David Warburton Portrait

David Warburton

Independent - Former Member for Somerton and Frome

First elected: 7th May 2015



Division Voting information

David Warburton has voted in 1284 divisions, and 19 times against the majority of their Party.

25 Mar 2021 - Coronavirus - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 35 Conservative No votes vs 305 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 484 Noes - 76
22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 29 Conservative Aye votes vs 318 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 300 Noes - 318
22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 26 Conservative No votes vs 318 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 319 Noes - 297
22 Mar 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 253
26 Jan 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 6 Conservative Aye votes vs 352 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 217 Noes - 360
26 Jan 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 5 Conservative Aye votes vs 354 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 227 Noes - 354
19 Jan 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 34 Conservative No votes vs 319 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 319 Noes - 308
6 Jan 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 12 Conservative No votes vs 322 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 524 Noes - 16
1 Dec 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 53 Conservative No votes vs 290 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 291 Noes - 78
13 May 2020 - Remote Division result: New Clause 2 - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Conservative Aye votes vs 326 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 277 Noes - 328
10 Mar 2020 - Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 36 Conservative Aye votes vs 301 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 282 Noes - 306
3 Apr 2019 - European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 95 Conservative Aye votes vs 203 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 105 Noes - 509
27 Mar 2019 - EU: Withdrawal and Future Relationship Votes - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 59 Conservative Aye votes vs 200 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 65 Noes - 377
25 Apr 2016 - Immigration Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 5 Conservative No votes vs 288 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 294 Noes - 276
27 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 31 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 320 Noes - 256
28 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 32 Conservative No votes vs 321 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 256
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 38 Conservative No votes vs 271 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 441 Noes - 41
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 97 Conservative No votes vs 224 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 126
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
David Warburton voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 60 Conservative No votes vs 258 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
View All David Warburton Division Votes

All Debates

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
Sam Gyimah (Liberal Democrat)
(7 debate interactions)
Theresa May (Conservative)
(5 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(5 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Ministry of Justice
(10 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(10 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all David Warburton's debates

Latest EDMs signed by David Warburton

23rd November 2022
David Warburton signed this EDM on Thursday 19th January 2023

Intimidation at community, parish and town councils

Tabled by: Julian Lewis (Conservative - New Forest East)
That this House expresses its support and appreciation for local community, parish and town councils which are the first tier of local government in England and Wales and play a vital role in our communities; notes with concern that whilst the vast majority of local councils are well run, there …
27 signatures
(Most recent: 7 Mar 2023)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 8
Labour: 7
Liberal Democrat: 4
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Scottish National Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
16th June 2021
David Warburton signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Wednesday 16th June 2021

Support for the music sector and the covid-19 roadmap

Tabled by: David Warburton (Independent - Somerton and Frome)
That this House notes that stage four of the covid-19 roadmap has been moved from 21 June to 19 July 2021; further notes that many music businesses and freelance workers have been without work since March 2020 and that, in 2020, 70 per cent of musicians lost over three quarters …
31 signatures
(Most recent: 25 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 16
Liberal Democrat: 5
Independent: 4
Conservative: 2
Scottish National Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
View All David Warburton's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by David Warburton, 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.


David Warburton has not been granted any Urgent Questions

1 Adjournment Debate led by David Warburton

Thursday 8th March 2018

1 Bill introduced by David Warburton


A Bill to make provision about rivers authorities; to make provision about the expenses of internal drainage boards; and for connected purposes.

Commons Completed
Lords - 40%

Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Lords
Thursday 16th May 2019

201 Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2 Other Department Questions
28th Nov 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that guide dog and assistance dog owners are not denied entry to (a) taxis, (b) shops and (c) businesses.

We are clear that no one should be refused access to businesses or services, including taxis, because they have an assistance dog.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), businesses that provide goods and services to the public must not unlawfully discriminate against people who meet the Act’s definition of disability. The Act places a duty on service providers to make reasonable adjustments to improve access to premises, buildings and services.

This duty could include allowing access to guide dogs or assistance dogs so that disabled customers have the same access to goods and services and are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled customers.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guidance for all businesses, including service providers, on their duty towards disabled people who own assistance/guide dogs. The guidance explains that assistance dogs should be treated as auxiliary aids and not as pets. The guidance is available at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/assistance-dogs-a-guide-for-all-businesses.pdf and makes clear that businesses and service providers should allow assistance dogs access to buildings where dogs would normally not be permitted whenever this is reasonable.

Taxi and private hire drivers also have a duty under the Act to carry guide dogs and assistance dogs at no extra cost to the passenger. The Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Act 2022, amended the Act to provide any disabled person with specific rights and protections to access and receive assistance when travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle.

These duties and protections are ultimately enforceable through the courts, but as a first step, anybody who thinks they have been discriminated against in the services offered to them - including a failure to make reasonable adjustments - can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) which provides free bespoke advice and in-depth support to individuals with discrimination concerns via their website - http://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com, or by telephone on 0808 800 0082 or by text phone on 0808 800 0084.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Oct 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what assessment she has made of the effect of proposed changes to the feed-in-tariff on solar firms and small businesses in (a) Somerton and Frome constituency, (b) the South West and (c) the UK.

Our consultation on the feed-in tariff review is still underway until 23rd October. The consultation document reflects the need to balance sector support whilst keeping bills down for consumers.

We strongly welcome evidence from the sector during the consultation to assist our analysis of the potential impact on businesses in the sector.

.

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to strengthen the UK’s response to cyber threats.

Our National Cyber Strategy, launched in December 2021, sets out how we will ensure that the UK continues to be a leading, responsible and democratic cyber power, able to protect and promote our interests in the rapidly evolving online world. This includes our approach to making the UK more resilient to cyber attacks and countering cyber threats. It is supported by £2.6 billion of investment up to 2024 - 25.

The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves through our world leading capability in this area. We are vigilant to cyber threats, wherever they come from, and ready to defend against them. We are continuing to work to make the UK more resilient to cyber threats and raise the cost for those who would do us harm.

5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what recent steps she has taken to help support (a) recruitment and (b) retention in the hospitality sector.

The Government is in regular dialogue with the hospitality and tourism sectors and is aware of the recruitment and retention challenges facing businesses. The Hospitality Sector Council is actively looking at this issue and the Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board, which comprises businesses across both sectors, is considering ways to strengthen training.

We are also helping to fill vacancies through our Plan for Jobs programmes, which use work coaches to help match local talent with jobs in hospitality. Our sector-based work academy programme and flexible support fund, and various initiatives, are also encourag-ing jobseekers to look for opportunities in the sector. In addition, on 1 April 2023, the Gov-ernment increased the National Living Wage by 9.7% to £10.42.

The Government is also supporting six Private Member’s Bills which will improve workers’ rights and encourage more people into work. The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act has now achieved Royal Assent meaning more than 2 million workers will have their tips protected when the measures come into force. This package of Bills will help new parents, unpaid carers, hospitality workers, and give employees better access to flexible working.

The Government is continuing to improve apprenticeships, making them more flexible and making it easier for employers to make greater use of their levy funds. The catering and hospitality sector serves up a host of different apprenticeships in restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, nightclubs and hotels, including for example chef de partie.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps she is taking with industry representatives to address labour shortages in the (a) hospitality and (b) tourism sectors.

The Government is in regular dialogue with the hospitality and tourism sectors and is aware of the recruitment and retention challenges facing businesses. The Hospitality Sector Council is actively looking at this issue and the Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board, which comprises businesses across both sectors, is considering ways to strengthen training.

We are also helping to fill vacancies through our Plan for Jobs programmes, which use work coaches to help match local talent with jobs in hospitality. Our sector-based work academy programme and flexible support fund, and various initiatives, are also encourag-ing jobseekers to look for opportunities in the sector. In addition, on 1 April 2023, the Gov-ernment increased the National Living Wage by 9.7% to £10.42.

The Government is also supporting six Private Member’s Bills which will improve workers’ rights and encourage more people into work. The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act has now achieved Royal Assent meaning more than 2 million workers will have their tips protected when the measures come into force. This package of Bills will help new parents, unpaid carers, hospitality workers, and give employees better access to flexible working.

The Government is continuing to improve apprenticeships, making them more flexible and making it easier for employers to make greater use of their levy funds. The catering and hospitality sector serves up a host of different apprenticeships in restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, nightclubs and hotels, including for example chef de partie.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
22nd Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that music exports benefit from new UK trade agreements.

The Department for Business and Trade has engaged extensively with the music sector to inform our trade negotiations and to date we have been able to secure a number of commitments for the music sector. For example, with Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreements (FTA), the music sector will benefit from rules that ensure that data can flow freely between the UK and both countries.

Furthermore, the UK has secured commitments from Australia for continued discussions on measures to ensure adequate remuneration for music performers and producers and to tackle online infringement of intellectual property rights such as music piracy. We also secured a commitment from New Zealand to extend its copyright term of protection for authors and producers by 20 years. In our FTA with the EEA EFTA, we secured improved access for British touring artists into Norway supporting touring as live music generates vitally important revenue for UK artists and our economy.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps the Government is taking to (a) minimise disruption caused by industrial action and (b) reach a compromise on outstanding industrial issues.

The Government’s door always remains open. We continue to talk to unions but any settlements must be affordable and not stoke higher inflation.

The Government continues to put contingency plans in place to mitigate the impact of industrial action in the public sector. To help reduce disruption caused by strikes, we lifted in July last year the ban on agency workers being used during industrial disputes. We have also recently introduced in Parliament the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill to ensure that a minimum service is provided in a range of important public services when industrial action takes place in future.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent steps his Department has taken to facilitate access to the Alternative Fuel Payment for people without a permanent address.

The Government has been engaging with key stakeholder groups who represent those households without a permanent address. The Government is keen to support these households to ensure they can receive energy bills support. Officials are working to establish whether there is a robust method for these households to provide proof of eligibility, whilst protecting public funds, so they can claim the AFP support.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how many and what proportion of households in Somerton and Frome constituency did not have access to fibre optic broadband on 1 May 2023.

Currently, over 89% of premises in the Somerton and Frome constituency can access a superfast broadband connection. Over 51% have access to a gigabit-capable connection and 38% have fibre to the premises.

The Government is committed to working with broadband suppliers to ensure 85% of UK premises can access gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, and then for nationwide coverage by 2030. We are on track to achieve our target.

As part of Project Gigabit, the Government’s £5 billion mission to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband across the UK, we have begun launching procurements that give subsidies to broadband suppliers to build gigabit-capable infrastructure to premises that will not be reached by suppliers’ commercial plans alone. In the coming months, we plan to launch a procurement that will improve broadband connectivity for premises in Somerton and Frome.

Constituents in Somerton and Frome have also made excellent use of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which provides a subsidy of up to £4,500 for residents and businesses towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband. More than 960 premises in Somerton and Frome have received a fast, reliable connection through the voucher scheme, worth over £1.5 million.

24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps she is taking to increase the number of businesses that apply for Cyber Essentials certification.

As part of the government's £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is committed to improving cyber resilience across the economy and promoting the take-up of accreditations and standards such as the Cyber Essentials (CE) certification scheme. Over 122,000 certificates have now been issued over the lifetime of the scheme, with over 25,000 organisations, including over a third of the UK’s largest organisations, currently holding either a CE or CE Plus certificate.

DSIT is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), other government departments and industry to increase the uptake of the CE scheme, including through requiring CE certification from suppliers using procurement levers. For example DSIT recently announced a partnership with St James’s Place which now requires its partners to be CE Plus certified.

The NCSC is also leading a three year funding programme, providing support to help organisations work towards certification. Over the past three months 369 support packages have been awarded to small legal aid firms and charities.

Research to date has found 93% of organisations with CE are confident of protection against common cyber attacks, compared to just 71% of non-certified organisations and 83% report a positive impact on customer and investor confidence. Further research is being undertaken to assess the impact of the scheme and will be published shortly.

24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Cyber Essentials programme.

As part of the government's £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is committed to improving cyber resilience across the economy and promoting the take-up of accreditations and standards such as the Cyber Essentials (CE) certification scheme. Over 122,000 certificates have now been issued over the lifetime of the scheme, with over 25,000 organisations, including over a third of the UK’s largest organisations, currently holding either a CE or CE Plus certificate.

DSIT is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), other government departments and industry to increase the uptake of the CE scheme, including through requiring CE certification from suppliers using procurement levers. For example DSIT recently announced a partnership with St James’s Place which now requires its partners to be CE Plus certified.

The NCSC is also leading a three year funding programme, providing support to help organisations work towards certification. Over the past three months 369 support packages have been awarded to small legal aid firms and charities.

Research to date has found 93% of organisations with CE are confident of protection against common cyber attacks, compared to just 71% of non-certified organisations and 83% report a positive impact on customer and investor confidence. Further research is being undertaken to assess the impact of the scheme and will be published shortly.

24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps she is taking to reduce the cyber skills gap.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) commissions an annual survey on the need for cyber security skills across the UK labour market, which suggests an annual shortfall of around 14,000 professionals.

As part of the government's £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy, DSIT committed to significantly increase the number of people who have the skills they need to enter the cyber workforce. This requires the clarification of pathways into and through a cyber career and getting more people interested in cyber at a young age. In order to create and publicise clear routes into a cyber career DCMS funded the creation of a professional body for cyber, the UK Cyber Security Council, to create professional standards and pathways that will inform employer recruitment and an individual's career development. We deliver extracurricular youth programmes to inspire and develop future talent, including the DSIT ‘Cyber Explorers’ platform targeted at 11-14 year olds. This complements the National Cyber Security Centre ‘CyberFirst’ competitions and degree bursaries. For those already in the workforce, free cyber skills bootcamps are offered through the Department for Education ‘Skills for Life’ scheme and the DSIT ‘Upskill in Cyber’ programme.

14th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps his Department has taken to (a) retain and (b) invest in post offices in uncommercial parts of the network.

The Government has provided over £2.5 billion in funding to support the Post Office network over the past 10 years and is further providing £335 million for the Post Office over the next three years. This package includes funding to ensure the viability of rural and community branches. Since 2019 funding for the network has been maintained at £50 million a year and will remain at the same level until 2025.

Additionally, the Government-set access criteria requires 95% of the population in rural areas to be within three miles of the nearest branch. The Post Office network meets and exceeds this at a national level.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure effective provision of post office services in rural areas.

The Government has provided over £2.5 billion in funding to support the Post Office network over the past 10 years and is further providing £335 million for the Post Office over the next three years. This package includes funding to ensure the viability of rural and community branches. Since 2019 funding for the network has been maintained at £50 million a year and will remain at the same level until 2025.

Additionally, the Government-set access criteria requires 95% of the population in rural areas to be within three miles of the nearest branch. The Post Office network meets and exceeds this at a national level.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how off-grid energy users will be able to access the one-off support payment towards their energy bills this winter.

Eligible households in Great Britain will receive £100 as a credit on their electricity bill this winter. For Northern Ireland, the Government is working with electricity suppliers to explore how the payment could be delivered via electricity bills.

Households that are eligible for, but do not receive AFP, because they do not have a relationship with an electricity supplier, will receive £100 via the AFP Alternative Fund.

The Energy Bill Support Scheme (EBSS) will provide equivalent support of £400 for energy bills to the small minority of households who will not be reached through the EBSS. This includes those who do not have a domestic electricity meter or a direct relationship with an energy supplier, such as those who live off-grid.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in addition to the one-off £100 support payment, what steps he will take to ensure that off-grid energy users are able to receive equal support to on-grid households.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) delivers a £400 non-repayable discount to households with an electricity meter. For those not on standard gas or electricity contracts the EBSS Alternative Fund will provide equivalent support.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to help support the growth of community energy schemes.

