manchester, Gorton)
That this House welcomes the creation of the Covid Memorial Wall on Albert Embankment by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; notes that this memorial now includes over 150,000 hand-painted hearts to symbolise all those who lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic; praises the work of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Feb 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 97
Scottish National Party: 16
Liberal Democrat: 10
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Conservative: 4
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
View All Daniel Zeichner's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Daniel Zeichner, 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.


Daniel Zeichner has not been granted any Urgent Questions

2 Adjournment Debates led by Daniel Zeichner

Wednesday 8th September 2021
Monday 21st September 2020

2 Bills introduced by Daniel Zeichner


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 give powers to local authorities to regulate dockless bicycle-sharing schemes; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 24th July 2019
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

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 the exercise of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing functions in relation to persons about whom there are safeguarding or road safety concerns; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 19th July 2017
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

551 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
7th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what comparative assessment he has made of the support received by rural areas under (a) EU structural funds and (b) the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Government recognises the role EU Structural Funding has played in supporting jobs and growth opportunities across the UK. Leaving the European Union has provided us with a fresh opportunity to create a fund which invests in UK priorities and targets funding where it is needed most.

The UKSPF, worth over £2.6 billion, will help people access opportunity in places in need, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities, and people in disadvantaged groups across the UK. Further details about the UKSPF will be set out in due course.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, if he will publish his plans and objectives for the British stewardship of the COP process after COP26 in Glasgow.

The UK will formally take up the presidency of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 31 October 2021 in the opening plenary of the conference. The primary responsibility of the UK as the COP26 presidency is to preside over the meetings of the conference and steward the formal negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Once confirmed as the COP26 President, I will remain President of the COP until late the following year, when the next presidency takes over at the commencement of the next conference. The UK will fulfil its formal mandate during this year in chairing the COP Bureau, and working with the incoming presidency to prepare for COP27. Specific details of plans and objectives for the UK’s presidency year will be forthcoming after COP26, once the outcomes and agreements reached by the 197 Parties of the UNFCCC are known.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
24th Mar 2021
What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on tackling gender-pay disparities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The national gender pay gap is now at a record low, with the full-time gender pay gap at only 7%. Peterborough and Cambridgeshire also have pay gaps below the national average. Despite this, we need to keep making progress on this issue. Across the country, we will continue to make it easier for women to get into higher-paid jobs and sectors. As we build back from COVID-19 we will also look to increase the number of women in STEM professions, and to increase the availability of flexible working for everyone, to ensure the gender pay gap continues to reduce going forwards.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Attorney General, for what reason a record of the species involved is not collated when recording prosecutions of poaching offences.

Offences of poaching are usually charged under one of the following:

  • Section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828,
  • section 30 of the Game Act 1831 or
  • section 2 of the Poaching Prevention Act 1862.

There is no requirement to specify in an offence which type of animal the defendant was seeking to take or had taken, and in many cases it is not specified.

Therefore, the CPS is not able to keep any records of which species are involved in its prosecutions for poaching.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
27th May 2021
What recent assessment the Government has made of the (a) viability and (b) value for money of the Verify scheme.

Verify continues to work well, supporting 19 services. More than 8 million Verify accounts have been created, with over 2.3 million added since the start of the pandemic as citizens accessed critical online services.

Building on the lessons and experiences of Verify, and as we announced in last year's Spending Review, the Government Digital Service is collaborating with other departments - including the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC and Home Office - to develop a new login and identity assurance system that will make it easier for more people to use online services safely. While this new system is being developed, users and connected services will continue to rely on GOV.UK Verify. The Government has therefore decided to extend the current Verify service, enabling new users to sign up until April 2022.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Mar 2021
What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of GOV.UK Verify.

Verify continues to work well, in support of 22 government services. Over 8 million people have used Verify, with 2 million added in the last year as citizens accessed critical online services during the pandemic.

Building on the lessons and experiences of Verify, and as we announced in last year's Spending Review, the Government Digital Service is collaborating with other departments to develop a new login and identity assurance system that will make it easier for more people to use online services safely.

For example, we know that extra data sources will be needed for a more inclusive service, so we are also working with the Home Office on its digitisation of birth, marriage and death records.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress has been made on implementing a fully digital trade documentation system to help facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and reduce delays for (a) businesses reliant on just-in-time food supply chains and (b) other businesses.

In December 2020, the Government published the 2025 Border Strategy. As we set out in this strategy, we are committed to developing a Single Trade Window for the UK, which will create a single portal through which information required to import and export can be submitted to border agencies. We will invest £16m during 2021-22 to take forward the foundational elements of this project across Government.

Alongside the work to develop the UK’s Single Trade Window, we continue to identify and pursue opportunities to digitise border documentation wherever possible, including paperwork which stems from international requirements. Aligned with this, we are identifying opportunities to make permanent a number of digitisation changes which have been implemented as a short term response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to mitigate against (a) under-counting of populations in cities with large university populations not residing in that area as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and (b) potential under-funding allocated on that per-capita basis.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to his Department's guidance entitled, Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, MEPs and members of Devolved Administrations, when Ministers plan to recommence signing off directly correspondence from hon. Members.

The right of MPs to take up constituents’ cases and other issues directly with the Government is an important part of the democratic process and underlines the accountability of Ministers to Parliament. It is essential that MPs receive carefully considered and prompt responses to their enquiries from all Government Departments, which address constituents’ concerns.

Further to the Leader of the House of Common’s comments during the Business Statement of 6 May 2020, the Cabinet Office guidance for departments on handling correspondence states that replies to letters from MPs by officials should only be authorised in certain exceptional cases, for example, when dealing with a large volume of letters on the same issue or under certain circumstances where an official reply would be more appropriate.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to introduce a cap on fees charged by third-party food delivery apps to restaurants.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce a cap on fees charged by third-party food delivery apps to restaurants.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish a list of Innovate UK funding competition winners for 2021 by combined authority area.

All Innovate UK (IUK) funded projects are listed in the transparency data published on the GOV.UK website. This includes postcode, Region, LEP, and Local Authority information. Details of funded projects can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/innovate-uk-funded-projects.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the end of the EU's orphan works exception on academic institutions; and whether his Department is making an assessment of ways in which UK regulations can be updated to enable research through an orphan works exception.

The Government engaged with stakeholders and published guidance in January 2020 on the removal of the exception for affected institutions during the transition period. The UK’s orphan works licensing scheme continues to be available, as do exceptions to copyright for purposes including research and private study. The Government presently has no plans to update these.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when Vivacity Labs, operating on behalf of the Department, first used cameras that use artificial intelligence to monitor pedestrians to improve the collection of social distancing data in Cambridgeshire.

Vivacity Labs is one of many COVID-19 related projects funded through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Vivacity Labs project referred to was supported through the Innovate UK COVID-19 call for business-led innovation in response to global disruption due to the pandemic.

Vivacity Labs used smart sensors that do not pick up images to monitor road usage.

The data sets being used in this project date from April 2019. This project is applying a new algorithm to this existing data and analyses the spatial differences (gaps, interactions etc.) between different modes of transport and not individuals.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on how many occasions he and his Department have had discussions with (a) Nvidia and (b) Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia.

Departments publish quarterly details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations on GOV.UK. Details for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

The latest published data covers January to March 2020. Data for April to June 2020 will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many UK (a) businesses and (b) universities are accredited as Investors in People.

Investors in People is responsible for awarding the Investors in People standard. Since 1 February 2017 this has been a Community Interest Company, which is not part of the Government.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to make an assessment of the potential financial effect on the higher education institutions of UK Research and Innovation's review of its Open Access policy.

The Government’s university research sustainability taskforce is examining how best to respond to the challenges for the sector resulting from COVID-19, with the aim of sustaining the university research base and its capability to contribute effectively to UK society and economy in the recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. Given the broader focus and urgency of addressing the impacts of COVID-19, at this time, the outcome of the UKRI Open Access Review does not form part of the taskforce's consideration.

The OA Review is independent from Plan S. Working internationally however, is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, a consortium comprising research funders and foundations from across the world and supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council. The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality, and is built around the Plan S principles. UKRI will consider outcomes of the work of cOAlition S as part of its ongoing Open Access Review alongside other evidence and inputs. The outcomes of the review will determine decisions on UKRI’s OA policy.

As part of the UKRI open access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis to help assess the possible implications for various groups, including higher education institutions. This analysis will include direct costs and benefits and wider social and economic implications, and will be considered alongside other evidence gathered through the review, including via the consultation on a proposed UKRI policy which has recently closed. The consideration of the COVID-19 impacts on research sector, including economic implications, will be taken into account in the UKRI review.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if UK Research and Innovation’s review of Open Access policy is independent from the work of the cOAlition S consortium.

The Government’s university research sustainability taskforce is examining how best to respond to the challenges for the sector resulting from COVID-19, with the aim of sustaining the university research base and its capability to contribute effectively to UK society and economy in the recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. Given the broader focus and urgency of addressing the impacts of COVID-19, at this time, the outcome of the UKRI Open Access Review does not form part of the taskforce's consideration.

The OA Review is independent from Plan S. Working internationally however, is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, a consortium comprising research funders and foundations from across the world and supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council. The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality, and is built around the Plan S principles. UKRI will consider outcomes of the work of cOAlition S as part of its ongoing Open Access Review alongside other evidence and inputs. The outcomes of the review will determine decisions on UKRI’s OA policy.

As part of the UKRI open access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis to help assess the possible implications for various groups, including higher education institutions. This analysis will include direct costs and benefits and wider social and economic implications, and will be considered alongside other evidence gathered through the review, including via the consultation on a proposed UKRI policy which has recently closed. The consideration of the COVID-19 impacts on research sector, including economic implications, will be taken into account in the UKRI review.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the UK Research and Innovation’s review of Open Access policy will be considered as part of the work undertaken by the Department’s research sustainability taskforce.

The Government’s university research sustainability taskforce is examining how best to respond to the challenges for the sector resulting from COVID-19, with the aim of sustaining the university research base and its capability to contribute effectively to UK society and economy in the recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. Given the broader focus and urgency of addressing the impacts of COVID-19, at this time, the outcome of the UKRI Open Access Review does not form part of the taskforce's consideration.

The OA Review is independent from Plan S. Working internationally however, is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, a consortium comprising research funders and foundations from across the world and supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council. The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality, and is built around the Plan S principles. UKRI will consider outcomes of the work of cOAlition S as part of its ongoing Open Access Review alongside other evidence and inputs. The outcomes of the review will determine decisions on UKRI’s OA policy.

As part of the UKRI open access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis to help assess the possible implications for various groups, including higher education institutions. This analysis will include direct costs and benefits and wider social and economic implications, and will be considered alongside other evidence gathered through the review, including via the consultation on a proposed UKRI policy which has recently closed. The consideration of the COVID-19 impacts on research sector, including economic implications, will be taken into account in the UKRI review.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish further guidance to councils on the top-up to local business grant funds scheme.

Guidance for Local Authorities on the Local Authority Discretionary Fund was published on 13 May. This guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses

At this stage, there are no plans to publish further guidance.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to issue guidance to service providers on how to implement reasonable adjustments to enable people who are unable to social distance due to disability to access services.

The Government took into account people with disabilities when developing the guidance. Our guidance does not replace existing employment, health and safety or equalities legislation. It provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

The safer workplaces guidance provides some suggestions to help employers make their workplaces COVID-19 secure for their employees, visitors and customers. We expect all businesses to approach reopening in a sensible way, taking account of the Government’s guidance and discussing with neighbouring businesses and their local authorities where applicable.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance he has provided to businesses on how to make social distancing accessible for people with sight loss and other hidden disabilities.

The Government took into account people with disabilities when developing the guidance.

Our guidance does not replace existing employment, health and safety or equalities legislation. It provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

The safer workplaces guidance provides some suggestions to help employers make their workplaces COVID-19 secure for their employees, visitors and customers. We expect all businesses to approach reopening in a sensible way, taking account of the Government’s guidance and discussing with neighbouring businesses and their local authorities where applicable.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the New High-Volume Manufacturers of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment guide applies to voluntary manufacturers of masks, face shields and face coverings.

The Government has published two new guides to support businesses in how they can supply safe PPE, one focussed on large manufacturers and another for small producers. The Office for Product Safety and Standards has provided advice to over 300 business and is working directly with a number of small voluntary groups to assist them in understanding and meeting the requirements, including the need for third party assessment. It is also working with larger producers to see whether their approved designs could be used by small producers and community groups.

There is also separate guidance for manufacturers and makers of face coverings, not intended as Personal Protective Equipment but for general use by members of the public. All three guides can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/opss-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-business-and-local-authorities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK remaining on British Summer Time to (a) encourage active travel, (b) extend the tourist season and (c) reduce energy usage as part of the recovery plan from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government believes that the current daylight-saving arrangements represent the optimal use of the available daylight across the UK. We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support changing the current system of clock changes, including for travel, tourism and energy usage.

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 discussions he had with representatives of Royal Mail on the decision to stop delivery of letters on Saturday and the effect of that decision on Royal Mail's statutory obligation to provide universal postal services.

The Universal Service Obligation is set out in the Postal Services Act 2011.

Ministers have no role in temporary changes to the service level. The regulatory conditions that require Royal Mail to deliver letters 6 days a week as part of the universal postal service also provide that Royal Mail is not required to sustain these services without interruption, suspension or restriction in the event of an emergency. Ofcom has acknowledged in this context that the COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency.

There is a clear and transparent process for how longer-term changes to service standards would be considered and any changes would need to be made through secondary legislation and agreed by Parliament. Ministers and officials have regular discussions with Ofcom and Royal Mail on matters relating to postal services.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to amend the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to remove the requirement for the lender to ask for personal guarantees.

Under the British Business Bank’s scheme rules, Personal Guarantees of any form cannot be requested to support a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facility below £250,000. This has been made clear in the guidance provided to all the CBILS accredited lenders.

Personal guarantees for facilities above £250,000 may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but they exclude the Principal Private Residence (PPR) which cannot be used for a Personal Guarantee. Recoveries under these loans are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.

These terms were updated on 3 April 2020. The British Business Bank has communicated that the changes should be retrospectively applied by lenders for any CBILS facilities offered since 23 March 2020.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of temporarily suspending the application of the Package Travel Regulations for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

Under existing consumer law, consumers are able to choose a voucher or credit note should they wish. We are engaging with the package travel sector and others to assess the impact of the covid-19 outbreak. We recognise the extremely difficult circumstances businesses are currently facing, which is why on 17 March the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses, in addition to the £30bn support announced in the budget.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she is taking to ensure that the new visa scheme for international researchers announced on 27 January 2020 enables science and technology companies in (a) Cambridge and (b) the UK to access the global talent that they need to innovate and grow.

The Government is committed to making the UK a global science superpower that attracts brilliant people and businesses from across the world.

The Global Talent route makes several changes to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route that will make it easier for the UK’s science and research community to recruit global talent. The route includes a new UKRI Endorsed Funder fast-track route for scientists, researchers, their teams and dependents. The UK’s digital technology sector will also benefit from the Global Talent route. Tech Nation will remain an endorsing body for highly-skilled entrepreneurs and employees working in digital technology. In addition, there will no longer be a cap on the number of visas available.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of Innovate UK core funding has been awarded to (a) SMEs, (b) large companies and (c) academia in each year since 2010, by sector.

The table below includes grants offered to organisations within the three categories requested. This does not provide an industry sector breakdown as this information is not recorded.

10/11

11/12

12/13

13/14

14/15

15/16

16/17

17/18

18/19

19/20

Academic

21%

17%

14%

14%

13%

15%

13%

13%

13%

13%

Large

28%

24%

37%

18%

14%

15%

11%

14%

10%

7%

SME

48%

57%

46%

63%

66%

60%

68%

68%

69%

70%


Totals will not sum to 100% due to organisations outside of these categories. This also excludes funding for the Knowledge Transfer Network, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Catapults and other Centres, and grants provided through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Newton fund, and through programmes managed by institutes.

The figures for 2019 to 2020 show funding at the time of the question rather than final year-end figures. These are subject to change as the current financial year has not yet concluded.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of project collaborators in Innovate UK core funding grants awarded to Higher Education Institutions were (a) SMEs and (b) large companies in each sector in each year since 2010.

The table below describes the proportion of Innovate UK projects that have an academic partner with either a large business or SME. As some projects will involve both large businesses and SMEs, the percentages will not add up to 100%. This does not provide an industry sector breakdown as this information is not recorded.

The figures for 2019 to 2020 show funding at the time of the question rather than final year-end figures. These are subject to change as the current financial year has not yet concluded.

10/11

11/12

12/13

13/14

14/15

15/16

16/17

17/18

18/19

19/20

Proportion Large

46%

45%

63%

50%

47%

47%

36%

34%

22%

29%

Proportion SME

80%

76%

68%

86%

86%

83%

89%

85%

85%

79%

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Answer of 14 December 2020 to Question 910164 on the protection of shop workers, what recent discussions Ministers in his Department have had with supermarkets on the use of live facial recognition in their stores.

The Minister for Crime and Policing has not had any discussions with supermarkets since the Answer of 14 December 2020.

The use of biometric data (including facial images) by private companies to identify individuals is regulated by the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the legislation, data processing must be fair, lawful and transparent. Companies would generally need to show that the use of biometric data was necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, as defined by the legislation. Individuals who consider their data has been misused can make complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, the independent regulator of the legislation.

On 27 November, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) published its review into bias in algorithmic decision-making, which explored the different ways that algorithmic decision-making may affect protected characteristic data, such as race. We will respond to the report in due course. Facial recognition also remains a high priority for the ICO, which has indicated that it will be publishing more about its use by the private sector later this year.



22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for (a) levels of discrimination against people from BAME backgrounds and (b) human rights of the use of live facial recognition by private companies.

The Minister for Crime and Policing has not had any discussions with supermarkets since the Answer of 14 December 2020.

The use of biometric data (including facial images) by private companies to identify individuals is regulated by the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the legislation, data processing must be fair, lawful and transparent. Companies would generally need to show that the use of biometric data was necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, as defined by the legislation. Individuals who consider their data has been misused can make complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, the independent regulator of the legislation.

On 27 November, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) published its review into bias in algorithmic decision-making, which explored the different ways that algorithmic decision-making may affect protected characteristic data, such as race. We will respond to the report in due course. Facial recognition also remains a high priority for the ICO, which has indicated that it will be publishing more about its use by the private sector later this year.



12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps are being taken to reduce the risk of covid-19 infection for food bank (a) teams and (b) users.

Government has put into place measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS, and save lives. Current guidance states that you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Exceptions have been made to go to work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if this cannot reasonably be done from home. This only applies in England. There is separate guidance on coronavirus for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In order to reduce the risks relating to coronavirus, volunteers, including those working at food banks, should follow guidance on social distancing (hands, face, space) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and working in a COVID-secure environment https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Specific guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups on how they can involve volunteers safely in their work during the pandemic is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enabling-safe-and-effective-volunteering-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The government has not made a specific assessment of the effect of COVID-19 infections at UK foodbanks.


The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has made a total of £22.7m available to 911 organisations supporting food supply from the £750m voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support package. This will support the ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 infection rates on the (a) number of UK foodbank volunteers and (b) ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

Government has put into place measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS, and save lives. Current guidance states that you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Exceptions have been made to go to work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if this cannot reasonably be done from home. This only applies in England. There is separate guidance on coronavirus for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In order to reduce the risks relating to coronavirus, volunteers, including those working at food banks, should follow guidance on social distancing (hands, face, space) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and working in a COVID-secure environment https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Specific guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups on how they can involve volunteers safely in their work during the pandemic is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enabling-safe-and-effective-volunteering-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The government has not made a specific assessment of the effect of COVID-19 infections at UK foodbanks.


The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has made a total of £22.7m available to 911 organisations supporting food supply from the £750m voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support package. This will support the ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the CEO of the Charity Commission on the use of charity reserves since in each year since 2017.

The Secretary of State and Minister for Civil Society meet the Charity Commission on a regular basis to discuss a range of matters that are relevant to the charity sector. These have included discussions on the charity sector's financial resilience in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Charity reserves make an important contribution to charities' financial resilience and their ability to respond to financial shocks. All registered charities in England and Wales must explain their policy on reserves in their trustees’ annual report, stating the level of reserves held and why they are held. We welcome the Charity Commission's guidance on charity reserves, which was originally published in 2016 and subsequently refreshed in 2018. The guidance sets out clearly what reserves are, how to develop a reserves policy, the legal requirements for publishing the reserves policy and reporting on it, and what trustees should do to keep proper oversight of their charity’s reserves. It continued to make clear that all charities need a policy that establishes a level of reserves that is right for the charity and clearly explains to its stakeholders why holding these reserves is necessary.

Building on this guidance, the Charity Commission provided clear advice to charities on financial management in 2020, including on the appropriate use of reserves in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has made no assessment of the specific impact of this advice.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on jobs in the charity sector of the advice of the CEO of the Charity Commission given between 2017 and 2019 on the use of charity reserves.

The Secretary of State and Minister for Civil Society meet the Charity Commission on a regular basis to discuss a range of matters that are relevant to the charity sector. These have included discussions on the charity sector's financial resilience in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Charity reserves make an important contribution to charities' financial resilience and their ability to respond to financial shocks. All registered charities in England and Wales must explain their policy on reserves in their trustees’ annual report, stating the level of reserves held and why they are held. We welcome the Charity Commission's guidance on charity reserves, which was originally published in 2016 and subsequently refreshed in 2018. The guidance sets out clearly what reserves are, how to develop a reserves policy, the legal requirements for publishing the reserves policy and reporting on it, and what trustees should do to keep proper oversight of their charity’s reserves. It continued to make clear that all charities need a policy that establishes a level of reserves that is right for the charity and clearly explains to its stakeholders why holding these reserves is necessary.

Building on this guidance, the Charity Commission provided clear advice to charities on financial management in 2020, including on the appropriate use of reserves in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has made no assessment of the specific impact of this advice.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what covid-19 safety guidance his Department has issued to arts organisations planning to stream live events from closed venues during the covid-19 outbreak.

From Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December, performing arts venues can continue to operate under Stages 1 and 2 of the performing arts roadmap. This means that professional rehearsal and training, and performances for broadcast or recording purposes, may continue as these are professional activities that cannot take place at home. However performances to live audiences cannot take place, either indoors or outdoors. During this period non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place. Further information can be found in the performing arts guidance on gov.uk.

29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he is seeking a legally binding guarantee to keep Arm as a separate entity with a separate business model that is not subject to US intellectual property provisions after Arm is sold from Softbank to Nvidia.

As provided in previous parliamentary responses, ARM is an important part of the UK's tech sector and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. While acquisitions are primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, the Government monitors these closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take action. We are scrutinising the deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK. The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.

29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he is seeking a legally binding exemption from Export Administration Regulations or Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations for the sale of ARM from Softbank to Nvidia.

As provided in previous parliamentary responses, ARM is an important part of the UK's tech sector and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. While acquisitions are primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, the Government monitors these closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take action. We are scrutinising the deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK. The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the national security implications of the Nvidia/Softbank Arm deal.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the acquisition of Arm by US company Nvidia.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what mechanism he will use to make any post-offer undertakings provided by Nvidia with regards to Arm legally binding.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to allow cultural organisations to continue producing approved socially-distanced music and theatre performances.

Professional Activity in line with Stage 4 of the performing arts roadmap can continue as it has done previously.

Venues such as theatres, concert halls and other entertainment venues that are already able to host larger numbers, and are Covid secure in line with the relevant guidance, will continue to be able to do so - as long as groups of more than one household are limited to six.

Venues will need to ensure that groups are kept separate from one another to ensure they do not mix and do not exceed the new legal limits. They will also need to adhere to new legal requirements around track and trace.

22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on how many occasions he and his Department have had discussions with (a) Nvidia and (b) Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, on a variety of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what exemptions the Government has sought from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control regulation in order to ensure that UK companies are guaranteed access to their own products.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has not sought exemptions from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control regime.

15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 September 2020 to Question 82137 on Data Protection: EU Law, what assessment he has made of the cost to businesses of accessing alternative legal mechanisms; and what plans the Government has in place to support businesses in accessing those mechanisms.

The UK is seeking data adequacy decisions from the EU under the GDPR and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) and the EU’s adequacy assessment of the UK is underway. The UK remains confident that an adequacy agreement can be reached by the end of the transition period. However, we are taking sensible steps to prepare for a situation where this has not been achieved.

In such a scenario, organisations would be able to use alternative legal mechanisms to continue receiving personal data from the EU. Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are the most common legal safeguard and will be the relevant mitigation for most organisations.The implementation cost for SCCs would vary between different organisations, in part depending on the size of the business in question.

DCMS is working with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to ensure that all available guidance is simple, straightforward and actionable. The ICO has created an interactive SCCs tool for businesses to use and further guidance can be found on GOV.UK and the ICO’s website regarding steps organisations may be required to take relating to data protection and data flows by the end of the transition period.

15th Sep 2020
ARM
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will refer the Nvidia / SoftBank Arm deal to the Competition and Markets Authority under the 2002 Enterprise Act on national security grounds.

The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.


25th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on data adequacy negotiations with other trade partners of the agreement with the US on access to electronic data.

It is our intention to secure positive adequacy decisions from the EU to allow personal data to continue to flow freely from the EU/EEA to the UK. We are seeking positive adequacy decisions under both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED), before the end of the transition period.

