Derek Thomas Portrait

Derek Thomas

Conservative - St Ives

4,280 (8.3%) majority - 2019 General Election

First elected: 7th May 2015


Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL]
14th Jun 2023 - 19th Jun 2023
Electricity and Gas Transmission (Compensation) Bill
18th Jan 2023 - 25th Jan 2023
Environmental Audit Committee
13th May 2019 - 6th Nov 2019
Work and Pensions Committee
26th Nov 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Health and Social Care Committee
20th Feb 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Science and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Science, Innovation and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Derek Thomas has voted in 850 divisions, and 17 times against the majority of their Party.

22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas 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
Derek Thomas 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
4 Nov 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 308 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 516 Noes - 38
13 Oct 2020 - Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 42 Conservative No votes vs 298 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 299 Noes - 82
17 Jun 2020 - Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill [Lords] - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 23 Conservative Aye votes vs 283 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 31 Noes - 400
27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
20 Oct 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Conservative No votes vs 265 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 268 Noes - 204
15 Nov 2021 - Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 296 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 300 Noes - 229
23 Nov 2021 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 18 Conservative Aye votes vs 276 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 219 Noes - 280
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas 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
Derek Thomas 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
Derek Thomas 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
30 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 10 Conservative No votes vs 243 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 249 Noes - 167
30 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 8 Conservative No votes vs 245 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 247 Noes - 150
18 Oct 2022 - Public Order Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 103 Conservative No votes vs 113 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 297 Noes - 110
7 Mar 2023 - Public Order Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 107 Conservative Aye votes vs 109 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 116 Noes - 299
25 Oct 2023 - Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 7 Conservative Aye votes vs 264 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 207 Noes - 269
View All Derek Thomas Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(18 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(14 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(8 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(39 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(16 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023
(1,803 words contributed)
Fisheries Act 2020
(1,282 words contributed)
NHS Funding Act 2020
(1,126 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Derek Thomas's debates

St Ives Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

The Government should bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity. It should be permitted subject to strict upfront safeguards, assessed by two doctors independently, and self-administered by the dying person.

12 kids in the UK are diagnosed with cancer daily. 1 in 5 will die within 5 years, often of the deadliest types like DIPG (brainstem cancer) - fatal on diagnosis & other cancers on relapse. Yet there has been little, or no, funding for research into these cancers and little, or no, progress.


Latest EDMs signed by Derek Thomas

21st February 2024
Derek Thomas signed this EDM on Wednesday 21st February 2024

No confidence in the Speaker

Tabled by: William Wragg (Independent - Hazel Grove)
That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
90 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Mar 2024)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 42
Scottish National Party: 41
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Workers Party of Britain: 1
15th November 2021
Derek Thomas signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 16th November 2021

The 40th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat disaster

Tabled by: Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)
That this House commemorates the Penlee Lifeboat disaster 40 years ago on 19 December 1981; honours the bravery of the eight man crew of the Solomon Browne who in severe conditions went to sea to rescue eight people on board the stricken coaster The Union Star; remembers the tragedy of …
12 signatures
(Most recent: 3 Dec 2021)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 5
Independent: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
Labour: 1
View All Derek Thomas's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Derek Thomas, 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.


Derek Thomas has not been granted any Urgent Questions

4 Adjournment Debates led by Derek Thomas

Monday 29th April 2024
Monday 18th September 2023
Monday 18th January 2021
Tuesday 15th December 2020

1 Bill introduced by Derek Thomas


A Bill to transfer the power to designate sites of special scientific interest from Natural England to the Secretary of State; to make provision about the exercise of that power by the Secretary of State; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Wednesday 13th March 2024
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 7th June 2024

Latest 50 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
4 Other Department Questions
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help swimming pools stay open after the end of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

We recognise the importance of ensuring public access to swimming pools, as swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy. The responsibility of providing this access lies at Local Authority level, and the Government continues to encourage Local Authorities to support swimming facilities.

We appreciate the impact rising energy prices are having on organisations of all sizes, including on operators of swimming pools. That’s why we announced the £18 billion Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) in September last year. The EBRS was always time-limited, and has now been replaced with the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS). Under the EBDS, swimming pools will continue to receive discounts on their gas and electricity bills during the 12-month period from April 2023 to March 2024.

Officials in my department are in regular contact with representatives from the sector to assess the impact of rising energy costs, including monitoring how operators and local authorities are responding to them. I was pleased to host a roundtable earlier last month to hear directly from the sector on how they are adapting to the challenges faced. I also held a separate meeting on the specific challenges facing Cornwall.

Sport England has invested £13,315,795 in swimming and diving projects since April 2019, which includes £9,370,071 to Swim England. This is in addition to the £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund, which supported the reopening of local authority swimming pools throughout the country after the pandemic.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when the work of the Period Poverty Taskforce will resume.