Legislative mechanisms already exist which enable community energy groups to produce renewable energy, and the Government has no plans to bring forward further legislative proposals, at this time.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to support households in rural areas with the rising cost of domestic heating oil.

Households not on standard gas or electricity contracts, such as those in rural areas, will receive equivalent support to that provided through the Energy Bills Support Scheme, and the Energy Price Guarantee. The Government is working at pace to determine the most practical and tested routes to deliver this support. As part of this, for households who do not use gas for domestic heating, the Government has committed to provide an additional payment of £100 to compensate for the rising costs of other fuels such as coal.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the remaining coal plants at the Drax power station will close in September 2022.

The Government has committed to phasing out unabated coal generation in Great Britain by October 2024. Closure of coal units ahead of this date is a commercial decision for the companies involved. The Drax Group, which operates Drax Power Station, has previously announced its intention to close coal units at the site in September 2022.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the maximum number of years is following the cutting down of trees used to make wood pellets for the Drax power station within which replanting must (a) start and (b) match the number of trees felled.

The Government does not hold this information. In accordance with the government’s strict sustainability criteria, where biomass is sourced from forests, it needs to be sourced from areas managed in a way that is consistent with sustainable forest management practices, irrespective of location.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish a table showing the number of (a) tree equivalents burnt at the Drax power station and (b) trees planted in the UK in each of the last five years.

The Department does not model tree equivalents of biomass used by power generators. Ofgem reports volumes of biomass fuel, such as wood pellets, used by power generators on a per-tonne basis.

UK tree planting statistics, held by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), are reported in terms of area (hectares). The most recent data was published on 30th September (https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/forestry-statistics-2021/1-woodland-area-planting/ and https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/documents/8144/Ch1_Woodland_FS2021_kRWbQlW.xlsx). UK tree planting over the past five years was as follows: 6,520 ha (2016-17); 9,050 ha (2017-18), 13,540 ha (2018-19), 13,660 ha (2020-21) and 13,290 ha (2020-21)

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the transport costs per MWh in terms of carbon dioxide emissions for power generated at Drax from (a) coal and (b) wood pellets.

The Government does not hold this information. Electricity generators only receive subsidies for biomass where they comply with the UK’s stringent sustainability criteria. The criteria requires that electricity generation from biomass does not exceed a set GHG threshold and produces life-cycle GHG emission savings (including transport and supply chain emissions) compared to fossil fuels. Suppliers/generators must demonstrate to the regulator (Ofgem) that they meet the criteria. Their evidence is independently audited.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential to replicate the economic benefits of Hinkley Point C to Somerton and Frome constituency in other areas of the country through the development of future gigawatt nuclear new builds.

The construction of Hinkley Point C shows that new gigawatt nuclear power stations can provide economic benefits to their local area, as well as to regions across the UK through the supply chain. EDF have reported that £3.5 billion has been spent with companies in the South-West during the construction period, with Hinkley Point C creating 12,786 job opportunities and 787 apprentices trained to date. The government expects future larger scale nuclear new build project to have similar benefits to Hinkley Point C, and we have committed to at least one more gigawatt power plant during this Parliament, subject to clear value for money for both consumers and taxpayers and all relevant approvals.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to help ensure that the businesses in Somerton and Frome constituency that have benefited from the construction of Hinkley Point C will have a future pipeline of contracts to move on to through the development of further gigawatt nuclear new build in the UK.

The Government has been clear that it wants more new nuclear power. Our Net Zero Strategy confirms plans for at least one large-scale nuclear project brought to the point of Final Investment Decision by the end of this Parliament, subject to clear value for money and all relevant approvals. Any large-scale nuclear new build project would be expected to offer similar opportunities for the supply chain as at Hinkley Point C.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
26th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to promote opportunities for businesses in the South West to access high growth markets abroad.

This financial year UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has helped more than 800 South West (SW) businesses access new markets. UKTI’s Passport to Export programme provided intensive support to 170 companies entering new markets including high growth markets (HGMs) such as China and UAE.

A further 850 South West business delegates have attended business clinics and seminars promoting export opportunities including those in HGMs. During Export Week in November 2015, 233 business delegates had 787 one-to-one meetings with 69 visiting overseas Trade Officers at the ExploreExport event in Bristol.

Additionally, in December alone SW businesses responded to 116 Export Opportunities as part of the Exporting is Great campaign, including 25 in China. To date UKTI South West has issued 119 Market Visit Grants to businesses, 42 of which were to HGMs.

UKTI South West activity is supported by a High Impact in Growth Economies programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund. That programme has assisted forty South West SMEs to trade successfully in Brazil. Focused mainly on sectors with innovative high value products the programme is forecast to increase employment in the region by 260 jobs by 2017 as well as adding £100 million to South West export sales by 2020. UKTI South West aims to continue the programme by targeting further high growth markets over the next 3 years including Mexico, Cuba, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Brazil.

19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps her Department has taken to help ensure that creators and performers receive a fair return from the income made from streaming music.

A key priority for this Government is ensuring the music streaming market functions well and that creators and performers are properly remunerated. In response to the DCMS Select Committee’s inquiry into the Economics of Music Streaming, the Government launched a comprehensive programme of work focusing on the key issues identified.

This includes the establishment of expert working groups, chaired by the Intellectual Property Office, to develop industry-led solutions on metadata and transparency. These aim to bring improvements for creators and performers, including quicker and more accurate payments for songwriters and enhanced confidence in creators’ dealings with labels and publishers.

The Government encouraged the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) to conduct a market study into music and streaming services, which concluded in November 2022. The CMA found no suggestion that publishing revenues are being suppressed by distorted or restricted competition and that the overall share of streaming revenues enjoyed by publishers and songwriters has increased from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2021.

We have also commissioned independent research into the impacts on creators, performers, and the wider industry of potential changes to copyright law in the areas of equitable remuneration, contract adjustment, and rights reversion. And the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation has completed research into playlisting algorithms used by streaming services, which will be published shortly.

The Government also notes action taken by industry to improve remuneration for creators. The major record labels have committed to disregarding unrecouped advances in older contracts, meaning many artists are being paid from streaming for the first time. Many independent labels have gone further, leading the way by setting minimum digital royalty rates across new and existing contracts.

The work of the expert working groups is advanced, as is the research. Based on this, and the action taken by industry, the Government will be taking decisions on this work in the coming months.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate her Department has made of the number of EU member states that enable touring UK musicians to work visa free in cultural touring in their territories for the full Schengen Area allowance of 90 in 180 days.

The Government has engaged bilaterally with all EU Member States about the importance of touring. From these discussions, 21 out of 27 Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for performers for some short-term touring. More recently, following further discussions, and having sought evidence from industry, Bulgaria and Croatia have also confirmed that they offer visa and work permit free routes for some touring activity. Most of these Member States have confirmed that they offer visa and work permit free routes of at least 30 days, and many for up to 90 days, including important touring markets such as France, Germany and, following close work between our governments and industry, Spain.

Discussions are ongoing with the remaining Member States to encourage them to make touring easier, including through ministerial discussions between the Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure and the Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Greek Ambassador in December 2021.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with which EU member states the Government has conducted formal negotiations on reducing barriers to cultural touring since January 2021.

The Government has engaged bilaterally with all EU Member States about the importance of touring. From these discussions, 21 out of 27 Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for performers for some short-term touring. More recently, following further discussions, and having sought evidence from industry, Bulgaria and Croatia have also confirmed that they offer visa and work permit free routes for some touring activity. Most of these Member States have confirmed that they offer visa and work permit free routes of at least 30 days, and many for up to 90 days, including important touring markets such as France, Germany and, following close work between our governments and industry, Spain.

Discussions are ongoing with the remaining Member States to encourage them to make touring easier, including through ministerial discussions between the Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure and the Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Greek Ambassador in December 2021.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has undertaken (a) assessments, (b) projections, (c) estimates and (d) modelling of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement on the ability of working class musicians to tour EU member states.

The Government understands that the cultural and creative sectors rely on the ability to move people across borders quickly, simply, and with minimal cost and administration. Touring is a vital part of musicians and performers’ careers, providing not only an important income stream, but also enriching opportunities for cultural exchange across the world. We recognise that there are changes in the way creative workers can work in the EU, and the sector will need to adapt to new requirements now the UK is no longer an EU Member State.

This government engaged extensively with the sectors throughout negotiations and since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, including through the DCMS-led touring working group, to hear views, understand the impact of new requirements, and to support working and touring in the EU. We know that British creatives want to tour in the EU, and venues and audiences in the EU want to host them. That is why we continue to work across government, in collaboration with the sector, and directly with Member States to support the creative and cultural industries to adapt to new arrangements and resume touring with confidence.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has undertaken (a) assessments, (b) projections, (c) estimates and (d) modelling of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement on the (i) number and (ii) value of UK live cultural tours in EU member states.

The Government understands that the cultural and creative sectors rely on the ability to move people across borders quickly, simply, and with minimal cost and administration. Touring is a vital part of musicians and performers’ careers, providing not only an important income stream, but also enriching opportunities for cultural exchange across the world. We recognise that there are changes in the way creative workers can work in the EU, and the sector will need to adapt to new requirements now the UK is no longer an EU Member State.

This government engaged extensively with the sectors throughout negotiations and since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, including through the DCMS-led touring working group, to hear views, understand the impact of new requirements, and to support working and touring in the EU. We know that British creatives want to tour in the EU, and venues and audiences in the EU want to host them. That is why we continue to work across government, in collaboration with the sector, and directly with Member States to support the creative and cultural industries to adapt to new arrangements and resume touring with confidence.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether recording studios are eligible for Government support for businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, extensions to the furlough scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and Bounce Back Loan Schemes.

The Chancellor has also announced further support for businesses with one-off top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property, plus a further £594 million discretionary fund to support other impacted businesses. That builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary fund that local authorities in England have already received to help impacted businesses.

The guidance for these additional restrictions grants encourages local authorities to develop discretionary schemes to help those businesses that are perhaps not legally forced to close but are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of covid.

On this point, I have received reports that some businesses such as recording and rehearsal studios, which might not be ratepayers and which are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance on these grant schemes, are being deemed ineligible by some local authorities.

To be clear to local authorities and businesses, although the ultimate decision is at the local authority’s discretion, the fund can, and in my opinion should, be used to provide grants to businesses like recording and rehearsal studios. Supporting these businesses is vital to preserve the UK’s talent pipeline, even if they do not sell to consumers directly on a specific premise.

I therefore encourage and expect local authorities to be sympathetic to applications from these types of businesses that have been impacted by covid-19 restrictions but are ineligible for other grant schemes.

26th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Ofcom's review of the future regulatory framework of the independent television production sector; and if he will make a statement.

Ofcom reported on the operation of the television production sector on 23 December. I am now considering that report, and will make a decision in due course.

19th Oct 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what his policy is on the digital single market.

The Department for Business and the Cabinet Office have overall policy responsibility for the Digital Single Market. The Department for Culture Media and Sport leads on telecoms, audio visual policy, IT Security and now Data Protection. The Digital Single Market is a key priority for the UK Government and we welcome its ambition. It offers huge potential for jobs and growth and could increase UK GDP by up to 2%, and it can also benefit citizens, as shown by our recent deal within the European Council on roaming.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking through the national curriculum to help primary school children engage with nature.

The National Curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what schools are expected to cover in each curriculum subject. Teachers use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils the content of the curriculum, tailoring their lessons to the individual needs of the pupils.

The geography and science curricula offer opportunities to teach about nature and related topics. In science at Key Stages 1 and 2, under the topics of ‘Plants’ and ‘Living things and their habitats’, the National Curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to engage with nature and explore the local environment to answer questions on plants and animals in their habitat. In the Key Stage 2 geography curriculum pupils use fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies.

In April 2022, the Department released its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which will increase opportunities for pupils to spend time in nature. Key initiatives of this strategy include the National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Award. These programmes will not only engage pupils with the natural world, but will directly involve them in measuring and improving biodiversity in their nursery, school, college or university.

On 18 May, the Department announced £15 million in funding will be provided to nurseries, schools and colleges to create opportunities for outdoor education in natural settings. The funding boost will help them to develop the biodiversity of their site.

The Department will continue to work across Government to identify opportunities for children and young people to access education in natural settings.

14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of introducing a statutory registration system for children not in school on home educators.

The Department completed all relevant and required impact assessments when the Children Not in School measures were part of the Schools Bill.

The Children Not in School measures were subject to a thorough equalities impact assessment, which considered the impact on families with different protected characteristics, and a regulatory impact assessment which looked at the impact measures will have on businesses and charities. A summary of these impact assessments have been published online as part of the Schools Bill impact assessment document, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-bill-impact-assessment.

The Department also conducted a Local Authority new burdens assessment in relation to the implementation and maintenance of the register, and the Department is in the process of finalising our data protection impact assessment with the Information Commissioner’s Office prior to the Schools Bill being discontinued. This remains with the Information Commissioner’s Office for consideration.

When a suitable legislative opportunity arises to take forward the Children Not in School measures, all necessary assessments will be reviewed.

25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if her Department will take steps to encourage local authorities to help children of separated parents maintain a relationship with their grandparents.

Statutory guidance states that local authorities should offer Family Group Conferences to families undergoing or about to undergo care proceedings, with many providing this service before the care proceedings stage. Family Group Conferences allow extended family members to offer their practical support to parents, in order to develop a family plan that meets the needs of and promotes the welfare of the children involved. Under such circumstances, these plans can enable grandparents to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren, where the parents are separated.

A key principle of the Children’s Act 1989 is that children are best looked after within their families. Under certain circumstances, grandparents can become kinship carers of children from separated parents that might otherwise have been taken into care, via informal family arrangements or through legal orders made by the court. In 2011, the department issued statutory guidance for local authorities about supporting kinship carers, explaining that there is no limit on the level of support, including financial support, that local authorities can provide them.

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care published in May 2022 set out recommendations on how the department can further support kinship families. We are now considering these recommendations, including those to create a financial allowance, and will set out an ambitious and detailed response to the recommendations in the review in early 2023.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress her Department has made on increasing the number of school places available for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

The department is investing £2.6 billion between 2022 and 2025 to support local authorities to deliver new places and improve existing provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities or who require alternative provision. This represents a significant investment in new high-needs provision. It will support local authorities to deliver new places in mainstream and special schools, as well as other specialist settings, and will also be used to improve the suitability and accessibility of existing buildings.

As part of this commitment, in March 2022 the department announced High Needs Provision Capital Allocations amounting to over £1.4 billion of new investment, focused on the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. It is ultimately up to local authorities to determine how to best prioritise their funding to address their local priorities.

The £2.6 billion capital investment in high needs provision announced in October 2021 will also help to deliver up to 60 new special and alternative provision free schools. This is in addition to the 48 special free schools already in the pipeline and 90 special free schools already opened.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the Government's timescale is for allowing the (a) reopening of residential outdoor learning centres and (b) recommencement of residential school trips as covid-19 restrictions are eased; and what plans he has to provide additional financial support to residential outdoor learning centres.

Schools are advised against all educational visits at this time. The Department is working on advice for schools on the planning and booking of residential visits when it is safe to do so and in line with the Government’s roadmap to recovery, as set out in: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021. The advice will be published shortly.

The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, business representative organisations, and the financial services sector to monitor the implementation of current support and understand whether there is additional need.