We see the EU’s assessment process on data adequacy as technical and confirmatory of the reality that the UK is operating the same regulatory frameworks as the EU, and the UK considers it self-evidently in the interest of both sides to have adequacy decisions in place by the end of the year. No other third country's standards have ever been closer to the EU's.

The UK-US Data Access Agreement is a vital tool to facilitate law enforcement in the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of serious crime. This world-leading agreement will deliver on the people’s priorities by dramatically speeding up investigations and prosecutions of terrorists, child abusers and other serious criminals and ensuring children are protected faster.The Agreement includes significant data protection and privacy safeguards and is compatible with UK and EU data protection legislation and, therefore, is consistent with the UK seeking a positive adequacy decision from the EU.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether covid-19 social distancing guidelines for the indoor play sector need to be signed off by the (a) Health and Safety Executive and (b) Public Health England before the indoor play sector can reopen.

Yes, guidance for the indoor play sector needs to be signed off by Public Health England and Health and Safety Executive. We will be working closely with both organisations to develop guidance for this sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of the £200m assigned to the National Lottery Community Fund as emergency covid-19 funding for smaller charities has been received by charities.

The Coronavirus Community Support Fund was set up to help maintain and enhance services for vulnerable people affected by the current crisis, where delivery organisations are experiencing income disruption and/or increased demand for their services.

To date, 934 grants have been awarded to charities and social enterprises in England, totalling approximately £20m. Of this payments have been made to 463 organisations, totalling £5,163,403.

The funding is being distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund and is open for applications from small and medium charities and social enterprises.

How to apply: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/covid-19/learn-about-applying-for-emergency-funding-in-england

We have published clear and comprehensive guidance on the full £750 million package of support for charities and how organisations can apply for it on Gov.uk. This guidance will be updated frequently: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19

19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to Question 383 the oral contribution of the Minister for Digital and Culture to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on 9 June 2020, whether it remains his Department's policy to bring forward legislative proposals alongside the response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation full response in Autumn, 2020.

The Government is committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to develop the legislation. We will publish a full government response in the autumn. Following that, legislation will be ready in this session.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will undertake a new risk assessment for (a) boat owners and (b) caravan owners staying overnight in their caravans.

Our ambition is to reopen holiday accommodation, including private boats, boat hire, and caravans, for overnight stays in step three of the government's recovery strategy. All decisions on reopening will be based on the latest scientific evidence and regularly reviewed public health assessments.

The government has engaged closely with the waterways sector and the holiday & home parks sector to prepare guidance that will allow the sector to reopen safely, as quickly as possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending museums and galleries tax relief to remove the limitations on selling exhibitions.

The objective of the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief is to encourage the creation of more and higher quality permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions, as well as to support touring of the best exhibitions across the country and abroad, raising the UK’s profile internationally.

The Relief is designed for organisations which display works of historic, scientific, artistic or cultural interest.

The Government continues to monitor the take-up and impact of the relief on the museums sector and the public purse, particularly with respect to the sunset clause in the relief which means it is due to come to an end in March 2022.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 6 May 2020 to Question 42080 on Internet: Safety, for what reasons the Government no longer plans to publish a full response to the Online Harms White Paper in Spring 2020.

As is the case right across Government, we are prioritising our handling of COVID-19 to support our citizens, sectors, and public bodies. However, DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to minimise any delay and will publish a full government response as soon as possible, later this year.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Government plans to publish a full response to the Online Harms White Paper.

The Government is committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. We intend to publish a full Government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation later this year, and will follow this with legislation once parliamentary time allows.

19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with the BBC on (a) the role of programming in supporting public morale and (b) replaying the the 1966 World Cup match during the covid-19 outbreak.

As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead. It has now announced a wide-ranging package of measures to help keep the nation informed, educated, and entertained through these unprecedented times.

Decisions on the content that the BBC decides to show, including whether or not it could replay the 1966 World Cup match, are a matter for the BBC which is independent of the government.

31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he would issue guidance on the arrangements for supporting schools and other educational institutions that will be welcoming the children of Ukrainian refugees who have recently come to the UK as soon as possible.

The department stands with Ukraine and continues to work across government to ensure we are supporting all Ukrainians entering the UK.

On the 1 April, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote a letter to local chief executives and directors of children’s services. The letter confirms that all school-aged children and young people who arrive from Ukraine will have the right to access suitable education and childcare whilst in the UK. The letter can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/secretary-of-state-letter-to-local-authorities-about-children-arriving-from-ukraine?utm_source=01%20April%202022%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19

The Secretary of State has reminded local authorities that they are able to use flexibilities to admit above the published admission number and exceed the infant class size limit, as well as using the in-year Fair Access Protocol (FAP) to ensure all school-aged children can access suitable education. Guidance on the FAP can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1012993/FAP_Guidance.pdf

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published:

The department has also updated the guidance on school access rights for pupils from overseas, published here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/schools-admissions-applications-from-overseas-children?utm_source=01%20April%202022%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19, and are adding some questions and answers to DLUHC’s Homes for Ukraine frequently asked questions page, published here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homes-for-ukraine-scheme-frequently-asked-questions?utm_source=01%20April%202022%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19.

The above pieces of guidance were also communicated directly to local authorities on the 1 April 2022 via the department’s daily sector bulletin email.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason his Department did not include the food sector in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee; and if he will reconsider its exclusion to help promote a sustainable future for British farming and enhance UK food security.

Through the Free Courses for Jobs offer, we are making courses available that offer good wage outcomes and address skills needs in the economy, empowering adults with the tools they need to secure a better job.

We have identified hundreds of courses that can give adults the skills they need in the labour market, and this includes agriculture and land-based engineering qualifications.

Many of the qualifications available support employers regardless of their sector, including those in the food and drink industry – for example, business, accountancy, and digital qualifications.

We are keeping the list of qualifications and the sector subject areas in scope under review and will consider requests for including courses that meet the published criteria.

Qualifications not included in this offer will still be eligible for Advanced Learner Loans. Advanced Learner Loans are income-contingent loans that provide extensive coverage of regulated qualifications at level 3 to level 6, helping to meet the upfront tuition fees. Applications in the 2019/20 academic year have been to study at nearly 450 training providers, and over 3000 qualifications are currently in scope.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on providing urgent assurances to international students applying to UK universities that they will be granted a visa under the Student Route in the event that their institution adopts a blended learning approach for 2021-22 in response to ongoing covid-19 restrictions.

My department and I speak regularly with our counterparts in the Home Office about how visa and immigration policies may affect students.

International students are permitted to start a course from overseas through distance learning without a visa. These concessions are kept under regular review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for student mental health services to meet the increased demand resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

Protecting student and staff wellbeing is vital - these are difficult times and it is important students can still access the mental health and wellbeing support that they need. We recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. I have engaged with universities on this issue, and have written to Vice Chancellors on numerous occasions, outlining that student welfare should be prioritised.

We have worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded with up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform, designed to work alongside existing services and to bridge gaps in support that arise from this unprecedented situation. This resource provides dedicated one-to-one phone, text and web chat facilities, as well as a collaborative online platform providing vital mental health and wellbeing resources.

Ensuring that students have access to high-quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why I asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. I am delighted that they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year, because no student should be left behind at this challenging time.

Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in the academic year 2021/22 through proposed reforms to Strategic Priorities grant funding, to help address the challenges to student mental health posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard to reach students.

The government has also worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans. We have also made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to higher education providers this financial year.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has provided over £10 million to leading mental health charities including charities like Young Minds and Place 2 Be, which young people can access to support their mental health.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the mental health charity Mind and the Every Mind Matters website: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of higher education students in England in the academic year 2020-21 have had applications for a full maintenance loan declined as a result of not being able to provide information about their parent or guardian’s financial circumstances because the definition of estrangement, as outlined in the current Student Support Regulations, was not met.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. I have written to universities and other higher education (HE) providers to highlight the vulnerability of estranged students and ask them to prioritise this group for additional support.

The Student Loans Company (SLC) does not hold readily available data on the number of people who applied for means-tested living costs support but did not provide household financial information to support their application and then subsequently made a maintenance loan application on the basis of being estranged from their family.

The SLC data for new and returning full-time undergraduate students for the 2020/21 academic year suggests that 7,917 applicants originally stated they were estranged when applying for a maintenance loan. Of these, 598 applicants (7.55%) have so far been awarded only the non-means tested basic rate of maintenance loan because they have either not demonstrated they were estranged or otherwise independent, or they have not provided any household financial information.

7,319 of the 7,917 applicants (92.45%) have so far been awarded their entitlement as an estranged student, as they requested. Students who have so far been awarded the non-means tested basic rate of maintenance loan only may be awarded a higher rate maintenance loan if they provide the required information at a later point in the academic year.

All eligible students qualify for a partially means-tested loan for living costs. Students on the lowest incomes, including most students assessed as estranged from their parents, will qualify for the maximum loan for living costs which has been increased by 2.9% for the current 2020/21 academic year and 3.1% for 2021/22 to record levels in cash terms.

The government has meanwhile worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that HE providers can draw upon existing funding this academic year to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students. HE providers are able to use OfS Student Premium funding worth around £256 million towards student hardship funds. We have also made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to HE providers this financial year. HE providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

Additional bursaries are offered by some HE providers for students who are estranged from their families.

I would be happy to meet with the hon. Member for Cambridge to discuss this matter.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what amount of expired Apprenticeship Levy funding has been reclaimed from each NHS foundation trust in the East of England.

As the NHS is made up of a large number of diverse employers, it is not possible to identify the amount of expired apprenticeship levy funds for the NHS in England as a whole. This information is therefore not held centrally.

Moreover, due to taxpayer confidentiality, we are unable to publish the amount that individual employers, including individual NHS Trusts, have contributed through the apprenticeship levy or the amount of funds that have been spent or have expired.

The funds in apprenticeship service accounts are available for levy-paying employers to use for 24 months before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis.

Employers can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many apprenticeships they offer and when they offer the apprenticeships. We do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will need or want to use all the funds available to them, but they are able to do so if they wish. Funds raised by the levy are used to support the whole apprenticeship system. This means that employers’ unused funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training.

As we set out in the Spending Review, we will again be making available £2.5 billion for investment in apprenticeships in the 2021-22 financial year, which is double that spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

We are working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, employers and stakeholders to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit the apprentices it needs to deliver high-quality care. There are 74 high-quality apprenticeship standards in the health and science sector, including a complete nursing apprentice pathway from entry-level through to postgraduate level.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to introduce an NHS apprenticeship fund to ensure that unused apprenticeship levy funds are retained in NHS budgets; and if he will make a statement.

The funds in apprenticeship service accounts are available for levy-paying employers, including those in the NHS, to use for 24 months before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis. Employers in the NHS can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many apprenticeships they offer and when they offer the apprenticeships.

We do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will need or want to use all the funds available to them, but they are able to do so if they wish. Funds raised by the levy are used to support the whole apprenticeship system. This means that employers’ unused funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training. There are no plans to introduce an NHS apprenticeship fund to retain unused apprenticeship levy funds in NHS budgets.

We will again be making available £2.5 billion for investment in apprenticeships in the 2021-22 financial year, which is double that spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

In August 2020, the government announced a new financial package worth £172 million to support healthcare employers increase participation in nursing degree apprenticeships.

In addition to this funding, NHS employers in England will benefit from £2,000 for each apprentice they hire as a new employee aged under 25, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over, up until 31 March 2021 as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

We continue to work closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, employers, and stakeholders to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit the apprentices it needs to deliver high-quality care.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much additional funding for costs arising from the covid-19 outbreak has been made available to schools in Cambridgeshire during the 2020-21 academic year.

The first window for schools to claim funding back for exceptional costs due to COVID-19 incurred between March and July 2020 closed on 21 July 2020. Payments against claims made within the scope of the fund were made for schools and academies in September and November 2020.

In the first window, claims were also permitted for costs outside of the published scope of the fund. After a period of assessment, it was decided that the Department would not reimburse costs made outside of the standard categories.

A second claims window, covering the same period for the standard categories but with the additional category of summer holiday food, closed on 22 December 2020. Claims made in this window are due to be paid in March 2021.

The data in the following table shows the total value of claims made by schools in Cambridgeshire. The table also shows the value of payments made against these payments to date, the amount due to be paid, and the total amount of funding the Department will have paid to schools in Cambridgeshire following the payment of claims made in the second window.

Value of claims received

Value of claims paid

Value of claims due to be paid in March

Total value of funding

Cambridgeshire

£1,899,769

£1,201,730

£448,733

£1,650,463

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide urgent guidance on how home-educated students who cannot access teacher assessments will receive A-level and GCSE qualifications.

Although exams are the fairest way we have of assessing what a student knows, we cannot guarantee all students will be in a position to fairly sit their exams this summer. In line with other UK nations, the Department has taken the decision to cancel this year's GCSEs, A and AS level exams.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, confirmed in his statement on 6 January 2021 that the grades awarded to pupils will be based on a form of teacher assessment. The department and Ofqual have launched a two-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade. The consultation can be accessed from the Ofqual website and will be open until 29 January.

6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether applicants to higher education whose families are settled in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme (pre-settled and settled) will be eligible for (a) home fee status and (b) undergraduate, postgraduate, and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the academic year 2021-22.

Current EU principles of equal treatment will continue to apply for those covered by the citizens’ rights provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement, the European Economic Area-European Free Trade Association (EEA-EFTA) Separation Agreement and the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement. This means that EEA and Swiss nationals, and their family members, who are covered by the relevant agreements, and who have been granted settled or presettled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, will be eligible for support on broadly the same basis as now, subject to meeting the residency requirements. Close family members living overseas will be able to join an EEA or Swiss citizen resident here after the end of the transition period, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. Children born or adopted after December 2020 are also eligible if their parent is covered by one of the Withdrawal Agreements.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools have made successful bids for additional funding from the fund for exceptional costs associated with coronavirus in (a) Cambridgeshire and (b) the UK from March to July 2020.

The first window for schools to claim funding back for exceptional costs due to the COVID-19 outbreak incurred between March and July closed on 21 July. Payments against claims made within the scope of the fund were made for schools and academies in September.

Claims were also permitted for costs outside of the published scope of the fund. An assessment is currently being undertaken to determine which of these other costs can be included. To avoid a further delay in paying the standard costs in any claim still being assessed, we paid those to schools and academies in November. We expect to write out to schools and academies in November to confirm the outcome of the assessment and will arrange further payments at that time.

The data in the following table shows the number of claims made in total in both England and Cambridgeshire. The table also shows how many of those claims have had some level of payment made against them, and how many claims contain an element that is currently being assessed. As such, there are no unsuccessful claims at this stage. As education is a devolved power, the claims data is only representative of schools in England.

Total number of claims received

Number of claims with some level of payment made

Number of claims with some element of ongoing assessment

Cambridgeshire

189

184

56

England

14,075

13,420

6,435

20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether EU citizens with (a) pre-settled and (b) settled status will be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the academic year 2021-22.

EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and who meet the relevant eligibility requirements in force at the time of course commencement, will have access to home fee status and student financial support.

We have agreed with the EU that current EU principles of equal treatment will continue to apply for those covered by the citizens’ rights provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that EU nationals resident in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 will be eligible for support on a similar basis to domestic students. They have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

EU nationals (and their family members) living in the UK before the end of the transition period who are migrant or frontier workers, or who are self-employed, as well as those who have the right of permanent residence (settled status), will also be eligible for maintenance support, subject to meeting the usual residence requirements.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to mandate universities to publish publicly their covid-19 risk assessments.

Higher education (HE) providers have a legal responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees, students and other people on site.

As part of the process of opening buildings and campuses to staff and students, HE providers should produce risk assessments for both working and communal environments. These will vary significantly based on the needs and circumstances of individual providers. Risk assessments will inform the risk mitigations to ensure all areas of the institution are COVID-19 secure.

HE providers are autonomous institutions and it is not for the government to mandate publication of these risk assessments. However, on 10 September, the department published updated guidance for providers on reopening buildings and campuses which states that providers should share their risk assessments with staff and staff unions. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses#risk-assessments.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have been enrolled for elective home education in September (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

The information requested is not held by this Department. It does not currently collect data on numbers of home educated children.

Parents are not under a duty to register if they are home educating their children and therefore there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking abroad to demonstrate that Britain is open and welcoming to international students.

The government has been clear that our world-leading universities, which thrive on being global institutions, will always be open to international students. Engaging closely with other government departments and the higher education sector, the department is working to reassure prospective international students that the UK higher education is ‘open for business’, remains world-class and is a safe and tolerant place to study. This includes continued work with Study UK (the government’s international student recruitment campaign led by the British Council), support for the sector-led #WeAreTogether campaign and a package of bespoke communications that will directly target prospective international students, making clear our world-leading UK offer.

Furthermore, on 22 June, with my counterparts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, I wrote to prospective international students to outline the support and guidance that is available to international students who are considering studying in the UK from the autumn: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/letter_to_prospective_international_students.pdf. This letter reiterates a number of flexibilities that the government has already announced for international students including, amongst other mitigations, confirmation that distance/blended learning will be permitted for the 2020/21 academic year, provided that international students’ sponsors intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow, and steps to further promote the new graduate route.

The government is committed to continuing to improve our offer to international students, which is why we have announced the new graduate route, which will be introduced in summer 2021. The graduate route will be simple and light-touch and it will permit graduates at undergraduate and masters level to remain in the UK for 2 years and PhD graduates to remain in the UK for 3 years after they have finished their studies in order to work or to look for work at any skill level. This represents a significant improvement in our offer to international students and will help ensure the UK higher education sector remains competitive internationally.

The government is also in discussions with Universities UK and other sector representatives on a regular basis to ensure that we are united in welcoming international students to the UK. In particular, we expect international students - especially those who will be subject to the 14-day self-isolation period - to be appropriately supported upon arrival by their chosen university during these unprecedented times.

In addition, on Friday 5 June, the government announced Sir Steve Smith as the UK’s new International Education Champion. Sir Steve will assist with opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, which will include attracting international students to UK Universities. Alongside Sir Steve’s appointment, our review of the International Education Strategy this autumn will respond to the new context and the challenges that are posed by COVID-19 across all education settings to ensure we can continue to welcome international students in the future.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an estimate of the amount of income lost by schools that usually raise funds through building lettings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department does not hold data specifically on the income schools generate through building lettings.

We know that around 4% of schools’ total income is self-generated and in 2018-19 around half of this came from facilities and services. This includes letting premises and wrap around childcare services among other things.

We recognise that over the last three months, schools may have lost some of this income and this could put pressure on budgets.

Where schools have members of staff delivering these services, we have advised that they should first look to redeploy these staff or use existing budgets to absorb the cost. Having looked at all other options, schools can then consider using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to ease this pressure. The Department has provided additional guidance for schools in this situation:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.

12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if final year healthcare students who worked in healthcare due to the covid-19 outbreak will have to repay their student loans for tuition fees accrued in that year.

Healthcare students will continue to be required to repay student loans for tuition fees for the current year. Students who have opted in to paid clinical placements to support the COVID-19 response are receiving a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Time spent on paid placements as part of the COVID-19 response counts towards the requirement for students to complete a specified number of training hours in order to successfully complete their degrees.

Student loan borrowers are only required to make repayments from the April after they have finished their course, and once they are earning over the relevant repayment threshold. The amount borrowers are required to repay each week or month is linked to their income, not the interest rate or the amount borrowed. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the repayment threshold, and any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support his Department plans to make available to schools to enable them to temporarily hire other premises to allow for more social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.

The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance below - increased premises related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020

Each school's circumstances will be slightly different. Any schools that cannot achieve the small group sizes set out in the protective measures guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings) should discuss options with their local authority or academy trust. If necessary, schools have the flexibility to focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups and then, to support children’s early education, settings should prioritise groups of children as follows:

  • early years settings - 3 and 4 year olds followed by younger age groups;
  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and Reception;
  • primary schools - nursery (where applicable), Reception and year 1.
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason schools with a budget surplus in the current financial year are not able to reclaim the costs of providing free school meal vouchers to eligible students where it has not been possible for them to use the National Voucher Scheme; and what assessment he has made of the effect of that policy on schools that have a budget surplus with a high number of children eligible for free school meals.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of capping the maximum amount a school is required to pay from its own in-year surplus to meet the cost of providing free school meal vouchers.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing all schools, regardless of budget, to be reimbursed for providing free school meal vouchers where it has not been possible for those schools to use the National Voucher Scheme.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether additional funding will be allocated to schools to implement measures to help prevent the transmission of covid-19.

The Department has published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.

The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

These are increased premises related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether children who receive school meal vouchers will continue to be entitled to those vouchers if they do not return to school during the proposed partial reopening of schools during the covid-19 outbreak.

During this period of partial school closures, we are asking schools to support children at home who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

As schools prepare to open more widely, they should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for school meals. Schools should ensure that catering teams and food suppliers are supported to return to school to provide meals both for those children attending school and for those remaining at home who are eligible for free school meals. If a school catering service cannot provide meals or food parcels for children who are at home, the school can continue to offer vouchers to families of eligible pupils if needed.

Our guidance on free school meals during this period is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason schools that are able to reclaim the costs of making alternative arrangements to the National Voucher Scheme to provide free school meal vouchers are required to draw on the Emergency Fund that is capped dependent on the size of the school; and whether he plans to allocate additional funding to schools where the costs of (a) free school meal vouchers and (b) other covid-related emergency costs exceed the limit placed on their Emergency Funds.

We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools during the period of partial closure, including providing free school meals to eligible children who are not in school where the national voucher scheme is not appropriate.

As this funding relates to several categories of exceptional costs that schools may face it is reasonable to limit the overall amount that each individual school can claim for all of these costs together to make sure public funding is spent appropriately.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund. We will continue to review the scope of the fund and the overall support available as the COVID-19 outbreak develops.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in other countries on best practices on the reopening of schools during the covid-19 pandemic.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the Government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the Department asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

Our approach is in line with other countries across Europe. Schools in countries such as Germany, Denmark and France have opened to more pupils using a similar phased approach and we will continue to watch their progress closely. Official level discussions are continuing to take place with counterparts in other countries on all aspects of the education response to the outbreak.

However, each country will make their own decisions based on a range of local information, including infection rates and the structure of their education system.

12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish guidance for parents on whether pupils that live in a household with a shielded person should return to school.

Keeping people safe continues to be the Government’s main priority. We have been clear that the re-opening of schools must be done in a way that is measured, reduces risk, is guided by science and ensures that safety remains the absolute priority.

That is why, on 11 May, we published guidance for parents and carers to help them prepare for the opening of schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June. This guidance is clear that children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to; and where the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june#should-i-keep-my-child-at-home-if-they-have-an-underlying-health-condition-or-live-with-someone-in-a-clinically-vulnerable-group.

If a child or young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The Department will continue to ensure parents and carers receive clear guidance based on the latest scientific advice.

12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 11 May 2020 to Question 43043 on Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes, what proportion of eCodes are delivered within four days of ordering.

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

Our latest guidance on for schools is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

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

For the national voucher scheme, our supplier, Edenred, has indicated that orders are processed within 4 days. The latest information provided by Edenred indicates that all orders received by 14 May were processed by 18 May. It is important to note that schools can place orders for voucher codes to be scheduled for future delivery dates. For example, a school could submit an order on 4 May, requesting the voucher code be delivered to a parent on the 18 May.

As of Friday 22 May, Edenred reported that over £101.5 million of voucher codes has been converted into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families. In the week commencing 11 May, Edenred issued communications to schools to address a number of incomplete orders, which require further action from the schools, and highlighting an issue in which schools have used incorrect or invalid parent email addresses. We are continuing to work very closely with Edenred to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme. In the last fortnight, waiting times that parent and schools previously experienced when accessing the website have been reduced very significantly and Edenred continue to work tirelessly to improve the service.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Education and Skills Funding Agency on (a) auditing guided learning hours and (b) the leaving date that should be recorded by colleges for year 13 students.

For funding purposes, guided learning hours are not used in the 16 to 19 system, as providers are funded based on planned hours recorded early in the academic year. The auditing of these hours is based on evidence of planned delivery (for example, with a timetable or learning agreement). In the adult education system, we do not use the planned guided learning hours recorded on the Individualised Learner Record, as the funding is based on a series of rates that are attached to each learning aim.

We have stated in our further education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of Covid-19 on retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula. We will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course.

To help manage the financial implications due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019 to 2020 funding year.

For 2019 to 2020 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant-funded providers who are in receipt of the ESFA-funded Adult Education Budget (AEB), which relates to adult skills, community learning, learner and learning support and 19 to 24 traineeships. These providers will be funded in line with the current agreement schedule with no claw-back, subject to the conditions stated in the operational guidance. The conditions are that these providers will be funded unless they had already forecast significant under-delivery in their mid-year returns and that they support furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills. The conditions also include that providers deliver online learning wherever possible, including for ESFA-funded AEB via existing subcontracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses or qualifications, or retain evidence where this is not possible.

ESFA allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed and payments will be made in line with the national profile.

Looking ahead, for 16 to 19 funding, as we will use data from the 2019 to 2020 academic year to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022, the ESFA may need to apply a different approach to a number of elements within 16 to 19 funding. Where appropriate, we will therefore use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022 to ensure, as far as possible, that there is not a disproportionate impact on funding.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assurances he has provided to colleges that do not record the expected guided learning hours that no financial loss will be incurred as a result of moving to online learning during the covid-19 outbreak.