Period poverty is an issue the Government takes very seriously and has taken a number of steps to address the problem.

Since January 2020, a Department for Education scheme provides free period products in schools and 16-19 education institutions in England. 94% of eligible secondary schools had accessed this scheme by December 2021.

Additionally, from 1 January 2021, the ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished - with a zero rate of VAT applying to all period products. Prior to the abolition of the tax, a Tampon Tax Fund was in place to allocate the funds generated from the VAT on period products, to projects which improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. A final round of £11.25 million in grant funding was awarded in November 2021 to distribute the VAT collected on period products in the final nine months of the 2020/21 financial year, before the tax ended.

As well as these steps, in 2019, NHS England announced that it would offer period products to every hospital patient who needs them and the Home Office changed the law to ensure that all people in custody are provided with health and hygiene products for free, to include period products.

In March 2020, in light of COVID-19, the work of the Period Poverty Taskforce was paused to free up resources to focus on the pandemic. Further announcements on the plans and the work of the Taskforce will be made in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
1st Feb 2022
To ask the President of COP26, what progress has been made (a) at and (b) since COP26 on encouraging other (i) countries, (ii) public and private financial institutions and (iii) multilateral development banks to help shift international support from fossil fuels to clean energy.

On Energy Day at COP26, the UK announced a joint statement to end international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by 2022 and prioritise support for the clean energy transition. This has been signed by an ambitious group of 34 countries and 5 public finance institutions, from both developed and developing countries. Collectively, this could move an estimated $24bn a year in public support out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition. The initial launch of this statement has set the level of ambition and created the political landscape required to secure similar commitments this year and beyond. This initiative remains a clear priority for the UK Presidency. We intend to work with the signatories to meet the commitments of the joint statement, as well as to continue to expand the signatory base throughout 2022.

A key focus will be securing support from additional financiers of international fossil fuels and influencing multinational fora to continue to raise ambition on this agenda. In relation to private financial institutions, over 450 institutions, responsible for over $130 trillion of private finance assets, committed to science-based, robust net zero targets through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), within the UN’s Race to Zero. Firms have committed to come forward with 2025 or 2030 decarbonisation targets and over 90 asset managers or asset owners have already set targets for 2025 or 2030. These commitments will help shift the global financial system towards greener investments.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the President of COP26, what discussions he has had with international partners on following the UK in ending support for fossil fuel projects overseas.

COP26 set the gold standard on aligning international public finance with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 34 countries and 5 finance institutions have committed to end international public finance for fossil fuel energy projects by the end of 2022. Collectively, this could move $24bn of public finance out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition. This is the first time a COP Presidency has prioritised this issue to drive forward progress. The UK is now actively working with fellow signatories to support the delivery of these commitments, as well as expanding the signatory base and continuing to push global ambition on this agenda throughout 2022.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how information about Information Sharing Agreements made under the public service delivery provisions of the Digital Economy Act should be submitted given that the ISAregister@culture.gov.uk email address is disabled.

Public bodies should submit information about Information Sharing Agreements made under the public service delivery provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2017 to dea-data-sharing@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps her Department is taking to strengthen regulatory certainty for (a) the lithium industry and (b) other critical mineral industries.

The government’s Critical Minerals Strategy sets out how we are improving the resilience of critical mineral supply chains, safeguarding UK industry, increasing confidence in the UK’s energy transition, and protecting national security.

In terms of regulatory certainty, the Strategy sets out how we will ensure that UK domestic critical mineral companies comply with permitting and planning regulations, and how we will encourage the proportionate use of globally recognised frameworks and guidelines for responsible mining that protect the interests of communities and our natural environment.

Specifically on lithium, the Health and Safety Executive has published a Technical Report on the mandatory classification of three lithium substances (lithium carbonate, lithium chloride and lithium hydroxide) which identified additional information which requires further consideration and assessment before a Ministerial decision is made on the mandatory classification and labelling of these lithium substances in Great Britain.

To strengthen the UK’s domestic lithium industry, UK Infrastructure Bank recently invested approximately £24 million to support the mineral exploration company Cornish Lithium in St Ives.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of competition in the parcels market.

The Postal Services Act 2011 designates Ofcom as the independent regulator for the postal sector. To ensure its regulatory framework continues to work effectively, Ofcom monitors a range of factors, including competition and developments in the parcels market.

Ofcom publishes an annual summary of its monitoring programme setting out key data and trends in the postal sector on its website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/postal-services/information-for-the-postal-industry/monitoring_reports.

Kevin Hollinrake
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Apr 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps she is taking to address the loyalty penalty paid by households reliant on (a) heating oil and (b) LPG; and whether she has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to make an assessment of the adequacy of competition in markets for these products.

We believe consumer choice provides the best long-term guarantee of competitive prices.