The Government would encourage businesses who are unable to access support, or who are unsure of the support available, to access free tailored advice through the Business Support Helpline, which can be accessed through the Business Support website at: www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline, or through local Growth Hubs in England: www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts. Businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can access business support through the devolved Governments.

19th Apr 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans her Department has to meet demand for school places in Somerton and Frome constituency.

Supporting local authorities to ensure sufficient school places continues to be one of the Government’s top priorities. That is why we have committed to spending £7 billion on school places up to 2021, which, along with our investment in the free schools programme, we expect to deliver 600,000 new places. Somerset received £14.6 million of basic need funding between 2011 and 2015, which helped to create almost 3,000 new places between 2010 and 2015. It has also been allocated a further £24.5 million to create the places needed by 2019.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23rd May 2023 to Question 185044 on Flood Control: Somerset, what recent discussions she has had with the Environment Agency about introducing further measures to protect (a) houses and (b) the road network in East Somerset from future flash flooding caused by high rainfall.

The significant rainfall event that occurred on 9 May in Somerset resulted in ‘flash flooding’ due to the intensity of rainfall that occurred in a very localised area, causing fluvial and surface water flooding.

In England the Environment Agency (EA) has the strategic overview for flood risk and managing the risk from main rivers, reservoirs and the sea, and lead local flood authorities are responsible for local flood risk management, covering the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses.

The Government is acting to drive down flood risk from every angle. In March 2020 we announced a record £5.2 billion investment over six years in flood and coastal erosion schemes to better protect communities across England. Around half of the schemes funded by the programme will be delivered by the EA and half by other risk management authorities, such as lead local flood authorities. Schemes within this investment programme in the local area include: property flood resilience measures to be installed at residential properties in Isle Brewers, Nunney and Frome; pump replacements at the Huish, Long Load, Midleney & Westover, pumping stations; and safety repairs at West Moor Reservoir.

Following the 2021 flooding in Chard and Ilminster, the EA in collaboration with Somerset lead local flood authority has secured funding to undertake a number of strategic flood risk studies to identify longer term steps to better manage flood risk in these areas. This work is due to start this financial year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions her Department has had with wildlife trusts to help support engaging with nature through volunteering.

Our aim is for more people, from all backgrounds, to engage with and spend time in green and blue spaces in their everyday lives. We recognise the important role that volunteers play in protecting and enhancing the natural environment. The Landscapes Review has proposed expanding volunteering in our protected landscapes, and we fully support this initiative.

We are actively exploring various avenues to support and promote volunteer engagement in nature conservation. For example, through our Access For All programme, we are facilitating the purchase of specialist equipment that enables volunteers of all abilities to take part in conservation activities. This not only helps protect and enhance the natural environment but also contributes to the volunteers' mental and physical well-being. The Wildlife Trusts are a key member of our Access and Engagement Forum, where we discuss the progress and development of this programme amongst others.

We remain committed to collaborating with a wide range of organisations, including wildlife trusts, to encourage and facilitate volunteering opportunities in the natural world.

15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that Somerset is more resilient to future flood risk.

Somerset has seen significant investment in recent years and has benefitted from the formation of the Somerset Rivers Authority partnership. Over £80 million of investment since 2014 in flood risk interventions helps the Environment Agency better manage flooding. It allows the Environment Agency to take pre-emptive action to delay the onset of flooding, to evacuate the waters more effectively. Together this enables communities to be more resilient and to recover more rapidly from flooding. The below investment was delivered in 2014/15:

  • £6m on dredging, financed by DEFRA, delivered by the Environment Agency
  • £20m on raising roads and drainage improvements financed by Department of Transport delivered by Somerset County Council
  • £20m on repairing flood damage to assets from Defra Flood defence grant-in-aid
  • £13m on improvements to the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain from Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • £3.5m on Pumping station extra capacity and improvements at Aller and Westonzoyland
  • £500k improvements to the Parrett and Tone hydraulic model.

The Environment Agency are continuing to invest in Somerset, this includes maintaining existing defences and also helping communities to adapt and become more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Ongoing investment includes:

  • Bridgwater Tidal Barrier scheme – investment of over £128m – Operational barrier by 2026.
  • Dunball Sluice refurbishment – total investment of around £3.6m. Delivery by 2024
  • Pumping Station upgrades – Project to invest around £5.5m. Complete by 2025
  • Reservoir improvement investment (public safety) – Investment Program of £19m – Delivery complete by 2027
  • Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements – Council have agreed £6m funding in 3 interventions:

1. River Tone left bank defence improvements, Frieze Hill to Town Bridge

2. Raising of Firepool lockgate and defences between the River Tone and the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal (TTC10)

3. Longrun Meadows - optimising flood water storage.

Communities in Ilminster, Chard and Minehead are also benefitting from recently approved investment to help reduce flood risk. The Environment Agency and Somerset Council have secured funding from the Frequently Flooded Allowance fund to carry out investigative studies on what future flood risk interventions are required.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many (a) homes and (b) businesses in Somerset were affected by flooding in each of the last 10 years.

Property Flooding Overview

Year

Number of Properties Flooded

2011

15

2012

11

2013

2

2014

173

2015

0

2016

22

2017

10

2018

0

2019

0

2020

26

2021

45

Total

304

The above table shows the number of properties flooded during the last 10 years across both business and homes, and includes all sources of flooding – surface water, fluvial and coastal. The source of most of the data comes from Somerset Council report produced post flooding which is why the information is not split between homes and businesses. These reports are produced as part of the Flood & Water Management Act 2010. The reports from 2022 have not yet been published, although the Environment Agency are not aware of any properties flooding in Somerset during 2022.

For 2023 the Environment Agency estimated that 5 properties flooded in January and around 120 properties flooded in May, however they are working with Somerset Council to confirm exact numbers.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the resilience of flood protection measures in (a) Somerset, (b) East Somerset and (c) the River Cam catchment area during the winter of 2022–23.

Much of Somerset is below sea level and many of its rivers are raised above the ground, so it will always be at risk of coastal and fluvial flooding. In January 2023, the Environment Agency put in place the largest temporary pumping operation in its history on the Somerset Levels and Moors. In combination with the innovative way water was managed through the system, this meant that on this occasion, widespread flooding of property was avoided.

During the Spring, East Somerset has experienced some of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the area. This has led to roads becoming unpassable, and in the case of the River Cam, around 100 houses flooding. In all cases, the flood protection measures performed as designed, but were overwhelmed by the volume and intensity of rainfall.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the impact of sewage spillages on river water quality.

We have been consistently clear that the failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is totally unacceptable. That is why in August 2022, we published the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan - the most ambitious plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in water company history.

Environment Agency data shows that 7% of waterbodies in England failed to reach Good Ecological Status because of storm overflows in 2019, a significant contribution to the 36% affected by the wider water industry. This compares to agriculture affecting 40% of water bodies and urban and transport affecting 18%.

We are committed to increasing transparency. We have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 7% in 2010 to 91% in 2022, and we will reach 100% cover by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, we launched our consultation on Continuous Water Quality Monitoring and Event Duration Monitoring. This outlines the Government’s proposals to enhance the monitoring of storm overflow and final effluent discharges.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps she has taken with Cabinet colleagues to support apple and pear growers in Somerset.

We have supported, and will continue to support, apple and pear growers through multiple avenues. This includes establishing the seasonal worker visa route, the Independent Review of Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain, a review of automation in horticulture, and working across Government on energy support. Support for the development of new methods and technologies is available through the Farming Innovation Programme and help to improve environment sustainability and productivity can be sought through the Farming Investment Fund. Apple and pear growers can also benefit from our Environmental Land Management schemes.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to protect the habitat of woodcock birds.

We are expanding and improving woodcock habitat through grant schemes funded by both the Countryside Stewardship scheme and the Nature for Climate Fund. These grants include the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds, which aim to restore vulnerable woodland habitats and improve biodiversity, as well as the England Woodland Creation Offer. In addition, we are introducing new environmental land management schemes, which will pay for activities to create, manage and restore habitats such as woodland, connect isolated habitats to form networks, and other species management actions, all of which will benefit birds such as woodcock.

Woodcock also benefit from England’s extensive network of protected sites for wildlife such as sites of special scientific interest.

14th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when applications for the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps veteran’s badge will be reopened.

The Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps veteran’s badge scheme is currently paused due to administrative changes. As soon as these changes have been concluded, the re-opening of the scheme will be made clear on the appropriate gov.uk page and communicated to any stakeholders who have made enquiries whilst the scheme has been paused. In the meantime, Defra has been processing outstanding and extraordinary applications. We value all veterans’ valuable service to the war effort and want to ensure that HM Government continues to recognise all those who served the home front during the war.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that farmers are consulted on expansions to the Environment Land Management Scheme.

Farmers and land managers are at the heart of our Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes. We use a range of methods including social science research, user testing, and co-design to make sure that schemes are developed with and tested by farmers. Their input is ensuring our schemes are accessible, attractive, and fit for purpose.

We have learnt a lot about how to successfully introduce new schemes from our experience developing the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). For example, the application process and guidance for SFI were made simpler in direct response to the farmers who tested these. To date, our work with farmers and other stakeholders has included:

  • Practitioner Working Groups, running since March 2022, where farmers directly shape elements of policy, standards and service design.
  • Monthly meetings with 40 stakeholders on specific policy design related to Local Nature Recovery and Sustainable Farming Incentive.
  • Fortnightly stakeholder meetings to provide technical updates on the Sustainable Farming Incentive application service and receive feedback.
  • Testing and trialling components of the scheme and launching in a controlled way to ensure farmers receive the support they need.
  • Piloting our schemes like SFI with farmers to learn from their experiences to improve before schemes go live.

As the ELM scheme offer expands, we will continue to shape our proposals with farmers and land managers – including those with specific requirements, such as tenants, commoners, and those with sites of Special Scientific Interest on their land.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when she will announce the results of the review of the Environmental Land Management Schemes; and what further measures will be included in that review to ensure sustainable food production.

Protecting our environment is at the heart of the Government's manifesto commitments and we will always back British farmers and our rural communities. We will be continuing to phase out area-based subsidies and roll out environmental land management schemes. We will publish more details shortly.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the policy paper entitled Storm overflows discharge reduction plan, published by his Department on 26 August 2022, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) accelerating the timescale targets and (b) bringing forward the date of the 2027 review.

HM Government is prioritising action to improve water quality, including action to address storm overflows. Water companies are investing £3.1 billion to improve storm overflows between 2020 and 2025, and we continue to work with them to accelerate progress wherever possible.

The targets in the storm overflows discharge reduction plan are ambitious, and time bound, allowing for the water industry to deliver traditional solutions and bring forward innovative nature-based solutions where appropriate. We want the best solutions with the most benefits to our environment, communities and climate to be taken forward, and these will require careful planning by the industry: HM Government must consider the capacity of the supply chains to deliver in line with our targets and timelines, and the disruption that constructing new infrastructure brings to society as well as our environmental ambitions.

HM Government is committing to review the targets in the plan in 2027. This will occur ahead of the 2029-2034 water company planning cycle (PR29) once new information, including from companies’ business plans, is available. This will allow us to establish if companies can go further and faster to achieve the storm overflow targets in this Plan without having a disproportionate impact on consumers bills. This will also feed into broader reporting mechanisms under the Environment Act 2021, such as through the Environmental Improvement Plan, to monitor and assess how this and other actions are contributing to the broader recovery of river and water habitats.

20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to reach a decision on the new timeline for the introduction of import labels for EU wine that was due to come into force on 1 October 2022.

I am pleased to say that a decision to extend the current easements for wine importer labelling has recently been made. The Food Information (Amendment of Transitional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2022, which will come into effect on 30 September 2022, will extend the current importer labelling arrangements for wine until 31 December 2023. This means that it will still be permissible for wine marketed in Great Britain to show an EU importer or bottler on a wine label, eliminating any financial re-labelling burden operators were previously facing. The introduction of these provisions has been warmly welcomed by the UK Wine trade.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of funding reductions to the Environment Agency over the last 10 years on the level of phosphates in Somerset.

The water environment faces multiple pressures, including from population growth and climate change. Improving our water environment will be challenging and requires a combined effort of government, industry, businesses and civil society. The Government and its agencies, including the Environment Agency, are taking action. We are committed to our goal of delivering clean and plentiful water, as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Defra and its agencies received a £1 billion increase in overall funding at the 2020 spending review so we can do more to tackle climate change and protect our environment for future generations. Discussions are underway about the allocation of funding through the upcoming spending review to support delivery of the government's environmental priorities.

In addition, from 2020 to 2025 water companies are investing £7.1 billion to protect and improve the water environment. This includes £600 million of additional funding for the environment enabled through the Government and regulators' Green Recovery scheme.

The Government is aware of the impact of phosphate and other pollutants on the degradation of waterbodies in Somerset and nationally. We are working closely with Natural England and the Environment Agency (EA) to provide the tools to address this problem. I have also been working with MHCLG on the nutrient pollution taskforce, which meets every four to six weeks, to ensure action is coordinated and joined up.

Regulations, including the Farming Rules for Water, are in place to protect the water environment from diffuse agricultural pollution.

We have increased agricultural inspections in Somerset and other affected areas to address phosphate pollution at source by recently allocating the EA an additional £1.2 million to significantly increase the number of inspectors visiting farmers. We have also escalated our efforts to help farmers take voluntary action beyond regulatory requirements to reduce water pollution by expanding the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme - jointly run by Natural England, EA and Defra - to operate across the whole of England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the health of England's rivers of reductions in funding allocated to the Environment Agency since 2010.

The water environment faces multiple pressures, including from population growth and climate change. Improving our water environment will be challenging and requires a combined effort of government, industry, businesses and civil society. The Government and its agencies, including the Environment Agency, are taking action. We are committed to our goal of delivering clean and plentiful water, as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Defra and its agencies received a £1 billion increase in overall funding at the 2020 spending review so we can do more to tackle climate change and protect our environment for future generations. Discussions are underway about the allocation of funding through the upcoming spending review to support delivery of the government's environmental priorities.

In addition, from 2020 to 2025 water companies are investing £7.1 billion to protect and improve the water environment. This includes £600 million of additional funding for the environment enabled through the Government and regulators' Green Recovery scheme.

The Government is aware of the impact of phosphate and other pollutants on the degradation of waterbodies in Somerset and nationally. We are working closely with Natural England and the Environment Agency (EA) to provide the tools to address this problem. I have also been working with MHCLG on the nutrient pollution taskforce, which meets every four to six weeks, to ensure action is coordinated and joined up.

Regulations, including the Farming Rules for Water, are in place to protect the water environment from diffuse agricultural pollution.

We have increased agricultural inspections in Somerset and other affected areas to address phosphate pollution at source by recently allocating the EA an additional £1.2 million to significantly increase the number of inspectors visiting farmers. We have also escalated our efforts to help farmers take voluntary action beyond regulatory requirements to reduce water pollution by expanding the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme - jointly run by Natural England, EA and Defra - to operate across the whole of England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that the Environment Agency has sufficient funding and resources to manage phosphate pollution in (a) Somerset and (b) England.

The water environment faces multiple pressures, including from population growth and climate change. Improving our water environment will be challenging and requires a combined effort of government, industry, businesses and civil society. The Government and its agencies, including the Environment Agency, are taking action. We are committed to our goal of delivering clean and plentiful water, as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Defra and its agencies received a £1 billion increase in overall funding at the 2020 spending review so we can do more to tackle climate change and protect our environment for future generations. Discussions are underway about the allocation of funding through the upcoming spending review to support delivery of the government's environmental priorities.