For funding purposes, guided learning hours are not used in the 16 to 19 system, as providers are funded based on planned hours recorded early in the academic year. The auditing of these hours is based on evidence of planned delivery (for example, with a timetable or learning agreement). In the adult education system, we do not use the planned guided learning hours recorded on the Individualised Learner Record, as the funding is based on a series of rates that are attached to each learning aim.

We have stated in our further education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of Covid-19 on retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula. We will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course.

To help manage the financial implications due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019 to 2020 funding year.

For 2019 to 2020 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant-funded providers who are in receipt of the ESFA-funded Adult Education Budget (AEB), which relates to adult skills, community learning, learner and learning support and 19 to 24 traineeships. These providers will be funded in line with the current agreement schedule with no claw-back, subject to the conditions stated in the operational guidance. The conditions are that these providers will be funded unless they had already forecast significant under-delivery in their mid-year returns and that they support furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills. The conditions also include that providers deliver online learning wherever possible, including for ESFA-funded AEB via existing subcontracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses or qualifications, or retain evidence where this is not possible.

ESFA allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed and payments will be made in line with the national profile.

Looking ahead, for 16 to 19 funding, as we will use data from the 2019 to 2020 academic year to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022, the ESFA may need to apply a different approach to a number of elements within 16 to 19 funding. Where appropriate, we will therefore use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022 to ensure, as far as possible, that there is not a disproportionate impact on funding.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking with Edenred to ensure the timely receipt of free school vouchers by schools.

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

We are encouraging schools to use existing catering arrangements to provide meals or food parcels to pupils who are eligible for free school meals while they are staying at home. Where this is not possible, the Department for Education has developed a national voucher scheme as an alternative to support schools with this process.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents and schools have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes or place orders. Edenred has reported that over £65 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Monday 11 May.

Once an eCode has been ordered, it will be sent within four days. Edenred is keeping schools informed of the status of orders once they have been placed. Schools can choose to ‘bulk order’ eCodes for regular distribution (e.g. on a weekly basis), in which case the eCode will be sent on or before the date specified. The eCodes must then be redeemed to create an eGift card, which will be received within 24 hours. We continue to work closely with our supplier and with schools to increase the speed at which orders can be processed.

We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether a year 13 student who is (a) employed or (b) volunteering full-time during the covid-19 oubreak is classified as (i) a mid-year leaver or (ii) still on-roll.

As per published funding guidance, to count as retained:

  • For academic programmes: a student must stay on or complete at least one of the academic aims in their programme in the academic year.
  • For vocational programmes: a student must stay on or complete their core aim in the academic year.

Year 13 students leaving education to take up a full time job or volunteering opportunity and who do not meet the above conditions, would not be count as retained. 16 to 19 providers have been asked to continue to provide care for vulnerable students and the dependants of key workers, and provide education remotely for other students.

However, we have stated in our Further Education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on student retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula and will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/maintaining-education-and-skills-training-provision-further-education-providers.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that parents who do not have email addresses can access free school meals.

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

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will ensure that schools that do not use the Edenred system will be reimbursed in full for each meal provided.

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

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many codes requested by schools to Edenred to generate e-gift cards for the fortnight commencing 20 April 2020 have not been issued.

During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of Tuesday 12 May, our supplier, Edenred, reported that over £70 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families. Edenred has confirmed that it has issued all voucher codes ordered by schools that were due for delivery between 20 April and 3 May – the period specified in this question.

Edenred is also contacting schools that have started but not yet completed the ordering process, to resolve these incomplete orders. It is also contacting schools where voucher code emails to parents have bounced back, for example, where the school has provided an invalid email address for a parent.

Since its launch, we have been working very closely with Edenred to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including significantly reducing any waiting times that parents and schools previously experienced when accessing the website. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience during these upgrades to the system.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that the Edenred school voucher system includes the Co-op stores.

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

The national voucher scheme for free school meals currently includes a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme included supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with our supplier, Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. On Monday 27 April, we added Aldi to this list and on Wednesday 29 April, we added McColl’s. We have been working with other supermarkets to encourage them to join. Any additional supermarkets would need to have the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across their network of stores.

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate free school meal arrangements for eligible pupils during this period. This can include food parcel arrangements, alternative voucher arrangements or provision through the national voucher scheme. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families. This can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate free school meal arrangements for eligible pupils during this period. This can include food parcel arrangements, alternative voucher arrangements or provision through the national voucher scheme. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families. This can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

We have been working closely with the Co-op and welcome their efforts to support families across the country. We thank all supermarkets for their hard work during these challenging times.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has had discussions with exam boards on ensuring that autumn exams are held (a) at a financial loss to and (b) with other financial implications for exam boards in (i) geology, (ii) history of art and (iii) other subjects with a small cohort of students.

We are discussing arrangements for the Autumn GCSE and A level exam series with the exam boards and with Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator. Ofqual will set out further proposals for consultation as soon as possible.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to require Edenred to set a maximum wait time to log in and use the school voucher system to generate vouchers.

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

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when Ofsted inspections are planned to re-start.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19. We recognise that this is an extremely challenging time for leaders and staff in our education and care settings.

In the current circumstances, it is right that routine Ofsted inspections in the school, further education, early years, local authority and care sectors are suspended. Ofsted retains the power to inspect in all these areas, and will use its powers if it has significant concerns. Ofsted also continues to register and regulate children’s social care, childminding and nurseries.

No date has been set for a return to routine inspection at this time. We will continue to work closely with HM Chief Inspector, and the sectors Ofsted inspects, in determining when it will be appropriate to re-start routine inspections.

We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, how many vouchers have been issued under the national voucher scheme to families whose children are eligible for free school meals; and what proportion of those vouchers have been used.

Our national voucher scheme is playing a significant role in ensuring that eligible pupils can still receive free school meals while they are staying at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme offers a valuable service where schools are unable to arrange meals or food parcels through their existing food suppliers.

In the maintaining educational provision guidance, we ask schools to continue to provide care for a limited number of children, including those who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home. Some schools are making their own arrangements for vulnerable children and schools are providing funding to support this.

The value of the vouchers redeemed into gift cards by parents and schools has increased significantly since the start of the summer term. Edenred has reported that over £29m worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Monday 27 April. Edenred has also reported that over 15,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Wednesday 22 April.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that students who were entered into exams that have been cancelled as external candidates can get qualifications.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. Students will also have the option to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the academic year, if they wish to do so.

The independent regulator of qualifications, Ofqual, is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and to look at the options available in relation to external candidates, including home educated students.

Further information will be published as soon as possible.

19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial assistance is being provided to nurseries advised to close due to the covid-19 outbreak; and what assurances he has received from insurers on providing cover to nurseries despite that infection not being a named disease at the time of cover.

We are working hard to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on all parts of our society, including individuals and businesses.

Whilst individual insurance arrangements are a matter for providers to discuss with their insurers and we are unable to give legal advice on insurance cover, we understand that in many cases, the insurance that early years providers have will not cover them for income lost during COVID-19 related closures. That is one of the reasons why we announced on 17 March that we will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the early years entitlements for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds and that funding would not be clawed back from local authorities when children are unable to attend due to COVID-19.

We expect local authorities to follow the Department for Education’s position and to continue paying all childminders, schools and nurseries, for the early years entitlements – even if providers have suspended delivery of those entitlements due to COVID-19. This protects a significant proportion of early years providers’ income. The government also announced a 12 month business rates holiday for private nurseries and set out a range of wider support for businesses and workers to reduce the impact of COVID-19, which many early years providers will benefit from.

We will be keeping under close review what further support businesses and workers may require.

Guidance on closures of early years settings, including support for workers and businesses, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much has been spent on border control points in preparation for sanitary and phytosanitary checks on agri-food and plant imports coming into the UK from the EU.

Over the last two years Defra has worked with stakeholders and delivery partners to develop the capability to deliver new SPS border controls on goods arriving in England from the EU. The figures below cover IT delivery, staffing costs and infrastructure.

PQ 275 / 276

Implementation Preparations

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Digital Delivery

£10.77m

£0.00m

£10.77m

Includes IPAFFS and proportion of overheads

Imports Policy

£11.17m

£0.15m

£11.32m

Includes Plants and Animals

PHA Fund

£17.56m

£2.50m

£20.06m

£39.50m

£2.65m

£42.15m

Includes funds for PHA staff to end of April 2022

PQ 277/783

BCP Spend to date

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Infrastructure

£30.98m

£0.37m

£31.35m

Includes Sevington and Dover construction only, which are DEFRA funded.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the public expenditure on border control posts in preparation for implementing proposed sanitary and phytosanitary checks on agri-food and plant imports from the EU as of 10 May 2022.

Over the last two years Defra has worked with stakeholders and delivery partners to develop the capability to deliver new SPS border controls on goods arriving in England from the EU. The figures below cover IT delivery, staffing costs and infrastructure.

PQ 275 / 276

Implementation Preparations

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Digital Delivery

£10.77m

£0.00m

£10.77m

Includes IPAFFS and proportion of overheads

Imports Policy

£11.17m

£0.15m

£11.32m

Includes Plants and Animals

PHA Fund

£17.56m

£2.50m

£20.06m

£39.50m

£2.65m

£42.15m

Includes funds for PHA staff to end of April 2022

PQ 277/783

BCP Spend to date

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Infrastructure

£30.98m

£0.37m

£31.35m

Includes Sevington and Dover construction only, which are DEFRA funded.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the Government's expenditure on preparations for implementing proposed sanitary and phytosanitary checks on food imports from the EU as of 10 May 2022.

Over the last two years Defra has worked with stakeholders and delivery partners to develop the capability to deliver new SPS border controls on goods arriving in England from the EU. The figures below cover IT delivery, staffing costs and infrastructure.

PQ 275 / 276

Implementation Preparations

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Digital Delivery

£10.77m

£0.00m

£10.77m

Includes IPAFFS and proportion of overheads

Imports Policy

£11.17m

£0.15m

£11.32m

Includes Plants and Animals

PHA Fund

£17.56m

£2.50m

£20.06m

£39.50m

£2.65m

£42.15m

Includes funds for PHA staff to end of April 2022

PQ 277/783

BCP Spend to date

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Infrastructure

£30.98m

£0.37m

£31.35m

Includes Sevington and Dover construction only, which are DEFRA funded.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of his Department's expenditure on preparations for the implementation of proposed sanitary and phytosanitary checks on food imports from the EU as of 10 May 2022.

Over the last two years Defra has worked with stakeholders and delivery partners to develop the capability to deliver new SPS border controls on goods arriving in England from the EU. The figures below cover IT delivery, staffing costs and infrastructure.

PQ 275 / 276

Implementation Preparations

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Digital Delivery

£10.77m

£0.00m

£10.77m

Includes IPAFFS and proportion of overheads

Imports Policy

£11.17m

£0.15m

£11.32m

Includes Plants and Animals

PHA Fund

£17.56m

£2.50m

£20.06m

£39.50m

£2.65m

£42.15m

Includes funds for PHA staff to end of April 2022

PQ 277/783

BCP Spend to date

Activity

21/22

22/23

Total

Infrastructure

£30.98m

£0.37m

£31.35m

Includes Sevington and Dover construction only, which are DEFRA funded.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the cumulative impact of trade deals on domestic agricultural output.

The Government publishes Scoping Assessments to assess the impacts of free trade agreements, in advance of negotiations. Following signature of an agreement, a full Impact Assessment is published prior to implementation. These assessments set out the impact of each agreement at a sectoral level, including agriculture and the food sector.

The Impact Assessments for the free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand have been published. Modelling of the Australia agreement shows an expected reduction in UK agricultural output of 0.7%, and a 2.65% reduction in semi-processed foods output. For the New Zealand agreement, UK agricultural output is expected to fall by 0.35%, and semi-processed food output by 1.16%.

The analysis isolates the change stemming from the agreement against a background of the existing trade arrangements. The estimates can therefore not be simply added together but they reflect the relative significance of each trade agreement.

However, the exact impacts of trade agreements are uncertain. Defra continues to monitor and assess the impacts of market developments across the UK, alongside the Devolved Administrations. In addition, the Government is developing the tools and evidence for assessing the impacts of potential future trade agreements.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the total spend on Countryside Stewardship Schemes in the current financial year.

The Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme offers farmers within England a variety of different agreement types, that allow farmers to receive funding based on environmentally beneficial outcomes. This can include both revenue and capital elements. We have recently increased payment rates by an average of 30%, and last year we saw application rates increase by 40%.

Defra encourages where possible all eligible farmers and land managers to take part in the scheme that is now managed under domestic regulation and funding.

The payment window to release payments for the 2021 scheme year runs from 1 December 2021 to 30 June 2022, details of this can be found here.

The total value of payments that have been released to customers for the 2021/22 financial year (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) has been provided below. The forecasted 2021/22 financial year values have also been provided:

Financial Year

Claim Type

Funds Paid (EU and Domestic combined)

Forecasted Fund Value

2021/22

Revenue

£159,207,702

£172,742,174

2021/22

Capital

£104,293,691

N/A

Total

£263,501,393


Due to the flexible nature of capital claims, which has a rolling application date, alongside customers only claiming for their capital items once work is completed, it is impossible to predict the value of potential payments that would be released.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to respond to the Dame Glenys Stacey's 2018 Farm Inspection and Regulation Review; and whether any of the recommendations of that Review have been implemented as of 30 March 2022.

The Government has not published a formal response to Dame Glenys Stacey’s Farm Inspection and Regulation Review. However, as we set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan, published in November 2020, we have been using the learnings and recommendations made in the Review to engage with farmers and other experts to design and reform the farming regulatory system.

We have made changes to the way farmers are regulated currently, building on recommendations in the Dame Glenys Stacey Review. We are taking a more proportionate approach to farm payment penalties following a cross compliance inspection, including making more use of warning letters where there is no risk to public or animal health or damage to the environment. We are also providing solutions to improve slurry management through the new Farming Investment Fund and increasing Environment Agency inspections from 400 to at least 4000 a year by 2023, which will provide a proportionate, risk-based focus to address pollution from sources such as slurry.

The Dame Glenys Stacey Review’s most prominent recommendation was for the establishment of a single farm regulator. The Nature Recovery Green Paper, published in March 2022, set out that we are exploring options to organise the Defra group to best deliver long-term targets and commitments to protect and restore the environment, while developing the capability to respond to new and emerging challenges. As part of this exercise, we will assess the recommendation of the Dame Glenys Stacey Review to deliver coherent regulation for the farming sector.

We will continue to use the Dame Glenys Stacey’s Review as we work with farmers and other experts to ensure that the regulatory system supports people to meet standards and enables farms to be sustainable, resilient and competitive. This work will continue throughout the Agricultural Transition period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing incentives to support new and alternative fishing gears, to reduce the damage to blue carbon sediments and habitats.

Marine sediments are important areas of carbon storage. Trawling can cause carbon dioxide to be released from sediments, but the processes are complex and the overall impact of trawling on carbon dioxide release remains uncertain. We continue to build the evidence base on blue carbon habitats in the UK, including marine sediments.

We are working with the fishing sector and other stakeholders to consider how best to reduce the potential impact of fishing gears on the seabed, including looking at innovation in fish gears and methods. We are working with Fisheries Funding Teams to see how we can best use the UK Seafood Fund to help reduce the environmental effects of bottom trawling through support for evidence, innovation and adaption.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of a commitment to investing in alternative fuel use in the Joint Fisheries Statement, to enable widespread decarbonisation of fishing fleets.

The Joint Fisheries Statement recognises the importance of this issue, particularly in respect to reducing emissions. This is especially important given the wider implications of the situation in Ukraine and considerations of energy security.

We have commissioned some work from Cefas to look at the net zero pathway for the UK fleet and will work with the fishing industry to seek out the most appropriate solutions, which will include the consideration of a range of measures for example from alternative fuels to, engine upgrades, gear changes and greener technology.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including a timebound commitment for each nation to develop and implement a climate-smart fisheries strategy in the Joint Fisheries Statement.

Fisheries management is largely devolved and, as such, it will be for each Devolved Administration to consider how best to take forward these commitments.

The need for robust action to tackle climate change is recognised by the fisheries policy authorities. In partnership with industry and the seafood sector, the fisheries policy authorities will explore the best ways to contribute to the net zero target.

How the industry and seafood sector respond to climate change will require consideration of how their contribution to climate change can be mitigated and how they can adapt to its effects. This needs to be considered across the entire supply chain. The draft Joint Fisheries Statement recognises the importance of these issues.

Defra will be working hard to address these challenges in English Waters over the lifetime of the Joint Fisheries Statement including, where appropriate, using the option of evidence-based time bound targets in our Fisheries Management Plans.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the availability of alternatives to peat in use in the horticulture industry.

We have always been clear of the need to end the use of peat and peat containing products in horticulture in England and Wales. A voluntary target was set in 2011 to stop using peat in the amateur sector by 2020. While some progress was made, this target has not been met, which is why we are consulting on measures to end the use of peat and peat containing products, including a ban on the sale of peat in the retail sector by the end of this Parliament. Alongside our consultation we have published our assessment on the impact of our proposed measures, which can be found here.

We continue to support the industry in their efforts to go peat free, this support has included, over £1 million on a project to provide the necessary applied science to help underpin the development and management of alternative growing media. We are co-funding monitoring with the horticultural industry of the composition of growing media (including peat) supplied for amateur and professional use in the horticultural market.

We have worked with the horticulture industry to develop a Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media, which allows manufacturers and retailers to make informed choices of growing media inputs to peat free products, based on environmental and social impacts.

Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support the ornamental horticulture supply chain to transition away from the use of peat.

We have always been clear of the need to end the use of peat and peat containing products in horticulture in England and Wales. A voluntary target was set in 2011 to stop using peat in the amateur sector by 2020. While some progress was made, this target has not been met, which is why we are consulting on measures to end the use of peat and peat containing products, including a ban on the sale of peat in the retail sector by the end of this Parliament. Alongside our consultation we have published our assessment on the impact of our proposed measures, which can be found here.

We continue to support the industry in their efforts to go peat free, this support has included, over £1 million on a project to provide the necessary applied science to help underpin the development and management of alternative growing media. We are co-funding monitoring with the horticultural industry of the composition of growing media (including peat) supplied for amateur and professional use in the horticultural market.

We have worked with the horticulture industry to develop a Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media, which allows manufacturers and retailers to make informed choices of growing media inputs to peat free products, based on environmental and social impacts.

Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the level of research and development needed to assess replacing peat in use in the ornamental horticulture industry.

We have always been clear of the need to end the use of peat and peat containing products in horticulture in England and Wales. A voluntary target was set in 2011 to stop using peat in the amateur sector by 2020. While some progress was made, this target has not been met, which is why we are consulting on measures to end the use of peat and peat containing products, including a ban on the sale of peat in the retail sector by the end of this Parliament. Alongside our consultation we have published our assessment on the impact of our proposed measures, which can be found here.

We continue to support the industry in their efforts to go peat free, this support has included, over £1 million on a project to provide the necessary applied science to help underpin the development and management of alternative growing media. We are co-funding monitoring with the horticultural industry of the composition of growing media (including peat) supplied for amateur and professional use in the horticultural market.

We have worked with the horticulture industry to develop a Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media, which allows manufacturers and retailers to make informed choices of growing media inputs to peat free products, based on environmental and social impacts.

Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the shortage of self-adhesive labels on the food supply chain.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges. Defra is well-versed in responding to disruption if the dependencies captured were to lead to food supply disruption.

Defra is aware of the ongoing industrial action by workers at the UPM paper mills in Finland and is engaging with industry to understand the impacts.

Defra maintains a collaborative relationship with industry which allows us to effectively respond to disruption. This was successfully demonstrated in response to unprecedented disruption to both supply and demand throughout the COVID-19 response.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the badger control policy at (a) culling badgers infected with Bovine TB, (b) not culling badgers that have been vaccinated against Bovine TB and (c) not culling badgers which are not infected with Bovine TB.

A proactive, controlled cull of badgers has the potential to reduce bovine TB in cattle by reducing the number of infected badgers. There is a recognised reservoir of infection in badgers across the High Risk and Edge Area. The badger cull operations remove at least 70% of the badger population regardless of infection status due to the endemicity of these areas. Where badger vaccination is taking place in the Edge Area, vaccination licence holders can apply for a no-cull zone around qualifying areas of badger vaccination. No-cull zones provide an opportunity to manage the delivery of vaccination and culling on adjoining land in the Edge Area. This aims to strike a balance between reducing the risk of culling vaccinated badgers and ensuring that culling can proceed to ensure that progress is made towards disease eradication.

Badger control operations are assessed annually by the Chief Veterinary Officer and Natural England’s Chief Scientific Advisor. Their advice is that industry-led licensed badger culling continues to deliver the level of effectiveness required by the policy to be confident of achieving disease control benefits. This has been further substantiated by an independent study by Downs et al 2019 which demonstrated that the cull has resulted in significant reductions in the spread of the disease to cattle, showing reductions of 66% and 37% in the first two licensed cull areas.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of testing measures carried out to reduce the spreading of Bovine TB through movements of infected cattle.

Routine and targeted TB testing of cattle herds, movement restrictions and more frequent testing of infected herds, and rapid removal of positive-testing cattle, remain the foundations of the Government’s TB eradication strategy. This is supported by statutory pre- and post-movement testing of cattle moved between herds and slaughterhouse surveillance of all cattle commercially slaughtered for human consumption.

To reinforce those measures, in January 2022 we increased the frequency of mandatory surveillance testing throughout England’s High-Risk Area from annual to every six-months, with some exceptions for lower risk herds.

The single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin (SICCT) test, commonly known as the skin test, is used in routine and targeted TB testing, together with pre- and post-movement testing. It has a very high specificity, giving on average only one false positive result for every 5,000 or 6,000 uninfected cattle tested, although it is only moderately sensitive (with about one in five to one in four TB-infected cattle potentially missed by the test). The skin test is a good herd screening test in that we only need to find one test reactor animal in order to declare a TB breakdown and place that herd under movement restrictions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will reconvene the Food Resilience Industry Forum to discuss the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the food supply chain.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges. Defra does not expect significant direct impacts to UK food supply as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nevertheless, Defra is engaging with industry via various forums to understand the impacts of the conflict on individual industries and supply chains in Defra’s sectors.

Defra is well-versed in responding to disruption if the dependencies were to lead to food supply disruption. Defra maintains a collaborative relationship with industry which allows us to effectively respond to disruption. This was successfully demonstrated in response to unprecedented disruption to both supply and demand throughout the Covid-19 response.

A Food Resilience Industry Forum can be stood-up at short notice should the need arise.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badgers have been culled in each year since 2013.

The number of badgers culled to control the spread of bovine TB is published annually on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bovine-tb-controlling-the-risk-of-bovine-tb-from-badgers#monitoring-and-evaluation.

Data for 2021 is currently being compiled and will be published in due course.

Number of badgers culled

2013

1,869

2014

615

2015

1,467

2016

10,886

2017

19,537

2018

32,934

2019

35,034

2020

38,642

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the herd incidence rate of Bovine TB has been for each year since 2013.

Official bovine TB statistics for Great Britain, including herd incidence rates, are published on gov.uk and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bovine-tb.

Annual TB herd incidence rates in England

2013

10.0

2014

8.6

2015

9.8

2016

10.2

2017

11.0

2018

9.3

2019

9.4

2020

9.4

2021

8.8

Herd incidence is defined as the number of new herd incidents (TB-positive herds or TB breakdowns) per 100 herd-years at risk over the time period (in the table above, this is a year). A herd is considered "at risk" for the length of time since its last negative herd test or since the end of its last TB incident. Thus, this measure gives the average number of new incidents for every 100 unrestricted herds undergoing TB surveillance over the time period.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the seasonal worker scheme.

Defra is aware that in recent years a significant proportion of our seasonal labour has been undertaken by Ukrainian and Russian nationals. In recent months, Defra has engaged extensively with the licensed operators of the seasonal worker visa route to prepare and advance thorough contingency plans in response to the escalating situation in Ukraine. Operators can recruit from any country they choose for the seasonal workers visa route and in 2021 recruitment spanned across almost 50 different countries.

Defra will continue to closely monitor the supply of labour to UK horticulture throughout the year, working with operators and sector growers to ensure there is sufficient labour to bring home the harvest in 2022.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the proportion of culled badgers that are culled by free shooting, (b) the impact of free shooting on the spread of Bovine TB, and (c) the animal welfare implications of free shooting.

The number of badgers culled, and the proportion of those removed by free shooting, compared to those that are cage trapped and dispatched are published annually on gov.uk and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bovine-tb-controlling-the-risk-of-bovine-tb-from-badgers#monitoring-and-evaluation.

The UK Chief Veterinary Officer and Natural England’s Chief Scientist have concluded that all existing cull areas have delivered the level of effectiveness, according to coverage and effort, required to be confident of achieving disease control benefits.

Based on the monitoring activity provided by Natural England, the Chief Veterinary Officer's view is that the likelihood of suffering in badgers culled by licensed controlled shooting is broadly within the range of those reported for hunting or killing of other terrestrial mammals.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the funding for the Environmental Land Management Scheme will be split equally between the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes.

We broadly envisaged an equal split of funding for activities across farm level, locally tailored and landscape scale. This is only indicative. Unlike the EU schemes, these are not hard pillars and we have the ability to respond to demand from farmers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's announcement of a call for evidence on the use of snares, when his Department plans to launch that call for evidence; how long that call for evidence will last; and what stages that call for evidence will comprise.