The structure of the heating oil market allows for switching of suppliers on a delivery-by-delivery basis. There are commercial price comparison sites and the trade association UKIFDA provides a ‘Find a distributor’ facility at https://ukifda.org/find-a-distributor/.

There is similar consumer choice for bottled LPG users, supported by the trade association LGUK ‘Supplier search’ facility (https://www.liquidgasuk.org/domestic/supplier-search). The bulk domestic LPG market is subject to regulation under the Competition and Markets Authority’s LPG Orders (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/liquefied-petroleum-gas-lpg-market-orders-and-calculator) to enable easier switching of domestic bulk LPG supplier by domestic customers and the CMA continues to monitor that market.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of shared ground loops in decarbonising heat.

The Government already recognises the merits of shared ground loops in decarbonising heating. To support their installation, the Government has announced that it will increase the capacity limit for shared ground loops under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from 45kW to 300kW. Additionally, we have supported the installation of shared ground loops under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will remove the Boiler Upgrade Scheme's exclusion of larger shared ground loop systems.

Shared Ground Loops are an effective solution for reducing the costs associated with installing Ground Source Heat Pumps, and are currently eligible for support under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

To support their installation, the Government has announced it will increase the capacity limit under the scheme from 45kW to 300kW, increasing the number of properties able to transition to low carbon heat at the same time and reduce costs.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the Green Heat Network Fund for supporting shared ground loop installations.

Shared ground loop installations which satisfy the eligibility criteria for the Green Heat Network Fund can apply to the scheme for support. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that their networks can deliver a minimum of 2GWh per year of heat. Typically, shared ground loops serve a smaller number of homes than other heat networks and will often fall below this requirement unless they are aggregated into larger, combined projects. However, small-scale shared ground loop installations can receive support from other schemes, such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will make an assessment of the role of shared ground loops in decarbonising heat for properties without the space for individual heat pumps.

Heat pumps connected to shared ground loops have a role to play in decarbonising heat, particularly in properties, like blocks of flats, that might otherwise be less well suited to individual heat pumps. To support their installation, the Government has announced that it will increase the capacity limit for shared ground loops under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from 45kW to 300kW. Additionally, we have supported the installation of shared ground loops under schemes like the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
28th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions her Department has had with Ofgem on its decision to allocate the temporary adjustment to the price cap to customers equally.

The Departmental for Energy Security and Net Zero’s ministers and officials regularly discuss with Ofgem issues relating to energy market.

The setting of the price cap rate is a matter for Ofgem, and the temporary adjustment announced is to address suppliers’ costs related to increased levels of consumer debt. It will be added to bills of customers who pay by direct debit or standard credit. Prepayment customers will not be impacted by the extra charge as many do not build up the same level of debt because they top up as they go.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will hold discussions with Ofgem on the potential merits of including standing charges for the non-domestic sector in its review of standing charges on energy bills, announced on 16 November 2023.

Ofgem issued a Call for Input on standing charges on 16 November 2023. It includes an invitation to submit views by 19 January 2024 on the issues affecting standing charges in the non-domestic retail sector that Ofgem should consider further.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, when she plans to publish a plan to increase public engagement on the Government’s net zero policies.

As published in Net Zero Growth Plan, the Government will set out further detail on how it will increase public engagement on net zero. This will include setting out how Government will (i) support public awareness of its actions through digital platforms, (ii) develop a roadmap setting out plans and proposals under net zero and (iii) construct a guiding framework, in conjunction with partners and trusted messengers, to amplify net zero messaging. The Government will publish the roadmap and framework in the coming months.

13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department is taking steps to help support commercial laundries to reduce their energy usage.

As part of the Government’s target to cut energy use by 15% by 2030, the Government is considering ways to support energy reduction and decarbonisation across industrial sectors. The Government acknowledges the important role played by commercial laundries in supporting the NHS and UK hospitality.

Commercial laundries are already eligible for the Climate Change Agreements scheme, receiving reduced rates of Climate Change Levy for cutting energy consumption. This reduces energy bills, supporting businesses to invest in further energy saving measures.

The Department engages with commercial laundries via the Textile Services Association and consultations on policy developments.

7th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent assessment she has made of whether the oil and gas sector will meeting its targets under the North Sea Transition Deal.

The North Sea Transition Authority monitors the emissions reduction targets within the North Sea Transition Deal (NSTD) and published its annual Emissions Monitoring Report on 5 September. The report shows that emissions from upstream oil and gas activities on the UK Continental Shelf dropped 23% between 2018 and 2022 and indicates that industry is on track to meet the interim NSTD emission reduction targets of 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027.

6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether she has made a recent assessment of the adequacy of guidance on potential conflicts of interest for senior staff at Ofgem.