In addition, from 2020 to 2025 water companies are investing £7.1 billion to protect and improve the water environment. This includes £600 million of additional funding for the environment enabled through the Government and regulators' Green Recovery scheme.

The Government is aware of the impact of phosphate and other pollutants on the degradation of waterbodies in Somerset and nationally. We are working closely with Natural England and the Environment Agency (EA) to provide the tools to address this problem. I have also been working with MHCLG on the nutrient pollution taskforce, which meets every four to six weeks, to ensure action is coordinated and joined up.

Regulations, including the Farming Rules for Water, are in place to protect the water environment from diffuse agricultural pollution.

We have increased agricultural inspections in Somerset and other affected areas to address phosphate pollution at source by recently allocating the EA an additional £1.2 million to significantly increase the number of inspectors visiting farmers. We have also escalated our efforts to help farmers take voluntary action beyond regulatory requirements to reduce water pollution by expanding the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme - jointly run by Natural England, EA and Defra - to operate across the whole of England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the speed of investment in sewage water treatment by Wessex Water to reduce phosphorous discharge.

To address water company derived phosphates, the Environment Agency sets limits based on achieving statutory objectives. Improvements to treatment works or through changes to land use are planned on a 5 year cycle of asset improvements with the water companies. Wessex Water is expecting to invest up to £57m across Somerset to achieve phosphate removal targets by 2024.

In addition to regulatory requirements, the EA is working with Wessex Water to trial nature-based solutions such as wetlands and woodlands as part of the government's green recovery initiative. This involves rewarding landowners and farmers for land use changes that will significantly reduce phosphate releases.

There is more to be done to reduce phosphorous discharge from sewage water treatment. The Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat, which is currently out for consultation, outlines the government's ambition for Ofwat to drive water companies to be more ambitious in their environmental planning and delivery to contribute towards our environmental goals and enhance the quality of the water environment.

We have also introduced the requirement for at least one legally binding water target in the Environment Bill. This target will complement existing regulations and legislation, moving us closer to achieving our goal of clean and plentiful water set out in Defra's 25 Year Environment Plan.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress the Government's task force on nutrient pollution has made on tackling phosphate pollution, including that which prevents local authorities from granting planning permission.

The task force on nutrient pollution meets every 4 to 6 weeks and brings together Defra, Natural England, Environment Agency and MHCLG to develop strategic solutions to the phosphate and wider nutrient pollution issues. We want to enable much needed development whilst at the same time protecting and enhancing the environment.

Environment Agency and Natural England are working in partnership to understand the causes of pollution within areas, and ways of addressing them. They report back regularly to the task force on progress.

Natural England has already developed several tools which enable local authorities to understand possible mitigations that can be put in place. Natural England works closely with affected local authorities to support them to develop workable solutions.

Planning Advisory Service have also organised a number of virtual “lessons learnt” events on nutrient pollution during July for local authority planners. Natural England, the Environment Agency and Defra attended and shared good practice.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of doubling the annual grant-in-aid allocated to the Environment Agency for environment and business activities in the upcoming comprehensive spending review.

Discussions on the future funding of the Environment Agency will take place as part of the Spending Review process. We are in the middle of this process and cannot pre-empt the outcome.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent enforcement activity the Environment Agency has undertaken to help control the release of phosphates from the agricultural sector in the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar catchment area.

We are increasing agricultural inspections in Somerset and other affected areas, which will help address phosphate pollution at source, by recently allocating the Environment Agency (EA) an additional £1.2 million to significantly increase the number of inspectors visiting farmers. We have also escalated our efforts to help farmers take voluntary action beyond regulatory requirements to reduce water pollution by expanding the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme - jointly run by Natural England, EA and Defra - to operate across the whole of England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of potential measures to reduce phosphorous discharge into the surface water catchment area for the Somerset Levels and Moors Special Protection Area.

There are a range of potential measures that can be deployed to reduce phosphorous discharge in the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment. Natural England and the Environment Agency are working with all the relevant parties, including local planning authorities (LPAs) and Wessex Water as well as landowners and developers to evaluate and implement the various options.

To prevent additional phosphorous loading from new development, mitigation measures such as wetland and woodland creation will need to demonstrate that they will be effective in the long term. It is clear from other catchments facing nutrient loading that they have a key role to play in removing nutrients, enabling nutrient-neutral development. Several mitigation schemes for specific developments have been assessed and approved and the LPAs in Somerset are developing a strategy to support wider rollout of these mitigation schemes. There will be significant further investment of up to £57 million over the next three years by Wessex Water to reduce phosphorous discharge from water treatment works.

In the farming sector there are many joint projects underway and more is likely to be needed. The current approach is to encourage the uptake of voluntary measures to reduce the amount of phosphorous entering the system, including Catchment Sensitive Farming. These include a focus on river and habitat improvements, better farming infrastructure, and enforcement by the Environment Agency where necessary.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to include provisions in the proposed Environment Bill to tackle the use of netting on hedges, hedgerows and trees on development sites.

The Environment Bill measures are currently being finalised and will be published in due course.

On netting specifically, while it is not an offence to use netting to exclude birds from potential nesting sites, such action should only be used to help protect birds during development. It is for those who take exclusion measures to ensure the mesh size of netting is suitable for the species involved and is properly maintained so they don’t harm wild birds. We expect local planning authorities to look at these practices closely and take appropriate action where necessary.

13th May 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Rural Payments Agency will deliver outstanding countryside stewardship payments in full.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) took on responsibility for Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship in October 2018, and is simplifying the administration of the schemes as far as possible under the current EU system by streamlining processes, making changes to IT systems and boosting the workforce to speed up processing.

All eligible Countryside Stewardship 2016 and 2017 claims have received a payment apart from exceptional cases, for example, those that cannot be paid for legal reasons such as probate. Any claim that was not paid a 2018 advance payment by the end of March was issued a bridging payment in early April.

The RPA is on track to meet its commitment to complete 95% of 2018 final payments on claims by the end of July.

13th May 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to provide support for on-going training for young farmers who have entered the farming industry, to help ensure the sustainability of that workforce.

It is a key priority of this Government to enable an innovative, productive and competitive agricultural sector, which invests in its people and skills.

The Government is working with industry bodies to improve access to the skills and training required within the industry. The Food and Drink Sector Council identified skills as one of its first priorities. The Council has established a Workforce and Skills Group to develop a long-term action plan for a world-class workforce for all sectors of the food chain, including agriculture.

20th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect fly-grazed horses; and what support his Department provides to local authorities to help them enforce the Control of Horses Act 2015.

Defra is keen to ensure that we uphold our high standards of welfare including in relation to fly-grazed horses.

The Control of Horses Act 2015 introduced more flexible options for the management of fly-grazing and other abandoned horses and has been welcomed by landowners, local authorities, countryside bodies and animal welfare charities. The 2015 Act allows landowners, occupiers and local authorities to secure and if necessary remove horses unlawfully left on their land and take them immediately to a place of safety. The person detaining the horse must notify the local police within 24 hours of doing so, and if the horse’s owner can be identified, they must also be notified.

The 2015 Act provides flexibility, meaning that local authorities can use it in a way that meets their specific needs. We encourage all interested parties to work together at local level to use the available powers to address the challenge of abandoned horses.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the benefits of using a risk-based approach to the control of bovine tuberculosis after the UK leaves the EU.

The Government’s strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England is based on a risk-based approach. We remain committed to rigorous implementation of the Strategy, while continually assessing the extent to which leaving the EU may provide additional opportunities.

27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that changes to the registered details of vehicles are processed swiftly.

The quickest and easiest way to notify changes to vehicle registration details is by using the DVLA’s online service. However, all DVLA vehicle services are operating within normal turnaround times and without delay.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support his Department is providing to Local Authorities to help them achieve their public transport objectives for bus services.

The Government is providing over £1billion to 34 local transport authorities (LTAs), including combined authorities, to support the delivery of their Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs). Additionally, over £780m has been allocated through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) that will directly fund bus infrastructure.

In addition, £23m bus capacity funding was allocated to all LTAs in 2021/22 to support the development and delivery of their BSIPs and Enhanced Partnerships. A further £11m has been provided in 2022/23 for those LTAs that did not receive BSIP funding.

Since 1 January, the majority of single bus journeys in England outside London have been capped at £2 thanks to Government support via the Bus Fare Cap Grant. The initial phase of the scheme, through to 31 March, is backed by up to £60 million. On 17 February, we announced that we will provide up to £75 million to extend the £2 bus fare cap until 30 June 2023.

We also announced a further, three-month extension to the Bus Recovery Grant (BRG) to continue protecting vital bus services until 30 June 2023. This takes total Government funding that has been provided to over £2bn in emergency and recovery funding to the sector since March 2020 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

The Government pays over £200 million directly to bus operators every year through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to help keep fares down and maintain a larger network than would otherwise be possible. The Government also provides £42 million annually in BSOG funding to Local Transport Authorities.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what public funding is available in Somerset to support the expansion of the electric vehicle charging network.

The Government is accelerating the rollout of public EV charging infrastructure across the country by providing funding through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund and the Rapid Charging Fund (RCF).

Two local authorities in Somerset have already received funding from the ORCS scheme:

  • West Somerset and Taunton Council have received £136,000.
  • Mendip District Council have received £322,500.

Other local authorities in this region are still able to apply to this fund.

The LEVI fund will support local authorities to work with industry and transform the availability of charging infrastructure for drivers without off-street parking. The RCF will future-proof the electrical capacity at strategic locations to support ultra-rapid charging on route.

OZEV also offers a range of grants to support home, workplace and destination charging. This includes the EV Chargepoint Grant for owner occupiers of flats, renters and landlords, as well as for businesses through the Workplace Charging Scheme.

28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has had recent discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of additional support for the Active Travel fund.

The Department’s ministers and officials have regular discussions with their counterparts in His Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) on active travel funding and other matters.

1st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made about the adequacy of (a) wages and (b) facilities including (i) overnight parking, (ii) truck stops and (iii) service station amenities for HGV drivers in transit.

The Government is aware that levels of HGV driver pay are rising and some operators are offering more options for flexible working and varied working patterns. It is estimated that gross weekly median wages for HGV drivers have increased by 8% between 2019 and 2021, more than thegross weekly median wages for all UK employees.

We’re committed to improving facilities for HGV drivers – with plans for investment in improving roadside facilities in England. Details will be published in the coming months.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals on enforcing the use of authorised commercial satellite navigation systems in heavy goods vehicles.

The Government currently has no plans to mandate the use of satellite navigation equipment.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of trends in the number of specialist event haulage vehicles, as defined in his Department's recent consultation on Support for specialist event hauliers working on cross border tours, in the UK since January 2019.

The Department for Transport does not collect data on the different sub-sectors of haulage operators through the vehicle operator licence system, so no assessment of trends in the number of specialist event haulage vehicles is available. The Department is carefully considering responses to its recent consultation on support for specialist hauliers working on cross border tours and will set out proposed next steps in the coming weeks.

21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of specialist event haulage vehicles, as defined in his Department's recent consultation on Support for specialist event hauliers working on cross border tours, in the UK in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The Department for Transport does not generate annual estimates of the number of specialist haulage vehicles under the draft definition in its recent consultation on support for specialist hauliers working on cross border tours.

20th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary for transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on growth in the South West of upgrading the A303/A30/A358 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential economic benefits to the South West of the proposed improvements to the A303-A358-A30 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department used the re-balancing toolkit to assess the regional and local economic benefits of improving the whole A303/A358/A30 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department used the Economic impact study produced by local authority partners in January 2019 in making an assessment of the potential merits of improving the A303/A358/A30 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with the (a) Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, (b) the Treasury and (c) Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the wider economic benefits to the South West of the his Department’s proposed improvements to the A303/A358/A30 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements to the A303/A358/A30 corridor.

The first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), published in December 2014, recognised the importance of the A303/A358/A30 corridor and announced the Government’s intention to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and the A358 to dual carriageway standard, together with creating a dual carriageway link from the M5 at Taunton to the A303, as part of a long-term commitment to creating a new high quality dual carriageway road to the South West.

Work on this long-term commitment is already underway, with Highways England in the process of developing three major improvements during RIS1: the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge Tunnel), A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, and A358 Taunton to Southfields dualling.

The Government intends that subsequent Road Investment Strategies will fund the remaining improvements. The Department is using the evidence it has gathered through three years of research and public engagement to determine an affordable and deliverable investment plan for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) that will be published in late 2019. Many proposals have been received for enhancement schemes to be included in RIS2 – competition for the available funding is therefore very strong.

The research phase has involved engagement with other Government departments such as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department. We are taking the findings of the local authority partners’ Economic impact study into account in the decision-making and the Government’s objectives for RIS2 include spreading economic growth across the country.

Each individual scheme to improve the A303/A358/A30 corridor is being considered on its own merits, including an assessment of wider economic impacts where appropriate. Although the importance of the corridor for economic growth in the South West is already understood and being acted upon, no recent estimate has been made by the Department of the potential effect on economic growth in the South West of the planned improvements.

7th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the draft Drone Bill on model flying.

The Government recognises the long-standing safety culture adopted by model flying associations. We are working with the Civil Aviation Authority and model aircraft flying associations to explore ways in which we can reduce any unnecessary impacts of drone regulations on their activities.

We will be taking this approach to the draft Drone Bill, too. The draft Drone Bill will be accompanied by a public consultation which will cover the impact of the proposed Bill on all affected groups, including model aircraft flyers. The feedback from this consultation will be used to refine the Drone Bill before its introduction.

23rd Mar 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether plans to dual the A303 and upgrade the A358 will change in response to the recommendations in the recently published National Audit Office report, Progress with the Road Investment Strategy.

There are no plans to make changes to the dualling of the A303 and upgrade the A358 in response to recommendations made by NAO report.

This Government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future, underlined by our record £15 billion funding for major road schemes to cut congestion, improve journey times and boost economic growth. As the National Audit Office acknowledged there has been a significant improvement in the efficient management of the strategic road network.

23rd Nov 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will assess the potential merits of introducing licensing regulations for drivers of large tractors and farming machinery on public highways similar to those governing HGV drivers.

Agricultural vehicles tend to travel much lower mileages on the public road and operate at significantly lower speeds than HGVs. The Government does not consider that it would be proportionate to the risk posed by these vehicles at current weight limits to impose on them the same licensing requirements as for HGVs.‎

25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on raising the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance ahead of the benefits uplift in April 2023.

The Carer’s Allowance earnings limit is regularly reviewed and increased when it is warranted and affordable. It will increase to £139 a week net earnings from April 2023.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make it his policy to maintain the pensions triple lock.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is currently conducting his statutory annual review of State Pension and benefit rates. We cannot pre-empt the outcome of that review, which will be announced shortly. ​

Laura Trott
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
13th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she plans to take to grant Trusted Agent Status to Local Authority Welfare Officers in order to help them to assist universal credit claimants.

The pilot during which we will move legacy claimants without a change in circumstance to Universal Credit will start in Harrogate, where we will initially test an approach that is based on using existing relationships that DWP or partners have with claimants. Through these relationships we will establish whether someone is ready to move and how to prepare them. As we become confident that this approach works, we will consider how we can expand this ‘who knows me’ approach through trusted stakeholders, who may include Local Authority Welfare Officers. This approach differs from the ‘Trusted Partner’ status that some Landlords hold to support Universal Credit claimants with their rent verification.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
14th Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his Department's timetable is for publishing and implementing the secondary legislation required to implement the increase in the Pension Protection Fund compensation cap provided for under the Pensions Act 2014.