The call for evidence on the use of snares will be launched in due course. The call for evidence is planned to run for 12 weeks and will be launched online. After closing the call for evidence, responses will be analysed and a summary of responses will be published online.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to mitigate the decrease in EU veterinarian registrants coming to work in the UK.

As part of a joined-up approach, Defra worked across Government and with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Association to successfully ensure that the veterinary profession was placed on the Home Office held Shortage Occupation List in 2019. This means that employers can continue to recruit overseas veterinary surgeons without a cap on numbers.

New veterinary schools are being opened at Harper Adams and Keele, the Scottish Agricultural Colleges, the University of Central Lancashire, a joint venture between the Royal Veterinary College & the University of Aberystwyth as well as the recently accredited University of Surrey veterinary school. This means that veterinary education is expanding in the UK and will allow a greater number of graduates trained here to enter the profession in the longer term.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his timescale is for the completion and next stages of the Government’s review of game bird welfare and game bird cages.

We need to gather evidence on the welfare of gamebirds and the use of cages in the sector to inform future policy development. The expectation is that we will be calling for evidence later this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food's oral contribution to the Food and farming in Devon and Cornwall Westminster Hall Debate on 23 February 2022, under what circumstances his Department would refer a business in the pork supply chain to the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Government is committed to tackling the unfairness that can exist in the agri-food supply chain. Powers in the Agriculture Act allow us to introduce statutory codes of conduct which increase the transparency of business relationships and protect farmers from imbalanced commercial terms.

In the coming months we are launching a public consultation exploring how fairness and transparency can be improved in the pork sector. As part of this consultation process, we will gather evidence about market consolidation in the sector. If the consultation response indicates consolidation may be having an adverse effect on competition in the pork sector, these concerns could be raised with the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Government will continue to work closely with the pork sector to discuss any supply chain issues and any regulations will be developed alongside industry with the close involvement of stakeholders.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of food and drink demand (a) currently and (b) in April 2022; and what steps he plans to take to ensure supply chain resilience during periods of high demand for food and drink.

Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources, strong domestic production, as well as imports through stable trade routes. The capability, levers, and expertise to respond to disruption lie with the food and drink industry sectors who have highly resilient supply chains, responsive to changes in demand. They are well equipped to deal with potentially disruptive situations as we have seen throughout the COVID-19 response. The UK Government has well-established ways of working with the industry and with the Devolved Administrations to monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains.

The Government monitors consumer food prices using the Consumer Prices Index (including Housing Costs) (CPIH) and will continue to do so as changes are made in the next financial year. The latest published statistics show annual food and drink inflation as 4.4 per cent in the year to January 2022, up from 4.2 per cent in the year to December 2021. The CPIH month-on-month food and drink inflation rate was 0.7 per cent between December 2021 and January 2022, down from 1.3 per cent between November and December 2021. Consumer food prices depend on a range of factors including agri-food import prices, domestic agricultural prices, domestic labour and manufacturing costs, and Sterling exchange rates. Change in food prices are dependent on changes in one or more of these factors. The Government is committed to a sustainable, long-term approach to tackling poverty and supporting people on lower incomes, providing support worth around £12 billion this financial year and next, to help families with the cost of living.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when legislation requiring the compulsory microchipping of cats is planned to come into effect.

We plan to lay a new set of regulations in autumn 2022 which will update the current dog microchipping requirements and introduce compulsory cat microchipping. These may be made soon afterwards and then come into effect after any transition period has ended.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on a compensation package for the English pig farmers in regard to the culling of healthy pigs due to capacity restraints at abattoirs.

The Secretary of State and I have frequent discussions with the pig sector on the unique challenges the sector has faced this past year and in response, we have provided a package of measures. These include temporary work visas for up to 800 pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid (PSA) and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs. Together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, we are working to identify new export markets for pork. In addition, in England and Scotland, the two meat levy bodies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Quality Meat Scotland, suspended the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021.

The Government does not provide financial support for the culling of animals. Responsibility for animal welfare on the farm remains with the owner/keeper, who should have contingency plans in place to ensure the welfare of their animals.

The Government will continue to monitor the evolving situation and work closely with the industry through this challenging period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA Press Release, Package of measures announced to support pig sector, published on 15 October 2021, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effectiveness of the measures announced on 15 October 2021 to support the pig industry; and if he will make a statement.

We continue to work closely with the pig industry to help them respond to a number of challenges caused by the pandemic, labour shortages and access to supplies of CO2 that have led to a growing backlog of pigs on farms.

The package of measures we announced on 15 October 2021 included temporary work visas for up to 800 pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid (PSA) and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs. Together with Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), we are working to identify new export markets for pork.

In addition, in England and Scotland, the two meat levy bodies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Quality Meat Scotland, suspended the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021.

While interest in the temporary visa scheme was high, recruitment has taken longer than initially expected. Concern around the Omicron variant led to many butchers not taking up visas to travel to the UK. The time of year and the skilled nature of the role have also contributed to this delay. Details of the numbers of temporary work visas granted for pork butchers will be published in the usual way via the Home Office's quarterly immigration statistics.

There was no take up of the initial SIP Scheme and only limited uptake to date of the PSA scheme, this was because processors were already working additional shifts in the pre-Christmas period to meet their contracted requirements which limited opportunities to add extra shifts in the period and reduced the amount of pig meat that was available to enter the PSA scheme.

Once more butchers arrive, it is expected that processors will have greater capacity to access both schemes, particularly in the period January – March when demand for pig meat is typically lower.

Recognising this and the additional challenges that processors might face as a result of covid related workforce absences, the Government is extending the PSA scheme and introduced a new SIP scheme on 14 January, both of which are expected to run until 31 March 2022. We have also adapted the original SIP scheme to align it with the PSA scheme by extending eligible products to include those that have been butchered, increasing the contribution towards processors costs by an increase in the incentive payment and capping the scheme at 100,000 pigs.

.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the suitability of using the four existing labour providers operating within the seasonal worker scheme to local suitable butchers for the 800 six-month emergency visas announced on 14 October 2021.

The temporary visa schemes for poultry, food sector HGV drivers and pork butchers were facilitated by the ‘Temporary Work - Seasonal Worker’ visa route, which requires approved scheme operators to sponsor workers entering the UK.

Pilot operators select, sponsor and monitor migrants, and adhere to all Home Office requirements in practice, including those on migrant safety and welfare. The Seasonal Workers Pilot requires operators to ensure that all workers have a safe working environment; are treated fairly, paid properly including time off and breaks; are housed in safe hygienic accommodation; that their passport is never withheld from them; and that robust systems are in place for the reporting of concerns and rapid action.

More information about the Seasonal Workers Pilot RFI can be found on the Government website:

Seasonal Workers Pilot request for information - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information his Department holds on which meat processing companies applied for one or more of the 800 six-month emergency visas for overseas abattoir workers announced on 14 October 2021.

Visa statistics relating to the number of visas issued under any aspect of the temporary scheme will be released in the usual way by the Home Office as part of their quarterly immigration statistics reporting requirements.

Information regarding workers and organisations involved in the temporary visa schemes will be managed by our scheme operators. This information is commercially sensitive and not held by Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring a resilient CO2 supply.

A cross-Government ministerial group has been set up to monitor supply chains, identify critical sectors and consider necessary Government action. As part of this work and over the longer term, the Government is examining the options for the market to improve resilience in the provision of essential supplies such as CO2.

In the short term, the CO2 industry has come to an agreement to ensure UK businesses have access to a sustainable supply of CO2. This deal runs until the end of January. The parties to the agreement must now work together to negotiate a further market solution. This will ensure supplies to UK businesses.

Our overriding priority is to protect consumers and deliver value for money for the taxpayer. The agreement between the CO2 industry and CF Fertilisers confirms that the company’s plant in Teesside will continue to operate. The full press notice on this agreement can be seen here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/agreement-reached-to-ensure-supplies-of-co2-to-businesses. In September 2021, the Government provided limited financial support for CF Fertilisers’ operating costs for three weeks.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to identify the support that is required by farmers during the transition from direct payments to Environmental Land Management Schemes.

The Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan sets out how we will maintain the same level of investment for farmers in England, which is £2.4 billion a year across this parliament, and is covered by the Government’s commitment to maintain current levels of spending in England, based on 2019 funding levels when the manifesto commitment was made.

We will re-invest money saved by reducing Direct Payments into improved and new environmental schemes, as well as schemes which will help farmers get their businesses ready for the transition.

These include The Future Farming Resilience Fund which provides business support to farmers and land managers to help them navigate the changes over this period, and the Farming Investment Fund providing grants to improve productivity and bring environmental benefits.

The transition period will also give farmers time to adapt and prepare for our new schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of Environmental Land Management schemes on (a) land use, (b) food production and (c) food productivity.

Environmental Land Management scheme impacts on land use is being assessed through our modelling of expected scheme uptake and corresponding environmental actions on specific land types. Through our modelling we are mapping out expected land use changes resulting from scheme actions to estimate the environmental impacts, including on secondary impacts such as expanded access to green spaces / blue spaces for recreation. Impacts on food production and productivity will be modelled in a similar way, using expected uptake and scheme actions, informed by agricultural data, expert judgement, and external research to model changes in agricultural practices and impacts on crops grown and yields, for example.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department will take to assess whether the Environmental Land Management scheme is contributing towards the Government’s environmental goals.

Environmental Land Management schemes are being designed to contribute to a suite of measurable objectives to support the delivery of government priorities, including the targets which are due to be set under the Environment Act. We will be carrying out a programme of annual monitoring across a sample of agreements to ensure that actions are delivering both value for money and the intended outcomes. This monitoring will begin during the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot in 2022.

The methods for gathering our evidence base will combine established data collection techniques, including expert led farm/field surveys, with increased use of technology, including earth observation and remote sensing where appropriate. This will enable us to establish baselines and environmental change across a range of indicators in line with scheme objectives. Indicators will encompass a number of different spatial and temporal scales to capture the changes that occur as a result of the schemes. Some indicators will focus on changes at an action level where others will look at impacts across landscapes. Indicators for the Environmental Land Management Programme are aligned with the 25 Year Environment Plan indicators which monitor overall environmental delivery against the government’s strategic goals for environmental improvement.

We are also working closely with national monitoring programmes such as Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment to make use of existing and planned widescale environmental data collection. Data collection outside of agreements will provide valuable counterfactual information to enable us to establish changes that have resulted from scheme activities.

Alongside the national scale monitoring of schemes and environmental delivery, we will be continuing a programme of bespoke research and development projects as part of the Agri-environment Scheme Monitoring and Evaluation Programme. This long running programme assesses specific aspects of environmental delivery and will feed into policy design and improvement. As environmental outcomes can take longer to deliver, we will also be utilising modelling approaches to supplement data collection and provide additional insights.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that tenant farmers will be able to access Environmental Land Management Schemes.

We are designing the schemes to be accessible to as many farmers and land managers as possible, including tenant farmers.

As part of our designing in partnership process, we are engaging with a wide range of farmers and land managers to ensure that the future schemes are designed in a way that works for all, to maximise the delivery of environmental outcomes.

We have designed new flexibilities into the Sustainable Farming Incentive, in close consultation with farming organisations, including the Tenant Farmers Association, to ensure the scheme is accessible to tenant farmers. For instance, tenant farmers will be able to enter the scheme without proving they have landlord permission (although they will be responsible for checking their tenancy agreements to ensure they can participate in the scheme before applying).

For the early rollout of the scheme in 2022, scheme agreements will be three years (compared with a minimum of five years in Countryside Stewardship) and there will be annual flexibility to add standards, land, and levels of ambition into agreements.

In the first year, tenants with only two years left on their tenancy will be able to enter into the scheme. We will continue working with stakeholder groups representing tenants on the design of the three environmental land management schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the current review into the regulations on dog microchipping and the related microchipping database systems will be completed.

We have completed the post implementation review of the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 and published the report on 21 December 2021. At the same time, we published a research report from Nottingham University on the effectiveness of dog microchipping legislation that supported the review.

The review found that microchipping has had a positive effect on reunification rates and legislation is seen as an important and necessary means to achieve improvements in dog welfare by increasing traceability of dogs and their keepers. The regulatory review and the Pet Theft Taskforce both highlighted areas where improvements to the microchipping regime would be beneficial, notably by improving the ease of navigation of the database system and processes around keepership records. We are considering changes to the 2015 Regulations and will be consulting on these in early 2022.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of labour supplies in the poultry sector on that sector's efforts to tackle the avian influenza outbreak.

We are in daily contact with poultry stakeholders as part of responding to the avian influenza outbreak and discussions include the labour supply.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) leads Government action on animal disease control and has outbreak response plans in place. These include measures to contract companies to support eradication and cover such matters as the deployment of non-Government vets and experts in culling and disposal of birds. APHA also works closely with other agencies from within the Defra group to provide additional capacity.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to reintroduce an extension of the Seasonal Workers Pilot to include poultry workers.

Our points-based system allows for many roles in poultry production to use the Skilled Worker route, such as poultry processors, bird dressers, pluckers, trussers and butchers for all meats. UK employers can additionally make use of the EU Settled Status Scheme for these roles, which allows EU nationals to travel to and work in the UK. The Government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology.

Although the Government has no current plans to reintroduce the scheme for temporary visas to poultry workers in 2022, we will continue to monitor the position. Defra works closely with the Home Office to ensure there is a long term strategy for the food and farming workforce into the future.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on financial support for rural communities.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on a range of issues, including the needs of rural communities.

The UK Government is committed to levelling-up across the whole of the United Kingdom to ensure that, as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, no community is left behind. The Government will soon publish a White Paper. Rural areas are already benefitting from levelling up. The Government has put in place a broad range of support across the UK, including in rural areas which includes funding awarded through the Community Renewal Fund and Community Ownership Fund.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to provide alternative support to rural businesses to help them diversify as Basic Payment Scheme income reduces.

Our manifesto was clear that we would maintain the annual budget for farming for every year of this parliament. Freed from the Common Agricultural Policy, we are repurposing this money to incentivise sustainable farming practices alongside profitable food production. We have also made simplifications to the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme, as set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan. This included removing the greening requirements. These simplifications meant the scheme guidance was reduced by about half.

Earlier this month (December 2021) we published information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2022. The Sustainable Farming Incentive is the first of our three new environmental land management schemes. Through this scheme, we will pay farmers to produce public goods such as water quality, biodiversity, animal health and welfare and climate change mitigation, alongside food production. The December update set out details of scheme policy, including on eligibility, applications and payment rates. We will pay a more generous payment rate than previous EU schemes, and there will be fewer rules and more trust. As we said in the December update, we want to see large-scale adoption of the Sustainable Farming Incentive across the range of farm types, locations and tenancy arrangements, with 70% of farms and farmland in the scheme by 2028.

Alongside the Sustainable Farming Incentive, we will be launching the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme. All three schemes will be accessible to farmers. Local Nature Recovery will begin a phased rollout from 2023 and will pay farmers for using less productive areas of their farms to create habitats and support biodiversity and water quality. It will also support collaboration between groups of farmers. Landscape Recovery will begin piloting in 2022 and will pay landowners who want to take a more radical and large-scale approach to producing environmental outcomes through land use change. We will set out more detail on Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery in the New Year.

There will also be schemes to help support businesses to get ready for the agricultural transition period which runs from 2021 to 2027. We have already opened the Farming Investment Fund for applications. It is there to support farmers to invest in new equipment, technology and infrastructure to improve productivity, support animal health and welfare and improve environmental outcomes. We plan to launch an added value theme under the Farming Transformation Fund and this will support farmers to invest in shortening their supply chains through packing, processing and retailing their produce. The Farming Innovation Programme opened for applications in October 2021. This will support ambitious projects to transform productivity and enhance environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, whilst driving the sectors towards net zero. And we know that a vibrant industry needs to attract new talent. Our New Entrant Support scheme aims to encourage new starters into farming. Eligibility for this scheme will be developed in partnership with stakeholders and applications will open in 2022.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), worth over £2.6 billion over the next three years, will help people access opportunity in places in need, including in rural and coastal communities. The Government will publish further details on the fund in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential impact of cost pressures on the English fruit and vegetable sector.

Together with the devolved administrations, Defra has established the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG) to monitor and assess the impact of agricultural market developments across the UK, including on cost pressures on the fruit and vegetable sector.


The UKAMMG monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, trade and recent developments, enabling it to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. This includes discussions on input costs such as fertilisers. The UKAMMG will flag where further investigation of market developments is required and when policy teams and Ministers should be informed of any developments. The notes of these meetings are available on gov.uk.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether mandatory CCTV in abattoirs has resulted in any prosecutions of abattoir employees for offences against animals.

Three individuals have been convicted of animal welfare offences identified following the review of CCTV by the Official Veterinarian since the introduction of legislation in England in May 2018.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many healthy pigs have been culled on farms in each week during the last three months.

Defra does not collect data on the number of pigs culled on farms. Producers, who are responsible for the welfare of animals on farm, are also not required to submit such data to us. However, from our engagement with the pig sector, we understand that around 6000 pigs have been culled on farms in the last three months. This is largely due to the backlog of pigs on farm caused by a unique combination of factors including shortages of labour in the processing sector, disruption to the export market and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Defra has been working closely with pig producers and the processing sector in recent months. We are very conscious of the impact that the culling of animals on farm has on individual pig farmers. We announced a series of measures on 14 October that will support the pig sector and help address the current challenges it is facing. These include allowing up to 800 pork butchers to apply for a 6-month working visa to the UK, a pork levy holiday for pig farmers and producers during November 2021, and a private storage aid scheme which will enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for 3-6 months so that they can be preserved safely and processed at a later date.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the Government's planned timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals to remove the requirement for VI-1 certificates on wine imports.

On 25 July, the Government announced its intention to remove the requirement of VI-1 certification for all wine imports entering Great Britain. The removal of this barrier will cut unnecessary red tape for importers from both the EU and Rest of the World. This is great news for businesses and consumers, who will now see a significant trade burden lifted, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in the cost of wine. Industry analysis suggests that on average VI-1 certificates add 10p to every bottle of imported wine; British wine consumers can expect to save up to £130 million each year.

We are taking the necessary steps to begin the implementation process. On 9 September, we launched the consultation process for the removal for businesses who are directly impacted by the change. Once we have completed the consultation, we will then look to ensure that the necessary legislation is put in place as soon as possible.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether new processes for determining pesticide use applications will be compliant with the environmental decision-making aspects of the Aarhus Convention.

EU Exit legislation has carried across the statutory requirements of the EU regime relating to standards of protection. We now operate an autonomous GB pesticides regime, and decisions on standards are a matter for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations. EU pesticides legislation continues to apply in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the NI Protocol.

Decisions on pesticide authorisation are based on expert assessment by the Health and Safety Executive. The independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides advises on novel scientific issues. The scientific risk assessment relies upon detailed data requirements and processes, carried across from EU law at the end of the Transition Period.

Risk assessments made for pesticide active substance approvals are subject to public consultation. These assessments establish the key risks posed by pesticide substances in representative conditions of use. There are requirements in the retained pesticides regulation to make the applicant’s summary dossier, the draft assessment report (on which a period of time is permitted for written comments) and the conclusion publicly available. There are no similar requirements in the regulation in respect of applications for emergency authorisation. We continue making decisions on pesticides use based on scientific risk assessments, while aiming to achieve high levels of protection for people, wildlife and the environment.

The Government is committed to the continued effective implementation of our international obligations under the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Government strongly supports the contribution the Convention makes to enhancing environmental protection and remains committed to its objectives. The three pillars of the Convention have been implemented via a number of measures, including legislation such as the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what consultations are undertaken as part of the pesticide authorisation process between the submission of an application for a derogation to use a banned pesticide and the decision relating to the application by (a) the Health and Safety Executive and (b) a Minister in his Department following the UK's departure from the EU.

EU Exit legislation has carried across the statutory requirements of the EU regime relating to standards of protection. We now operate an autonomous GB pesticides regime, and decisions on standards are a matter for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations. EU pesticides legislation continues to apply in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the NI Protocol.

Decisions on pesticide authorisation are based on expert assessment by the Health and Safety Executive. The independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides advises on novel scientific issues. The scientific risk assessment relies upon detailed data requirements and processes, carried across from EU law at the end of the Transition Period.

Risk assessments made for pesticide active substance approvals are subject to public consultation. These assessments establish the key risks posed by pesticide substances in representative conditions of use. There are requirements in the retained pesticides regulation to make the applicant’s summary dossier, the draft assessment report (on which a period of time is permitted for written comments) and the conclusion publicly available. There are no similar requirements in the regulation in respect of applications for emergency authorisation. We continue making decisions on pesticides use based on scientific risk assessments, while aiming to achieve high levels of protection for people, wildlife and the environment.

The Government is committed to the continued effective implementation of our international obligations under the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Government strongly supports the contribution the Convention makes to enhancing environmental protection and remains committed to its objectives. The three pillars of the Convention have been implemented via a number of measures, including legislation such as the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what consultation his Department is taking as part of the pesticide authorisation process between the submission of an application for a new pesticide and the decision on that application by the (a) Health and Safety Executive and (b) a Minister in his Department following the UK's departure from the EU.

EU Exit legislation has carried across the statutory requirements of the EU regime relating to standards of protection. We now operate an autonomous GB pesticides regime, and decisions on standards are a matter for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations. EU pesticides legislation continues to apply in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the NI Protocol.

Decisions on pesticide authorisation are based on expert assessment by the Health and Safety Executive. The independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides advises on novel scientific issues. The scientific risk assessment relies upon detailed data requirements and processes, carried across from EU law at the end of the Transition Period.

Risk assessments made for pesticide active substance approvals are subject to public consultation. These assessments establish the key risks posed by pesticide substances in representative conditions of use. There are requirements in the retained pesticides regulation to make the applicant’s summary dossier, the draft assessment report (on which a period of time is permitted for written comments) and the conclusion publicly available. There are no similar requirements in the regulation in respect of applications for emergency authorisation. We continue making decisions on pesticides use based on scientific risk assessments, while aiming to achieve high levels of protection for people, wildlife and the environment.

The Government is committed to the continued effective implementation of our international obligations under the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Government strongly supports the contribution the Convention makes to enhancing environmental protection and remains committed to its objectives. The three pillars of the Convention have been implemented via a number of measures, including legislation such as the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits to re-establishing the Food Resilience Industry Forum.

The Food Resilience Industry Forum continues to meet on a quarterly basis, with the next meeting scheduled for 16 September.

Defra also continues to have a broad range of engagement mechanisms through which stakeholders can raise and address impacts affecting the food chain. Defra intends to continue to use focused task and finish groups as a means of bringing together representatives of the sector, and the relevant expertise from across the Government, to tackle specific issues.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether abolishing the VI1 form for wine imports requires primary legislation.

No power has been conferred specifically for the purpose of abolishing all VI1 forms, and, because abolishing VI1 forms would involve the repeal of retained direct principal EU legislation, new primary legislation would be required to confer such a power. It would also be possible for new primary legislation to be made which removes the provisions requiring the use of the VI1 form directly.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to publish a domestic replacement for the EU School Milk Scheme for the academic year 2021-22.

The School Milk Scheme will continue to run in the 2021-22 academic year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the potential volume of food that may go to waste as a result of the shortage of HGV drivers since the UK's departure from the EU.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers.

Officials in both departments are also working together on requests from some sector industries to extend the driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.

In addition, officials from Defra and DfT continue to meet regularly to discuss the wider issue of driver shortfalls and the potential impact on the UK food supply chain, including food shortages and food waste. Defra is gathering regular intelligence from the food industry through engagement, including supermarkets to inform solutions. Based on Defra's evidence assessment, major supermarkets are experiencing shortages of fresh produce and increased food waste due to driver shortages. However, the level of adverse impact on their logistics operations has been minimal with no major food product shelf shortages reported.

Driver shortages is a long term issue requiring long term solutions. Options being considered in that space include the Department for Education's Large Goods Vehicles apprenticeship scheme; the Department for Work and Pensions' action to encourage more job seekers into the profession; and increased Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency testing capacity.

Overall, the impact of the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has had minimal impact on the UK food supply which is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help prevent (a) food shortages and (b) gaps in supply on supermarket shelves as a result of the shortage of HGV drivers arising since the UK's departure from the EU.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers.

Officials in both departments are also working together on requests from some sector industries to extend the driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.

In addition, officials from Defra and DfT continue to meet regularly to discuss the wider issue of driver shortfalls and the potential impact on the UK food supply chain, including food shortages and food waste. Defra is gathering regular intelligence from the food industry through engagement, including supermarkets to inform solutions. Based on Defra's evidence assessment, major supermarkets are experiencing shortages of fresh produce and increased food waste due to driver shortages. However, the level of adverse impact on their logistics operations has been minimal with no major food product shelf shortages reported.

Driver shortages is a long term issue requiring long term solutions. Options being considered in that space include the Department for Education's Large Goods Vehicles apprenticeship scheme; the Department for Work and Pensions' action to encourage more job seekers into the profession; and increased Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency testing capacity.

Overall, the impact of the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has had minimal impact on the UK food supply which is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Transport to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers as a result of the UK's departure from the EU.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers.

Officials in both departments are also working together on requests from some sector industries to extend the driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.

In addition, officials from Defra and DfT continue to meet regularly to discuss the wider issue of driver shortfalls and the potential impact on the UK food supply chain, including food shortages and food waste. Defra is gathering regular intelligence from the food industry through engagement, including supermarkets to inform solutions. Based on Defra's evidence assessment, major supermarkets are experiencing shortages of fresh produce and increased food waste due to driver shortages. However, the level of adverse impact on their logistics operations has been minimal with no major food product shelf shortages reported.