No discussion or assessments have been made. However, Ofgem Directors and Director Generals are employed as Civil Servants and, as such, are expected to abide by the Civil Service Code. It is expected that Ofgem staff will have declared any potential conflicts to the relevant senior manager in Ofgem, as set out under Ofgem’s Conflict of Interest Policy, which can be found here: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2013/03/conflicts-of-interest-at-ofgem.pdf

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she has made an assessment of the potential merits of allowing local authorities to apply to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme on behalf of leisure facilities operated by third party providers.

If a local authority either owns the building where the leisure facilities are being operated, or they have a long-term lease arrangement, they meet the eligibility criteria and can therefore apply for Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps he is taking (a) domestically and (b) in collaboration with international partners to achieve the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative.

In 2020, the UK committed to the World Bank’s ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ Initiative. In the North Sea Transition Deal, industry committed to accelerate compliance ahead of 2030. With support from Government, industry is on track to meet this target.

The UK is a long-standing partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The UK put methane reduction towards the top of the agenda during its COP Presidency, driving support behind the Global Methane Pledge. At COP27, the UK signed up to the Joint Declaration by Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels.

25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he is taking steps to ensure that persons in supported accommodation without bank accounts are able to receive payments under the Energy Bill Support Scheme.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding is delivered by local authorities in Great Britain who are only able to make payments into UK current accounts. The Government has recommended throughout the scheme that any applicants who do not have a bank account open one to receive payment, such as opening a basic bank account, which are free to open. Appointees of eligible households can also apply on behalf of an applicant, using their appointee bank account details.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending eligibility for the Warm Home Discount to people with Reynaud’s.

The Warm Home Discount prioritises people who are most at risk of being in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is a combination of low incomes and high energy costs, so the scheme is targeted at those on means tested benefits whose homes are expensive to heat. People with Reynaud’s do not automatically fall into that category.

These households may be able to speak to their energy supplier about being added to their Priority Services Register, which provides additional support for vulnerable households, such as priority support in an emergency.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, for what reason households with (a) fossil fuel central heating and (b) hot water heating from renewable sources must replace both to receive a grant under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the environmental impact of that policy.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme provides grants to encourage property owners to replace fossil fuel heating with more efficient, low carbon systems. An eligible technology must fully replace any existing fossil fuel system and be capable of meeting the full space heating and hot water requirement for the property. In some circumstances, the scheme allows for parts of the original heating system to be retained including for example, solar thermal collectors.

1st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of assessing the energy and trade intensity of individual types of business, such as commercial laundries, to provide more granular data than that afforded by standard industrial classification codes applied at a sector level.

The Government currently has no plans to review the eligibility criteria for the Energy and Trade Intensive element of the Energy Bill Discount Scheme. The HMT-led review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme took account of many contributions from the private sector, trade associations, the voluntary sector and other types of organisations. Trade and energy intensity assessments were based on ONS and BEIS data. These thresholds have been set at sectors falling above the 80th percentile for energy intensity, and 60th percentile for trade intensity, plus any sectors eligible for the existing energy compensation and exemption schemes. The list of eligible Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), as published on gov.uk, will be eligible for the higher level of support.

8th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to the Government response to paragraph 62 of the Third Report of Session 2022-23 by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on Digital exclusion, HL 219, published on 20 October 2023, what progress the dedicated cross-Whitehall ministerial group has made.

The Government established a cross-Whitehall ministerial group in response to a recommendation from the House of Lords Communication and Digital Committee’s report on ‘Digital Exclusion’, published in June 2023. The ministerial group aims to drive progress and accountability on digital inclusion priorities across Government.

The first ministerial group meeting took place in September 2023, chaired by the then Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Paul Scully. Ministers attended from the Cabinet Office, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, and His Majesty's Treasury.

The group agreed to undertake a departmental mapping exercise to drive and increase coherence across departmental work. It has also discussed specific priority issues, including the viability of each department joining device donation scheme, options to increase the accessibility of parking payments and accessibility of online government services. The group will receive an update on these issues at its next meeting later this month.

Saqib Bhatti
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
19th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2023 to Question 198156 on Telephone Systems: Power Failures, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the minimum period landline providers should enable access to emergency organisations in the event of a power outage.

Ofcom’s guidance was issued following a consultation with the general public as well as telecoms providers and Ofgem, looking at data on the average length of UK power outages. The guidance only sets out the minimum standards, and in practice many providers are offering solutions which exceed them. There is an ongoing industry working group where Communications Providers are jointly discussing how to improve their resilience to power outages, which includes discussions on backup solutions.

The power resilience of our digital infrastructure networks is becoming increasingly important for keeping people connected in the event of a power outage. In recognition of this, the Secretary of State has asked Ofcom to review how all communications providers are meeting the needs of their customers. The government continues to work closely with Ofcom to understand what may be considered appropriate and proportionate.