On 15 September I tabled a written statement saying that I had begun the consultation on this secondary legislation with the intention that the increase in the compensation cap will be implemented from April 2017.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when hybrid closed loop systems to treat children with Type 1 diabetes will be available on NHS prescription in Somerset.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently developing technology appraisal guidance on hybrid closed loop systems for managing blood glucose levels in type one diabetes, which considers their clinical and cost effectiveness.

Should NICE recommend Hybrid Closed Loop and issue eligibility criteria, NHS England will then work with integrated care boards to support meeting their commitments. Guidance indicates that the National Health Service must make sure it is available within the stated period, usually three months.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support mental health services for children and young people living in rural areas.

It is the responsibility of integrated care boards (ICBs) to make available appropriate provision to meet the health and care needs of their local populations. There are a range of adjustments made in the core ICB allocations formula to account for the fact that the costs of providing health care may vary between rural and urban areas.

We are supporting ICBs to expand mental health services through the NHS Long Term Plan, which commits to investing an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by March 2024. This increased investment will improve access to mental health services, including for people in rural areas. Through the Long Term Plan, by March 2024, 345,000 more children and young people will be able to access National Health Service funded mental health support.

We are continuing to roll out Mental Health Support Teams to schools and colleges in England.  There are 3.4 million pupils/learners who were covered by a Mental Health Support Team in 2022/23, which equates to 35% coverage of pupils in schools and learners in further education in England. We expect there to be approximately 500 Mental Health Support Teams up and running by 2024, covering around 44% of pupils.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to local NHS dental services for children in (a) England and (b) Somerton and Frome constituency.

From 1 April 2023 responsibility for commissioning primary care dentistry to meet the needs of the local population, including for children, has been delegated to integrated care boards (ICBs) across England. NHS England has published an accompanying Assurance Framework which sets out its approach to providing assurance that commissioning functions are carried out safely and effectively by ICBs.

In September 2022, we announced ‘Our plan for patients’ which sets out how we will meet oral health needs and increase access to NHS dental for patients of all ages, whilst making the National Health Service dental contract more attractive to dental practices. These changes have been implemented, including through regulations that came into effect on 25 November 2022. NHS England is holding further discussions with the British Dental Association and other stakeholders for plans for additional reforms of the NHS Dental System coming shortly.

In circumstances where a guardian or parents are unable to access an urgent dental appointment for their child directly through a NHS dental practice, they are advised to contact NHS 111 for assistance.

10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department holds on the number of dental practices that offered NHS dental services in (a) Somerton and Frome constituency and (b) Somerset in (i) 2019 and (ii) 2022.

The information is not held centrally.

27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to increase the number of people studying nursing in higher education.

The National Health Service has launched its fifth consecutive national recruitment campaign ‘We are the NHS’ to inspire people to consider a career in healthcare and increase applications for healthcare courses, including nursing.

The Student Loans Company provides the primary funding support package for students in further education. Student loans are subsidised by the taxpayer, this is a conscious investment in the skills and people of this country. Eligible nursing students also have access to a non-repayable grant of £5,000 per academic year plus additional grants and supports depending on their circumstances.

The Government continues to widen access to nursing careers through blended learning and apprenticeship routes. We now have a complete apprentice pathway for nursing, from entry level to postgraduate advanced clinical practice.

27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help support parents of children with severe mental health conditions.

We would expect that children and young people’s mental health services would routinely involve parents, carers and families in the care of children and young people with severe mental health conditions as appropriate. The Mental Health Act code of practice states that mental health providers should make efforts to support parents of children who are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Our planned reforms to the Mental Health Act will help better ensure that parents are more closely involved in care planning and treatment decisions if their child is detained under the Mental Health Act, with the aim that this facilitates more trusting relationships with the clinical teams and better outcomes for the child.

Additionally, NHS England provides a MindEd portal which has specific content directed at parents, which is available at the following link:

https://www.mindedforfamilies.org.uk/

NHS England has published information for parents and carers of children in contact with children and young people’s mental health services, available at the following link:

www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-for-young-people/children-young-people-mental-health-services-cypmhs-parents-carers-information

The webpage contains information about where to seek advice and support for coping with anything affecting the child’s mental health or wellbeing. It also includes a link to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ (RCPsych) advice leaflets for parents and carers about a wide range of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. RCPsych’s advice can be found at the following link:

www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/parents-and-young-people.

YoungMinds and other mental health charities have produced extensive resources and support for parents.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how the Major Conditions Strategy will help tackle waiting times for mental health (a) counselling and (b) therapy.

The Major Conditions Strategy will set out a strong and coherent policy agenda that sets out a shift to integrated, whole-person care. Interventions set out in the Strategy will aim to alleviate pressure on the health system. An interim report will be published in the summer.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how the Major Conditions Strategy will tackle waiting times for the (a) diagnosis and (b) treatment of diabetes.

The Major Conditions Strategy will cover treatment and prevention for diabetes and we will continue to work closely with stakeholders, citizens and the National Health Service in coming weeks to identify actions that will have the most impact.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how the Major Conditions Strategy will tackle waiting times for the (a) diagnosis and (b) treatment of arthritis.

The Major Conditions Strategy will cover treatment and prevention for musculoskeletal conditions. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders, citizens and the National Health Service in the coming weeks to identify actions that will have the most impact.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for women in Somerset who have been referred for a gynaecology appointment.

As of November 2022, the average waiting time for gynaecology treatment across England was 15.4 weeks, a decrease of nearly 14% from the peak average waiting time in July 2020. Per working day activity levels for gynaecology treatment continue to recover and as of November 2022 were 108% of pre-covid levels. While we do not have specific data for Somerset, a huge amount of work is underway nationally to tackle gynaecology wait lists.

The National Health Service has published the ‘Delivery Plan for Tackling the COVID-19 Backlog of Elective Care’ which outlines how the NHS will bring down waiting times across all elective services including gynaecology and menstrual health. The plan commits to investing in the physical separation of routine care to protect planned services from emergency care pressures where possible. We are increasing capacity for gynaecological surgery to tackle waiting lists through our surgical hub and High Volume Low Complexity programme.

Some gynaecological services, such as menstrual health services, are predominantly provided by general practitioners (GPs) which remained open throughout the pandemic. The Government invested £520 million to improve access and expand GP capacity during the pandemic. This is on top of the £1.5 billion already announced in 2020 to create an additional 50 million GP appointments by 2024 by growing and diversifying the workforce which will help tackle the backlog for gynaecological services.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) recruit and retain more permanent staff in the NHS and (b) reduce NHS reliance on agency staff.

This Government is committed to growing the National Health Service workforce. We have record numbers of staff working in the NHS, including almost 4,700 more doctors and over 10,500 more nurses since last year. We are on track to meet the 50,000 nurses manifesto commitment and we have also funded 1,500 more medical school places each year to strengthen our workforce.

We also recognise the importance of retaining our experienced workforce. The NHS Retention Programme is helping to retain our experienced workforce through targeted interventions to support staff to stay, whilst keeping them well. The long term workforce plan currently being developed by NHS England will help ensure we have the right staff numbers with the right skills to deliver high quality services in the future.

A flexible workforce is important for running the NHS, to meet short term demand increases. This is done through staff banks and external agencies. Our policy is to reduce the use of agency spend and prioritise staff banks. Since 2015, we have controlled agency spend through price caps and procurement frameworks and have reduced agency spend by a third from £3.6 billion in 2015/16 to £2.4 billion in 2020/21

Alongside agency specific measures, the Government has worked with NHS trusts to develop their staff banks, including collaborative banks, which create a larger pool of flexible staff.

19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will increase funding for (a) the treatment of and (b) research into myalgic encephalomyelitis.

It is the responsibility of integrated care boards to make available appropriate provision to meet the health and care needs of the local population, including people with ME/CFS. The Department is developing a cross-Government Delivery Plan on ME/CFS. As part of the plan, we are working with other Government departments and stakeholders to determine ways to improve experiences and outcomes for all people who have ME/CFS.

The Government invests in health research through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), through UK Research and Innovation. The NIHR and MRC both welcome high-quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS, including biomedical research. It is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on targeted energy support for families running lifesaving medical equipment.

There have been no specific discussions. However, the Government’s cost of living support package currently delivers £15 billion worth of support measures to assist the most vulnerable with rising energy bills, including users of home medical equipment. In addition, certain specialised National Health Services, such as home Haemodialysis, do include the provision of financial support to offset energy costs sustained from running medical equipment at home. Home Oxygen Suppliers also reimburse cost of electricity required to run oxygen concentrator devices in homes, and this cost is passed onto integrated care boards as part of contractual arrangements.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the level of support provided by his Department to women with endometriosis.

No specific assessment has been made. However, NHS England is reviewing the service specification for severe endometriosis and will report in 2023. This will ensure that specialist endometriosis services have access to current evidence and advice to improve standards of care.

On 3 November 2022, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) confirmed it will update its guidelines on diagnosing endometriosis and surgical management if fertility is a priority. NICE will also explore mental wellbeing and support for people with suspected or confirmed endometriosis during the scoping of the update. The publication date of the updated guideline will be available in due course.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has taken recent steps to help ensure that research into the use of cannabis-based products for the treatment of children with epilepsy is adequately funded.

The Department, via the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is developing two randomised controlled trials into epilepsy in adults and children. The trials will start in due course and results will be published once completed and peer reviewed. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including cannabis-based products for the treatment of children with epilepsy.

25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has taken recent steps to establish clinical trials to test the (a) safety and (b) efficacy of unlicensed cannabis-based products for the treatment of children with epilepsy.

The Department, via the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is developing two randomised controlled trials into epilepsy in adults and children. The trials will start in due course and results will be published once completed and peer reviewed. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including cannabis-based products for the treatment of children with epilepsy.

25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make a comparative assessment of the average time taken to diagnose Parkinson’s disease (a) in Somerset and (b) nationally in the latest period for which data is available.

There are no plans to make a specific assessment, as data on the average time taken to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease is not held centrally.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps his Department has taken to help tackle regional disparities in (a) access to and (b) experiences of care for people living with diabetes.

In 2022/23, £36 million has been allocated to integrated care systems, weighted by local levels of deprivation, to support the restoration of routine diabetes care. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme monitors delivery and provides support to systems.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the waiting times for cancer patients between urgent GP referral and treatment.

The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ sets out how the National Health Service will recover and expand elective services over the next three years, including cancer services. We have allocated more than £8 billion from 2022/23 to 2024/25, in addition to the £2 billion Elective Recovery Fund and £700 million Targeted Investment Fund already made available in 2021/2022 to increase elective activity.

The plan also sets out how NHS England will return the number of people waiting more than 62 days to start treatment following an urgent referral due to suspected cancer to pre-pandemic levels by March 2023. We have established 91 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) to ensure patients receive earlier diagnostic tests closer to home, including for cancer. We will deliver up to 160 CDCs to support the NHS to undertake up to 17 million tests by March 2025, with capacity for a further nine million per year once fully operational.

11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made a comparative assessment of regional differences in accessing dementia care.

No formal assessment has been made. The Care Act 2014 requires local authorities to deliver a wide range of sustainable high-quality care and support services which meet the needs of the local population, including those living with dementia.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department will take to support NHS GP surgeries with the extra workload associated with the forthcoming rollout of expanded patient access to medical records.

Since 2019, it has been a contractual requirement for general practitioner (GP) practices to offer all patients access to their record. Following recommendations published by the Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS England provided GP practices with a four-month notice period prior to the planned deployment of automatic online access to prospective records for patients registered with practices using TPP and EMIS information technology systems.

NHS England has hosted webinars for practice staff to prepare for this change, published guidance and a checklist detailing policies and processes which require updating.

26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the NHS dentistry provision in Somerton and Frome constituency.

No specific assessment has been made. However, NHS England asked dental practices to return to full delivery of contracted activity from July 2022 including in Somerton and Frome constituency. In September, we announced ‘Our plan for patients’, which outlines how we will meet National Health Service (NHS) dental needs and increase access to dental services, including in Somerton and Frome constituency.

The plan includes improvements to ensure dentists are renumerated fairly for more complex work, allowing greater flexibility to reallocate resources and to utilise dentists with greater capacity to deliver National Health Service treatment, whilst enabling full use of the dental team. The plan also includes streamlining processes for overseas dentists and holding the local NHS to account for dentistry provision. In addition, Health Education England is also reforming dental education to improve the recruitment and retention of dental professionals.

26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the (a) recruitment, (b) training and (c) retention of NHS dentists in Somerset.

The Government continues to monitor the number of dental school places in England to ensure that the NHS has the necessary dental workforce to meet future demand.

The Department worked with NHSE and negotiated with the BDA on a package of improvements to the NHS dental systems which was announced on 19 July 2022. These improvements, which are supported by the sector will mean dentists are more fairly rewarded for the NHS care that they deliver, making NHS dentistry a more attractive place for dentists and their teams to work. The Department is now working with NHS England and the sector on longer-term improvements to NHS dentistry.

Health Education England (HEE) have undertaken a three-year Advancing Dental Care Review of education and training which they are now implementing through their Dental Education Reform Programme to improve recruitment and retention including in Somerset constituency.

26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to increase funding for motor neurone disease research and treatment.

The Government is strongly committed to supporting research into dementia and neurodegeneration, including motor neurone disease (MND).

In November 2021, the government committed to invest at least £50 million in MND research over the next five years and this commitment was reaffirmed in September of this year.

As part of this investment, the government has collaborated with charity funders to deliver a new £4.25 million partnership, bringing together the MND research community to boost research and speed up the delivery of new treatments. The Department of Health and Social Care funded National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) welcomes research applications from MND researchers and has recently signalled that MND research is a priority area by launching a Highlight Notice on MND, which invites ambitious MND research proposals.

24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to help improve access for young people to mental health services in Somerton and Frome constituency.

In September we announced ‘Our plan for patients’, which outlines how we will increase access to National Health Service mental health services, including in Somerton and Frome. Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 to expand NHS mental health for adults, children and young people in England, including in Somerton and Frome.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to improve access to NHS dentistry in (a) Somerton and Frome constituency and (b) Somerset.

In September, we announced ‘Our plan for patients’, which outlines how we will meet oral health needs and increase access to dental care, including in Somerton and Frome and in Somerset.

The plan includes improvements to ensure dentists are renumerated fairly for more complex work, allowing greater flexibility to reallocate resources and to utilise dentists with greater capacity to deliver National Health Service treatment, whilst enabling full use of the dental team. The plan also includes streamlining processes for overseas dentists and holding the local NHS to account for dentistry provision. In addition, Health Education England is also reforming dental education to improve the recruitment and retention of dental professionals.

10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that NHS England patients who have previously lived in and received covid-19 vaccinations in the devolved nations can use the National Booking Service for booster vaccinations.

Data sharing agreements between England and devolved administrations allow COVID-19 vaccination records to be transferred and updated when required and subject to an individual’s consent. Once an vaccination record for patients within NHS England is updated to reflect COVID-19 vaccinations in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, individuals can use the National Booking Service or 119 to arrange further doses in England. This is subject to the individual's eligibility for an additional dose or doses.

A service is available for individuals to correct their COVID-19 vaccination record where they have received COVID 19 vaccination outside of England and where data has not been transferred.

27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of surgical hubs in aiding the recovery of elective services following the covid-19 outbreak.