Driver shortages is a long term issue requiring long term solutions. Options being considered in that space include the Department for Education's Large Goods Vehicles apprenticeship scheme; the Department for Work and Pensions' action to encourage more job seekers into the profession; and increased Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency testing capacity.

Overall, the impact of the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has had minimal impact on the UK food supply which is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of farms under five hectares not receiving basic payments that are expected to benefit from the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Environmental Land Management schemes.

When the Sustainable Farming Incentive begins in 2022 it will be open to Basic Payment Scheme recipients only, but, subject to what we learn from piloting the Sustainable Farming Incentive, as the scheme expands we intend to open eligibility so that in 2024 it is open to all farmers. Our aim is to make it attractive and straightforward for everyone to take part, including the many farmers who are not currently in an agri-environment scheme.

We only monitor commercial farms,[1] which account for 98% of total agricultural activity. At this stage it is not possible to estimate how many farms with less than 5 hectares will benefit from the environmental land management schemes.

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[1] Commercial farms are those with significant levels of farming activity. These significant levels are classified as any holding with more than 5 hectares of agricultural land, 1 hectare of orchards, 0.5 hectares of vegetables or 0.1 hectares of protected crops, or more than 10 cows, 50 pigs, 20 sheep, 20 goats or 1,000 poultry.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of lost revenue from reductions in Basic Payments Scheme payments that farmers will be able to recoup through the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme.

We will soon be announcing the initial standards that we will be offering to farmers in the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme for 2022. The scheme will expand over time and evolve to deliver continued progress against our climate and environmental priorities and reflect any changes to the regulatory baseline.

The scheme will give farmers an opportunity to secure a complementary income stream to their farm business by undertaking sustainable farming actions that benefit the wider environment.

It will be up to individual farmers to decide which standards they take up on their farm and how much of their land they decide to put into the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, alongside other agri-environment schemes that such as Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that farmers on common land can benefit from the (a) Sustainable Farming Incentive and (b) Environmental Land Management schemes.

To support the development of the environmental land management schemes, we are working with a number of stakeholders to help us understand how the building blocks of the future schemes could work in practice on common land. One of our key mechanisms for working with farmers and land managers is through our 78 tests and trials which cover a range of different geographies, sectors and farm types. We have three tests and trials focused on commons and the results of these tests and trials are feeding into the development of the Sustainable Farming Incentive and other environmental land management schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking in addition to the Basic Payment Scheme lump sum exit scheme to encourage new entrants to the farming sector.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure, and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

We are currently engaging a wide range of stakeholders on key issues in the design of the scheme. We will report more detail of the scheme in Autumn of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

In addition, the Government is contributing towards the establishment of The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture that will help make farming a more attractive industry to new entrants. It will provide a skills framework for continuing professional development creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential financial effect for farmers of the replacement of the Basic Payment Scheme with the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Environmental Land Management schemes.

We will soon be announcing the initial standards that we will be offering to farmers in the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme for 2022. The scheme will expand over time and evolve to deliver continued progress against our climate and environmental priorities, while encouraging sustainable food production and reflect any changes to the regulatory baseline.

The scheme will give farmers an opportunity to secure a complementary income stream to their farm business by undertaking sustainable farming actions that benefit the wider environment.

It will be up to individual farmers to decide which standards they take up on their farm and how much of their land they decide to put into the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, alongside other agri-environment schemes that such as Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship.

The Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes which farmers and landowner swill also be able to take part in will be piloted in 2022, in advance of launch in 2024.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of UK farms received Basic Payment Scheme in each of the last five years.

Unfortunately we cannot provide accurate estimates of the proportion of the whole farming population in England claiming Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Estimates of the entire farming population are collected using criteria which do not correspond to those governing how BPS claimants are classified, and therefore no direct comparison can be made.

Over the last five years (2016-2020) the following numbers of farms/businesses in England received a payment from the BPS:

2016 - 85,837

2017 - 85,127

2018 - 84,020

2019 - 83,947

2020 - 83,852

BPS is a devolved matter and the information provided relates to England only and is for registered farms/businesses.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of additional costs to UK wine importers resulting from changes in organic certification following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The UK retained Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulations (EC) Nos 889/2008 and 1235/2008 for organics. These regulations state that any business involved in activities at any stage of production, preparation, import and distribution of organic products must be certified by an approved certification body. This is to ensure the integrity of organic produce from the grower to the consumer.

Defra approves six control bodies to operate in the UK. These are private bodies which set their own fee structures for certification. Any information regarding fees for particular businesses would be commercially sensitive information, private to the individual business and their control body. As a result, it would not be possible for us to make an assessment of the added costs for wine importers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of additional costs to UK wine importers following the end of the labelling grace period on 30 September 2022.

Defra is committed to supporting wine businesses across the country to adapt to new processes for importing wine into the UK as a result of new trading arrangements. Our overriding objective is to ensure these processes are as simple as possible.

We have not conducted a full assessment of any additional costs which UK wine importers may face following the end of the labelling grace period with the EU. However, transitional measures are currently in place until September 2022. This period will help minimise costs to businesses from changes stemming from our exit from the EU. This will provide us with enough time to assess the matter and understand any implications for importers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of UK farms were below five hectares in each of the last five years.

Defra only produces statistics on farms with significant levels of farming activity (a). Farms with less than five hectares (and small levels of other farming activities) fall below these thresholds so we are unable to estimate how many farms have less than five hectares. The farms defined with significant levels of farming activity account for at least 98% of agricultural activity in the country and enable us to produce national estimates without burdening the smallest farms who do not generally produce for the market.

(a) Significant levels of farming are defined as more than five hectares of agricultural land, one hectare of orchards, 0.5 hectares of vegetables or 0.1 hectares of protected crops, or more than 10 cows, 50 pigs, 20 sheep, 20 goats or 1,000 poultry.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to support Higher Level Stewardship agreement holders transition to new environmental land management schemes.

Where appropriate we are extending those Higher Level Stewardship agreements into 2022, and we are looking at how best to extend these further over the agricultural transition period. Agreement holders who are not offered an extension are encouraged to apply to Countryside Stewardship. When the new environmental land management schemes are fully rolled out, we will make sure there is a smooth transition for those in existing agri-environment schemes or involved in our pilots.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Health and Safety Executive advised that the Government's application for an emergency authorisation for neonicotinoid pesticide use on sugar beet for 2021 be refused.

Defra’s approach to regulation of pesticides is underpinned by the precautionary principle. That is why, for example, we supported a ban on the use of certain neonicotinoids to treat crops including sugar beet in 2018 and removed the general authorisation for their use. Given what the current science tells us about these pesticides, they can only be authorised for use in special circumstances, where strict regulatory requirements are met, including when there is a threat of serious risk to a crop that cannot be addressed by other means. The Government took advice on this specific application from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Expert Committee on Pesticides and our own Chief Scientific Adviser. Emergency authorisation was granted for the use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment this year to address a potential serious risk to the sugar beet crop, with strict controls on use built in to minimise the potential risks to the environment.

The HSE advised that they considered many aspects of the environmental risk assessment met the requirements for standard authorisation. The Government concluded that the remaining potential risks could be mitigated to an acceptably low level and that, with the strict conditions of use in place, these were outweighed by the substantial benefits to crop production from the use of Cruiser SB if 2021 were to be a year of high pest pressure. One of the conditions attached was to ensure that the product would only be used if the pest pressure was predicted to pass a certain threshold. Ultimately, this threshold for usage was not met and so the neonicotinoid was not used on sugar beet crops.

The reasons for the decision to issue this emergency authorisation for the product Cruiser SB were set out more fully in the Statement on the decision to issue - with strict conditions - emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the proportion of UK farming that will be organic by 2030.

In 2019, the UK had a total area of 485,000 hectares of land farmed organically (i.e. the fully converted area and area under conversion), an increase of 2.4% compared with 2018. The organically farmed area represents 2.7% of the total farmed area on agricultural holdings in the UK. The newly updated figures from the Defra statistics team covering 2020 will be available next month.

It is difficult to make a prediction of what the figures will be in 2030 given the inherent uncertainties in predicting growth of the sector, which will ultimately be up to the business decisions of individual producers.

We believe that the best way to ensure a sustainable and productive organics sector is to take a producer led approach, allowing individual farmers to make decisions about the rate at which they want to expand their land under organic management based on their own best judgement and the market conditions. The schemes that reward environmental land management will also provide incentives for farmers to support the environment and communities.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the take-up of environmental land management schemes amongst upland agricultural businesses.

The new environmental land management schemes will be most successful if as many land managers as possible across England take up the schemes, as this will help us to maximise the environmental benefits. More than 3,000 farmers and land managers with a wide range of farm and land types are helping to co-design the new schemes through tests and trials. Uplands provide rich opportunities for the provision of environmental public goods and participation in agri-environment schemes is currently higher for upland farmers than any other farm type, suggesting they should be well placed to participate in future agri-environment schemes. We know there have been some barriers to participation in previous agri-environment schemes for uplands land managers. Over the course of the scheme pilots we will continue to work with farmers and experts including uplands agricultural businesses to make sure we make the right offer for the environmental land management schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether Vydate 10G has been detected in the water course in East Anglia since April 2021.

There have been no detections of Oxamyl, the Active ingredient of Vydate 10G, in the Anglian region since April 2021. Monitoring for Oxamyl is included in the Environment Agency’s regular sample collections taken weekly at three sites in Anglian region. This will continue in 2021.

Following an assessment of all monitoring data for Oxamyl in Anglian region since 1 January 2016 (886 samples), Oxamyl is not classed as persistent in either soil or water.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department or its agencies (a) are carrying out monitoring to determine whether Vydate 10G is persistent in the water course in East Anglia or (b) have plans to carry out that monitoring later in 2021.

There have been no detections of Oxamyl, the Active ingredient of Vydate 10G, in the Anglian region since April 2021. Monitoring for Oxamyl is included in the Environment Agency’s regular sample collections taken weekly at three sites in Anglian region. This will continue in 2021.

Following an assessment of all monitoring data for Oxamyl in Anglian region since 1 January 2016 (886 samples), Oxamyl is not classed as persistent in either soil or water.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the potential number of upland farmers that will go out of business in the transition away from Basic Payments Schemes.

We know that many farmers in the uplands currently rely on Direct Payments. That is why we have designed policies to allow for a managed adjustment, a seven-year transition, that will give farmers, including in upland areas, time to adapt to the changes.

Farmers will be able to offset the removal of these payments in a number of ways, including farm efficiency improvements, diversification and receiving money under our new environmental land management schemes.

There is clear evidence showing that the scope for productivity improvement would enable farms, on average, to remain profitable following the withdrawal of the current payments. We are providing grants and targeted resilience support to facilitate that, as well as investing in longer term measures such as research and development. We also anticipate rent adjustments which could benefit upland tenant farmers.

We are planning to publish further analysis by autumn this year. This will analyse farm incomes and how these will change between now and 2027.

Our latest preliminary findings are consistent with previous analysis that is publicly available, and we find that uplands farmers are reliant on Direct Payments, to the extent that their Direct Payments make up essentially all of their annual profit or farm business income.

However, the analysis also shows that there are opportunities for upland farmers. For instance, uplands farmers currently provide significant environmental benefits and will be well placed to benefit as more public money shall be provided through environmental land management payments.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the transition away from Basic Payments Schemes on commoners and upland agricultural businesses.

The Government published a comprehensive evidence compendium, updated in September 2019. This set out the impacts of removing Direct Payments, including analysis by sector, location in England and type of land tenure. It also provided analysis on how farm businesses, across all sectors, can offset the impact of Direct Payments.

We are planning to publish further analysis by autumn this year. This will analyse farm incomes and how these will change between now and 2027.

Our latest preliminary findings are consistent with previous analysis that is publicly available. We know that those farm types which are prevalent in the uplands and areas of common land, particularly grazing livestock and tenanted farmers, currently have a high reliance on Direct Payments.

These farms can be rewarded under our new environmental land management schemes. They are therefore well placed to benefit as more public money is provided through such schemes and we will ensure that these schemes work for upland farmers. In designing these schemes, we know that the payment rates need to be attractive to achieve the levels of uptake and environmental outcomes we need to see, as well as set at a fair rate.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the amount of (a) food and (b) ornamental crops that could go to waste in 2021 as a result of shortages of labour for crop picking and processing.

The Government recognises the importance of a reliable source of labour for crop picking and packing, and that it is a key part of bringing in the harvest for the horticultural sector. Defra is working closely with industry to understand labour demand and supply and help our world-leading growers access the labour they need.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot opened in 2019 and is designed to test the effectiveness of our immigration system at supporting UK growers during peak production periods, whilst maintaining robust immigration control. It is also providing a valuable source of labour for the fruit and vegetable growers of the UK helping to ensure the food security of the country. On 22 December 2020, the Government extended the Seasonal Workers Pilot for one year, and expanded the number of visas from 10,000 to 30,000.

The expanded Seasonal Workers Pilot will continue to operate in the edible horticulture sector, to support farmers growing UK fruit and vegetables. This is the sector of agriculture which has the highest dependency on seasonal labour, and is needed to ensure critical food supply chains in the UK are maintained.

This Pilot is not designed to meet the full labour needs of the horticultural sector. Rather we are seeking to evaluate the immigration pilot’s ability to assist in alleviating labour shortages during peak production periods.

In 2021 and beyond, businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Almost 4.8 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme to date, and the application deadline is 30 June 2021. EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2021.

The Government is also encouraging the horticulture sector to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in automation technology.

The information requested on estimates made for the amounts of horticultural produce that went to waste in 2020, or that could go to waste in 2021 is not held by Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what criteria were met that led to his Department granting the emergency authorisation of Vydate 10G for use on sugar beet crops in 2021.

Emergency authorisation allows, in narrow circumstances, a short-term derogation from the normal requirements for pesticide authorisation. Emergency authorisation of a pesticide product for limited and controlled use may be granted in special circumstances where, strict regulatory requirements are met, and the authorisation appears necessary to control a danger that cannot be controlled by any other reasonable means. In assessing whether the requirements are met, the decision maker considers the benefit of granting an emergency authorisation and the potential harm from the proposed use of the product, taking into account relevant mitigation measures.

In the case of Vydate 10G, used to control nematodes, grower groups submitted applications earlier this year for emergency authorisation for use on a range of crops. Each of these applications were considered separately against the legal requirements and on the basis of the available information on issues including the risk to the crop, the availability of alternative means of control and the benefits and risks of use. The application for use on a small proportion of the sugar beet crop was granted, with conditions, as the requirements for emergency authorisation were considered to be met.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the rejection in February 2021 by the Health and Safety Executive of the use of Vydate 10G on carrot, parsnip, bulb onion, garlic and potato crops, for what reason emergency authorisation was given for the use of that pesticide on sugar beet crops in March 2021.

Emergency authorisation allows, in narrow circumstances, a short-term derogation from the normal requirements for pesticide authorisation. Emergency authorisation of a pesticide product for limited and controlled use may be granted in special circumstances where, strict regulatory requirements are met, and the authorisation appears necessary to control a danger that cannot be controlled by any other reasonable means. In assessing whether the requirements are met, the decision maker considers the benefit of granting an emergency authorisation and the potential harm from the proposed use of the product, taking into account relevant mitigation measures.

In the case of Vydate 10G, used to control nematodes, grower groups submitted applications earlier this year for emergency authorisation for use on a range of crops. Each of these applications were considered separately against the legal requirements and on the basis of the available information on issues including the risk to the crop, the availability of alternative means of control and the benefits and risks of use. The application for use on a small proportion of the sugar beet crop was granted, with conditions, as the requirements for emergency authorisation were considered to be met.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of agricultural workers for the harvesting of crops in 2021.

This year Defra is working closely with industry to ensure that our farmers and growers have the labour they need for 2021 and beyond. Defra is regularly speaking with recruiters, growers, unions and associations, and making use of all available information to understand the national labour supply picture.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot has been expanded for one year, with 30,000 visas granted for workers to come to the UK, from EU or non-EU countries, for a period of up to six months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms.

In 2021 and beyond, food and farming businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Almost 4.8 million EU citizens and their families have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to date, and the application deadline is 30 June 2021. EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2021.

To help with these efforts, Defra will build on the success of last year’s domestic recruitment campaign, working with industry and DWP to raise awareness of career opportunities within the horticulture sector among UK workers. We will also explore the potential for automation to meet future labour demands of the sector.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the amount of (a) food and (b) ornamental crops that went to waste in 2020 as a result of a shortage of labour for crop picking and processing.

The Government recognises the importance of a reliable source of labour for crop picking and packing, and that it is a key part of bringing in the harvest for the horticultural sector. Defra is working closely with industry to understand labour demand and supply and help our world-leading growers access the labour they need.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot opened in 2019 and is designed to test the effectiveness of our immigration system at supporting UK growers during peak production periods, whilst maintaining robust immigration control. It is also providing a valuable source of labour for the fruit and vegetable growers of the UK helping to ensure the food security of the country. On 22 December 2020, the Government extended the Seasonal Workers Pilot for one year, and expanded the number of visas from 10,000 to 30,000.

The expanded Seasonal Workers Pilot will continue to operate in the edible horticulture sector, to support farmers growing UK fruit and vegetables. This is the sector of agriculture which has the highest dependency on seasonal labour, and is needed to ensure critical food supply chains in the UK are maintained.

This Pilot is not designed to meet the full labour needs of the horticultural sector. Rather we are seeking to evaluate the immigration pilot’s ability to assist in alleviating labour shortages during peak production periods.

In 2021 and beyond, businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Almost 4.8 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme to date, and the application deadline is 30 June 2021. EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2021.

The Government is also encouraging the horticulture sector to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in automation technology.

The information requested on estimates made for the amounts of horticultural produce that went to waste in 2020, or that could go to waste in 2021 is not held by Defra.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the amount of food that has gone to waste since 1 January 2021 as a result of export checks introduced following the UK's departure from the EU.

In the early months of 2021, Defra officials have made themselves readily available to work with UK traders, EU port officials and colleagues in other Government departments to rapidly unblock issues, ensure that there is feedback from Member States and keep trade flowing.

Between January and March 2021 the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) issued 40,300 certificates for exports to the EU, although some of these may be for consignments not yet exported. We are aware of 17 consignments that were rejected at EU Border Control Posts during this period. There may be more not known to Defra or APHA. Of the 17 rejected consignments, solutions may have been found to ensure safe entry into the EU.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason an emergency authorisation for the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet was approved when the Health and Safety Executive recommended in their advice to the Government that that request for use be refused.

The Government is committed to the neonicotinoid restrictions put in place in 2018 and to the sustainable use of pesticides. Specific requirements for granting an emergency authorisation are laid out in pesticide regulations. In assessing whether the requirements are met, the decision maker considers the benefit of granting an emergency authorisation against an assessment of the potential harm from the proposed use of the product, taking into account the proposed conditions. This specific exemption refers to a non-flowering plant, grown in the East of England only, and we took advice on this from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Expert Committee on Pesticides and our own Chief Scientific Adviser.

The HSE advised that many aspects of the environmental risk assessment met the requirements for standard authorisation. The Government concluded that the remaining risks identified could be mitigated to an acceptably low level and that, with the strict conditions of use in place, these were outweighed by the substantial benefits to crop production from the use of Cruiser SB if 2021 were to be a year of high pest pressure. One of the conditions attached was to ensure that the product would only be used if the pest pressure was predicted to pass a certain threshold. Ultimately, this threshold for usage was not met and so the neonicotinoid was not used on sugar beet crops.

The reasons for the decision to issue this emergency authorisation for the product Cruiser SB were set out more fully in the Statement on the decision to issue - with strict conditions - emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason an emergency authorisation for the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet was approved.

Defra applies the precautionary principle to pesticides policy. That is why, for example, we supported a ban on the use of neonicotinoids to treat crops including sugar beet in 2018 and removed the general authorisation for its use. However, we can consider applications for emergency authorisations, just as other countries across Europe continue to do. In fact, ten EU countries have repeatedly granted emergency authorisations for use of the withdrawn neonicotinoids in sugar beet.  Emergency authorisation was granted for the use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment this year to address a potentially serious risk to the sugar beet crop.

We will only grant an emergency authorisation where the relevant statutory requirements are met. In particular, that is where use of the product is necessary because of a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means and any potential risks to humans, animals and the environment (including risks to bees and other pollinators) are considered to be acceptably low.

The product will not now be used on the crop because disease levels were forecast to be below a threshold set as a condition of authorisation.

The reasons for the decision to issue this emergency authorisation for the product Cruiser SB were set out in the Statement on the decision to issue – with strict conditions – emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Health and Safety Executive's emergency authorisation of the use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet granted in January 2021, whether the risk assessment undertaken for that application considered the risk to (a) bees and (b) other pollinators of being exposed via pollen and nectar in wildflower margins adjacent to the treated sugar beet crop.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the risk assessment undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive for the application for emergency use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet granted in January 2021 considered the risk to (a) wild bumblebees, (b) solitary bees and (c) managed honey bees.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason the Health and Safety Executive risk assessment for the application for emergency use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet was based on industry studies and did not examine evidence from independent scientific studies.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the emergency authorisation for the use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam in January 2021, for what reason his Department did not include a mitigation measure to tackle the risk of guttation on following maize crops.

The mitigations built into the emergency authorisation to protect bees were considered sufficient to support the granting of the authorisation.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to make entry into organic production appealing for new entrants; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of funding an organic conversion advice and support service.

Now that the UK has left the European Union we have the opportunity to chart our own course in organic regulation, setting rules around organic production and certification that suit the needs of our domestic organics industry. We are working to streamline bureaucratic processes inherited from the EU regulatory system to allow for a more flexible and responsive way to handle our regulatory obligations while reducing costs for producers and the burden on the public purse. By reducing these administrative burdens, we hope to make conversion to organics easier and more appealing for producers.

From 1996 to 2011 Defra ran the Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS) which provided free technical advice to farmers considering conversion via a dedicated helpline and information packs, followed up by on-site visits. As the organic market matured producers built up their own expertise and other sources of expert advice became available, meaning that it was no longer considered cost effective or necessary to continue OCIS.

Support now exists under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Producers who want to know more about applying for an organic Countryside Stewardship agreement can book an advice session for support. In addition, any eligible application for either a Mid-Tier or Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship is guaranteed an agreement with conversion payments available for the first years of the agreement if moving from conventional to organic farming.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department has made on boosting innovation in the organic sector; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing research and development funding for organic and agroecological innovation.

We work closely with organic producers and sector bodies on promoting innovation via a sector led approach. The sector has a number of exciting programmes working towards this goal, and we believe that farmer led training and support best provides for innovation that suits the needs of the industry.

The Soil Association Innovative Farmers programme brings together a network of farmers, researchers, advisors and businesses to share expertise and develop new approaches to organic farming. The English Organic Forum, Organics Research Council, National Farmers Union, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, also produce research of relevance to the organics sector.


From 2022 we will launch an ambitious Innovation R&D Package, putting farming businesses at the centre of R&D for new technologies and practices - including organic farming practices - to transform the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

As highlighted in the recently published Agricultural Transition Plan, we will build on previous R&D funding, such as the £160m 2013 Agri-tech Strategy and the £90m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund 'Transforming Food Production' initiative, to provide additional investment. This will be administered through a new R&D funding package for England.

Application guidance will be published prior to scheme launch, including a summary of application deadlines, funding criteria, timetable and themes. Competitions are expected to open in early 2022, with communication to farmers and growers in advance, and projects are expected to begin later that year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that chicken and chicken products containing salmonella is not imported to the UK.

Both Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) take this matter extremely seriously. We do not consider it acceptable for the UK to be sent poultry products contaminated with salmonella.

Following investigations linking human illness to the consumption of chicken products imported from Poland, the UK Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the Chief Veterinary Officer of Poland in December 2020 asking that action be taken.

The Chief Veterinary Officer and the Chief Executive of the FSA have also contacted the Director General of Agriculture and Food Safety for the European Commission to raise our concerns and reiterate the need for action.

Additionally, the FSA has been working closely with Food Businesses Operators, including the major retailers, brand owners and trade associations within the UK, and with Polish competent authorities, to track down contaminated chicken products and ensure product withdrawals and recalls are undertaken when unsafe and non-compliant food has been identified.

Whilst we are working constructively with the European Commission, Polish authorities and suppliers to resolve this issue, we are keeping the possibility of the introduction of import restrictions under continual review, to ensure that UK consumers can maintain their trust in the safety of the food on their plates.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's commitment to pursue an ambitious new course for the organic sector on 27 January 2021, what specific steps the Government will take to meet this objective.

The Government is taking a multi-pronged approach to support the organic sector. We are working with organic businesses to expand organic exports, whilst working to reduce administrative burden. We are also considering how the new environmental land management schemes under development can best meet the needs of organic producers. We aim to design and administer environmental land management schemes in a way that will support farming and the countryside to make a significant and widespread contribution to environmental, biodiversity and climate change goals, which organic farming can support.

The sector is well placed to export more as UK organic produce clearly demonstrates values such as quality, traceability, and heritage combined with high environmental and welfare credentials which we know consumers across the globe want. To support this we have agreed equivalence arrangements with a number of countries to allow UK organic goods to be exported there, including a mutual recognition with the EU as part of the Trade and cooperation agreement. We are also working alongside the Department for International Trade who recently launched their new programme, Open Doors, and is working with the sector to support them with export opportunities.

The domestic market for organics is also flourishing. There are 6,000 predominantly small and medium-sized UK organic businesses, which in 2019 contributed over £2.5 billion to the UK economy, including exports worth £250 million. In 2020 the total volume of organic produce purchased in the UK rose by 12.9%. This growth in demand represents a great opportunity for UK organic producers, on top of their opportunities in the export market.

Meanwhile, we are streamlining bureaucratic processes inherited from the EU regulatory system to allow for a more flexible and responsive way to handle our regulatory obligations while reducing costs and the burden on the public purse. We intend to use powers under the Agriculture Act 2020 to amend this organics regime to support organic farmers further, benefit the environment, maintain consumer confidence, promote research and innovation in the sector, and reflect future trade agreements. We will consult with organic producers and industry bodies on how to boost innovation, improve governance of organic certification, group certification and making entry into organic production appealing for new entrants.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he will take to help ensure that organic farms receive adequate support during the roll-out of the Environmental Land Management scheme.

In November 2020 we published 'The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024'. This confirmed our intention to launch three schemes that will reward environmental land management: The Sustainable Farming Incentive; Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

We are working to ensure that the design of these schemes reflects the full diversity of environmentally sustainable techniques that are already producing environmental benefits, including organics practices.

We published further detail of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot earlier this month. The Sustainable Farming Incentive is intended to be open and accessible to all farmers and to reward farmers fairly for environmental goods generated across all land types and farm management systems, including organic farms. Throughout the pilot, for which expressions of interest are now open, we will be working with hundreds of farmers to ensure that it works for all farming systems. We will also be working with the accreditation schemes to see how membership could help with earned recognition under the future environmental land management schemes and what role the bodies operating these accreditation schemes might play.

We will publish more information on the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes later this year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish a response to the recommendations of Part 1 of the National Food Strategy.

Henry Dimbleby was appointed to lead the independent review of the food system in June 2019. This review will inform the Government's Food Strategy.

Part One of Henry Dimbleby's independent review of the food system was published on 29 July 2020 and contained recommendations on trade and food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has already acted on these recommendations, with the announcement of the Covid Winter Support package on 8 November 2020 that ensured vulnerable households would not go hungry, and with announcements on trade last year, which included putting the Trade and Agriculture Commission onto a statutory footing.

Part Two of the independent review will be published in 2021. We are continuing to engage with Henry Dimbleby and his team, and are committed to responding with a White Paper within six months of the release of his second and final report.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of direct payments made to farmers were (a) less than £30,000, (b) £30,000 to £50,000, (c) £50,001 to £150,000 and (d) more than £150,000 in the most recent financial year for which that information is available.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has a number of schemes providing direct payments to the rural economy. The three main land schemes, which offer an annual payment, are Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES).

For the current 2020 Scheme year the figures are below:

BPS Paid Population = 83,593

BPS

Proportion of Payments

a)

less than £30,000

79.8%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

9.8%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

9.1%

d)

over £150,000

1.3%

CS Paid Population = 12,409

CS

Proportion of Payments

a)

less than £30,000

95.7%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

2.9%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

1.3%

d)

over £150,000

0.1%

ES Paid Population = 8,300

ES

Proportion of Payments

a)

Less than £30,000

89.0%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

6.4%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

4.1%

d)

Over £150,000

0.4%

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effectiveness of qualification requirements for staff issuing Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and (b) potential merits of using lower-qualified staff to issue EHCs.

In order to be authorised as an Official Veterinarian (OV) for export certification, a veterinary surgeon must obtain an Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) (OCQ(V)) in the relevant field of export and revalidate these qualifications every four years. These courses, developed and approved by APHA and delivered by an international training provider, are accredited by the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISPVS) to ensure high standards. Veterinary Surgeons provide feedback on their learning on completion of each OCQ course, enabling the training provider and APHA to monitor effectiveness. APHA also carries out audits to assess the quality of the export certification work carried out by OVs. Any training deficiencies identified during this audit process would be addressed in the OCQ courses.

For many Export Health Certificates (EHC) the requirement to be signed by an OV is outlined in EU law. For any EHC, in order to protect animal and public health it is important that individual signing an certificate has the relevant qualifications and experience to attest to the matters concerned. We have though introduced the role of Certification Support Officer (CSO). Working under the direction of a certifying offer, a CSO can undertake administrative and preparatory work to get a consignment ready for export making the work of OVs more effective. The number of CSOs has increased from c. 100 in November 2020 to c. 500 today and continues to grow.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of poultry meat imported into the UK is from Poland.

Based on provisional HMRC published trade data, in 2020 29% of poultry meat imported was from Poland, by volume.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and his counterparts in the EU on securing a bilateral UK-EU SPS agreement that includes products of animal origin, animal by-products, breeding stock, and zoonotic disease control.

We reached an agreement with the EU on SPS measures as part of the TCA in December 2020. This agreement has secured the UK's full autonomy over our public, plant and animal health regime, tailoring it to the unique circumstances of the UK. Since 1 January, there has been no role for EU law or the ECJ in these rules.

This agreement allows the UK and the EU to cooperate on avoiding unnecessary SPS barriers to trade in agri-food goods. The SPS Chapter provides for a framework to agree to trade facilitations going forward, where justified. It is in both parties’ interests to pursue this. Over time, this will help to reduce the burden on businesses from border controls and certification requirements. Taken alongside other elements of the FTA such as zero tariff, zero quota, this represents a good outcome for the UK's agri-food industry, and does not constrain our ability to legislate in these areas.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of (a) changes to Commission Decision 2007/275/EC and (b) Commission Implementing Regulation 2020/2235 on the operations of UK food and drink manufacturers.

New EU rules will apply from April that will impact on traders who export certain animals, germinal products and products of animal origin, including composites. The EU has not published all of the details, however we are not aware of any changes to the rate of physical checks that will take place at the EU border. These are set out in existing EU rules. The new rules will mean there will be an increase in the number of composite product EHCs required.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to increase capacity to deliver SPS checks on both exports and imports as the new import regime is implemented between April and July 2021.

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 SPS checks on EU imports of animal products, including physical checks.

We have also taken a number of steps to increase certifier capacity to support exports. The number of Official Vets qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently. The required training is still available free of charge and numbers continue to grow. This funded training is in addition to £1.095 million provided directly to local authorities to boost certifier capacity at the end of last year. Furthermore, we continue to maintain a system to provide surge capacity vets to both certification providers and local authorities if localised shortages arise. So far this has not been widely needed. We are considering what further mitigations may be necessary.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate the Animal and Plant Health Agency has made of the number of Export Health Certificates that will be required per month for movements of live animals or animal products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland once the grace period ends on 1 April 2021.

We estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year (taking into account the Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI under which authorised traders do not require EHCs). Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual 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.

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 proportion of agricultural goods moving from Great Britain to the EU after 21 April 2021 on which physical checks will be required at border control posts.

New EU rules will apply from April 21, 2021 that will impact on traders who export certain animals, germinal products and products of animal origin, including composites. The EU has not published all of the details; however, we are not aware of any changes to the rate of physical checks that will take place at the EU border. These are set out in existing EU rules. The new rules will mean that certain products that do not currently require an Export Health Certificate, and therefore are not subject to checks, will require certification. These will be subject to physical checks at the rates currently outlined in EU regulation. We will continue to speak with the European Commission further to understand what their rules will mean for exporters.

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, if he will publish the results of forecasting to predict aphid pest pressures for 2021 for sugar beet.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

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 assessment he has made of the effect of recent cold weather on the need for neonicotinoid treatment of sugar beet.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

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, whether his Department has undertaken forecasting to predict aphid pest pressures for sugar beet in 2021.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

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 progress he has made on ensuring that organic farming standards are recognised and included in the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is intended to be open and accessible to all farmers, and to fairly compensate farmers for environmental goods generated across all land types and farm management systems, including organic farms. This year we will be piloting the Sustainable Farming Incentive, and as part of that we will be working with hundreds of farmers on issues such as ensuring that it works for all farming systems.
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 Export Health Certificates that will be required each month for movements of live animals or animal products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the grace period ends on 1 April 2021.

We estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year (taking into account the Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI under which authorised traders do not require EHCs). Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual 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.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) steps his Department is taking and (b) discussions he has had with devolved Administrations on addressing new restrictions for importers of bees after 1 January 2021.

Prior to 1 January 2021, queen honey bees could be imported into Great Britain, along with packages and colonies of bees. Now that we are trading with the EU as a third country, queen bees can continue to be imported into Great Britain but not packages or colonies. In 2020, more than 21,000 queens were imported in contrast to just under 1,900 packages and 400 colonies of bees.

Guidance on the new rules for importing bees was published prior to the end of the transition period. We are aware of concerns raised by some beekeepers and we continue to listen to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new trading arrangements.

Regular discussions take place between Defra and colleagues in the Devolved Administrations working in this policy area. We are keeping the situation under review to ensure that there are suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of restrictions facing British importers of bees (a) prior to and (b) after 1 January 2021.

Prior to 1 January 2021, queen honey bees could be imported into Great Britain, along with packages and colonies of bees. Now that we are trading with the EU as a third country, queen bees can continue to be imported into Great Britain but not packages or colonies. In 2020, more than 21,000 queens were imported in contrast to just under 1,900 packages and 400 colonies of bees.

Guidance on the new rules for importing bees was published prior to the end of the transition period. We are aware of concerns raised by some beekeepers and we continue to listen to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new trading arrangements.

Regular discussions take place between Defra and colleagues in the Devolved Administrations working in this policy area. We are keeping the situation under review to ensure that there are suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of imports of cheap honey on British beekeepers.

The UK is renowned for its high food safety and quality standards. We have robust rules in place on honey which set strict composition and labelling rules to protect consumers and ensure the authenticity of honey sold in the UK. The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 include detailed specifications for honey which ensure the quality of this important commodity is maintained whether it is produced domestically or imported into the UK.

Responsibility for assessing business compliance with the majority of food legislation rests with local authorities. They will consider any areas of non-compliance with food law and take appropriate enforcement action in line with a hierarchy of enforcement powers to ensure the business takes the necessary steps to achieve compliance. Each situation will be judged on its own merits by the relevant local authority to determine the proportionate course of action.

The UK is reliant on honey imports to meet consumer demand. Our national rules mean that all honey imports must meet the same high standards as that produced in the UK. Imports are regularly checked on import and at point of sale.

This Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure consumer confidence is maintained and to deter those wishing to commit fraud in the honey supply chain.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of measures to ensure that honey sold in the UK is not adulterated and bulked out with cheap sugar syrups.

The UK is renowned for its high food safety and quality standards. We have robust rules in place on honey which set strict composition and labelling rules to protect consumers and ensure the authenticity of honey sold in the UK. The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 include detailed specifications for honey which ensure the quality of this important commodity is maintained whether it is produced domestically or imported into the UK.

Responsibility for assessing business compliance with the majority of food legislation rests with local authorities. They will consider any areas of non-compliance with food law and take appropriate enforcement action in line with a hierarchy of enforcement powers to ensure the business takes the necessary steps to achieve compliance. Each situation will be judged on its own merits by the relevant local authority to determine the proportionate course of action.

The UK is reliant on honey imports to meet consumer demand. Our national rules mean that all honey imports must meet the same high standards as that produced in the UK. Imports are regularly checked on import and at point of sale.

This Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure consumer confidence is maintained and to deter those wishing to commit fraud in the honey supply chain.

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 the maximum number of years is that badger culling could continue in England under the consultation proposals on eradicating bovine TB announced on 27 January 2020; and what the maximum number of badgers is that could be culled during this time period.

Under the proposals in the current consultation, in the years 2021 and 2022, new intensive cull licences will be issued for four years. They could be revoked however, further to a progress evaluation by the Chief Veterinary Officer after two or three years.

The consultation also proposes to restrict new applications for Supplementary Badger Cull (SBC) to a maximum of two years for areas licensed for Intensive Culling (IC) up to 2020 and prohibits the issuing of SBC licenses for areas licensed for IC after 2020. SBCs licenses can already be revoked following a progress evaluation or on reasonable grounds under the Defra “Guidance to Natural England Licences to kill or take badgers for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine TB under section 10(2)(a) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992”.

We do not yet know how many applications there would be, nor where they would be located. Therefore, we cannot predict the maximum number of badgers that could be culled in this time period.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will include provisions for involving the Department of Health (a) in decisions related to the approval of pesticides with known human health implications and (b) to help develop a reporting and monitoring system for pesticide exposure incidents in the UK.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be updated to include a commitment to develop a human biomonitoring programme designed to monitor exposure within the UK population to pesticides.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to increase the transparency on pesticides by including (a) mandatory spray notifications for both rural and urban residents and (b) public access to spray records.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to include stronger measures designed to protect pollinators.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will include stronger measures for improving the uptake of Integrated Pest Management by farmers by (a) guaranteeing payments for nature-based Integrated Pest Management and pesticide reduction under the Environmental Land Management Scheme and (b) committing to introduce crop or area specific groups to bring farmers together to discuss common obstacles and solutions for reducing pesticide use.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of relying on voluntary codes, industry self-regulation and industry bodies such as the Voluntary Initiative and Amenity Forum as a means of reducing pesticide use in the draft Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides; and whether that approach will be replaced with mandatory measures in the final draft National Action Plan.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will ensure that farmers are able to access agronomic advice which is delinked from the agrochemical industry.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to include a commitment to focus innovation and research and development on nature-based solutions and agroecological innovation in addition to its current focus on new technologies.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what restrictions are in place on the use of pesticides close to schools; and whether he plans to update those restrictions.

Current regulations only authorise the use of pesticides where that will not harm people. Decisions are based on comprehensive scientific assessment covering all situations where people may be exposed to pesticides. This assessment specifically addresses the situation of people, including children, who may find themselves near to where pesticides are used. Authorisations are frequently refused and, if granted, are regularly reviewed. Conditions may be attached to an authorisation if that is necessary to ensure that people are protected.

Anyone using an authorised pesticide is legally required to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to protect human health and the environment, and that the pesticide is confined to the area to be treated.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what choice of seed sugar beet farmers will have in 2021; and whether non-neonicotinoid treated seeds will be available.

Under the terms of the emergency authorisation for the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB, no sugar beet seed will be treated unless the forecast level of virus yellows in the national sugar beet crop exceeds a threshold value. Sugar beet growers are able to choose whether they wish to take treated seed, if and when it becomes available. Untreated seed will be available for those who prefer that option.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of cheesemakers based in Great Britain that have stopped selling their products to the EU since 1 January 2021.

No formal impact assessment has been made.

My department made extensive guidance available and held webinars and meetings with exporters and trade associations to help businesses prepare for the new rules from 01 January. We continue to work closely with traders to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements.

It is vital that traders ensure that their exports have the correct paperwork to comply with new animal and animal product checks when they cross the EU border.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the ability of cheesemakers based in Great Britain to sell their products to the EU.

No formal impact assessment has been made.

My department made extensive guidance available and held webinars and meetings with exporters and trade associations to help businesses prepare for the new rules from 01 January. We continue to work closely with traders to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements.

It is vital that traders ensure that their exports have the correct paperwork to comply with new animal and animal product checks when they cross the EU border.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 9 of the the National Food Strategy: Part One Report, published in July 2020, what plans the Government has to implement the recommendation of extending the work of the Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force up until July 2021.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether there is a centralised taskforce working in (a) his Department or (b) across Government departments focussed on food insecurity and vulnerability during the covid-19 outbreak.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Food and Other Essential Supplies to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force has been disbanded.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will hold a roundtable with representatives from the British pig industry to discuss the current challenges facing the sector.

From our market monitoring over recent weeks, I am aware that the pig sector is currently facing a number of challenges. Ministers have received the request for a round table and I would be pleased to meet with representatives from the industry. I have asked my officials to set this up.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2021 to Questions 137225 and 137226 on Neonicotinoids, whether advice the Government received from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides on applications for emergency authorisations in (a) 2021, (b) 2018, (c) 2017, (d) 2016 and (e) 2015 has been published.

It has not been the practice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) to publish the exact text of its advice to Ministers, although its published minutes have always provided a clear view of the Committee’s conclusions. However, in view of the interest in neonicotinoid pesticides, related advice to Ministers from the ECP was published on a total of seven occasions in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

As noted in the answer of 18 January 2021 to Questions 137225 and 137226, the ECP’s advice on the application for use in 2021 of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB is set out in full in the minutes of the ECP’s 24 November 2020 meeting.

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, whether there is a specific document in which the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) sets out its advice and recommendations to Government regarding the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use, in line with previous applications for emergency authorisations in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 whereby a specific document containing the advice from the ECP to ministers has been made available and published on the ECP’s website.

The advice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) on the application for use in 2021 of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB is set out in full in the minutes of the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf, which are linked to on the ECP’s website https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/expert-committee-on-pesticides. There is no separate document containing the ECP’s advice on this application.

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, how much of the £16 million allocated to FareShare on 8 November 2020 has been allocated to frontline food aid providers (a) within and (b) beyond the FareShare network to date.

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the initial months of the pandemic, the Government has announced a winter support package of interventions to support the economically vulnerable. This package includes increasing the value of Healthy Start Vouchers, the national rollout of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, and a £170m Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities which started in December to support households with food and other essential costs.

The winter package also includes £16m of funding for Defra to support food charities with the purchasing and distribution of food to the vulnerable over a 12-week period starting from the beginning of December. This funding stream is being managed by the food redistributor FareShare.

After 8 weeks of the scheme, FareShare have purchased 4,391 pallets of food which is equivalent to approximately 6.8 million meals. The food has so far been distributed directly to 3,942 charities across England.

3,449 of these are within the FareShare network. These organisations have received 1,762 tonnes of food, which is equivalent to around 4.2 million meals.

493 organisations from outside of FareShare's network have also been supported. These organisations have received 435 tonnes of food, which is equivalent to around 904,000 meals.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badgers were culled in 2020.

Data from the 2020 badger control operations have been published by Natural England on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bovine-tb-summary-of-badger-control-monitoring-during-2020

Those figures exclude Supplementary Badger Culling which will be available later in the year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of UK scrutiny measures for emergency authorisations of neonicotinoid use since the UK’s departure from the EU.

All applications for emergency authorisation follow the same process within the legal framework. Each application for emergency authorisation is assessed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with independent scientific advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides. Pesticides regulation is devolved and so each of the four UK administrations may take a decision on applications for emergency authorisation within their territory or may leave the decision with HSE. There are no plans to alter these arrangements following the end of the transition period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether in the decision to approve the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet an assessment of risk to (a) mammals, (b) soil dwelling organisms and (c) aquatic invertebrates was undertaken.

The assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) included consideration of risks to the environment. Potential risks to mammals, soil-dwelling organisms and aquatic invertebrates were included in that assessment. In respect of aquatic invertebrates, the HSE assessment indicated that the normal standards for authorisation under the relevant legislation were met.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his Department's policy is on acceptable risk to aquatic invertebrates; and how the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet met that criteria.

The assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) included consideration of risks to the environment. Potential risks to mammals, soil-dwelling organisms and aquatic invertebrates were included in that assessment. In respect of aquatic invertebrates, the HSE assessment indicated that the normal standards for authorisation under the relevant legislation were met.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential adverse effects on (a) bees and pollinators and (b) other invertebrates of the measures proposed in the 2021 neonicotinoid authorisation for sugar beet to prevent the take-up of neonicotinoids by wildflowers and flowering weeds, including the (i) use of additional herbicides and (ii) removal of flowering weeds as a source of food.

Young sugar beet plants are vulnerable to competition from weeds and so effective weed control is a normal part of growing this crop. The measures proposed as requirements for the emergency authorisation are in line with normal guidance to growers and so will not have additional effects on pollinators or other invertebrates.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the reduced application rate will be in the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet; and what evidence his Department holds on that rate reducing risk of harm to the environment, including to aquatic invertebrates.

The emergency authorisation will limit the application rate to 45 grammes of thiamethoxam per 100,000 seeds. There is evidence that this rate, which is 25% less than that previously authorised, will be sufficiently effective in controlling the target pest. The consequence of the lower rate will be that less thiamethoxam will remain in the soil and water and so the potential for harm to aquatic invertebrates and other creatures will be reduced.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the economic effect of virus yellows on sugar beet farmers in (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effect of virus yellows on sugar beet farmers in 2021 in the event that neonicotinoid use (a) is permitted and (b) is not permitted.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps have been taken by (a) his Department and (b) the British sugar beet industry to develop alternative sustainable approaches to protect crops without the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the British sugar beet industry’s strategy to move away from a reliance on emergency authorisations of neonicotinoid use.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what alternative disease and pest management practices were considered in the decision to grant an authorisation for neonicotinoid use for sugar beet farmers in 2021; and what evidence he received which led him to conclude that those practices would not be adequately effective.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the compatibility of its conclusion that emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments for sugar beet may be needed for three years, and HSE application guidance stating that it would not generally be expected that there will be requests for emergency authorisations that have been previously granted to be renewed.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence his Department has received to suggest that 22 months and 32 months for oilseed rape are sufficient time periods to prevent the contamination of flowering crops following the use of neonicotinoids for sugar beet.

The restrictions on the planting of following crops mean that no flowering crop will be planted until spring 2023 and no oilseed rape will be planted until spring 2024 (as oilseed rape is overwhelmingly autumn-sown, little will be planted until August/September 2024). There is data on the rate at which thiamethoxam breaks down in soil over time and so we know that these periods will result in substantial reductions in the quantities available for uptake by flowering crops.

These restrictions will be manageable for most growers within their own crop rotation plans. Where this is not the case, farmers have the option not to grow sugar beet or to do so without the neonicotinoid seed treatment.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the restrictions the conditions placed on the authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet will have on normal crop rotations followed by farmers.

The restrictions on the planting of following crops mean that no flowering crop will be planted until spring 2023 and no oilseed rape will be planted until spring 2024 (as oilseed rape is overwhelmingly autumn-sown, little will be planted until August/September 2024). There is data on the rate at which thiamethoxam breaks down in soil over time and so we know that these periods will result in substantial reductions in the quantities available for uptake by flowering crops.

These restrictions will be manageable for most growers within their own crop rotation plans. Where this is not the case, farmers have the option not to grow sugar beet or to do so without the neonicotinoid seed treatment.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will publish the advice it received from (a) the Health and Safety Executive, (b) the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and (c) his Department's Chief Scientific Adviser prior to making the decision to issue an emergency authorisation to use products containing neonicotinoids to treat sugar beet seed in 2021.

The process for considering emergency authorisation for a pesticide is derived from the legislation and includes consideration of potential risks to people and to the environment. This process was followed for an application to use the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB on sugar beet in 2021. The Secretary of State decided that the criteria for an emergency application have been met and that the application should be granted to protect the 2021 crop from significant yield losses. His decision was informed by assessments and advice from the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

The ECP publishes the minutes of its discussions, and its advice on the Cruiser SB application is contained in the minutes from the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf. Other advice on pesticide authorisations is not normally published.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what advice and information his Department received from (a) the Health and Safety Executive, (b) the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and (c) his Department's Chief Scientific Adviser which led him to conclude that the application for an emergency authorisation to use products containing neonicotinoids to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 should be granted.

The process for considering emergency authorisation for a pesticide is derived from the legislation and includes consideration of potential risks to people and to the environment. This process was followed for an application to use the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB on sugar beet in 2021. The Secretary of State decided that the criteria for an emergency application have been met and that the application should be granted to protect the 2021 crop from significant yield losses. His decision was informed by assessments and advice from the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

The ECP publishes the minutes of its discussions, and its advice on the Cruiser SB application is contained in the minutes from the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf. Other advice on pesticide authorisations is not normally published.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much of the £16 million announced for food charities on 8 May 2020 has been allocated to frontline food aid providers (a) within and (b) beyond the FareShare network to date.

In March 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced a support package of £16m to provide food for vulnerable individuals.

The programme of measures was designed to provide millions of meals over the summer period and was broken down into three separate parts:

  1. FareShare received £10.5m of the £16m allocation;
  2. A Food Charity Grant Scheme was set-up for individual charities to apply for grants for up to £100,000; and
  3. £1.8m was awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme, which was administered by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP).

In total 6,802,260kg of food was purchased and allocated to 3,201 frontline food aid providers which fall within the FareShare network, equivalent to 16.1 million meals. FareShare also received £386,444 of the £1.8m awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme.

In total 19,010,83kg of food was purchased and allocated to 1,339 frontline food aid providers which fall beyond the FareShare network, equivalent to 3.3 million meals. Other redistribution charities received £1,413,556 of the £1.8m awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme.

As a result of the £10.5m grant, the equivalent of around 20 million meals were purchased and distributed to charities across England, including charities supporting refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services. It covered rural areas as well as cities and targeted all those who were struggling to get food.

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, how many applications for Export Health Certificates have been made on each day of the last four weeks.

Exporters can and may choose to request EHCs in bulk for future export use, therefore the total number of daily EHC applications submitted via EHC Online will not directly equate to the number of exported consignments each day.

Applications (EU – includes NI)

Applications (ROW)

11-Dec

27

162

13-Dec

4

20

14-Dec

16

14

15-Dec

29

169

16-Dec

21

143

17-Dec

45

124

18-Dec

22

178

20-Dec

7

151

21-Dec

20

5

22-Dec

101

16

23-Dec

163

134

24-Dec

109

105

26-Dec

3

120

27-Dec

17

60

28-Dec

44

2

29-Dec

145

2

30-Dec

234

22

31-Dec

221

99

01-Jan

49

105

02-Jan

45

86

03-Jan

58

6

04-Jan

234

4

05-Jan

305

11

06-Jan

322

125

07-Jan

390

217

08-Jan

396

146

Grand Total

3027

2550

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, what estimate he has made of the amount of food that risks being wasted by delays at ports at the end of the transition period.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was demonstrated during the initial Covid-19 response. Defra has well established ways of working with the food industry on preparedness for and response to potential food supply chain disruptions.

The Government carried out a worst-case scenario analysis to ensure there was sufficient waste management capacity to handle any additional waste arising. Over a 6 month period the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) for perishable goods including food, feed and drink was 142 KT and to date disruption has been minimal. The UK Government also published on Gov.uk planning assumptions on border flows for imported goods at the end of the transition period.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920675/RWCS_for_our_borders_FINAL.pdf

To support the smooth flow of produce across the border and help prevent food wastage, the Government has put in place traffic management mitigations such as Operation Brock, published a Border Operating Model which prioritises border flow in the early months of 2021, and worked with ports to provide additional inland sites for customs checks. The Government has also implemented a ‘fast-track’ service for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) arriving at the Kent border with a negative Covid-19 test worked closely with retailers to establish upstream testing to facilitate traffic flow.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on UK meat and dairy exporters of the implementation of tariffs on agri-food goods in the event of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a free trade agreement with the EU.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation (MFN) terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with. The UK’s new MFN schedule, the UK Global Tariff has been designed to protect UK sensitive tariff lines and certain domestic industries, with tariffs retained for products such as pork, lamb, beef and poultry.

In a non-negotiated outcome implementing the UK’s tariff schedule will most likely mean that agricultural prices for our domestic producers will increase for many livestock sectors (such as beef, pork and poultry meat).

In making any decision on tariffs the Government must regard the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 which includes the interests of producers and the desire to maintain and promote trade and productivity.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of tariffs on agri-food goods in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations on the British (a) pork industry, (b) beef, (c) poultry, (d) dairy and (e) egg industry.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a free trade agreement with the EU.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation (MFN) terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with. The UK’s new MFN schedule, the UK Global Tariff has been designed to protect UK sensitive tariff lines and certain domestic industries, with tariffs retained for products such as pork, lamb, beef and poultry.

In a non-negotiated outcome implementing the UK’s tariff schedule will most likely mean that agricultural prices for our domestic producers will increase for many livestock sectors (such as beef, pork and poultry meat).

In making any decision on tariffs the Government must regard the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 which includes the interests of producers and the desire to maintain and promote trade and productivity.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the unresolved UK-EU trade negotiations on the quantity and variety of food to be supplied to Northern Ireland from Great Britain in the first three months of 2021.

We have always acknowledged that there would need to be some additional controls on agri-food movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to reflect the island of Ireland’s existing status as a Single Epidemiological Unit. But we have also been clear that these new processes could never be allowed to put food supplies to Northern Ireland at risk. That is why the deal we have reached with the EU and the support that we have put in place do what is necessary to protect and preserve GB-NI agri-food trade from 1 January 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the grace periods for food safety checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK for supermarkets also apply to independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.

Authorised traders, such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers, will benefit from a grace period, through to 1 April 2021, from official certification for products of animal origin, composite products, and food. The UK Government and Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will engage in a rapid exercise to ensure these traders are identified prior to 31 December so they can benefit from the grace period. We will not discriminate against small suppliers or between different companies in implementing these practical measures.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the volume of (a) food and (b) agricultural goods normally (i) imported and (ii) exported between the UK and EU that may be deferred in January 2021; and what assessment he has made of the economic effect of that matter.

Any deferral of imports or exports between the UK and the EU would be a decision for individual businesses. The economic impact of any deferrals would be determined not only by the volume but by their duration, and by the nature of the commodities whose movement was being deferred.

Given this complexity, it is not possible accurately to assess either the potential scale of any deferrals or their economic impact. My department engages regularly with stakeholders to support them in meeting any new requirements applicable to trade with the EU.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has been made of the potential effect on the UK's food and drink industry of the UK and the EU failing to agree a deal on the future relationship before the end of the transition period.

We believe it is still possible to reach an agreement with the EU and that this can be done quickly. However, if this cannot be achieved, we are prepared for the effects of a non-negotiated outcome. The food supply chain has demonstrated its resilience, responding to unprecedented challenges over the last year. The Government is confident that it will continue to be resilient after 31 December.

The economic impacts of no Free Trade Agreement with the EU have been much debated in the last four years and there are many economic studies on this issue. The Prime Minister has been clear that we will embrace our new future and prosper as an independent free trading nation, controlling our own borders, and setting our own laws.

From January, we will be able to design our own rules in ways that best support UK businesses to recover from the pandemic. We can benefit from new free trade deals, and open up new markets with other like-minded trading partners. We’ll also be able to target our support in the UK to where it is needed most, to level up our economy.

Defra continues to engage productively with food and drink businesses from across the industry as they prepare for the end of the transition period. As part of this, Defra regularly holds numerous forums and bilateral meetings with trade associations, manufacturers, processors, wholesalers and retailers and SMEs.

We continue to work with the industry to understand their readiness and to address concerns. In this, we have provided tailored guidance and support outlining what action businesses should consider taking regardless of the outcome of negotiations. Guidance continues to be updated and shared through the GOV.UK website and digital resources. Defra also works across Government to support businesses through initiatives such as the Trader Support Service, industry days and webinars.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the UK sheep farming industry of the implementation of tariffs on sheep meat in the event of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on its future relationship with the EU; and what steps his Department plans to take to support the sheep farming industry in that scenario.

The Government has been clear that it seeks a free trade agreement with the EU, based on friendly cooperation and maintaining tariff and quota free access. As any responsible Government would, we have plans in place to minimise disruption for the farming sector if a deal is not reached with the EU. We have been reviewing and updating the analysis we undertook as part of our no deal preparations in 2019 and Defra is looking at specific interventions which will help to mitigate impacts for sheep farmers. No decisions have been taken on any sector specific interventions, including the sheep sector, post the end of the transition period as any possible intervention must be dictated by the actual market situation at the time. Producer price impacts would also affect EU producers in a non-negotiated outcome scenario. For example, the EU is heavily reliant on the UK as an export market for Danish pork and bacon. In 2018, the UK purchased 81% of Denmark’s total exports of bacon and ham. This trade was worth £100 million to Denmark.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the economic effect on the British farming sector of the implementation of tariffs on (a) fertilisers, (b) pharmaceutical goods and (c) other agricultural inputs in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a Free Trade Agreement with the EU similar to the one that they have with Canada.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the price of (a) meat, (b) dairy products, (c) eggs, (d) cereals and (e) fruit and vegetables of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on its future relationship with the EU.

The Government has been clear that it seeks a free trade agreement with the EU, based on friendly cooperation and maintaining tariff and quota free access.

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

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Many of these factors will continue to apply at the end of the transition period whatever the outcome of trade negotiations with the EU. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises. We will of course continue to monitor market prices of agricultural commodities including meat, dairy products, eggs, cereals and fruit and vegetables.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) discussions his Department has had and (b) preparations have been made with supermarkets on food shortages in the event of the transition period ending without a trade deal.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was seen during the initial Covid-19 response earlier this year.

Defra has well established ways of working with the food industry on preparedness for and response to potential food supply chain disruptions. Defra Ministers and officials meet regularly with the food industry, including the retailers, to support contingency planning by the industry.

Our thorough preparations for leaving the EU in 2019, alongside the lessons we have learned from, and the range of interventions deployed during the Covid-19 response provide a robust foundation for planning on food supply at the end of the transition period.

The Government made a new temporary relaxation of UK competition law for groceries-chain suppliers on 17 December 2020 - the Competition Act 1998 (Groceries) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2020. This relaxation will help grocery retailers and their suppliers to collaborate effectively to prepare for, and if required, respond to potential disruption.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the equity of the distribution of additional costs in the UK food supply chain in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations at the end of the transition period.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was seen during the initial Covid-19 response earlier this year.

Defra Ministers and officials meet regularly with the Agri-food industry to support contingency planning by the industry. This includes working closely with those sectors who may be particularly affected by concurrent impacts of end transition disruption and Covid-19 impacts.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Many of these factors will continue to apply at the end of the transition period whatever the outcome of trade negotiations with the EU. Most food industry sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of vets that will be required to manage the potential increase in export health certificates after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many UK vets are qualified to approve export health certificates; and what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the number of vets to meet demand after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 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 shortage of vets for signing export health certificates on UK meat and dairy exports to the EU after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to (a) increase certification resource and (b) simplify the export process to help ensure an adequate number of vets to certify exports of meat and dairy to the EU after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the (a) number of Certification Support Officers (CSO) and (b) volume of work undertaken by CSOs in order to support Official Veterinarians with a potential increase in export health certificates after the transition period.

Defra is facilitating the employment of Certification Support Officers by both Official Veterinarians and local authorities to assist with export health certification ahead of the end of the transition period. Since October 2020 the training that is needed for an individual to qualify as a CSO has been available free of charge and CSO numbers GB wide have grown by over 50%. My officials have made webinars available to certifiers where the value of CSO role in assisting OVs and LA certifiers in their work is emphasised. Follow up Q&A sessions are being held this week.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the extent of potential food shortages after the transition period (a) with and (b) without agreement on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and a food industry which is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply. This includes establishing alternative supply routes and suppliers, where appropriate, and other measures to minimise disruption. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry including in situations with the potential to disrupt supply.

The Government has carried out extensive planning with the food industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year. This includes planning for risks that might arise at the end of the transition period, whether or not there is an agreement on the future relationship with the EU. Our overall assessment of risks to food supply at the end of transition is that there may be disruption to some products but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the extent of potential food price rises after the transition period (a) with and (b) without agreement on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and a food industry which is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply. This includes establishing alternative supply routes and suppliers, where appropriate, and other measures to minimise disruption. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry including in situations with the potential to disrupt supply.

The Government has carried out extensive planning with the food industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year. This includes planning for risks that might arise at the end of the transition period, whether or not there is an agreement on the future relationship with the EU. Our overall assessment of risks to food supply at the end of transition is that there may be disruption to some products but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the increase in export health certificates that will be required to allow the continuation of UK meat and dairy exports to the EU after the transition period.

The number of Export Health Certificates (EHCs) required for exports of products of animal origin to the EU at the end of the transition period will vary depending on a number of factors. Our best estimate is the additional need will be five times the 57,000 EHCs issued in 2017 for third country trade, with up to half of these relating to exports of fish. The other half will be split across different product categories, including meat and dairy.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of potential (a) increased haulage costs and (b) disruption at the port of Felixstowe on UK food supplies after the transition period.

Haulage firms operate on a commercial basis with the food industry. The haulage business model approaches pricing with consideration from a supply versus demand position. Changes in operation from 1 January may increase road haulage costs in the short-term for the food industry.

Current disruption at the port of Felixstowe is due to global supply chain pressures rather than our trading relationship with the EU. The food industry is resilient and alternative routes are available. Although there may be some impact to shelf-life of ambient food products, there has not been any evidence to suggest shortages as a result of this global shipping situation. We will continue to monitor impact on food supply as a result of disruption.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on UK meat and dairy exporters of not prioritising perishable food at ports after the transition period.

Defra consulted with industry stakeholders on which commodities should be prioritised in the event of severe traffic disruption for those travelling via the Short Straits.

Three criteria were identified to inform that decision, two of which had to be met for prioritisation of any commodity to be agreed:

i) The goods are highly perishable and will lose most of or all their value within five days or less;

ii) The ‘perishable’ goods concerned are live animals and would give rise to animal welfare concerns if not moved in a timely manner and;

iii) The goods would give rise to a disproportionate economic impact on a geographical area of the UK.

Meat and dairy products did not meet two out of the three criteria set out above and were therefore not identified as prioritised commodities. We did consider whether a number of perishable commodities beyond those identified could be added to the list of those being prioritised. However, there is an additional capacity issue with respect to the numbers of vehicles and the overall traffic management in Kent, which if exceeded would put at risk the feasibility of the wider prioritisation contingency plan.

On the issue of prioritising goods at ports, the prioritisation contingency described above focuses on the journey to port within the Kent strategic road network, specifically the M20. Defra and other Government departments are working intensively with the relevant ports to minimise further delays at those locations.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the six working day time period after the meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed on 18 December 2020 for UK companies exporting food to the EU to implement new systems and IT upgrades in preparation for the end of the transition period.

Scheduling for that Committee is a matter for the EU.

EHC Online is a new digitised service which supports exports from Great Britain. The 126 new Export Health Certificates required for exporting goods to the EU at the end of the transition period are already available within the system. To help prepare businesses for the changes in how they trade with the EU, EHC Online has been open for registration to EU exporters since 8 October 2020 and this has been supported by webinars to more than 1000 businesses, in which EHC Online and the new EU forms have been demonstrated.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to provide the police and courts with greater forfeiture and confiscation powers in relation to (a) vehicles and (b) dogs for poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to remove the limit on fines that can be imposed for poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to enable the recovery of kennelling costs from people convicted of poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions the Government is having with officials in countries outside of Europe which farm mink on the status of coronavirus on their farms.

Defra is monitoring the situation carefully and working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Public Health England.

Our Chief Veterinary Officer and other officials have been having regular interactions with the Danish technical experts to understand better the mink cases and the implications of the new variant virus strains. They also have regular contact with our European neighbours who farm mink for fur. FCDO have been leading on our interactions further afield, with Defra support.

We have published a cross-Government risk assessment for the UK on this situation:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/hairs-risk-assessment-on-sars-cov-2-in-mustelinae-population

Mink farming is banned across the UK. The legislation came into force in England and Wales in 2000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2002.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions the Government is having with the (a) Danish and (b) other European Governments to (a) assess the risk posed to public health by the current outbreak of covid strains in mink farms and (b) ensure a rapid UK response to those risks.

Defra is monitoring the situation carefully and working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Public Health England.

We have been having regular interactions with the Danish technical experts to understand the situation with the mink cases and the implications of the new variant virus strains.

Our Chief Veterinary Officer and officials have regular contact with our European neighbours who farm mink for fur.

We have published a cross-Government risk assessment for the UK on this situation.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/hairs-risk-assessment-on-sars-cov-2-in-mustelinae-population

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of recent covid-19 travel restrictions on the movement of goods from Denmark on (a) UK food supply chains and (b) pork supplies to the UK.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain based on strong domestic production, and supply from a diverse range of sources. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry to support their contingency planning in circumstances with the potential to cause disruption.

The restrictions on freight movement from Denmark do not represent a risk to overall food supply. We produce 66% of our supply requirements for pork in the UK (this figure includes the pork that we export). Supply from Denmark, which makes up 31% of our pork imports, is mainly transported by unaccompanied freight and is continuing to operate as usual.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it is his policy to launch the Environmental Land Management scheme national pilot and (a) finalised scheme guidance, (b) payment rates, (c) options/standards and (d) a defined application process and control and verification protocol in early 2021.

We are investing in a three-year National Pilot which will begin in 2021 and will run for three years ahead of the full scheme rollout. We are working to ensure that Phase 1 of the National Pilot will begin on the ground from late 2021.

The National Pilot will test our proposed approaches to ELM and underlying scheme mechanics, including land management options, payment rates, guidance, application and agreement process, and risk-based compliance and improvement. Building on the findings emerging from Tests and Trials, the Pilot will test how these components operate together in the context of farmers and land managers applying them in real situations. The aim is to learn with National Pilot participants in order to improve these components as the Pilot progresses to ensure that the scheme is in the best possible place ahead of the full launch in 2024.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it is his policy that (a) the Environmental Land Management scheme and (b) transitional land management schemes will fund only practices that are higher than existing regulatory and cross-compliance standards and business as usual practice.

All farmers and land managers are expected to comply with all relevant regulation whether or not they are participating in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. The ELM will run alongside an effective regulatory regime to ensure legal regulatory requirements are met. This is the same for any transitional schemes.

The ELM is founded on the principle of paying “public money for public goods” to help achieve the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and will therefore not simply pay for compliance with legal regulatory standards.

We are working closely with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders to collaboratively design the new ELM scheme, including to determine exactly what the ELM will pay for.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) changes he plans to make to and (b) estimate he has made of the level of participation in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme from 2022.

Uptake of the latest round of Countryside Stewardship (CS) has been encouraging and Defra has committed to offering a further round of CS in 2022.

CS is a proven mechanism for delivering environmental outcomes. The 2022 CS offer will remain familiar to farmers and land managers, but with improvements. This includes making it easier and simpler to apply, making modest changes to keep the scheme relevant to current environmental priorities and providing flexibility for customers to move to the new Environmental Land Management scheme, when it is rolled out. We will make more details available in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish (a) the contribution of the Environmental land Management scheme to the six goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and (b) other details on the priorities of that scheme.

ELM is being designed to contribute towards a range of national environmental priorities that relate to the goals in the 25 Year Environment Plan and other Government commitments including Net Zero. More details on the priorities for the ELM scheme, including the contribution that ELM will make to delivering the goals in the 25 Year Environment Plan, will be published in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support he plans to make available for farmers and land managers prior to the roll out of the Environmental Land Management scheme in 2024 to enable the delivery of environmental public goods.

We will continue to offer an improved and simplified Countryside Stewardship scheme until 2024. We continue to see a sustained high level of engagement with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, and it provides a stepping stone to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. From next year, as well as supporting farmers through schemes including a farming resilience fund and sustainable productivity programme, we will be testing and piloting ELM. We are considering what elements of ELM we could make available as part of the transition to the full rollout of ELM in 2024, which could include incentives for sustainable farming. We are currently working up these proposals in more detail.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish detailed information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes proposed to function as a precursor to Environmental Land Management schemes; and when he plans to launch those farming incentive schemes.

As we phase out direct payments ahead of the full roll out of our Environmental Land Management scheme in 2024, we will offer financial assistance to help farmers prepare, and invest in ways to improve their productivity and manage the environment sustainably.

We will set out further information on funding for the early years of the agricultural transition period, including Direct Payments, later in the year after the comprehensive spending review.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether during the 2019 badger cull in Gloucestershire there was a buffer zone established around Woodchester Park to prevent the culling of badgers vaccinated against bovine TB.

Badgers in Woodchester Park are not vaccinated against bovine TB and therefore a no-cull zone was not established around Woodchester Park in 2019.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to ensure that badgers vaccinated against bovine TB through Government-funded badger vaccination programmes in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire will not be culled during the extension of the badger cull to 11 additional areas of England.

Vaccination sites within Edge Area counties and that meet specific criteria will have no-cull zones surrounding them if a Badger Disease Control licence is issued for land adjacent to such a vaccination site. Specific details on no-cull zones can be found in Defra’s guidance to Natural England published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-natural-england-preventing-spread-of-bovine-tb.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the expansion of badger culls to 11 new areas of England, what estimate his Department has made of (a) the number of badgers that will be culled in 20202, (b) the number of badgers that will have been culled by the end of 2020 since the introduction of culling in 2013 and (c) the proportion of the national badger population that will have been culled by the end of 2020 since the introduction of culling in 2013.

The minimum and maximum number of badgers to be culled in 2020 can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-to-natural-england-on-setting-minimum-and-maximum-numbers-of-badgers-to-be-controlled-in-2020.

The number of badgers culled between 2013 and 2020 is as follows:

Year

Number of badgers culled

2013

1869

2014

615

2015

1467

2016

10886

2017

19537

2018

32934

2019

35034

The estimated badger population of England in 2011-2014 was 424,000. The number of badgers culled each year to 2019 has varied between 0.1% and 8.3% of this estimate.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badgers vaccinated against bovine TB were culled during the 2019 badger cull in Gloucestershire; and whether there has been an investigation by the Government on how and why any vaccinated badgers were culled.

We have no information on the numbers of badgers culled in Gloucestershire in 2019 that may have been previously vaccinated. From this year vaccination sites located wholly or partially in the TB zone designated as the Edge Area that meet minimum criteria can benefit from no-cull zones around the vaccination site. Although vaccination with BCG will not guarantee protection from infection, meaning some badgers may still become infected, various studies provide good evidence of beneficial effects. Relevant information can be found on the TB Hub website.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect an expansion of badger culling to Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire will have on the ability of the Government-funded badger vaccination programmes in those counties to (a) continue and (b) expand their operations.

Existing Government-funded badger edge vaccination schemes will be able to continue operations where licensing conditions for vaccination are met. Scheme holders should continue to work with land owners to expand their operations in the areas agreed with Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reasons landowners who have previously utilised Government-funded badger vaccination programmes are allowed to apply to cull those badgers.

It is the decision of farmers and landowners as to whether they utilise badger vaccination or culling to help control bovine TB. Vaccination may be used independently or in combination with culling as part of a package of measures to prevent or control bovine TB.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badger vaccination sites in Derbyshire will be both (a) close to new badger cull zones and (b) unable to apply for buffer zones.

There are currently 47 active vaccination sites within Derbyshire, 10 of which are eligible for a buffer and 37 sites are ineligible for no-cull zones.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government's policy on trade negotiations allows the devolved nations to introduce stricter measures on protecting human health and the environment from pesticides.

Our trade agreements will respect the regulatory autonomy of the Parties and decisions on standards remain a matter for the UK Government and devolved administrations, including on pesticides.

Decisions on which pesticides can be authorised for marketing and use in each part of the UK are already within the competence of each devolved administration.

We will maintain our high human health and environmental standards when operating our own independent pesticides regulatory regime, after the transition period. We will ensure decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment and will not authorise pesticides that may carry unacceptable risks. The statutory requirements of the EU regime on standards of protection will be carried across unchanged into domestic law.

This Government is clear that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the 2020 25 Year Environment Plan progress update, what steps the Government (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to reach its target to restore 75 per cent of protected wildlife sites to favourable condition by 2042.

There are a range of management mechanisms currently in place aimed at maintaining or restoring protected wildlife sites in or to a favourable condition. These include those delivered through Countryside Stewardship and broader strategic action such as catchment sensitive farming, to improve air and water quality in high priority areas. Natural England is also working to improve the efficiency of SSSI monitoring, which will make better use of new technologies, such as remote sensing and greater partnership involvement.

We are exploring the use of powers in the Environment Bill to strengthen our commitment to improving the condition of our protected sites on land and in the sea by setting a target in law, as set out in our recently published policy paper on environmental targets. In addition, we plan to publish a Nature Strategy in 2021, following the agreement of the post-2020 global framework under the Convention of Biological Diversity, which will set out further detail on our action for protected sites.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to (a) commission independent annual reviews of the implementation of the 25 Year Environment Plan and (b) make a statement to Parliament when updates to that plan are published.

The 25 Year Environment Plan will be adopted as the first statutory Environment Improvement Plan (EIP) in the Environment Bill. The Bill also establishes a new, independent statutory body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will have a statutory duty to monitor and report on the Government’s progress in improving the natural environment in accordance with the EIP.

The Bill also makes provision for a cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting on EIPs that comprises annual progress reports by the Government to Parliament, regular scrutiny by the OEP and five-yearly reviews of the EIP.

The Government’s annual reports will include an assessment of the steps taken to implement the EIP, as well as an assessment of environmental improvement. The OEP will scrutinise the Government’s annual report and may recommend how progress could be improved, to which the Government must respond.

Every five years, the Government must review its EIP and consider whether further measures need to be adopted. If the EIP is revised, the updated EIP must be published, alongside a statement explaining the revisions, and laid before Parliament.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the (a) decision to include a 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme and (b) effect of that decision on (i) the UK sugar beet industry, (ii) Tate & Lyle Sugars and (iii) the protection of UK food production standards in trade policy.

The Secretary of State and his counterpart at the Department for International Trade regularly consulted one another throughout the development of the UK Global Tariff (UKGT)


The Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production, processing and developing country preferences. To achieve this balance, the UKGT retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%.We are proud of the high food safety and production standards that underpin our high-quality Great British produce. We have no intention of undermining our own reputation for quality by lowering our food and animal welfare standards. We have been clear that we will remain committed to high standards. We always committed to reviewing this ATQ and will write to you in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many pheasant and partridge (a) poults and (b) fertilised eggs were imported into the UK in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019; and how many of those imports came from breeding birds kept in cages.

The number of live pheasants and partridges, and the number of pheasant-hatching eggs imported into the UK from the EU in 2018 and 2019 can be found below. There were no imports of partridge-hatching eggs recorded during this period:

Year

Commodity

Number of Consignments

Quantity

2018

Live partridges

324

2,739,383

Live pheasants

655

6,684,978

Pheasant-hatching eggs

980

20,593,479

2018 Total

1959

30,017,840

2019

Live partridges

207

1,673,165

Live pheasants

352

3,299,780

Pheasant-hatching eggs

1037

28,248,773

2019 Total

1596

33,221,718

The data was extracted from TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) which is a European Commission system employed by EU member states to facilitate and record animal and animal product movements throughout the EU.

It is not possible to differentiate between poults and adult birds using TRACES. It is also not possible to identify how many of these imports came from breeding birds kept in cages.

The information provided is a true reflection of the data available. This is entered into TRACES by a third party, and therefore we cannot verify its accuracy.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to establish welfare outcomes for breeding partridges farmed in metal cages; what his policy is on the amount of time that a partridge can be kept caged without compromising its welfare; and if he will make a statement.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and is examining the evidence around the use of cages in farming, including their use for breeding partridges and pheasants. We are exploring the options and will work with the industry to improve animal welfare in a sustainable way.

The welfare of gamebirds is currently protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering. This is backed up by the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which recommends that barren cages should not be used for breeding birds and that any system should be appropriately enriched. Keepers are required by law to have access to, and be familiar with this code, which encourages the adoption of high standards of husbandry. Failure to observe the provisions of a code may also be used in support of a prosecution.

Defra does not hold information on mortality rates for breeding pheasants and partridges or their offspring.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the mortality rate is on game farms for (a) pheasants and (b) partridges used for breeding purposes; and what the mortality rate is on game farms for the offspring of those pheasants and partridges.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and is examining the evidence around the use of cages in farming, including their use for breeding partridges and pheasants. We are exploring the options and will work with the industry to improve animal welfare in a sustainable way.

The welfare of gamebirds is currently protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering. This is backed up by the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which recommends that barren cages should not be used for breeding birds and that any system should be appropriately enriched. Keepers are required by law to have access to, and be familiar with this code, which encourages the adoption of high standards of husbandry. Failure to observe the provisions of a code may also be used in support of a prosecution.

Defra does not hold information on mortality rates for breeding pheasants and partridges or their offspring.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many game rearing businesses have applied to the Government for financial assistance during the covid-19 outbreak; and how much funding from the public purse has been allocated to help protect that industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

Game-rearing businesses play an important role in our rural economy. As with other businesses they have, where eligible, been able to apply for public support through the various Covid-19-related Government schemes including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, business rates relief, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. Defra does not hold a record of the nature of businesses applying for these schemes and is therefore unable to provide details of the number of game-rearing businesses in receipt of support and the amounts paid from the public purse.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he has made an environmental assessment of the effect of supertrawlers fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood on 30 June, PQ UIN 62498.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of qualifying farmers expected to be granted financial support from the Dairy Response Fund.

The new Dairy Response Fund which opened for applications on 18 June will help support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have been closed.

The deadline for applications to the fund is 14 August. Details of the number of eligible applicants to the fund will be available in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's document entitled, Farming for the Future - Policy and progress update, published in February 2020, what estimate his Department has made of the number of Direct Payments that will be subject to the 25 per cent reduction in 2021.

Our Farming for the Future policy statement, published in February 2020, sets out the maximum reductions that will apply to Direct Payments for 2021. This includes a maximum reduction of 25% for the portion of the payment which exceeds £150,000. Based on 2018 data, we estimate that around 1,000 farmers will fall into this category. No farmers will receive an overall reduction of 25%.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what quality control measures apply to food parcels delivered to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding from covid-19.

The food parcels delivered to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding are subject to quality control. The contract with Brakes and Bidfood includes several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are reported against regularly, and are used to manage the current service and improve service in the future. Two of these KPIs relate to food box product quality and food box satisfaction, which is assessed partly through a user survey.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what joint working officials in his Department are undertaking with officials in the (a) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and (b) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on providing financial support for agricultural and country shows.

We regularly engage with other departments across Government in supporting the interests of rural business. The Government has made available a full range of support measures to businesses during these unprecedented times, including the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loans. These schemes are available to businesses based in rural areas.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on food wholesalers and (b) adequacy of the Government's support for food wholesalers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK food sector has adapted quickly to unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure people have the food and products they need. With counterparts across Whitehall, and through ongoing engagement with industry, we are closely monitoring the potential impacts of Covid-19 on the food and drink wholesale sector. This includes regular meetings with food and drink wholesalers and their representative bodies.

To help industry, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by Covid-19. The measures available to food and drink wholesale businesses depend on their size, and includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughing of staff; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan; the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan; the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility; a Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees; Value Added Tax (VAT) deferral to the end of June; the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme; Eviction protection for commercial tenants; a £10,000 cash grant for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief; and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

We remain committed to working in partnership with industry to respond to these challenges as they evolve and to assess whether current support mechanisms continue to be sufficient and effective.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the ability of charity sector to meet the needs of people in food (a) poverty and (b) insecurity during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are large numbers of charities across the country who are supporting vulnerable people, including those who cannot afford food as a consequence of Covid-19. Defra is working closely with these charities to estimate the supply of food to charities and demand for food from users of those charities.

The food industry has pledged food and financial donations for charities to support vulnerable people's access to food by helping to fill the gap between supply and demand.

On 3 April Defra launched a £3.25 million grant opportunity to help surplus food redistributors with infrastructure and associated support to help get more food to charities working on the front line in supporting vulnerable people in need. Wrap are delivering the grant opportunity for Defra and report as of 30 April £402,000 has been awarded to 46 charities pending final compliance checks, with further applications being assessed.

Defra is working through our stakeholder forum of 43 charities, who provide services to vulnerable people, to identify what more needs to be done to ensure that people who are vulnerable have access to food during Covid-19.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a ban on outdoor use of metaldehyde; and what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) producers of metaldehyde, (b) the wildlife and the environment and (c) water companies of not implementing the ban announced in 2018.

All pesticides are subject to strict regulation and can only be sold and used if they are authorised following an assessment of risks to people, wildlife and the environment. In December 2018, the Government took the decision to prohibit the sale and use of metaldehyde products other than in greenhouses. Following a legal challenge based on the decision-making process, the Government agreed to withdraw the prohibition.

The Government is now required to make a fresh decision on whether the sale and use of metaldehyde products should continue to be authorised. This decision will be taken as soon as possible and will be taken on the basis of the legal requirements and the assessment of the scientific evidence on risks to people, wildlife and the environment. The economic effects on producers of metaldehyde and on water companies are not considered as part of this assessment.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish the outcome of the call for evidence on cat microchipping which closed on 4 January 2020.

In line with guidance on Government consultations we plan to publish the summary of responses to the call for evidence within three months of the consultation closing.

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 she has made of the effect on rural areas of the termination of funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Government is committed to continuing to support rural areas, for example through its manifesto pledge to maintain the current annual budget to farmers in every year of this Parliament. We have also confirmed that all Rural Development Programme projects that have funding agreed before 31 December 2020 will be fully funded for their lifetime. The Government considers that the benefits that rural areas will gain from the new schemes now being developed for England will substantially outweigh those they receive from the current complex and bureaucratic arrangements. In England, these new schemes include Environmental Land Management and Future Farming Productivity Grants.

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, how many non- UK EU nationals worked in the agricultural sector in each of the last three years, by county.

The information requested at this level of detail is not held by Defra. However, we can provide information taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Population Survey which shows the number of EU/European Economic Area (EEA) nationals working permanently in the agricultural sector for the whole of the UK. These figures will not include seasonal workers living in communal or temporary accommodation.

The ONS Annual Population Survey showed that the number of EEA nationals working permanently in UK agriculture in each of the last three years was approximately 33,000 in 2017, 19,000 in 2018 and 18,000 in 2019.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she plans to lay before Parliament an impact assessment of the proposed free trade agreement with Australia as per clause 42 of the Agriculture Act 2020.

A HM Government report relating to the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia – in compliance with the provisions under section 42 of the Agriculture Act 2020 – will be laid before Parliament before the proposed FTA is laid before Parliament under Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
What discussions she has had with UK trade partners on maintaining environmental protection standards in trade agreements.

HM Government is committed to meeting its ambitious environmental objectives, as we demonstrated last year by becoming the first major country to enshrine our Net Zero commitment into legislation.

We're?exploring?environmental provisions?in the design of our Free Trade Agreements to secure Britain’s high environmental standards.?Of course, the precise details of free trade agreements are a matter for?the?formal?negotiations. We will lay the full treaty text before Parliament at the end of the negotiations to enable proper scrutiny.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when the Trade and Agriculture Commission plans to publish its preliminary report.

The Trade and Agriculture Commission will be providing my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade with a report on the progress it has made towards its final recommendations on future trade policy, as set out under the terms of its appointment which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac/trade-and-agriculture-commission-terms-of-reference. A summary of the progress report will be published on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government’s policy on trade negotiations allows the UK to increase (a) current UK pesticide standards and (b) levels of consumer and environmental protection beyond existing applicable international standards.

I refer the honourable gentleman to the response given to (83835).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government's policy on trade negotiations includes not allowing the UK to revert to Codex Alimentarius standards on pesticides.

I refer the honourable gentleman to the response given to (83835).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme does not have an adverse effect on the UK's commitment to (a) environmental protection, (b) animal welfare and (c) food standards in trade policy.

The Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production and processing, and developing country preferences.

To achieve this balance, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%. We always committed to reviewing this ATQ and we will do so in due course.

We are proud of the high food safety and animal welfare standards that underpin our high-quality Great British products. We have no intention of undermining our own reputation for quality by lowering our food and animal welfare standards. Existing UK import standards will still apply – the level of tariff applied does not change what can and can not be imported. We have been clear that we will remain committed to high standards.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what impact assessment was carried out prior to the decision to include a 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme on the potential effect of that policy on (a) the UK sugar beet industry, (b) Tate & Lyle Sugars and (c) the protection of UK food production standards in trade policy.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential benefits of the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme to Tate & Lyle Sugars as the sole cane sugar refining company in the UK.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Trade and Agriculture Commission will review the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme in its upcoming report.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme is intended to balance support for UK producers and to maintain preferential trade with developing countries; and how Department plans to enable the ATQ to achieve that.

As announced as part of the UK Global Tariff (UKGT), the Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production and processing and developing country preferences. To achieve this balance, the UKGT retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%. This will ensure that supply is maintained while protecting developing country preferences. We also committed to reviewing this ATQ and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help ensure that guide dog owners are not unlawfully refused access to taxis and minicabs.

It is unacceptable that some taxi and PHV drivers refuse assistance dogs carriage.

In December 2020, we launched a package of disability equality training to improve the transport sector’s confidence and skills in delivering inclusive journeys for disabled passengers.

The Government also remains committed to introducing mandatory disability awareness training for taxi and PHV drivers through new National Minimum Standards for licensing authorities when Parliamentary time allows.

On 28 March we published for consultation updated best practice guidance for local licensing authorities including a strong recommendation that taxi and PHV drivers are required to complete disability awareness training.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has plans to speed up the HGV driver testing process to reduce the time period between a person seeking work as a HGV driver and qualifying.

Drivers must pass all four parts of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) tests to be issued with their Driver Qualification Card (DQC). There are no minimum waiting periods between each module. Most drivers take Module 1 (theory and hazard perception) and module 2 (case studies) together, complete their module 3 (practical test), and then take their module 4 (practical demonstration test) which can be completed with their training school.

Once module 4 is passed, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) send data to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) overnight. The DVLA target is to dispatch these cards one day after receiving the data. There are no delays to this service or in issuing the DQC which the driver should have within a week of passing their module 4 test. A driver can begin work as soon as they have their DQC card.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact on bus users of the expiration of emergency covid-19 funding for bus services.

The Department has provided unprecedented levels of financial support to the bus sector during the pandemic. Through the Coronavirus Bus Service Support Grant, over £1.5 billion in emergency funding has been provided to operators and Local Transport Authorities. Since September 2021, an additional £226.5 million has been made available to the sector through the Bus Recovery Grant.

Together, this funding has played an important role in ensuring those who need to travel by bus have been able to do so. The Department is committed to seeing the sector return to financial sustainability, but recognises the ongoing challenges faced to maintain services.

The Department is working with the sector to understand the implications of recovery funding ending, including the effect this would have on service levels and passengers.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his oral contribution of 16 December 2021, Official Report, column 1138, when he plans to return to the House to provide additional information to operators on the bus recovery grant.

The Bus Recovery Grant will provide £226.5m in support for operators and Local Transport Authorities until April 2022. The Department is consulting with the sector on its needs once the scheme ends, and the potential merits of providing further support.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government plans to take to improve enforcement of noise limit regulations for vehicles.

On 2nd August, the Department published the results of research into enforcement of vehicle noise requirements using acoustic cameras. This research has shown that the technology has the potential to be used for enforcement, but that there are still difficulties in accurately measuring noise from individual vehicles in busier traffic conditions.

The Department intends to conduct further research into the use of acoustic cameras with the aim of enabling the wider use of the technology for the enforcement of vehicle noise requirements.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government plans to take to promote the climate advantages of public transport during COP26.

A multifaceted transport plan is being developed to support the delegate experience at COP26 with public transport being a key element of the plan. The plan will encourage delegates, media, and civil society travelling to COP26 to consider low-carbon travel options such as rail as a way of entering the UK.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) discussions he has had with and (b) advice he has issued to train companies on reducing station taxi rank fees for taxi and private hire vehicles during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has received correspondence from a number of train operating companies on reducing station taxi rank fees for taxi and private hire vehicles during the covid-19 outbreak. As the majority of drivers are self-employed, they are already largely eligible for the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (equivalent to the furlough scheme for salaried employees), as well as other Government sources of funding potentially, such as the deferral of VAT.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of train companies maintaining taxi rank fees at stations during the covid-19 outbreak on on the income of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

The Department has made no assessment of the effect of train companies maintaining taxi rank fees at stations during the covid-19 outbreak on the income of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the Government plans to bring forward secondary legislation to require bus operators to provide accessible information to passengers in (a) audible and (b) visible formats on bus services in England, Scotland and Wales, as set out in section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017.

We want disabled people to travel independently and with confidence. It is important to have enough information when travelling on buses for that to become the reality.

In 2018 we consulted on Accessible Information Regulations with plans to require the provision of accessible on-board information on local bus services throughout Great Britain.

We continue to consider the implementation options informed by the feedback received and will publish the response in due course.

In the meantime, we are supporting smaller operators to provide audible and visual information with £2 million of targeted funding.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reasons the Government has not brought forward secondary legislation to require bus operators to provide accessible information to passengers in (a) audible and (b) visible formats on bus services in England, Scotland and Wales, as set out in section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017.

We want disabled people to travel independently and with confidence. It is important to have enough information when travelling on buses for that to become the reality.

In 2018 we consulted on Accessible Information Regulations with plans to require the provision of accessible on-board information on local bus services throughout Great Britain.

We continue to consider the implementation options informed by the feedback received and will publish the response in due course.

In the meantime, we are supporting smaller operators to provide audible and visual information with £2 million of targeted funding.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) encouraging the use of canal towpaths and (b) the proposals of the Canal & River Trust for towpath improvement schemes to help increase levels of walking and cycling.

On 28 July the Prime Minister launched ambitious plans to boost cycling and walking, with the aim that half of all journeys in towns and cities are cycled or walked by 2030. This includes a £2 billion package of funding for active travel, which will significantly increase the funding available for cycling and walking infrastructure in England, including on canal towpaths. Further details of funding for the different commitments in the Plan will be determined as part of the Spending Review process, and the Department will continue to discuss funding options with stakeholders including the Canals and Rivers Trust.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when part-time season tickets will be introduced for commuter services into (a) London, (b) Manchester (c) Birmingham.

The Government recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a fundamental change in working patterns and that this could have long-term effects on commuter behaviour. In order to support a green recovery and new working patterns, the Department is working with industry to explore already available options for flexible commuters, such as carnets, and what steps could be taken quickly to make these as useful and convenient for passengers as possible. We are currently considering proposals from train operators to support those returning to work.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when diesel trains will cease to operate on the rail network.

The Government is developing an ambitious Transport Decarbonisation Plan to achieve net zero emissions across all modes of transport by 2050. We will use electrification and alternative technologies such as battery and hydrogen trains to remove diesel trains from the network and decarbonise the railway.

Ongoing work led by Network Rail will inform decisions about the pace of rail decarbonisation to achieve net zero, the deployment of different decarbonisation technologies on each part of the network, and delivery of the ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from the railway by 2040.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to enable local authorities to introduce electric vehicle workplace charging schemes without prior permission from his Department.

The Government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world. We recognise how vital it is that the UK chargepoint network continues to grow to support increasing numbers of electric vehicle motorists.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles workplace charging scheme offers grants to businesses, including local authorities, of up to £350 per socket for installing up to 40 charging sockets for their employees and fleets. To date over 8,000 installations have been made by over 3,000 organisations using the scheme. If local authorities wish to introduce complimentary workplace charging schemes either for their own fleets or to support local businesses make the switch to zero emission vehicles then they are free to do so without the need for government approval.

Electric vehicle chargepoints are included within permitted development rights, this means that in most cases a chargepoint can be installed in an area lawfully used as an off-street parking space without needing to submit an application for planning permission. This right is not available if it affects a heritage building or asset.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to waive the charge for a trainee driving instructor certificate for individuals who were advised by the DVSA to rescind their existing certificates.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

Trainee driving instructors who have trainee licences that are due to expire and who are observing Government guidelines not to work, should notify the DVSA as soon as possible. Trainees do not have to return their licence to the DVSA, but instead they will need to cut their licence in half and send a photo of the destroyed licence to: PADI@dvsa.gov.uk

The Registrar will take all information into account, including the current circumstances, when deciding whether or not to grant a further trainee licence. As the required checks had previously been conducted it will not be necessary for those checks to be repeated before a further licence is granted.

There is no provision in legislation to extend the period of a trainee licence beyond six months or to waive the fee.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to restart (a) practical driving and (b) driving theory tests for all pupils.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential level of safety of driving instructors wearing PPE (a) when checking pupils' facial expressions and reactions and (b) in other situations when teaching.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has carried out a risk assessment for driving examiners conducting driving tests. It is for instructors to make sure their face coverings or PPE do not impact upon safety during driving lessons with their pupils.

Driving instructors must ensure they are able to fulfil their responsibilities as an instructor, and accompanying driver, safely whilst wearing appropriate PPE. Professional instructors should be able to adapt their teaching to ensure pupils’ comprehension and correct reaction whilst learning safely.

The DVSA would encourage all driving instructors to keep up to date with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) website for advice and guidance: http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk/

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with Pearson VUE on restarting driving theory tests in a socially distanced way.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is committed to resuming theory tests for all candidates as soon as it is safe to do so and in line with Government advice.

Following public health advice, the DVSA and Pearson VUE are preparing new processes for delivering theory tests. This will include protective screens, two metre social distancing and appropriate protective equipment. The DVSA will make further announcements on GOV.UK as soon as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he is seeking a refund from Pearson VUE for the non-delivery of driving tests as a result of its closure of test centres.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is not seeking a refund from Pearson VUE for the non-delivery of theory tests as the contract the DVSA has with Pearson VUE is volume based. This means the service arrangements are that the DVSA pays for each theory test delivered by Pearson VUE.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will issue guidance on whether driving examiners should wear face coverings.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is reviewing and updating the guidance for driving examiners about carrying out driving tests. This includes things like the PPE they need to wear, greeting candidates and cleaning equipment such as sat navs and tablets. Further guidance will be issued as soon as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has received on ensuring that the DVSA has effective procedures in place so that driving instructors are able to match refunds to pupils.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has closed its driving test booking system as all tests are currently suspended other than for emergency tests for critical workers. The DVSA is developing plans to resume its testing services and will adopt a phased return to testing.

The DVSA will email approved driving instructors (ADI) and candidates when the Government is confident that it is safe to restart driving tests. ADIs and candidates will be asked to go online and choose their preferred test date and time. Candidates who wish to cancel their practical test can email the DVSA and request a full refund.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the insurance sector on covering driving instructors for claims made in relation to accidents when the instructor was (a) wearing PPE and (b) had (i) installed a protective screen between themselves and their pupils and (ii) made other health protection modifications.

Driving instructors must ensure they are able to fulfil their responsibilities as an instructor, and accompanying driver, safely whilst wearing appropriate PPE. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) would encourage all driving instructors to keep up to date with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) website for advice and guidance: http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk/

In line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE), the DVSA does not recommend unapproved protective screens are fitted in vehicles. The driver, and for a learner driver the accompanying driver, has a responsibility to ensure the vehicle and its driver are able to comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended. Any modifications made to a vehicle must not prevent compliance with these regulations, for example, ensuring that the driver still has a clear view to the front.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many (a) battery and (b) hydrogen powered electric vehicles he has (i) driven and (ii) been a passenger in.

While we do not know precisely how many battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric cars the Secretary of State for Transport has driven or been a passenger in, he does personally own a battery electric vehicle and is regularly a passenger in a Government Car Service electric car. More importantly, the government is investing?around?£2.5bn?,?with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles and funding?to support chargepoint infrastructure at homes,?workplaces,?on residential streets?and across the wider roads network.

In addition, we are consulting on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible, as well as including hybrids for the first time. By talking to stakeholders about the best way to achieve that ambition, the Government will more easily be able to identify what measures would be needed to support the transition to zero-emission and electric motoring.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many local authorities have applied to the all electric bus town scheme; and what the names of those authorities are.

A total of eighteen local authorities have submitted their applications to be considered for the All-Electric Bus Town scheme, with 19 bids received overall.

These local authorities are: Blackpool Council, City of York Council, Cumbria County Council, Devon County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Luton Borough Council, Medway Council, Milton Keynes Council, Norfolk County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Shropshire Council, Surrey County Council, Swindon Borough Council, Warrington Borough Council, West Midland Combined Authority and Worcestershire County Council.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing an all-hydrogen bus town scheme.

In February, the Prime Minister announced a £5 billion package for buses and cycling, which includes support for the purchase of at least 4,000 new zero emission buses, making greener travel the convenient option and driving forward the UK’s progress on its net zero ambitions.

The details of these programmes will be announced in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will provide face masks to bus passengers.

There is no requirement for operators to distribute face coverings and it is a matter for operators to decide whether they want to distribute face coverings on their networks. In some cases, it will be difficult to do so, particularly at unstaffed stations and bus stops.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what steps the DVLA has taken to process licence applications by key workers who hold a driving licence issued in another EU country.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is providing a dedicated service to prioritise driving licence applications from key workers. This includes a dedicated postal address for driving licence applications and support through the DVLA’s contact centre. This service is available to all key workers, including those who wish to exchange EU driving licences.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he had with the East-West Rail Company prior to their tender for diesel units; and what assessment he has made of the merits of that line being an electrified railway.

The Department is investing in transport infrastructure that meets the needs of people and businesses, and is driving forward the development of policy on the decarbonisation and sustainability of rail. The East West Rail Company is currently seeking to procure rolling stock on an interim basis to enable services to be delivered as soon as possible whilst ongoing discussions about the case and options for the electrification of the railway in the long term are concluded.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 4 November 2019 Question 7159, what steps he is taking to ensure that Highways England adopts performance indicators which incentivise an increase in the (a) number of journeys and (b) safety of (i) cyclists and (ii) pedestrians throughout the Strategic Road Network.

The second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which we expect to publish shortly, will specify the objectives to be achieved by Highways England in the second road period 2 (2020-21 to 2024-25). It will have legal force under the Infrastructure Act 2015 Chapter 7, Part 1 Section 3. Compliance with the performance specification, including the meeting of Key Performance Indicator targets and the reporting of wider performance measures, is overseen by the Department as client, and monitored and where necessary enforced by the Office of Rail and Road as Highways Monitor.

The development of the Performance Specification for RIS2 entailed comprehensive, structured engagement with external stakeholders including representatives from cycling, walking and equestrian groups, and the performance measures reflect this input. These groups will continue to be involved once RIS2 is in place through the work of Transport Focus as watchdog and Highways England stakeholder activities.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what consultation Highways England held with groups representing (a) walking, (b) cycling and (c) horse-riding interests before publishing its recent design standards on (i) Designing for cycle traffic and (ii) Designing for walking, cycling and horse-riding.

The documents newly published by Highways England contained only editorial changes rather than technical changes, to align with the new format and structure of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. As the content had not changed, no consultation with groups representing (a) walking, (b) cycling and (c) horse-riding interests was undertaken by Highways England.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the Health and Safety Executive investigation into the death of Steve Moir on the Guided Busway in Cambridgeshire will conclude.

I have made enquiries with the Health and Safety Executive, who have confirmed that the investigation into the death of Mr Moir is ongoing. I was informed that a detailed and thorough investigation is being carried out and it is anticipated the remaining lines of enquiry will continue into 2022.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 16 September 2020 to Question 86679, on National Insurance, what progress her Department has made on implementing a digital solution to speed up the National Insurance Number (NINo) process; and when that digital service will be available.

The department has continued to progress the development of its digital solution, ‘Apply for a National Insurance Number (NINo)’ and will soon be available to applicants who require a NINo for employment purposes.

The department started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the allocation of National Insurance Numbers. This solution enables the collection of an applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity. Alternative identity verification solutions to reduce the need for a face to face identity check for some customer groups, including EU nationals with Settled or Pre-Settled status, was part of that test.

In January, we gained Government Digital Service approval as a result we were no longer required to limit the number of applicants we can serve, although we do not have an identity solution for all potential applicants yet. Our current plan is that by the end of March 2021 we will be able to offer a service to all applicants who do not require their identity to be verified face to face.

This means that we have moved from a position in March 2020 of only offering a NINo service to the most vulnerable, to a place where we are able to provide a service to the majority.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much of the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme available to local authorities in England has been allocated to (a) people in need directly in cash grants and vouchers and (b) emergency food aid charities.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme gives local authorities the flexibility to decide how best to identify and support those most in need in their local area, as set out in the guidance available which was published on gov.uk on 24 November.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-winter-grant-scheme

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the time taken to issue national insurance numbers to applicants.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has continued to monitor all aspects of the National Insurance Number (NINo) process throughout recent months, as we continue to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our services.

When applying for a NINo, all applicants are required to have their identity verified. For those applicants whose identity has already been verified by another UK Government Department, primarily the Home Office, their applications are dealt with by post. For those who have not had their identity verified, primarily EU/EEA nationals, the current process requires them to attend a face to face interview with DWP to verify their identity.

Due to COVID-19 and in line with government guidelines, the face to face interview process was suspended from 17th March 2020. The resource normally deployed in this ar