6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of provisions made by landline providers to support customers during power outages after the transition to digital.

The Department engages with Communications Providers on a quarterly basis to ensure there are adequate plans in place for the transition to digital. Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator, has also issued guidance on how telecoms companies can fulfill their regulatory obligations in the event of a power cut.

The guidance states that providers should have at least one solution available that enables access to emergency organisations for a minimum of one hour in the event of a power outage. The solution should be suitable for customers’ needs and should be offered free of charge to those who are at risk as they are dependent on their landline. In practice many providers are offering solutions which exceed them, such as longer life battery back-up units and 4G enabled handsets.

In addition, Ofcom has an ongoing monitoring programme which includes regular engagement with large communications providers on their plans for the migration to VoIP and gathering information from other parties such as consumer stakeholders. As part of this work, Ofcom has issued an open letter to all providers to remind them of their responsibilities.

11th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of assessing the energy and trade intensity of individual businesses, including commercial laundries, rather than wider sectors defined by standard industrial classification codes.

During the review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, analysis of a large number of contributions from different individual companies in the private sector in addition to trade associations, the voluntary sector and other types of organisations were assessed. HM Treasury decided which types of business were given additional support in addition to the universal Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS).

There are over 5.5 million businesses in the UK, not including other non-domestic consumers. Considering their energy bills on an individual basis would not have been practical.

11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 27 April to Question 155863, on Energy: Standing Charges, what recent assessment he has made of the role of Ofgem in relation to the way in which suppliers set the standing charge and unit rate in those cases where the price cap is not triggered; and what recent discussions he has had with (a) energy suppliers and (b) Ofgem about the apportionment of energy bills between standing charges and unit rates.

For tariffs that are caught by the price cap, and for tariffs which are not caught by the cap, suppliers can decide how they structure their standing charges. Ofgem requires energy suppliers to separate out the standing charge from the energy unit rate so consumers can see what the different charges amount to.

The Government has regular discussions with energy suppliers and Ofgem on a range of issues, including standing charges.

Ofgem is currently consulting on a review of part of the standing charge in relation to the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) costs: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/open-letter-review-how-costs-supplier-failure-are-recovered.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the level of increases to daily standing charges in energy usage; what comparative assessment he has made of the impact of those increases on (a) low income and (b) other households; and whether he plans to take steps to encourage energy companies to return to previous levels.

The setting of the standing charge is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer’s premises. One component of these costs relates to transmission and distribution costs, which have recently increased due to the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) levy. The majority of the levy consists of purchasing wholesale energy, at current high prices, to serve transferring customers. Standing charges are capped under the price cap and ensure millions of households pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact of the recent increase in the cost of heating oil on households in rural areas who have no alternative means of fuelling their heating and hot water.

Heating oil prices are primarily driven by the underlying price in the global market of crude oil, though are also influenced by a range of other supply and demand factors, including refining capacity, stock levels, distribution costs, retail margins and seasonal demand variations with prices rising in winter as demand increases. There is an open market for the supply of domestic heating oil in the UK as the Government believe this provides the best long-term guarantee of competitive prices.

Financial support remains available for heating oil customers with energy bills, if eligible, through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment schemes.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the National Space Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the potential contribution of the Defence Space Portfolio to supporting wider space sector growth.

In September 2021, the Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Defence published the UK’s first joint civil and military National Space Strategy. A core part of that strategy is delivering the defence space portfolio, which will support our goals in space including both protecting and defending the UK and supporting economic growth.

As reaffirmed in the recently published Defence Space Strategy, the MOD is investing an extra £1.4bn in Defence space technologies over the next 10 years. This is in addition to the £5bn investment in Skynet satellite communications over a similar timeframe. This represents a significant increase in Government funding for the UK space sector and will play a part in stimulating innovation, commercialisation, and growth across the wider sector. Defence will utilise elements of the Defence Space Portfolio funding to further support Space Science & Technology (which includes Research & Development), alongside existing funding.

Ministers and officials engage regularly with the Ministry of Defence to understand the opportunities and challenges to enable the UK’s space sector to grow and flourish, and I look forward to continuing to engage in that process as we implement the National Space Strategy.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has for developing an advisory board for space.

The UK has a Space Sector Council comprising senior members from the space industry, academia and government. This Council is the most senior-level forum for the sector to raise and discuss issues of strategic importance. It is co-chaired by the President of UKspace and the Minister for Science and meets quarterly.

Following the publication of the National Space Strategy, the sector is piloting a new National Space Partnership, comprising of stakeholders from industry, academia and government, to identify, assess and consolidate views across the whole of the UK’s Space Sector in order to better deliver the ambition of the National Space Strategy.

Government will work closely with the sector to review the effectiveness of these structures and recommend continuation or changes as needed.