NHS England is currently assessing the impact of surgical hubs, including with evidence published in the Getting it Right First Time guidance on elective hubs in April 2022.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for NHS ambulances in the South West.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) have introduced measures to ensure that ambulance crews can respond to incoming calls. This includes a remote clinical triage team, the direct referral of patients to same day emergency care departments and the placement of Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers to improve the flow of patients and reduce handover delays. SWASFT is also undertaking recruitment activity to ensure sufficient resources are available to meet demand.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made to establish clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of unlicensed cannabis-based products for the medical treatment of children with epilepsy.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is developing a programme for two randomised controlled trials into epilepsy in adults and children. The trials will commence as soon as possible and the results will be published once the trials have completed and the findings have been peer reviewed. The NIHR encourages high quality proposals for research in this area as a priority and supports researchers to develop applications.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to NHS dentistry services in the South West.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with Health Education England and Bristol and Peninsula Dental schools through the South West Dental Reform programme to address the challenges facing National Health Service dentistry in the region. An additional £50 million was provided for NHS dentistry for the final quarter of 2021/22 to provide urgent care for patients. Of this, £4,726,000 was made available to the South West region. From July 2022, NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked all practices to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, including in the South West region, to improve access.

The Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with stakeholders, including the British Dental Association, on improvements to the NHS dental system and negotiations are currently underway on initial measures. This aims to improve access to NHS dentistry nationally, including in the South West.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) reduce joint replacement waiting times within the NHS for people with arthritis and (b) improve support for people with arthritis who are waiting for joint replacement surgery.

We are prioritising joint replacement surgery through the High Volume Low Complexity programme, which focuses on improving clinical pathways and quality of care. The programme adopts best clinical and operational practice and aims to establish fast-track surgical hubs for high volume elective procedures such as hip and knee joint replacements, reducing waiting times in the process. Additional capacity for surgery is also being made available through a £1.5 billion investment in elective services, such as new surgical hubs and increased bed capacity, including for joint replacement surgery.

The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’, aims to simplify National Health Service pathways for patients and their carers. The pathway improvement programme will focus the most common types of care, including musculoskeletal (MSK) services. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently working with Versus Arthritis on the development of new MSK pathways and of the MSK strategy. This pain management, personalised care and supporting patients waiting and preparing for surgery. Through collaboration with the British Orthopaedic Association, the British Society for Rheumatology, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance and Versus Arthritis, NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed self-management resources for patients.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to face-to-face GP appointments in the South West.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance states that general practitioner practices must provide face to face appointments, alongside remote consultations. Patients’ input into consultation type should be sought and practices should respect preferences for face-to-face care, unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary. In May 2022, in the South West National Health Service region 64% of appointments, excluding COVID-19 vaccinations, were conducted face-to-face, compared to 59% in May 2021.

We have made £520 million available to improve access and expand general practice capacity during the pandemic. This is in addition to at least £1.5 billion announced in 2020 to create an additional 50 million general practice appointments by 2024 by increasing and diversifying the workforce.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department has on the number of people waiting to access NHS Dental Services in (a) Somerton and Frome, (b) Somerset, (c) the South West and (d) the UK.

The information requested is not held centrally. Appointments for National Health Service treatment are managed directly by dental practices.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to attract high quality dental professionals into NHS dentistry across the (a) South West and (b) UK.

In the South West, NHS England are working with Bristol and Peninsula Dental schools as part of the South West Dental Reform programme to address the challenges facing National Health Service dentistry in the region. The programme is looking at innovative ways to attract dental staff.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are leading on reforms to the current dental contract and wider dental system to make the NHS dental offer more attractive for dentists and their teams. Health Education England has made recommendations in their September 2021 Advancing Dental Care Review to tackle recruitment, retention and attracting dentists into the NHS. These recommendations are being implemented through their Dental Education Reform Programme.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that access to NHS dental care is easily accessible across Somerton and Frome.

National Health Service dental practices, including those in Somerton and Frome, have been asked to meet as many prioritised needs as possible, focusing on urgent care and care for vulnerable groups, including children, followed by overdue appointments. We have made an additional £50 million available for the remainder of the 2021/22 financial year to allow more patients to obtain access to NHS dental care. Patients in Somerton and Frome can contact the Somerset Dental Helpline for access to urgent dental care appointments.

The Department and NHS England are developing proposals for dental system reform, working stakeholders such as the British Dental Association. The reforms include proposals to improve patient access, reduce health inequalities and make the NHS a more attractive place to work for dentists.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in the context of NHS commissioning services from Virgin Care, what assessment he has made of the potential reduction in services provided by Virgin Care across Somerset following its purchase by Twenty20 Healthcare; and if he will make a statement.

No specific assessment has been made. However, NHS England and the local clinical commissioning group are ensuring that safe, high quality services are commissioned to meet the needs of their residents.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to protect clinically extremely vulnerable children in mainstream education from covid-19, including children under the age of 12, following the easing of restrictions in schools.

Following the results of recent clinical studies which showed that children and young people face a very low risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19, the United Kingdom Clinical Review Panel recommended that all children and young people should be removed from the Shielded Patient List. As a result, there are no longer any children or young people under the age of 18 who are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support children with intractable epilepsy until medical cannabis becomes readily available on NHS prescription.

Since January 2020, the Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service has been in place to provide advice and support for doctors in tertiary neuroscience centres, including specialised paediatric neuroscience centres, to optimise the treatment of refractory epilepsy. In September 2019, the cannabis-based medicine Epidyolex was granted a marketing authorisation or licence by the European Medicines Agency, following an assessment of its quality, safety and efficacy. Epidyolex is available on the National Health Service for the treatment of two rare forms of refractory epilepsies in children and adults.

However, guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence demonstrate a clear need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions for unlicensed cannabis-based products for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and other conditions. To help improve the evidence base, the National Institute for Health Research is working with NHS England and clinicians to develop a programme of two clinical trials into refractory epilepsy.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to hold discussions with relevant stakeholders on the development of a World Health Organisation pandemic treaty.

The UK supports a new legally-binding instrument as part of a cooperative and comprehensive approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Non-state actors are an important part of the solution to strengthening the global health architecture and protecting countries from health threats. The UK continues to engage with a broad range of stakeholders on the instrument and its negotiation process, including academics, civil society, trade associations and other non-state actors.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support the education of Afghan women and girls.

The Government has repeatedly condemned the Taliban's decisions to restrict women and girls' access to education, including through UN Security Council and Human Rights Council resolutions and public statements, most recently on 13 January 2023. The Government continues to support the delivery of education, including through bilateral and multilateral contributions to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN partners, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Education Cannot Wait, and the Global Partnership for Education.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with the Government of Indian on the reinstatement of E Visa applications for British citizens wishing to visit India.

We regularly raise our concerns regarding our exclusion from the list of countries eligible for e-visas with the Government of India (GoI). The Prime Minister, whilst Foreign Secretary, raised this matter with the Indian External Affairs Minister during her visit to India in March. We continue to work closely with the GoI on this issue, while respecting it is for them to determine the types and validity of the visas it offers. British nationals can continue to use the GoI's regular/paper visa application services for all visa categories. We will update India Travel Advice with the latest information if there are any changes in India's visa rules.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
27th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what progress the Government has made on putting in place a blue belt to protect marine habitats and species in the UK's Overseas Territories.

The UK Government has announced plans to designate a no-take Marine Protected Area throughout Pitcairn waters, and with the Ascension Island Government has agreed to close 50% of their waters from fishing activities whilst establishing a well-managed fishery in the remaining offshore waters. Work is also underway to identify any gaps in marine conservation across the remaining OTs, which will assist Territories in delivering additional marine protection through a range of marine management tools, where necessary. We will work closely with the Environment Audit Committee in this regard.

27th Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will include additional support for (a) pubs, (b) social clubs, (c) breweries and (d) cider producers in the Spring Budget.

The Government is unable to speculate on the content of the Spring Budget, which takes place on 15 March.

As announced on 19 December, any changes to alcohol duty announced at Spring Budget 2023 will not take effect until 1 August 2023. This is to align with the date historic reforms for the alcohol duty system come in and amounts to an effective six month extension to the current duty freeze.

The alcohol duty reforms will include a new Draught Relief which will cut the level of duty on draught products sold in the on trade (i.e., pubs, social clubs), and a new Small Producer Relief will for the first time give craft cidermakers reduced rates as they grow their business. This will replace the existing Small Brewers Relief scheme, which has been reformed to remove cliff-edges and give craft brewers relief on their lower ABV beers too.  The final design of the reforms will be published at Spring Budget.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
27th Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will include additional support to the road haulage industry for fuel costs in the Spring Budget.

At Spring Statement 2022, in response to high fuel prices, the Government introduced a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre.

This represents a tax cut worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23, benefiting anyone who consumes fuel across the UK – including the road haulage sector. Compared to uprating fuel duty in 2022-23, cutting fuel duty to this level saves the average UK haulier over £1,500, based on average fuel consumption.

All taxes remain under review and the Chancellor will confirm policy in the Budget in the Spring, as was the case in previous years.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
27th Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take to support public sector leisure and sports centres with energy costs in the Spring Budget.

Through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the Government provided an unprecedented package of support for non-domestic users, including public sector leisure and sports centres, this winter.

Wholesale gas prices have reduced significantly since the current scheme was announced and have returned to level before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The new Energy Bills Discount Scheme will provide all eligible non-domestic energy users across the UK with a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024, following the end of the current Energy Bill Relief Scheme. Eligible public sector leisure and sports centres will therefore continue to receive energy bill support from April 2023.

The new scheme will help those locked into contracts signed before recent substantial falls in the wholesale price manage their costs and provide others with reassurance against the risk of prices rising again. The scheme will provide non-domestic users with long term certainty and reflects how the scale of the challenge has changed since September last year.

The majority of income available to Local Authorities in England through council tax, retained business rates and grant funding can be used flexibly across service areas, including support for leisure services. The 2023-24 Local Government Finance Settlement confirmed that councils in England will have access to almost £60 billion in the next financial year to deliver vital services, an average funding increase for councils of 9.4% compared to 2022-23.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
22nd Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the Financial Services and Markets Bill on (a) the quality of services provided by banks to parish and town councils and to local charities and (b) the ability of parish and town councils and local charities to change their bank signatories.

There are no specific provisions related to the provision of banking services to local councils and charities in the Financial Services and Markets Bill.

Nevertheless, the Treasury recognises the challenges some charities and community organisations have been facing accessing and managing banking services. That’s why the previous Economic Secretary hosted a roundtable event last year, bringing together lenders and representatives from bodies representing these organisations to discuss this important issue. Lenders heard firsthand the problems many charities and community groups have experienced, and also used this opportunity to set out the products they offer, and the diverse range of factors charities and community groups need to consider in relation to banking requirements.

Banking and finance industry group UK Finance is now working with banks and sector representatives to identify any changes banks can make to simplify processes like changing signatories on accounts, and to produce guidance aimed at helping charities and community groups access and understand banking


Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to provide further support towards energy costs for the public leisure sector in addition to the Energy Bill Discount Scheme.

The new Energy Bills Discount Scheme will provide all eligible businesses and other non-domestic energy users across the UK, including the public leisure sector, with a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024, following the end of the current Energy Bill Relief Scheme. It will also provide businesses in sectors with particularly high levels of both energy use and trade intensity with a higher level of support.

Through the current Energy Bills Relief Scheme, the Government provided an unprecedented package of support for non-domestic users through this winter. The Government has been clear that such levels of support, unprecedented in its nature and huge scale, were time-limited and intended as a bridge to allow businesses to adapt.

The new scheme therefore strikes a balance between supporting businesses for a further 12 months, from April 2023 to March 2024, and limiting taxpayer’s exposure to volatile energy markets.

This will help those locked into contracts signed before recent substantial falls in the wholesale price manage their costs and provide others with reassurance against the risk of prices rising again.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Nov 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of the cost of living crisis on people living with cancer.

The Government recognises that the rising cost of living has presented additional financial challenges to many people, and especially to the most vulnerable members of society, such as people living with cancer. That is why the Government is taking decisive action to get households through this winter, while ensuring we act in a fiscally responsible way.

People who are living with cancer and in receipt of extra-costs disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will receive a one-off Disability Cost of Living Payment of £150 from 20th September, to help with the rising cost of living. The DWP has already processed around 6 million such payments. This payment can be received in addition to the other £650 Cost of Living Payment for households on means-tested benefits that was announced as part of the same package. Individuals who have limited or no ability to work because of their disability or health condition, and are in receipt of means-tested benefits such as income-related Employment and Support Allowance or the Universal Credit Health top up, are eligible for this support.

People living with cancer will also benefit from other forms of non-means-tested support which the Government is providing to assist with household energy bills. We have taken decisive action to support millions of households with rising energy costs this winter through the Energy Price Guarantee, ​which limits the price suppliers can charge customers for units of gas and electricity.

In addition to the Energy Price Guarantee, millions of the most vulnerable households will receive further support this year through the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme. The £150 Council Tax rebate will also mean that all households in Council Tax bands A-D will receive a rebate, and 99% of eligible households have already received this. Lastly, to support households who need further help or who are not eligible for elements of the wider package of support, the Government is also providing an extra £500 million of local support to help with the cost of essentials until the end of March 2023, via the Household Support Fund.

We are continuing to keep the situation under review and are focusing support on the most vulnerable whilst ensuring we act in a fiscally responsible way.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
1st Nov 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he will include in the Autumn Statement to protect small distillers from any increase in the level of spirits duty.

The Government keeps the duty rates under review during its yearly budget process and aims to balance the impact on businesses with its public health objectives.

The alcohol duty uprating decision and interactions with the wider reforms to alcohol duties will be considered in due course.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of business rates on the viability of (a) live music venues and (b) music studios.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will receive a tax cut worth almost £1.7 billion in 2022-23. Eligible properties receive 50 per cent off their business rates bill, up to a maximum of £110,000 per business. Combined with Small Business Rates Relief, this means over 90 per cent of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive at least 50 per cent off their rates bills in 2022-23.

The Government also committed to freezing the multiplier for 2022-23, which is a tax cut worth £4.6 billion to businesses over the next 5 years.

Announcements on Business Rates for the upcoming financial year will be made in due course.

The Government also supports our world leading music industry through a range of export support programmes including in 2022-23 the successful Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) and the International Showcase Fund (ISF).

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps his Department is taking to encourage investment in the UK’s energy sector.

The Government is committed to encouraging investment in the UK energy sector. Investment has been incentivised through a range of levers:

o The CfD scheme has been hugely successful in driving the deployment of renewable energy while rapidly reducing costs. Allocation round 4 of the CfD, which opened in December 2021, was the biggest ever and will deliver a record capacity of almost 11GW of clean energy. This is enough to power around 12 million British homes with clean, affordable, homegrown energy, helping to reduce our exposure to volatile global prices.

o The new 80% investment allowance in Energy Profits Levy will mean businesses will overall get a 91p tax saving for every £1 they invest – this will encourage the oil and gas sector to reinvest their profits to support the economy, jobs, and the UK’s energy security.

o The £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund will support the development of a nuclear project pipeline as the UK strives to meet net zero by 2050.

As well as fiscal measures, the Government is committed to making the UK energy sector attractive to investors by reducing unnecessary burdens and speeding up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure. The Growth Plan sets out sector specific changes such as:

o Prioritising the delivery of National Policy Statements for energy, water resources and national networks, and of a cross-government action plan for reform of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure planning system.

o Bringing onshore wind planning policy in line with other infrastructure to allow it to be deployed more easily in England.