7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of utility companies adopting a household ownership model similar to South West Water’s WaterShare+ scheme.

The WaterShare+ scheme is model in which customers can choose whether to have their share of the outperformance payment as either a credit on their water bill or shares in Pennon Group plc, SWW’s parent company.

We welcome companies supporting customers in different ways. In addition to South West Water’s WaterShare+, some water companies make a financial contribution to their social tariff schemes and others have established charitable trusts.

23rd Apr 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of prohibiting the practice of intentionally rendering commercial videogames inoperable when support ends.

The Government recognises recent concerns raised by video games users regarding the long-term operability of purchased products. Video games publishers must comply with existing consumer law, including the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

The CPRs protect consumers from being given false or misleading information by businesses. If consumers purchased a game on the understanding that it would continue to be playable, even when support ends, then the CPRs may provide recourse.

Under the CRA, consumers have clear rights when buying digital content, such as video games, supplied in digital form. Any digital content the consumer has paid for must be as described and of a satisfactory quality. If digital content does not meet these requirements, the consumer is entitled to a repair or replacement, or a price reduction or refund if the fault cannot be fixed. The CRA has a time limit of up to six years after a breach of contract during which a consumer can take legal action.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if she will meet representatives of regional news groups to discuss the viability of the Community News Project.

The government is disappointed to see that Meta is closing its Community News Project. We are working to support journalism and local newsrooms to ensure the sustainability of this vital industry, and our new digital markets regime will help rebalance the relationship between the most powerful platforms and those who rely on them – including press publishers.

Additionally, our support for the sector has included the delivery of the £2 million Future News Fund; the zero rating of VAT on e-newspapers; the extension of a 2017 business rates relief on local newspaper office space until 2025; the publication of the Online Media Literacy Strategy; and the BBC also supports the sector directly, through the £8m it spends each year on the Local News Partnership, including the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with stakeholders, including from the local press and from among the tech platforms, to discuss relevant policy interests and concerns.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of potential effect of the switch off of the Three 3G network in 2024 on rural communities; and what steps the Government plans to take to support businesses and individuals in rural communities as 3G networks are phased out.

There is no explicit regulatory requirement for mobile network operators to maintain a 3G network and it is for operators to take final decisions on the provision of network services. The Government welcomes 3G networks being switched off in a responsible way and will continue to work with Ofcom and mobile network operators to ensure a smooth transition that meets the needs of business users and consumers, including rural communities.

We are committed to extending good quality mobile coverage across the UK. In March 2020, the government announced a deal with the mobile network operators to increase 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass. And the majority of the population can now access basic 5G. The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy will set a new ambition for 5G to make sure communities across the country benefit from secure, reliable and resilient connections.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Apr 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking with the Secretary of State for the Home Department to help prevent people (a) promoting, (b) encouraging and (c) glorifying terrorism at universities.

Higher education (HE) providers must comply with the statutory Prevent duty to have 'due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism'. The statutory Prevent duty can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-duty-guidance/prevent-duty-guidance-for-england-and-wales-accessible.

HE providers should have effective policies and procedures in place to safeguard individuals susceptible to radicalisation. This includes assessing the risk of learners becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The Office for Students has delegated responsibility from the Secretary of State for Education for monitoring compliance of the Prevent duty in Registered HE Bodies.

The department has a team of Prevent Regional Education Co-ordinators who work directly with HE institutions in England to provide advice, support and training to ensure providers are well equipped to prevent people from being drawn into or supporting terrorism. Further guidance, including bespoke training material for HE providers, can be found on GOV.UK.

In the 'Independent Review of Prevent: One year on' progress report, the department announced that it is committed to publishing research on the implementation of the Prevent duty in HE, and guidance for universities on managing external speakers on campus. The Independent Review of Prevent can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-prevents-report-and-government-response/independent-review-of-prevent-one-year-on-progress-report-accessible.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Education)
18th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the average time is for her Department to approve mergers between pre-schools and primary schools; what steps her Department is taking to (a) reduce that time and (b) help ensure (i) safeguarding during transition and (ii) continuity of funding for childcare; and how many mergers between pre-schools and primary schools her Department has approved in the last 12 months.

Local authorities are responsible for making decisions on statutory proposals to alter the age range of maintained schools, including by the addition of a nursery.

Academies wishing to alter their age range must submit an application for a significant change to the department. In the last 12 months, the department received over 100 significant change applications to change the age range at an academy. The current data collection does not break this down further to enable the department to provide information on the number of schools that have requested to change their age range to add provision for nursery age children. The department does not collect data on the average length of time taken to reach a decision as applications can differ in their complexity.

The department has published revised guidance which will come into effect from the end of April 2024. The guidance sets out an updated application process that will allow low risk changes to progress to a decision more quickly following the necessary checks, which will streamline the application process. When implemented, the department will also be introducing a new data collection system to track application information in more detail.