These changes are a vital means of driving the UK’s economic growth, increasing long-term energy security, and delivering Net Zero.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he will include any provision in the forthcoming fiscal statement for support for households with the rising cost of domestic heating oil.

Households who are connected to the electricity network but who use fuels other than gas, such as heating oil, to heat their homes will still receive support through the Energy Price Guarantee for their electricity costs, as well as the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Where households are not able to receive support for their heating costs through the Energy Price Guarantee, the Government will provide an additional payment of £100 to compensate for the rising costs of other fuels such as heating oil, where despite significant increases, prices have risen at a lower rate than wholesale natural gas.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the business mileage allowance in the context of rising fuel and living costs.

The Government sets Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) to minimise administrative burdens. AMAPs aim to reflect running costs including fuel, servicing and depreciation. Depreciation is estimated to constitute the most significant proportion of the AMAPs.

Employers are not required to use the AMAPs. Instead, they can agree to reimburse the actual cost incurred, where individuals can provide evidence of the expenditure, without an Income Tax or National Insurance charge arising.

Alternatively, they can choose to pay a different mileage rate that better reflects their employees’ circumstances. However, if the payment exceeds the amount due under AMAPs, and this results in a profit for the individual, they will be liable to pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions on the difference.

The Government keeps this policy under review.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to mitigate the impact of business rates on the economic viability of music venues.

The Government is delivering a tax cut worth almost £1.7 billion for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses in 2022-23. Eligible properties will receive 50 per cent off their business rates bill, up to a maximum of £110,000 per business. Combined with small business rates relief, this means over 90 per cent of retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses will receive at least 50 per cent off their rates bills in 2022-23.

The multiplier has also been frozen for a further year, which is a tax cut worth £4.6 billion to businesses over the next 5 years.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take in 2021 to help people affected by the Equitable Life scandal.

The methodology for calculating payments to Equitable Life policyholders was published in 2011 and can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/equitable-life-payment-scheme-design.

There are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it. The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015 and further guidance on the status of the Payment Scheme after closure is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/equitable-life-payment-scheme#closure-of-the-scheme.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish the detailed calculations, including intermediary steps, used in determining payments under the Equitable Life Payment Scheme.

The methodology for calculating payments to Equitable Life policyholders was published in 2011 and can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/equitable-life-payment-scheme-design.

There are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it. The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015 and further guidance on the status of the Payment Scheme after closure is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/equitable-life-payment-scheme#closure-of-the-scheme.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
13th Jun 2019
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) adequate support is available from HMRC for people affected by the 2019 Loan Charge and (b) that further interest will not be accrued on outstanding loans due to the delays experienced with the HMRC help desk.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have put in place a series of measures to support those affected by the charge on Disguised Remuneration (DR) loans, which came into force on 5 April 2019.

Since 2017, HMRC have had a dedicated helpline for those who have used DR schemes. People can use this helpline to discuss their scheme use and different options to reach a settlement with HMRC. Call handlers are trained to support all callers, including those needing additional support. The helpline’s current average speed of answer is less than 60 seconds.

HMRC also recently announced an extension of their successful Needs Enhanced Support (NES) service to those undergoing compliance checks. This is being rolled out to DR scheme users first.

HMRC have already confirmed that scheme users who came forward to settle under the November 2017 published settlement terms and provided the necessary information by the deadline of 5 April 2019 will not be disadvantaged if settlement cannot be reached until after that date. Simplified payment arrangements were available as part of those terms.

Individuals who have not settled their DR scheme use with HMRC will need to report the outstanding loan amount on their 2018-19 tax return and pay the tax due, or agree an instalment arrangement, by 31 January 2020.

Anybody concerned about paying what they owe is advised to get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible. HMRC have a number of ways to help those who are genuinely unable to make a full payment of tax on time. There is no set minimum or maximum period within which a tax debt can be repaid.

In relation to interest, interest on late payments is designed to encourage people to pay their tax liabilities on time. It also serves to recompense the Exchequer for the delay in tax revenue paid later than the due date.

For the majority of DR scheme users, there is currently no interest accruing on the loan charge, as the liability has yet to arise.

23rd Nov 2016
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on applications of appeals processes for commercial banking overdraft refusals being conducted by the same bank which originally refused the application; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) changing that process and (b) taking steps to make the process more transparent.

The Treasury has not made an assessment of the effect on applications in the Appeals Process for SME lending being conducted by the same bank which originally refused the application.

The Appeals Process is a voluntary initiative by the major banks and is overseen by Professor Russel Griggs, the Independent External Reviewer to the process. Since 2011, over 17,000 appeals have been made of which 32% have led to overturned decisions. It is estimated that the Appeals process has put back around £100m of lending into the economy since its inception. Professor Griggs publishes regular reports on the Appeals Process, looking at both implementation and outcomes. The latest report can be found at:

http://betterbusinessfinance.co.uk/images/pdfs/Annual_Report_2016_(Year_5)_Final.pdf

9th Feb 2016
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has conducted an impact assessment of (a) the proposed changes to the dividend tax system and (b) other measures in the Finance Bill 2016 on lower-earning micro-business owners.

At the Summer Budget 2015 the Chancellor announced that the dividend tax credit will be replaced by a new £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance from April 2016. A Tax Information and Impact Note setting out expected impacts was published on 9 December on GOV.UK. Impact assessments have been produced for all measures in the Finance Bill 2016.

24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions her Department has had with the National Association of Local Councils on the potential impact of introducing a Protect Duty which requires public venues to protect against the risk of terrorism on parish and town councils.

Martyn’s Law, formerly known as the Protect Duty, will be published as a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny this Spring. During the development of this Bill, extensive engagement across all sectors including Local Authorities has taken place.

The Protect Duty consultation received 2,755 responses, during which the Home Office held over 80 engagement events. More recently, a webinar on Martyn’s Law geared specifically towards the public sector was attended by over 2000 individuals, the majority from Local Authorities. Engagement will continue throughout pre-legislative scrutiny and beyond.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department plans to take to (a) support and (b) provide funding for parish and town councils to help them comply with the proposed Protect Duty which would require public venues to protect against the risk of terrorism.

Martyn’s Law, formerly known as the Protect Duty, will be published as a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny this Spring. Alongside this, the Home Office will publish an impact assessment and a further, updated, impact assessment will be completed prior to formal introduction of the Bill as parliamentary time allows. The Home Office will also undertake a new burdens assessment and assess any requirements arising from it.

A wealth of support, advice and guidance will be provided for all those captured by Martyn’s Law, should it be passed. This is currently in development and will be published prior to any Royal Assent. ProtectUK has been developed as the new online protective security hub, offering advice and guidance from trusted experts in policing and Counter Terrorism security. The platform is available to industry and the public and will be updated regularly with added information and increased functionality.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how British nationals returning to the UK can establish the reason why their e-passport was not accepted by an e-passport gate at a UK border.

There are a number of technical and security reasons why a person’s passport may fail to be accepted by the ePassport gates. It is not possible to identify the reason on a case by case basis.

11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her department is taking to expedite the processing of out-of-country spouse visa applications.

The Home Office had been prioritising Ukraine Visa Schemes applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As such earlier this year the service standard was changed from 60-days to 120-days as a direct result.

In exceptional circumstances, requests to expedite UK Family Visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and take a range of factors into consideration.

The bulk of resource has now returned to the route, along with an additional investment of new staff.

We are keeping the service standard level under review.

27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 6 June 2022 to Question 7920 on Passports: Applications, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of further options to ensure that people receive their passports in a timely manner.

Since April 2021, people have been advised to allow up to ten weeks to get their passport. Across March, April, and May 2022, 98.5% of applications from the UK were completed within this published processing time of up to ten weeks.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office has added 850 staff since April 2021. This has helped to ensure that more passport applications are being processed than ever before, with the processing of approximately three million applications being completed between March and May.

Processing capacity will increase further, with an additional 350 staff arriving within the summer.

11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to process outstanding visa applications for those planning to enter the UK on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme; and what steps her Department is taking to ensure that their sponsors in the UK are kept regularly informed of the status of their visa applications.

This is one of the fastest and largest visa programmes in UK history and in as little as two months we have issued over 100,000 visas, helping Ukrainians displaced from their home country to come to the UK to live, work, study and find safety here.

Once an application has been processed and approved, an official permission letter confirming the applicant can travel to the UK is sent to the applicant if they possess a valid Ukrainian passport.

The Home Office is processing applications as quickly as possible with extra caseworkers being brought in to meet demand. We continually making efforts to simplify the application process for Ukrainian refugees, and keeps this under regular review.

28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce rural crime; and what assessment her Department has made of the impact on communities of rural crime in (a) Somerton and Frome and (b) the South West.

We are committed to driving down rural crime, which is why the Government is providing funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit. We have also tabled amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to introduce tougher sentencing and improved police powers for hare coursing.

Tackling rural crime is a priority for this Government and we are supporting the police by recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023. As of 31 December 2021, polices forces in England and Wales have recruited over 11,000 additional officers as part of the three-year Police Uplift Programme. Avon and Somerset police has recruited 254 additional uplift officers against a combined year 1 and 2 allocation of 273 officers. As of 31 December 2021, police forces in the South West region have recruited 712 additional uplift officers against a combined year 1 and 2 allocation of 843.

The Government has not undertaken a specific assessment of the impact on communities or rural crime in either (a) Somerton and Frome and (b) the South West. The independent Crime Survey for England and Wales continues to show that, for those crimes covered by the Survey, people in rural areas are less likely to be the victims of crime than those in urban areas. This is echoed by DEFRA’s Statistical Digest of Rural England, published in January 2022, that states “average crime rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas”. We recognise too that within rural communities some crimes are unique and specific in that they do not occur as frequently in urban areas.

24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many dental medical professionals have entered the UK via the Skilled Visa Route.

Home Office Migration Statistics do not specifically capture information on the professions of those entering the UK under the Skilled Worker visa route.

Information on current Home Office migration statistics can be found at Migration statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

3rd Dec 2018
What steps he is taking to divert young people away from violent crime.

With your permission Mr Speaker, I would like to group this question with question 23.

Diverting young people away from crime is at the heart of the Serious Violence Strategy.

I have just awarded £17.7m to support 29 projects working with young people through the Early Intervention Youth Fund, and I am setting up a new £200m Youth Endowment Fund to provide long term support to stop children getting involved in crime and violence.

15th Nov 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will introduce a seasonal agricultural workers scheme once the UK has left the EU.

I refer my Hon Friend to the answer given to the Honourable Member for Dundee West on 5 July UIN 1283.

15th Nov 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will introduce a seasonal agricultural workers scheme once the UK has left the EU.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to the Hon. Member for Dundee West on 5 July 2017, UIN 1283.

23rd Feb 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the most recent consultation with local authorities took place on their capacity to receive vulnerable children under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016; and what steps her Department is taking to consult local authorities on whether they can make more places available.

In accordance with the Immigration Act 2016 the Government conducted a comprehensive consultation with local authorities across the UK in order to assess capacity for the care of unaccompanied children. On 13 May 2016, the then Immigration Minister wrote to all local authorities to provide an update on the launch of the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) and to encourage local authorities to participate in all schemes designed for children. On 7 June 2016, the then Immigration Minister, the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families and the then Minister with responsibility for Syrian Refugees attended a national launch event in London which was attended by local authorities from across the UK. This was followed by regional events in England and in Scotland and Wales.

On 8 September last year, I wrote to all local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland asking them to confirm how many places they could offer to accommodate unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Home Office officials also maintained an ongoing dialogue with individual local authorities and regional Strategic Migration Partnerships throughout.

This is a voluntary scheme whereby local authorities sign up to accept unaccompanied asylum seeking children on a voluntary basis.

We asked local authorities to consider carefully whether they have the infrastructure and support networks needed to ensure the appropriate care of these unaccompanied children before participating in the NTS

Our consultation with local authorities indicated that there was capacity for an additional 400 UASC. This is in addition to the unaccompanied children already in local authority care. We estimate that at least 50 of the family reunion cases will require a local authority placement in circumstances where the reunion does not work out.

We estimate that at least 50 of the family reunion cases transferred from France as part of the Calais clearance will require a local authority placement in cases where the family reunion does not work out.We estimate that at least 50 of the family reunion cases transferred from France as part of the Calais clearance will require a local authority placement in cases where the family reunion does not work out.

Every region in England is participating in the NTS and we are working very closely with local authorities in Scotland and Wales who have also responded positively.

13th Apr 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her Department's policy is on ensuring that Afghan interpreters who have assisted British troops are able to claim asylum in the UK; and whether her Department plans to review that policy.

The Government accepts that we have a responsibility to those who have worked for the British forces in conflict zones. Many have served with distinction and at great personal risk. Separate schemes have existed since 2013 to assist interpreters previously employed by our forces in Afghanistan. These apply only to those who have remained in Afghanistan and, in recognition of their unique and exceptional service or the danger interpreters may face because of their work, can lead to relocation to the UK if certain criteria are met.

There is no change to the way in which asylum claims by former interpreters with British forces in Afghanistan are considered. All claims made in the UK are individually considered on their merits in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention. Those who we accept have a well-founded fear of persecution are normally granted asylum. Those who are found not to be in need of international protection have a right of appeal to the independent courts. If all appeal rights are exhausted, they are then required to leave the UK.

Government policy is however very clear that we only consider asylum claims lodged in the UK. We have no obligation to extend the asylum process to those outside the UK and cannot undertake to consider claims by individuals or groups in other countries or facilitate their journey to the UK. People who need international protection should seek protection in the first available safe country – that is the fastest route to safety.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will introduce a seasonal agricultural workers scheme once the UK has left the EU.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to the Hon. Member for Dundee West on 5 July 2017, UIN 1283.

23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to develop innovative defence technology.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 March 2023 to Question 159090 to the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Dr Kieran Mullan).

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to support British shipbuilding.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave on 14 December 2022 to Question 104345 and 13 March 2023 to Question 159089 to the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Dr Kieran Mullan).

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to improve defence collaboration with industry.

The Ministry of Defence recognises the importance of collaboration, including closer and earlier dialogue with industry. The Defence and Security Industrial Strategy set the framework for a deeper, more sophisticated, and strategic relationship with industry. We are delivering this by strengthening the Defence Suppliers Forum, engaging our largest suppliers through the Strategic Partnering Programme, and focusing on export opportunities through the Defence Growth Partnership. Complementing this work we continue to engage with the defence sector through trade associations, and our outreach activity aimed at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of Ukrainian defence against Russian aggression.

Ukraine continues to conduct a highly effective defence against Russia's invasion. On the ground, it holds Russian forces along a 1,200km front. In the air, it has effectively neutralised Russia's theoretically overwhelming advantage in air power through the skilled use of ground-based air defences. At sea, Ukraine's limited naval forces have had remarkable success to preventing Russia's Black Sea Fleet from conducting its sea control mission in key parts of the Black Sea. Ukraine has recaptured approximately half of the extra territory Russia seized after 24 February 2022. Ukraine experiences pressures on its own military resources, but it has inflicted huge losses on Russia. The Russian military has suffered up to 200,000 casualties, and nearly 10,000 of its military vehicles have been verified as lost.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to support defence jobs across the UK.

The most recent estimate shows Ministry of Defence (MOD) investment supports 219,000 jobs in industries across the UK, including 141,000 direct jobs and 78,000 indirect jobs.

Continued high and focussed investment in defence, along with the changes we are making as part of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy, means that the MOD is well placed to contribute to economic growth and Levelling Up across the Union.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen defence relationships with Japan.

I refer the hon.Member to the answer I gave on 15 March to the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwwich (Dr Kieran Mullan) to Question 159086.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the ongoing upgrades to Ajax armoured vehicles.

User Validation Trials successfully confirmed that the modifications to Ajax vehicles ensure crew exposure to noise and vibration levels remain within legislative requirements. The modifications are now being applied to training vehicles already delivered to the Army and will be applied to all future vehicle deliveries.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
23rd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to improve the its workplace culture.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the UK Armed Forces are committed to taking action to improve culture and eradicate unacceptable behaviour. This involves a broad range of ongoing interventions, from developing training, carrying out climate assessments, implementing a suite of policies including the 'Zero tolerance to unacceptable sexual behaviour: A victim/survivor focussed approach', and working to better understand why these behaviours occur. We are transforming our approach to Service Complaints and the Service Justice System, improving trust and confidence in those systems so that when unacceptable behaviours arise, they are reported and dealt with seriously and expeditiously.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when his Department’s contract with Leonardo Aerospace to deliver MBDA Sea Venom and Thales Lightweight Multirole missile systems is due to expire.

The contract with Leonardo Aerospace to deliver MBDA Sea Venom and Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile systems is due to expire in February 2025.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what additional (a) capability and (b) training capacities his Department has secured for Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

Over the last five years, the largest single change in capability provision at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton is the re-introduction of the air to surface capability through introduction of the Martlet Missile System.

Training capacity provision at RNAS Yeovilton has remained consistent across the past five years.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to help protect local authorities from cyber attacks.

Local authorities have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their online presence, digital services and internal processes are protected from outside interference. In addition, the Department takes the threat of cyber attacks to councils seriously, including by undertaking a survey of malware and ransomware across all English councils following the previous attack at Redcar & Cleveland and Hackney Councils.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department has taken to support rough sleepers in Somerton and Frome constituency during the winter 2022-23.

This Government remains committed to ending rough sleeping and tackling homelessness. In September 2022, we published a bold, new strategy, Ending Rough Sleeping for Good , which is available here. The strategy sets out cross government action and how we are investing £2 billion over three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

This includes allocating up to £500 million over three years to 303 local authorities across England through the Rough Sleeping Initiative 2022-25. In the financial year 2022/23 Mendip was allocated £398,230 from the Rough Sleeping Initiative. This funding is giving local authorities the resources to offer accommodation, support, and a route off the streets for people sleeping rough in Somerton and Frome.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent steps his Department has taken in reissuing a parking code of practice.

I refer my Hon. Friend to the answer I gave to Question UIN 54476 on 12 October 2022.

14th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to support housing association tenants with the rising cost of service charges.

Following our recent consultation on social housing rent increases, the Government announced at Autumn Statement that it will cap the increase in social rents at a maximum of 7% in 2023-24. In line with the proposal set out in our consultation, we will amend the policy statement to encourage providers to apply the 7% limit to service charge increases in 2023-24.

Our policy statement also states that tenants should be supplied with clear information on how service charges are set, and in the case of social rent properties, providers are expected to identify service charges separately from the rent charge.

24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to improve social housing stock in Somerset.

The Government is implementing an ambitious programme of work, including the Social Housing Regulation Bill to improve the quality and regulation of social housing. This legislation aims to change landlord behaviour to focus on the needs of social housing tenants and ensure landlords are held to account for their performance

The Government has made funding available for social housing providers and local authorities to make energy efficiency upgrades, including for social housing through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. Somerset West and Taunton District Council are partners to a project that has received funding.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to provide (a) homes, (b) jobs and (c) school placements for refugees from Ukraine.

We continue to review and develop plans to support guests to access the best possible support to during their stay in the UK. We are also providing guidance on navigating the UK housing market and encouraging landlords to support this cohort into accommodation


The government is committed to supporting this cohort into work. DWP is working with Ukrainians and employers to signpost and match job opportunities


Ukrainian parents will be able apply for a school place through the in-year admissions process. The Ukrainian Welcome Pack sets out this process in more detail. Local councils will work with families to enable all children to attend school or early years provision in the local area as soon as possible.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to encourage housebuilders to develop brownfield sites.

This Government strongly encourages the re-use of brownfield land and has introduced a range of measures to support brownfield development and encourage housebuilders to develop brownfield sites.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out that planning policies and decisions should give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements. We have introduced a number of planning measures including uplifting local housing need in the top 20 most populated cities to make the most of brownfield land and existing infrastructure and successfully requiring every local authority to publish a register of local brownfield land suitable for housing.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill sets out planning measures that will support regeneration by enabling more effective use of land, improving land value capture and supporting infrastructure delivery. Reforms, including clarification on the use of compulsory purchase, will make it easier to assemble brownfield land ready for development, whilst locally led Development Corporations will have planning powers to support regeneration and brownfield development. The measures will also create more consistency and certainty in planning decisions, simplifying the system so housebuilders can deliver.

Finally, the Department and Homes England regularly engage with urban areas to support delivery of homes on brownfield. We are putting significant investment into brownfield redevelopment through, for example, the £4.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund and £550 million Brownfield Housing Fund to support brownfield development and enable housebuilders to develop brownfield sites, with £1.8 billion in new funding announced at the Spending Review.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to develop brownfield sites.

This Government strongly encourages the re-use of brownfield land and has introduced a range of measures to support brownfield development and encourage housebuilders to develop brownfield sites.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out that planning policies and decisions should give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements. We have introduced a number of planning measures including uplifting local housing need in the top 20 most populated cities to make the most of brownfield land and existing infrastructure and successfully requiring every local authority to publish a register of local brownfield land suitable for housing.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill sets out planning measures that will support regeneration by enabling more effective use of land, improving land value capture and supporting infrastructure delivery. Reforms, including clarification on the use of compulsory purchase, will make it easier to assemble brownfield land ready for development, whilst locally led Development Corporations will have planning powers to support regeneration and brownfield development. The measures will also create more consistency and certainty in planning decisions, simplifying the system so housebuilders can deliver.

Finally, the Department and Homes England regularly engage with urban areas to support delivery of homes on brownfield. We are putting significant investment into brownfield redevelopment through, for example, the £4.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund and £550 million Brownfield Housing Fund to support brownfield development and enable housebuilders to develop brownfield sites, with £1.8 billion in new funding announced at the Spending Review.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to ensure that local communities are consulted on the detailed aspects of planning applications.

Local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation of no less than 21 days, prior to deciding a planning application. Consultees, particularly those living near to the site in question, may offer particular views or detailed information relevant to the consideration of the application. Where relevant considerations are raised by local residents, these must be taken into account by the local authority before they determine an application.

The Government is clear that communities must have the opportunity to have a say on development that affects them. The reforms in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will retain the right for people to comment on planning applications and will make the planning system more accessible, enabling a more consistent, streamlined and digitally enabled approach to the way planning applications are made. This will ensure faster and better decision making that delivers more of the development that communities want.

Marcus Jones
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to improve support for local councils to uphold their decisions when refusing planning applications.

Due to the quasi-judicial role of Ministers in the planning system, it would not be appropriate to intervene or comment on the planning decisions made by local authorities. When a planning application is refused, local authorities are required by law to set out the reasons for their decision and these will be contained in the decision notice.

The reforms in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will modernise our planning system and make it more accessible, enabling a more consistent, streamlined and digitally enabled approach to the way planning applications are made. This will ensure faster and better decision making that delivers more of the development that communities want. In addition, the Planning Advisory Service works with the Department and provides support to local authorities to deliver good decision making when determining planning applications.

Marcus Jones
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many planning applications for the construction of new homes in England he has (a) called in and (b) recovered; and how many of those planning applications were on greenfield sites.

All decisions taken by Ministers on called-in applications and recovered appeals are published. They can be found on gov.uk at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-applications-called-in-decisions-and-recovered-appeals

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many planning applications for the construction of new homes on greenfield sites in England have been granted in the last five years; and how many of those applications have been upheld at appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

The data required to answer this question are not held centrally.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to the Planning for the Future White Paper, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Mendip Local Plan II meets the Government's policy of increasing the role of local communities in the planning process.

Due to the ministerial quasi-judicial role in the planning system, it would not be appropriate to comment on the details of specific local plans. We do need to modernise the planning system in England to provide better outcomes for local authorities, communities and builders, including small builders. We will ensure that communities are engaged throughout the planning process supported by digitisation, helping to bring the current system into the 21st century. Communities will retain the ability to have a meaningful say on individual planning applications.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the achievability of housing targets across Somerset in the context of the time taken to process planning applications as a result of nutrient neutrality requirements in the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar catchment area.

The National Planning Policy Framework implemented a standard method for calculating local housing need in order to give a clear understanding of the minimum number of homes an area needs to plan for. The method provides a minimum number of homes, not a maximum, and does not provide a target. Authorities are expected to use it as the starting point in the process of planning for new homes. Once this has been established, local authorities will still need to consider the constraints they face locally, which could include nutrient pollution, to assess how many homes can be delivered in their area. If they cannot meet all their need then they should work collaboratively with neighbouring authorities to see if need would best be met elsewhere. At the end of this process the authority will finalise their housing target and this will be tested by planning inspectors for robustness.

The Government is working to tackle nutrients pollution. Together with DEFRA, we have set up a monthly Government task force involving Natural England and the Environment Agency to ensure a clear action plan is in place, focusing on solutions for both permitting housebuilding to resume while not compromising the condition of Protected Sites. Alongside this, we are continuing to support Local Planning Authorities through the work of the Planning Advisory Service.

15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of nutrient neutrality requirements on levels of approval of planning applications in Somerset.

We do not collect information on the number of planning applications that are delayed or not approved due to the nutrient pollution issue, but this data may be held at a local level by Local Planning Authorities. As such as we have not made a direct assessment of the number of planning applications that have not been approved due to the nutrient pollution issue in the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar. The Government is working to tackle nutrients pollution. Together with DEFRA, we have set up a monthly Government task force involving Natural England and the Environment Agency to ensure a clear action plan is in place, focusing on solutions for both permitting housebuilding to resume while not compromising the condition of Protected Sites. Alongside this, we are continuing to support Local Planning Authorities through the work of the Planning Advisory Service.

19th Jun 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with the (a) Secretary of State for Transport, (b) Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and (c) Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential wider economic benefits to the South West of the Government’s proposed improvements to the A303/A358/A30 corridor.

MHCLG ministers and officials meet regularly with other departments to discuss strategic issues to promote local economic growth.

27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to protect minors from engagement with dangerous prisoners on (a) TikTok and (b) other social media platforms.

Under national policy prisoners can only access the internet in a supervised environment, and only for rehabilitative purposes. Prisoners cannot access or interact with social media whilst in custody.

We have a zero-tolerance approach to illicit mobile phones in prison which some prisoners may use to access social media. Our £100m Security Investment Programme (SIP), aimed at reducing crime in prisons including reducing the conveyance of illicit items such as drugs and mobile phones, was completed in March 2022. This investment delivered 75 additional X-ray body scanners resulting in full coverage across the adult closed male estate. As of October 2022, we had recorded 28,626 positive scans, preventing drugs and mobile phones from entering prisons. The SIP also funded the installation of a variety of detection and other mobile phone technologies across the estate, targeting those prisons presenting the highest risk of harm through illicit mobile phone use.

HMPPS’ Digital Media Investigations Unit (DMIU) have the capacity to forensically examine illicit mobile devices, and will investigate reported misuses of social media, working alongside social media sites to identify and stop unlawful activity. Where serious crimes are identified, including offences against children, the matter would be referred to police for consideration. The DMIU has strong working relationships with social media companies, including TikTok, and Meta, and work with them to improve how illegal prison-related content is identified and removed to avoid it impacting on victims, witnesses and members of the public of all ages.

Where possession of an illicit device is confirmed, or a direct link is found between a prisoner and social media content, cases may be referred to the police for further investigation and prisons can take further punitive action.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the rise of prisoners using mobile phones to record and upload videos to social media platforms.

Under national policy prisoners can only access the internet in a supervised environment, and only for rehabilitative purposes. Prisoners cannot access or interact with social media whilst in custody.

We have a zero-tolerance approach to illicit mobile phones in prison which some prisoners may use to access social media. Our £100m Security Investment Programme (SIP), aimed at reducing crime in prisons including reducing the conveyance of illicit items such as drugs and mobile phones, was completed in March 2022. This investment delivered 75 additional X-ray body scanners resulting in full coverage across the adult closed male estate. As of October 2022, we had recorded 28,626 positive scans, preventing drugs and mobile phones from entering prisons. The SIP also funded the installation of a variety of detection and other mobile phone technologies across the estate, targeting those prisons presenting the highest risk of harm through illicit mobile phone use.

HMPPS’ Digital Media Investigations Unit (DMIU) have the capacity to forensically examine illicit mobile devices, and will investigate reported misuses of social media, working alongside social media sites to identify and stop unlawful activity. Where serious crimes are identified, including offences against children, the matter would be referred to police for consideration. The DMIU has strong working relationships with social media companies, including TikTok, and Meta, and work with them to improve how illegal prison-related content is identified and removed to avoid it impacting on victims, witnesses and members of the public of all ages.

Where possession of an illicit device is confirmed, or a direct link is found between a prisoner and social media content, cases may be referred to the police for further investigation and prisons can take further punitive action.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
27th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure the safety of the general public when prisoners serving their sentence in open prisons are outside of the facility.

Only those prisoners who have been assessed as presenting a low risk, including to victims, or have a suitable plan in place to manage identified risks, are allocated to an open prison. Once in open conditions prisoners may apply to be released on temporary licence (ROTL) for specified purposes, generally linked to resettlement.

Access to ROTL is not automatic but is subject to a further, rigorous risk assessment. Releases are monitored in line with the assessment and those who breach the strict conditions set may face a return to closed custody.

By providing opportunities to work, learn and build family ties, temporary release from prison reduces the chances of reoffending. Evidence shows the vast majority abide by their temporary release conditions, with a compliance rate of over 99%.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent progress his Department has made on reducing the time it takes to process probate applications.

Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the probate service during the Covid 19 pandemic, and the increased volume of applications that have been seen since, the average length of time taken for a grant of probate following receipt of the documents required has been maintained at between five and seven weeks - with the average responses being almost 1 week faster in quarter 2 of 2022 than the yearly average for 2020 and 2021.

HMCTS has increased resources to meet the higher demand following an increased number of estates requiring probate and is further increasing resourcing to further bring down overall timeliness on digital and paper applications.

Average waiting times for probate grants, from April 2022 to June 2022, are published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly (Table 25): https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-court-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2022.

Information covering up to September 2022 will be published on 15 December.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
13th May 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference his announcement on 9 September 2018 of a review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, whether his Department will extend the period of time for which survivors of child sexual abuse can claim compensation beyond 1964.

State funded schemes to compensate victims of violent crime have existed since 1964. The 2012 Scheme provides that a person is eligible for an award only in relation to a criminal injury sustained on or after 1 August 1964. The review will examine whether the Scheme reflects the changing nature of violent crime and effectively supports victims in their recovery, and consider the impact of the Scheme on particular groups, including victims of child sexual abuse.

We are also removing the pre-1979 same roof rule from the 2012 Scheme, under which applicants were not entitled to compensation for injury from incidents that occurred between 1964 and 1979 if they were living with their assailant as members of the same family at the time of the incident. Past claimants refused under the rule will be able to make new applications.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)