With regards to safeguarding, schools must continue to have regard to the statutory guidance, ‘Keeping children safe in education’, which can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/64f0a68ea78c5f000dc6f3b2/Keeping_children_safe_in_education_2023.pdf. All early years settings must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework throughout any transition period.

Local authorities remain responsible for the continuation of funding, as they are required to ensure sufficiency of childcare places in their areas. Early years entitlements funding for children in nursery classes up to reception age would continue until those children moved into reception.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Mar 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of allocating a portion of the savings in direct schools grants from home education to local authorities to provide exam centres.

The department allocates school funding to local authorities through the dedicated schools grant, on the basis of pupil numbers in the preceding autumn census. That some children are home educated does not, therefore, lead to unallocated funding. The department does not have current plans to fund exam centres for children who are home educated, but all funding is kept under careful review. Local authorities do have some flexibility to support children and young people who are home educated.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
21st Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what her Department's planned timescale is for publishing its consultation on relationship, health, and sex education in schools.

The department has brought forward the review of the relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance, including an independent expert advisory panel, which will advise my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, on the introduction of minimum ages for certain subjects. More information about the panel is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/terms-of-reference-for-review-panel-on-rshe.

The work of the expert panel will inform the public consultation, which will be published at the earliest opportunity, prior to publishing revised guidance in 2024.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of (a) raising and (b) tapering the threshold for free school meals.

Since 2010, the number of pupils receiving a free school meal (FSM) has increased by more than two million. This increase in provision is due to the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals and protections put in place as benefit recipients move across to Universal Credit. Over a third of pupils in England now receive FSM, compared with one in six in 2010.

The Department believes that the current eligibility threshold level, which enables pupils in low income households to benefit from FSM while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. The Department does not have plans to change the current eligibility conditions for FSM. The Department continues to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. The Department also continues to monitor the consequences of the rising cost of living and is working with other Government Departments to provide support to disadvantaged families.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if her Department will make an assessment of the accessibility of British Sign Language (a) classes and (b) qualifications for parents with deaf children who are ineligible for the adult education budget.

The government understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. The department also appreciates the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focusing on BSL up to, and including, Level 2. These qualifications include the Level 1 Award in BSL, which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or are expected to meet part of the cost through co-funding.

For qualifications at Level 3 and above, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available for certain BSL qualifications. Individuals can access information on which qualifications are eligible at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available at: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan. If undertaking a BSL qualification that leads to a master’s level qualification, eligible students can access a postgraduate loan, as long as they have not previously accessed the postgraduate loan product, or already hold a Level 7 qualification. Several universities and organisations offer such qualifications.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of BSL classes and qualifications for those who are ineligible for the AEB. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent.

In the rest of the country the Education and Skills Funding Agency manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to, and including, Level 2, meaning that government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost. This includes some BSL qualifications. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes. Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations.

In addition, on 15 June, the department launched a public consultation on the proposed subject content for a new GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The aim is for first teaching of the GCSE to take place from September 2025. The aim is that by introducing this new GCSE, more schools and colleges will choose to teach BSL in turn, increasing the number of BSL users and advance equality of opportunity.

The table below contains adult (19+) further education (FE) and skills learning aim enrolments from the 2017/18 academic year onwards that have ‘British Sign Language’ or ‘BSL’ in their aim title. Additional breakdowns are provided for education and training learning, and for learners declaring themselves as hearing impaired. The department does not hold information as to whether the learners taking these aims have deaf children.

Adult (19+) learning aim enrolments with ‘BSL’ or ‘British Sign Language’ in the title

Academic year

Further education and skills

Education and training

Education and training up to level 2

All enrolments

of which hearing impaired.

2017/18

2,010

1,990

1,910

90

2018/19

2,130

2,100

2,020

140

2019/20

1,520

1,510

1,430

120

2020/21

1,030

1,010

970

90

2021/22

1,050

1,050

1,030

90

To Note:

1) Figures rounded to the nearest 10

2) Data Source is the Individualised Learner Record.

3) Education and training aim enrolments includes learning funded via the AEB

4) Learners have the option to record a single instance of a primary learning difficulty or disability on the ILR, which we are reporting here. It will not include learners with a hearing impairment that do not wish to declare their disability, or who have multiple disabilities and do not declare a hearing impairment as their primary disability.

5) Aim enrolments are a count of enrolments at aims level (including component aims) for each academic year. Learners are counted for each aim they are studying and so, can be counted more than once. It is not a count of unique learners. Care should be taken when interpreting different learner characteristics as they could be repeated where a learner does more than one aim.

FE within the FE and skills and apprenticeship and traineeships publications covers learners who are studying courses in a FE College, with a training provider or within their local community. It also includes employees undertaking an apprenticeship or other qualification in the workplace. Education and training are mainly classroom-based adult FE that is not classed as an apprenticeship, community learning or workplace learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. It includes traineeships and offender learning.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support funding is available to deaf leaners or the parents of deaf leaners through the (a) Adult Education Budget and (b) other forms of funding in each of the last five years.

The government understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. The department also appreciates the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focusing on BSL up to, and including, Level 2. These qualifications include the Level 1 Award in BSL, which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or are expected to meet part of the cost through co-funding.

For qualifications at Level 3 and above, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available for certain BSL qualifications. Individuals can access information on which qualifications are eligible at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available at: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan. If undertaking a BSL qualification that leads to a master’s level qualification, eligible students can access a postgraduate loan, as long as they have not previously accessed the postgraduate loan product, or already hold a Level 7 qualification. Several universities and organisations offer such qualifications.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of BSL classes and qualifications for those who are ineligible for the AEB. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent.

In the rest of the country the Education and Skills Funding Agency manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to, and including, Level 2, meaning that government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost. This includes some BSL qualifications. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes. Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations.

In addition, on 15 June, the department launched a public consultation on the proposed subject content for a new GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The aim is for first teaching of the GCSE to take place from September 2025. The aim is that by introducing this new GCSE, more schools and colleges will choose to teach BSL in turn, increasing the number of BSL users and advance equality of opportunity.

The table below contains adult (19+) further education (FE) and skills learning aim enrolments from the 2017/18 academic year onwards that have ‘British Sign Language’ or ‘BSL’ in their aim title. Additional breakdowns are provided for education and training learning, and for learners declaring themselves as hearing impaired. The department does not hold information as to whether the learners taking these aims have deaf children.

Adult (19+) learning aim enrolments with ‘BSL’ or ‘British Sign Language’ in the title

Academic year

Further education and skills

Education and training

Education and training up to level 2

All enrolments

of which hearing impaired.

2017/18

2,010

1,990

1,910

90

2018/19

2,130

2,100

2,020

140

2019/20

1,520

1,510

1,430

120

2020/21

1,030

1,010

970

90

2021/22

1,050

1,050

1,030

90

To Note:

1) Figures rounded to the nearest 10

2) Data Source is the Individualised Learner Record.

3) Education and training aim enrolments includes learning funded via the AEB

4) Learners have the option to record a single instance of a primary learning difficulty or disability on the ILR, which we are reporting here. It will not include learners with a hearing impairment that do not wish to declare their disability, or who have multiple disabilities and do not declare a hearing impairment as their primary disability.

5) Aim enrolments are a count of enrolments at aims level (including component aims) for each academic year. Learners are counted for each aim they are studying and so, can be counted more than once. It is not a count of unique learners. Care should be taken when interpreting different learner characteristics as they could be repeated where a learner does more than one aim.

FE within the FE and skills and apprenticeship and traineeships publications covers learners who are studying courses in a FE College, with a training provider or within their local community. It also includes employees undertaking an apprenticeship or other qualification in the workplace. Education and training are mainly classroom-based adult FE that is not classed as an apprenticeship, community learning or workplace learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. It includes traineeships and offender learning.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Advanced Learner Loans were granted for courses in British Sign Language in each of the last five years.

The number of Advance Learner Loans for courses in British Sign Language per enrolment and academic year since the 2017/18 academic year are included in the table attached. These counts have been rounded to the nearest five and do not include loans for courses in Irish Sign Language.

19th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Education, Health and Care Plans included funding for courses in British Sign Language in each of the last five years.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans must specify the special educational provision required to meet each of the child or young person’s special educational needs. It is the responsibility of the local authority to secure the special educational provision specified in the plan. The department does not collect data on the specific types of special educational provision that are included in EHC plans.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the accessibility of British Sign Language classes for parents of (a) deaf children and (b) children with hearing loss who are ineligible for grants under the adult education budget; and what alternative steps the Government is taking to help support those parents to learn how to communicate with their children.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of British Sign Language (BSL) classes for those who are ineligible for the adult education budget (AEB). However, the AEB targets a wide range of individuals, including, but not limited to, UK nationals, other non-UK nationals, certain EU nationals and their family members, and individuals with certain types of immigration status (such as refugee status and those with indefinite leave to remain) and some asylum seekers.

Funding is available through the AEB for qualifications in or focussing on BSL up to and including level 2. About 60% of the AEB has been devolved to Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority, who determine which provision to fund for learners who live in their areas. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) provides the remaining funding for learners who live in non-devolved areas, which includes St Ives Constituency.

ESFA funded AEB qualifications include, for example, the Level 1 Award in BSL which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or expected to meet part of the cost, through co-funding. Where community learning providers offer BSL courses, those providers are responsible for determining the course fees, including levels of fee remission.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero