George Howarth Portrait

George Howarth

Labour - Knowsley

First elected: 13th November 1986


Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since January 2020)
Electricity and Gas Transmission (Compensation) Bill
18th Jan 2023 - 25th Jan 2023
Panel of Chairs
22nd Jun 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Panel of Chairs
13th Oct 2009 - 3rd May 2017
Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament
9th Sep 2015 - 20th Oct 2016
Finance and Services Committee
30th Jan 2012 - 30th Mar 2015
Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament
17th Jul 2005 - 30th Mar 2015
Modernisation of the House of Commons
13th Jul 2005 - 6th May 2010
Conventions (Joint Committee)
17th May 2006 - 31st Oct 2006
Armed Forces Bill Committee
19th Dec 2005 - 9th May 2006
Armed Forces Bill Committee
20th Dec 2005 - 9th May 2006
Draft Mental Health Bill (Joint Committee)
20th Jul 2004 - 11th Jul 2005
Public Accounts Committee
15th May 2002 - 10th Sep 2003
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
29th Jul 1999 - 7th Jun 2001
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th May 1997 - 29th Jul 1999
Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)
1st Jun 1994 - 1st Jun 1997
Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 1989 - 1st Jun 1994
Environment
19th Dec 1989 - 16th May 1990
Members' Interests
4th Apr 1990 - 11th May 1990
Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration
28th Jan 1987 - 15th Dec 1989


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, George Howarth has voted in 647 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All George Howarth 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
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(13 debate interactions)
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(10 debate interactions)
Edward Argar (Conservative)
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
(8 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(21 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(21 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(20 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all George Howarth's debates

Knowsley 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

We want the Government to abandon the planned implementation of affordability checks for some people who want to place a bet. We believe such checks – which could include assessing whether people are ‘at risk of harm' based on their postcode or job title – are inappropriate and discriminatory.

We are concerned that Parliament has not discussed and will not have a say on the 307 proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations, AND the amendments to 5 Articles of the IHR that were ADOPTED by the 75th World Health Assembly on 27 May 2022.

The Government must exercise its power under s.23 of the Gender Recognition Act to modify the operation of the Equality Act 2010 by specifying the terms sex, male, female, man & woman, in the operation of that law, mean biological sex and not "sex as modified by a Gender Recognition Certificate"

It has been reported that the Government may amend the Equality Act to "make it clear that sex means biological sex rather than gender." The Government has previously committed to not remove legal protections for trans people, an already marginalised group, but this change would do so.

Hundreds of thousands of people signed numerous petitions calling for actions that the Government has included in the Kept Animals Bill. The Government should urgently find time to allow the Bill to complete its journey through Parliament and become law.

There is no excuse for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to continue to effectively fund the slaughter of bears for ceremonial headgear since an indistinguishable alternative has been produced, which is waterproof, and mimics real bear fur in appearance and performance.

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.

Ensure any ban fully includes trans people and all forms of conversion therapy.

The Government should repeal breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation. We believe these provisions are a flawed approach to public safety and an ethical failing with regards to animal welfare.

Reform the GRA to allow transgender people to self-identify without the need for a medical diagnosis, to streamline the administrative process, and to allow non-binary identities to be legally recognised.

We have the second most expensive childcare system in the world. A full time place costs, on average, £14,000 per year, making it completely unaffordable for many families. Parents are forced to leave their jobs or work fewer hours, which has a negative impact on the economy and on child poverty.


Latest EDMs signed by George Howarth

18th March 2024
George Howarth signed this EDM on Monday 25th March 2024

Roger Daltrey’s 24 years of Royal Albert Hall shows for Teenage Cancer Trust

Tabled by: Amy Callaghan (Scottish National Party - East Dunbartonshire)
That this House celebrates 24 years of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall which have raised over £32 million, money that has helped fund specialist nurses, hospital units and support services right across the UK; applauds the work of Teenage Cancer Trust’s Honorary Patron and the …
20 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 9
Liberal Democrat: 3
Labour: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Conservative: 1
4th March 2024
George Howarth signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 5th March 2024

Fracture liaison services and osteoporosis

Tabled by: Margaret Greenwood (Labour - Wirral West)
That this House notes 50% of women and 20% of men over 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis; further notes 81,000 people of working age suffer fractures every year and that a third of sufferers will have to leave their jobs as a result; highlights the invaluable work …
27 signatures
(Most recent: 14 Mar 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 23
Independent: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All George Howarth's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by George Howarth, 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.


George Howarth has not been granted any Urgent Questions

George Howarth has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by George Howarth


A Bill to make provision for a new employee share ownership scheme allowing preferential access for lower income workers; to reduce the Share Incentive Plan holding period from five to three years; to require companies to include declarations in annual reports about the type of employee sharer ownership plans that are operated and the level of employee take up; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 8th November 2022
(Read Debate)

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
15th Jan 2024
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 18 December 2023 to Question 6413 on Government Legal Department, what the composition is of (a) her Department's Legal Advisers and (b) the Government Legal Department Litigation Group; and what (i) their legal qualifications and (ii) the professional standards to which they are required to adhere are.

The composition of the Ministry of Justice Legal Advisers Team, a division of the Government Legal Department (GLD), is as follows:

Description

Staff numbers

Head of Division/Director (Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2)

1

Deputy Director (Senior Civil Service Pay Band 1)

6

Senior Lawyer (Grade 6)

23

Lawyer (Grade 7) & Junior Lawyer (Legal Officer)

37

Senior Executive Officer, Higher Executive Officer

0

Legal Trainee, Executive Officer, Administrative Officer

10

The composition of the GLD's Litigation Group is as follows:

Description

Staff numbers

Head of Division/Director (Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2)

1

Deputy Director (Senior Civil Service Pay Band 1)

30

Senior Lawyer (Grade 6)

136

Lawyer (Grade 7) & Junior Lawyer (Legal Officer)

336

Senior Executive Officer, Higher Executive Officer

51

Legal Trainee, Executive Officer, Administrative Officer

203

These civil servants act on behalf of and in the name of the Treasury Solicitor, and pursuant to section 88 of the Solicitors Act 1974 are not required to be admitted or enrolled as a legal practitioner. They predominantly comprise of solicitors and barristers, the majority of which are admitted to practice in England and Wales, although some are qualified to practice in other jurisdictions.

The Costs Litigation Team includes qualified costs lawyers, in addition to which a small number of qualified legal executives are also employed in the Litigation Group. The balance of staff comprises legal trainees, apprentices, paralegals, and business support staff.

Qualified lawyers are required to adhere to the professional standards of their respective profession (solicitor, barrister, costs lawyer, or legal executive), and all staff are required to comply with the Civil Service Code.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
7th Dec 2023
To ask the Attorney General, whether her Department has (a) procedures and (b) notification systems in place for potential errors made by the Government Legal Department (GLD); whether errors by the GLD are recorded; whether financial losses arising from errors made by the GLD are recovered from the GLD; whether processes are in place to ensure that citizens receive redress when there has been a failure to process (i) applications, (ii) court orders and (iii) other maladministration by HM Courts and Tribunals Service; who in her Department is responsible for identifying and recording errors by the GLD; and what records her Department maintains of (A) apologies, (B) payments of compensation and (C) other matters relating to the GLD.

Where members of the public wish to raise a complaint about the Government Legal Department (GLD) or any of its staff, there is a relevant complaints procedure. Complaints will be investigated in accordance with the GLD complaints policy, which is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/government-legal-department/about/complaints-procedure#:~:text=Examples%20of%20maladministration-,What%20to%20do%20if%20you%20have%20a%20complaint,from%20receipt%20of%20your%20complaint.

There is then a right of appeal to the Treasury Solicitor. If the appellant is not satisfied with the department’s reply, and they feel that they have sustained injustice as a result of maladministration, they can consider bringing the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman).

The Ombudsman can recommend that organisations make payments if a complainant has sustained financial loss or to acknowledge the complainant’s distress. However, the Ombudsman will not investigate complaints where the complainant has the option to pursue legal action.

The Attorney General and Treasury Solicitor also meet regularly to discuss performance and serious errors can be flagged.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has an administrative complaints procedure that allows citizens to complain about administrative failures to process applications and court orders or other maladministration. If HMCTS receives a complaint then it will investigate and take steps to put things right where any administrative error has been made. More information about this complaints process is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-courts-and-tribunals-service/about/complaints-procedure.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
23rd Sep 2022
To ask the Attorney General, what processes his Department has in place to (a) record and (b) monitor undertakings made by (i) the Treasury Solicitor and (ii) other Ministers and officials in his Department.

The Law Officers are responsible fot eht oversight of the Law Officers' departments, namely the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), His Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and the Government Legal Department (GLD), as well as the Attorney General's Office.

In the case of the CPS and the SFO, the relationship with those bodies is provided for in statute and is described as "superintendence", and both are underpinned by Framework Agreements published on Gov.uk. Oversight of the GLD is underpinned by a Framework Agreement, and by a protocol in the case of HMCPSI.

The Treasury Solicitor is the Permanent Secretary of the GLD and the GLD's own guidance in respect of undertakings is to "avoid giving undertakings unless strictly necessary", and that if it is absolutely necessary to give an undertaking, GLD lawyers should do so only in accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority's Code of Conduct 2011.

Michael Tomlinson
Minister of State (Minister for Illegal Migration)
8th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the number of people who died in (a) 2021, (b) 2022 and (c) 2023 who (i) had cardiac arrest recorded as the main cause of death and (ii) did not have a defibrillator used.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the Hon gentleman’s Parliamentary Question of 8 November is attached.

14th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what information his Department holds on how many UK citizens under the age of 50 have emigrated to (a) Australia, (b) New Zealand, (c) USA and (d) Canada since 2015.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the Hon gentleman Parliamentary Questions of 14th April are attached.

14th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many retired people from (a) Canada, (b) New Zealand and (c) Australia live in the UK.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the Hon gentleman Parliamentary Questions of 14th April are attached.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress he has made on the public inquiry into the Government's response to the covid-19 pandemic, announced on 21 May 2021.

On 12 May, the Prime Minister confirmed that a public inquiry into COVID-19 would be established on a statutory basis, with full formal powers, and that it will begin its work in spring 2022.

Further details will be set out in due course.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will take steps to work with blind and partially sighted people to produce more accessible voting options.

The Government is committed to ensuring that elections are accessible for all those eligible to vote.

To that end, the Government has introduced a number of measures to support the accessibility of elections in the recently introduced Elections Bill, such as removing restrictions on who can act as a companion to support voters with disabilities and placing a broader requirement for Returning Officers to consider the needs of all disabled voters when providing equipment for polling stations.

Specifically on issues related to sight loss, we were pleased to be able to carry out some testing of accessible voting solutions for blind and partially sighted electors with the RNIB and Broadland District Council at the recent elections in May, and we are currently considering our next steps. We will continue to work with the RNIB and other interested groups in taking this forward and have already talked with RNIB about looking at the postal vote system to see how and where that can be improved to support engagement.

We also continue to work with the members of the Accessibly of Elections Working Group, including the Electoral Commission, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Association of Electoral Administrators. The Association of Electoral Administrators provides training and guidance for Returning Officers and their teams to further improve the support provided to enable disabled electors to participate in future elections.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many care home residents have died of covid-19 since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what representations he has received from businesses in Great Britain on delays in the distribution of goods to Northern Ireland.

Government departments regularly engage with individual businesses to support the development of practical solutions to issues raised, to ensure the effective movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Government receives regular feedback on issues of concern through the Northern Ireland Secretary’s Business Engagement Forum and the dedicated Protocol sub-group of the Brexit Business Taskforce. This engagement supports ongoing UK-EU discussions on addressing outstanding concerns on the Protocol. Concerns raised are addressed through action, including continuous improvements to the Trader Support Service, which processes approximately 99% of declarations within 15 minutes.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent representations he has received on the adequacy of the Ministerial Code.

The Cabinet Office receives correspondence on a broad range of subjects. Responsibility for the Ministerial Code rests with the Prime Minister.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish the Government's policy on what constitutes British values; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that such values are taken into account when developing Government policy.

The British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance are a fundamental part of the work of Government. Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and agencies.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what additional support is available to support service veterans during the covid-19 pandemic to (a) access employment opportunities, (b) access housing opportunities for those who are homeless and (c) link those about to leave the armed services with training opportunities.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, veterans have continued to be able to access support for employment, housing and training through services including the Veterans Gateway and the MOD’s Veterans Welfare Service. The Department for Work and Pensions is delivering the £2bn Kickstart programme, creating high quality work placements for young people at risk of long-term unemployment, and each of Jobcentre Plus’s Districts is currently supported by an Armed Forces Champion to cater for the specific needs of veterans. Training and resettlement is delivered to service leavers through the MOD’s Career Transition Partnership.

As a result of the pandemic, access to CTP services has been extended by three months, and training courses available virtually wherever possible. The Defence Transition Services, which support the most vulnerable Service leavers and their families have continued to operate. The Government has provided additional housing support to the general population, helping rough sleepers into safe accommodation, and published updated guidance for local authorities in June 2020 to ensure the veteran community has appropriate access to social housing, placing a bigger emphasis on mental health needs.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
27th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a time-limited energy tariff to help lower the cost of energy bills for (a) elderly people, (b) disabled people, (c) families with young children and (d) other people who are vulnerable to the cold.

The outlook for energy prices has improved significantly. The Ofgem price cap has more than halved since its peak at the beginning of this year.


The Government is providing Cost of Living Payments to UK households on eligible means tested benefits, including over 6 million people across the UK eligible ‘extra-costs’ disability benefits’, for those who face wider affordability challenges. This is in addition to ongoing winter support payments such as the Warm Home Discount, the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment.

The Government will continue to monitor the situation and keep options under review.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will introduce a government-funded discounted social energy tariff for (a) disabled people, (b) unpaid carers and (c) people on lower incomes.

The Government is providing Cost of Living Payments for those who face wider affordability challenges, including £900 to households on means tested benefits, of £300 to pensioner households and of £150 to those on eligible disability benefits.

This is in addition to ongoing winter support payments such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payments.

The Government continues to monitor the situation and will keep options under review, including with respect to the most vulnerable households.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) assessment he has made and (b) consultation he has carried out on the potential merits of introducing an energy social tariff.

As set out in the Autumn Statement, the Government will develop a new approach to consumer protection in energy markets, which will apply from April 2024 onwards.

The Government is committed to working with consumer groups and industry to consider the best approach, including options such as social tariffs, as part of wider retail market reforms.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made on agreeing to new visa arrangements, whether bilaterally or with individual EU states, for UK residents who carry out short-term contracts in the EU.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is the basis of our trading relations with the EU, and this is not going to be re-negotiated. Commitments in the TCA provide certainty and clarity for those who travel to another country temporarily to do business. For example, the TCA guarantees market access to key economic sectors, and eases some burdens on business travellers, such as: removing the need for work permits for some short-term trips and reducing the number of economic needs tests a country could impose to block access to exporters. They also ensure that the UK and EU Member States have a minimum standard for how business travellers and service providers should be treated when working abroad through non-discrimination clauses.

The end of freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will inevitably have some consequences for cross-border business travel, and we are engaging regularly with businesses to help them understand the new requirements for travel to the EU. We have published guidance on GOV.UK to help those intending to travel to the EU, EEA and Switzerland for work or other business purposes. The Government will continue to enhance this guidance and to engage with our embassies to better understand the requirements in Member States, on behalf of UK businesses.

We respect the right of individual Member States to determine their own immigration policies. Here in the UK, we have adopted a global immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the environment costs and benefits of the transition from petrol, diesel, and hybrid engines, in terms of the (a) carbon emissions from the electricity required and (b) steel used.

The Department for Transport developed the Transport Energy Model, published in 2018, to provide a clear assessment of the relative environmental impacts of different road vehicle technologies and fuels in the UK. For a typical medium car travelling at 34 km/hour, Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG from fuel/electricity production and vehicle use) for a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) were 66% lower than for a petrol car and 60% lower than for a diesel car. The Transport Energy Model also showed that BEVs are highly energy efficient – a typical BEV uses a two thirds less energy than the average petrol vehicle to move the same distance.

Lifecycle analysis looks at the total GHG emissions of a vehicle across its lifetime, including manufacturing, in-use and end-of-life. The latest evidence from lifecycle analysis shows that BEVs have significantly lower GHG emissions than their petrol, diesel or hybrid equivalents today. The leading lifecycle analysis studies have included emissions associated with vehicle production, including steel, and emissions from fuel or electricity production. To maximise environmental benefits, electric vehicles (EVs) and their batteries need to be manufactured and charged using electricity from low carbon sources. With the Government’s announcement of up to £1bn to support EV supply chains, our increasing use of low carbon energy sources, and our commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the UK is an attractive option for investment in low-carbon battery manufacture. UK BEV emissions, from energy production and use, are expected to fall to near zero by 2050 as the electricity grid decarbonises in line with Government projections.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations he has received from the automotive industry on the (a) transition from petrol, diesel, and hybrid engines, and (b) Government’s support for such a transition timetable.

The Government consulted last year on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans. We sought views on the phase out date, the definition of what should be phased out, barriers to achieving the proposals, the impact of the ambitions on different sectors of industry and society, and what measures were required by government and others to achieve the earlier phase out date.

As part of my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s ten point plan published in November 2020, we announced that we would phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and, from 2035, all new cars and vans must be zero emissions at the tailpipe. On 10 March, the Government published the full written outcome of the consultation including stakeholder views and the Government’s response. These ambitions will be supported by an accompanying package of £2.8 billion, with up to £1 billion to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure and £582 million for plug in vehicle grants.

Between 2030 and 2035, any new cars and vans sold that emit from the tailpipe must have significant zero emission capability. This will be defined through consultation in the coming months. We will continue to support industry and consumers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles and will publish a clear delivery plan later this year.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of insecure employment models such as zero-hours contracts, rolling contracts and other casual or insecure employment models.

The UK economy’s continued success is built on the flexibility of our labour market. Flexible working provides opportunities for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways and has played a crucial part in our high rates of employment pre-Covid-19. For example, in 2019, the UK employment rate was 76%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971. The Government also recognises the valuable contribution made by those in the gig economy during the Covid-19 pandemic and anticipate that these jobs will be crucial to our economic recovery.

12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on employees of the increased rate of bereavement during the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that the death of a close family member, friend, or colleague can be deeply upsetting. Grief is an extremely personal issue which affects different people in different ways: some people may find it helpful to take time off work whereas others may find work a helpful distraction.

The Government believes that individuals are best placed to understand their own specific needs and we encourage their employers to respond in an appropriate and sensitive way.

In April this year we introduced a new entitlement to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay, recognising that the death of a child is particularly tragic. Whilst there is no equivalent entitlement for employees who suffer a bereavement in other circumstances, all employees have a ‘day 1’ right to take unpaid time off work for an emergency involving a dependant. Time off for Dependants can?also be used to deal with practical issues, including?registering the death and?making funeral arrangements. All employees also have access to 5.6 weeks of paid Annual Leave a year.

12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has discussed the implications of a statutory right to bereavement leave with (a) other Departments and (b) external organisations.

Officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently met with representatives from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD); Cruse Bereavement Care; Jack’s Rainbow; Affinity Coaching Supervision; Bereavement UK; and the Advisory Conciliation Service (Acas) to discuss CIPD guidance for employers and the scope for introducing a new entitlement to Bereavement Leave and Pay for employee’s who lose a close family member.

A follow up meeting with CIPD and officials from BEIS last week. This meeting was also attended by an official from the Department for Health and Social Care.

13th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress the Government has made on bilateral negotiations with individual EU Member States to allow 90 in 180 days work permit free touring for UK artists and crew.

The Government recognises that there are new requirements for creative workers to work and tour in the EU. The Government has sought to clarify these new arrangements, which are in many cases more workable than has at times been reported.

EU Member States are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in each Member State. That is why we have engaged with EU Member States about the importance of touring. From these discussions, almost all Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for musicians and creative performers. This includes most of the UK’s biggest touring markets such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

We have also confirmed that splitter vans are not subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement requirements on haulage, and that portable musical instruments, carried or in a vehicle, can be transported cost-free and should not require ATA Carnets. In July, the Government introduced ‘dual registration’ to make it easier for specialist hauliers to move musicians’ equipment between Great Britain and the EU.

The Government supports creative businesses through a range of export support programmes, including the Music Export Growth Scheme, the International Showcase Fund, and the new Creative Faculty of the Export Academy. The Government has also established a new Export Support Service from which UK artists can get answers to practical questions about working in Europe.

In light of this support, the government does not intend to establish a new creative industries export office during this Spending Review period. The Government will set out its ambition for the creative sector to 2030, including boosting growth and exports, in the upcoming Creative Industries Sector Vision, which will be published in early 2023.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made on the impacts of barriers that UK musicians and crew face touring the EU following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The Government recognises that there are new requirements for creative workers to work and tour in the EU. The Government has sought to clarify these new arrangements, which are in many cases more workable than has at times been reported.

EU Member States are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in each Member State. That is why we have engaged with EU Member States about the importance of touring. From these discussions, almost all Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for musicians and creative performers. This includes most of the UK’s biggest touring markets such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

We have also confirmed that splitter vans are not subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement requirements on haulage, and that portable musical instruments, carried or in a vehicle, can be transported cost-free and should not require ATA Carnets. In July, the Government introduced ‘dual registration’ to make it easier for specialist hauliers to move musicians’ equipment between Great Britain and the EU.

The Government supports creative businesses through a range of export support programmes, including the Music Export Growth Scheme, the International Showcase Fund, and the new Creative Faculty of the Export Academy. The Government has also established a new Export Support Service from which UK artists can get answers to practical questions about working in Europe.

In light of this support, the government does not intend to establish a new creative industries export office during this Spending Review period. The Government will set out its ambition for the creative sector to 2030, including boosting growth and exports, in the upcoming Creative Industries Sector Vision, which will be published in early 2023.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make it her policy to create a music export office to (a) support creators and businesses looking to build their profile abroad, (b) provide advice on export logistics and strategy to artists and (c) help artists to expand into new markets.

The Government recognises that there are new requirements for creative workers to work and tour in the EU. The Government has sought to clarify these new arrangements, which are in many cases more workable than has at times been reported.

EU Member States are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in each Member State. That is why we have engaged with EU Member States about the importance of touring. From these discussions, almost all Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for musicians and creative performers. This includes most of the UK’s biggest touring markets such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

We have also confirmed that splitter vans are not subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement requirements on haulage, and that portable musical instruments, carried or in a vehicle, can be transported cost-free and should not require ATA Carnets. In July, the Government introduced ‘dual registration’ to make it easier for specialist hauliers to move musicians’ equipment between Great Britain and the EU.

The Government supports creative businesses through a range of export support programmes, including the Music Export Growth Scheme, the International Showcase Fund, and the new Creative Faculty of the Export Academy. The Government has also established a new Export Support Service from which UK artists can get answers to practical questions about working in Europe.

In light of this support, the government does not intend to establish a new creative industries export office during this Spending Review period. The Government will set out its ambition for the creative sector to 2030, including boosting growth and exports, in the upcoming Creative Industries Sector Vision, which will be published in early 2023.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the scale of the contribution to the UK economy from the technical support industry to the entertainment industry.

The Government recognises the importance of the technical support and production services industry to the entertainment sector, and its contribution to the UK economy. We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to this industry.

The Government undertakes a monthly assessment of the GVA of the cultural sector as a whole. It is estimated that GVA in the cultural sector shrank by 28% in March to December 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. In comparison, DCMS sectors (excluding Civil Society) shrank by 18% and the UK economy as a whole shrank by 11%. These monthly GVA estimates are based on incomplete information and should only be used to illustrate general trends, rather than be taken as definitive measures.

The Government recognises that there are many individuals and freelancers working across these industries. This is why the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) were extended to September 2021 at Budget. Also announced at Budget were changes to the SEISS scheme, meaning that 600,000 more people are now able to claim for the first time.

Through the CJRS, the Government is currently supporting 315,000 employees in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sectors.

The Department has remained in close contact with the technical support industry and production services sector throughout the pandemic and continues to hold regular meetings with a wide range of companies and representative organisations to understand the challenges they are facing and provide Government support targeted to their needs.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent representations he has received on the effect of covid-19 restrictions on (a) lower league and (b) amateur football.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. We are in regular contact with The Football Association about lower league and amateur football, and they are also invited to regular meetings of the Sport Working Group which I chair. Through these meetings we are continuing discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to reopen indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

Many football clubs have benefited from the multi-billion pound package of cross-sector business support from the Government that has enabled many sports clubs and leisure businesses to survive, including the furlough scheme and business interruption loan scheme. Sports have accessed many hundreds of millions of pounds of support through this.

As part of this, Sport England has provided £220m directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic, via a range of funds including their £35m Community Emergency Fund. This support is available to both men’s and women’s clubs with the latest figures showing £10.5m has already been awarded to over 1,500 football clubs. This sector support was recently boosted by an extra £50m to help grassroots sports clubs and organisations as part of Sport England’s new strategy Uniting the Movement.

National League clubs have also received further government support from the Sport Winter Survival Package. Steps 3-6 of the National League system will receive up to £10 million of grant support to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period. We also confirmed the second tranche of funding from the Package will provide an initial 19 National League Step 1-2 clubs with loans offers worth up to £5.4 million. Further awards will be announced in due course.

At Budget, the Chancellor also announced that the Government will provide an initial £25 million to support the growth of grassroots football, which will be enough to build around 700 new pitches across the UK.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has plans to introduce a stabilisation fund for the charity sector in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The government has pledged £750 million to ensure the voluntary and community sector continues its vital work supporting the country during the Coronavirus outbreak. This includes £360m distributed through government departments and £200m for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, being delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund. The government has unlocked a further £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts, which will be distributed to organisations to support urgent work to tackle youth unemployment, expand access to emergency loans for civil society organisations and help improve the availability of fair, affordable credit to people in vulnerable circumstances.

We have published clear and comprehensive guidance on the £750 million, plus other sources of support, at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

This is a package of emergency response funding targeted at supporting charities and social enterprises on the frontline of responding to Coronavirus, or providing other essential services. It builds on the significant package of support available across sectors, including the Job Retention Scheme.

7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 12 September 2023 to Question 196441 on Children: Social Services, how the £259 million capital funding for residential children’s homes will be allocated.

The 2021 Spending Review (SR) announced £259 million over the 2021 SR period to maintain capacity and expand provision in secure and open residential children’s homes.

Following this announcement, the department launched several waves of bidding rounds for local authorities to submit applications for this funding for both open and secure children’s homes.

A total of £80 million has been allocated to open children’s homes over two bidding rounds. The remaining £179 million is being allocated to secure children’s homes over two bidding rounds. This includes funding the development of two new Secure Children’s Homes in London and the West Midlands and a rebuild of an existing Secure Children’s Home in Lincolnshire, as well as a number of smaller projects to improve sufficiency in existing secure homes. The department is currently in the process of allocating further funds over the remaining SR period for existing secure homes following the conclusion of a review of the secure estate.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report by Become entitled Gone Too Far, published in April 2023, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her Department's policies of the proportion of local authorities that do not have a published sufficiency plan for children's social care.

Local authorities have a statutory duty set out in Section 22(3) of the Children’s Act 1989 to make sure that there is sufficient provision in their area to meet the needs of children in their care. Ofsted currently inspect local authorities’ children’s services and how they are meeting their range of statutory duties.

The department recognises that there are not enough of the right homes in the right places for children in care. The department wants to reduce out of area placements, but in some circumstances, it is the right decision for a child to be placed outside their home authority.

This Government is working to drive forward improvements at a national, regional, and local level to increase sufficiency and improve standards of care and regulations.

By 2027, there will be an increase in the availability of high-quality, stable, and loving homes for every child in care, close to where they are from. To achieve this, the department is supporting local authorities to increase care placements and ensure they meet children’s needs. The department has allocated £259 million of capital funding for secure and open children’s homes and over £27 million to deliver a fostering recruitment and retention programme.

In the longer-term, Regional Care Co-operatives (RCCs) will plan, commission and deliver children’s social care placements. Through operating on a larger scale and developing specialist capabilities, the RCCs will be able to develop a wide range of places to better meet children’s needs. This, in turn, should lead to improved placement stability and fewer out of area placements. The department is investing in two pathfinders to test the RCC model in collaboration with local authorities.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the International Education Strategy outlined in 2019 remains his Department's policy objective, including the target for the UK to (a) host 600,000 international students and (b) receive £35 billion export income per year by 2030.

The department remains committed and continues to work towards the two ambitions in the International Education Strategy published in 2019 and updated in 2021 and 2022. These ambitions are to increase the value of our education exports to £35 billion per year and to continue to host at least 600,000 international students in the UK per year, both by 2030. With 605,130 international students in the UK hosted in the 2020/21 academic year, the government has met its International Students ambition for the first time, nearly ten years early.

Education exports make an important contribution to the UK economy as well as helping us build global relationships and international students enrich the university experience for all students, including those from the UK themselves. For both international and domestic students, this cultural exchange helps build life-long friendships, future networks, and important business, political and diplomatic bridges.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential impact of the cost of living crisis on the number of children claiming free school meals.

The provision of free school meals (FSM) to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Under this government, eligibility for free school meals has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. That includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and further education free meals, and a permanent extension to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to specified income thresholds.

The latest published statistics, available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics, show that around 1.9 million pupils are claiming a free meal in school at lunch time. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 20.8% in 2021.

Together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the UIFSM policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. The department thinks it is right that provision is aimed at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. The department does not have any plans to extend universal provision, but it will continue to keep free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. In setting a threshold, the government believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending free school meal eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the analysis of Child Poverty Action Group, published on 9 June 2022, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings relating to the number of children living in poverty who are not eligible for free school meals.

The provision of free school meals (FSM) to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Under this government, eligibility for free school meals has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. That includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and further education free meals, and a permanent extension to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to specified income thresholds.

The latest published statistics, available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics, show that around 1.9 million pupils are claiming a free meal in school at lunch time. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 20.8% in 2021.

Together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the UIFSM policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. The department thinks it is right that provision is aimed at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. The department does not have any plans to extend universal provision, but it will continue to keep free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. In setting a threshold, the government believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending free school meal eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the findings of Child Poverty Action Group, published on 9 June 2022, on the number of children living in poverty who are not eligible for free school meals, whether he is taking steps to ensure that all children living in poverty have access to healthy meals.

The provision of free school meals (FSM) to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Under this government, eligibility for free school meals has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. That includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and further education free meals, and a permanent extension to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to specified income thresholds.

The latest published statistics, available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics, show that around 1.9 million pupils are claiming a free meal in school at lunch time. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 20.8% in 2021.

Together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the UIFSM policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. The department thinks it is right that provision is aimed at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. The department does not have any plans to extend universal provision, but it will continue to keep free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. In setting a threshold, the government believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending free school meal eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what representations he has received on the (a) adequacy of the Government’s summer catch-up provision, and (b) suitability of providers who have applied for contracts to provide such programmes.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to work with parents, teachers and pupils to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament. As an immediate step to support nurseries, schools and colleges, on 24 February the Department committed an additional £700 million to support summer schools, tutoring, early language interventions, and additional support to schools to help pupils make up their education. This builds on the £1 billion from last year and brings the total available to £1.7 billion.

The £1 billion package includes a £650 million catch up premium to support schools in helping their pupils to make up lost education. The funding will be issued in three tranches, two of which have already been delivered. The third, and largest (£271 million), will be delivered in the summer term. Schools can use catch up premium funding to support pupils to catch up in the summer. To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a support guide for schools with evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students, which is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1. The EEF have also published a further school planning guide: 2020 to 2021, available to view here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

The £700 million announcement in February also included a new one-off recovery premium of £302 million for the next academic year. The recovery premium will build on the pupil premium to further support pupils who need it most. Schools’ allocations from the recovery premium will be based on the number of their pupils who are eligible for the pupil premium. Schools should use the recovery premium, alongside their existing catch up premium, and their pupil premium as a single total from which to prioritise support for pupils according to their need, including to support catch up in the summer.

£200 million will be made available to secondary schools to deliver a face to face summer school. A mix of academic and enrichment activities should help the pupils involved to recover some of their lost education and should also support their mental health and wellbeing. The Department has not contracted any providers to deliver summer schools. Schools will be funded directly and they are free to resource the support to best meet the needs of the school and its pupils. The Department will shortly publish guidance that includes signposts to additional support for schools should they need it.

The Department has made an additional £630,000 available for Oak National Academy to support education recovery by developing free, high-quality resources that will be available online throughout the summer holidays. This optional suite of resources covering Reception to Year 11 will provide support to pupils who have missed important curriculum content. It can be used by teachers or holiday clubs when setting holiday homework or running summer schools.

In addition, the Department’s holiday activities and food programme will make up to £220 million available to local authorities to coordinate free holiday activities, including healthy food and enriching activities, during the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. The programme will be available to children who receive benefits-related free school meals in every local authority in England. The programme is delivered through grants to local authorities, and local authorities will therefore hold any contracts with local providers.

In summer 2020, as part of the initial £1 billion catch-up package, the Government launched a £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP). The NTP is an ambitious scheme which provides additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of the £700 million plan announced on 24 February, this included £200 million to expand our successful tutoring programmes. This will fund an £83 million expansion of the National Tutoring Programme for 5–16-year-olds in 2021/22, which has been shown to boost catch up education by much as 3-5 months, a £102 million extension of the 16-19 Tuition Fund for a further year to support more students in English, maths and other vocational and academic subjects, and £18 million funding to support language development in the early years, supporting a critical stage of child development.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the event of future covid-19 lockdown restrictions to schools, what proposals he has to ensure that all children have access to appropriate devices for online learning.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including making 1.3 million laptops and tablets available for disadvantaged children and young people. To date, over 1.2 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, academy trusts, local authorities and further education colleges.

The Government is providing this significant injection of laptops and tablets on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Once received, the laptops and tablets will be owned by schools, academy trusts, local authorities or further education colleges who can lend these to children and young people who need them the most. These laptops and tablets are intended to give schools the flexibility to provide remote education support and can continue to be used in the longer term either in the classroom or from home.

The Department also provided support for over 100,000 families to get online through uplifts in mobile data and 4G wireless routers.

We are considering future options on digital education, and we will set out our plans in due course.

13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on students' exam performance of their disrupted schooling as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department acknowledges that pupils due to sit examinations next summer have experienced considerable disruption to their education. The Government is determined to do everything possible to ensure that no pupil is prevented from fulfilling their potential due to COVID-19.

The Department has been working closely with Ofqual, the examination boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges, and students, to consider its approach to examinations and other assessments for 2021. It is working closely with the sector representatives to identify any risks to examinations at a national, local, and individual pupil level, and consider measures needed to address any potential disruption. The extent of necessary public health restrictions over the year is of course unknown so the Department is planning for every eventuality.

Working jointly with Ofqual, the Department is also considering the approach to grading, to ensure the 2021 cohort is treated fairly compared to previous cohorts. It continues to believe that examinations are the best and fairest way of judging pupils’ performance and the Government is committed to GCSE, AS and A level examinations taking place next year.

More detail will be published later this autumn.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the change in the level of food insecurity among children during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Our latest guidance for schools is set out below:

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

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

The government has taken a series of significant actions, including actions regarding families’ access to food, to support families affected by COVID-19.

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

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate arrangements for eligible pupils. This can include food parcel arrangements, alternative voucher arrangements or provision through the national voucher scheme. Our national voucher scheme supplier, Edenred, has reported that over £101.5 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Friday 22 May.

On 8 May, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced up to £16 million to provide food for those who are struggling as a result of COVID-19. The programme will provide millions of meals over a 12-week period, as delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme). At least 5,000 frontline charities and community groups in England will benefit, including families, refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services. It will cover rural areas as well as cities, targeting those who are struggling to get food.

In addition, the government continues to invest significantly each year on welfare benefits for people of working age, supporting people when they need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the UK government’s package of support in response to COVID-19 is one of the largest in the world. We have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by over £1,000 a year for this financial year, benefiting over 4 million households. We have also increased Local Housing Allowance rates, putting an average of £600 into people’s pockets. Taken together, these measures provide over £6.5 billion of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19.

19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the national voucher scheme offered to children eligible for free school meals during school closures will include support to cover the costs of breakfast.

While schools are closed to the majority of pupils, they are able to provide meals or vouchers to children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. More information can be found here:

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

In addition to this, we are working to consider options to support children who currently receive a free breakfast through the department’s contract with Family Action and Magic Breakfast. Family Action with Magic Breakfast will liaise directly with the schools involved in the programme.

11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the provision of cooking classes in schools to ensure that all pupils are taught cookery until the end of key stage 3.

Cooking and nutrition are compulsory in state-maintained schools for Key Stages 1 to 3, from ages 5 to 14. It is a discrete strand of the design and technology programme of study within the national curriculum, which can be used as an exemplar for free schools and academies.

The programme of study for cooking and nutrition aims to teach children how to cook and apply the principles of healthy eating and good nutrition. It recognises that cooking is an important life skill that will help children to feed themselves and others healthy and affordable food, now and in the future. By the end of Key Stage 3, pupils should be able to cook a repertoire of predominantly savoury dishes and be competent in a range of cooking techniques.

A food preparation and nutrition GCSE is also available for pupils who are interested in continuing to study cookery. It requires pupils to understand and apply the principles of food science, nutrition and healthy eating when preparing and cooking food. This was introduced in 2016, with the first exams in this qualification taken in summer 2018.

11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to (a) increase the take-up of school meals and (b) improve compliance with school food standards.

The government encourages all schools to promote healthy eating and provide healthy, tasty and nutritious food and drink. Compliance with the School Food Standards is mandatory for all maintained schools. We also expect all academies and free schools to comply with the standards, and since 2014 we have made this an explicit requirement in their funding agreements.

School governors have a responsibility to ensure compliance and should appropriately challenge the headteacher and the senior leadership team to ensure that the school is meeting its obligations. Should parents feel that school food standards are not being met at their child’s school, they may choose to make a complaint using the school’s own complaints procedure.

In particular, we want to ensure that as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals (FSM) and we also want to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for FSM. Additionally, we provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including FSM.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on achieving the ambition in the Child Obesity Plan to update the Schools Food Standards to reduce children's sugar consumption.

The department is working with Public Health England (PHE) to update the School Food Standards in relation to sugar and fibre. On 7 May and 6 November 2019, we brought together an advisory group comprising of key stakeholders in the food, nutrition and health sectors who hold a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise in relation to school food to discuss the proposed updates to the standards.

PHE has launched an invitation to tender for organisations interested in testing the detail of the proposed updates to ensure these are practical and can be easily implemented by schools and caterers. Further information will be announced as this develops.

17th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, further to the Government’s response to e-petition 630751 entitled Retain bans on cat, dog, seal fur imports, and extend to ban all fur imports, in which it says it has no plans currently to make further changes in this area, whether her Department is still considering responses received to the 2021 call for evidence on The Fur Market in Great Britain.

We are carefully reviewing the evidence gathered both from our Call for Evidence and from wider engagement with the fur trade and stakeholders.

We will use the evidence gathered to inform any future action on the fur trade, in line with the Government’s commitment to improving animal welfare standards.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations he has received from (a) zoos, (b) aquariums and (c) safari parks on the support needed to (i) remain economically viable in the context of the effect of covid-19 restrictions and (ii) ensure that animal welfare standards are maintained.

We remain committed to ensuring the sector can deliver the best possible care for its animals and have regular meetings with BIAZA, the zoo and aquarium industry body, and frequently engage with the CEOs of the largest charitable zoos. These discussions touch on many topics, including updates on the financial situation of the sector.

We have reacted to feedback from the industry and expanded the eligibility criteria of the Zoo Animals Fund so that grant payments to zoos begin when zoos reach their final 12 weeks of financial reserves, rather than six weeks and also expanded the range of costs that are eligible under the Fund so zoos can now claim costs relating to pre-planned essential maintenance and repair works as well as animal care costs. Representations were also made to extend the Fund and we have acted upon on this and extended the Fund for a second time. Applications are now open until 28 May and support will be provided until 30 June.

We are pleased to say we have received positive feedback from recipients of the Zoo Animals Fund on how the funding has enabled them to continue to provide the best care for their animals and operate safely in these challenging times. We are also working closely with the sector on their reopening guidance to ensure that zoos and aquariums are ready to open their doors to visitors, as soon as it is safe to do so. We will continue to engage with the sector to fully understand the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and to provide updates as situations change.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she taking to ensure that aid is targeted at the most vulnerable regardless of their faith; and what criteria her Department applies to ensure that religious minorities are not discriminated against.

The UK Government works to ensure that UK overseas aid is targeted at the most vulnerable and that religious minorities are not discriminated against. The UK is committed to delivering its aid according to internationally recognised humanitarian principles. These principles ensure that humanitarian assistance is delivered to those who are most vulnerable and most in need of this assistance irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. The UK is firmly committed to the protection of religious minorities, and regularly challenges our partners to demonstrate that they are doing all they can to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people, including those from religious minorities.

DFID undertakes interdisciplinary analysis of a country’s politics, society, state and economy to identify the most significant problems that hinder development and the main entry points and opportunities to create change. There is a strong emphasis on how politics, security, and demographics interact with economic growth and human development to ensure that aid is targeted at the most vulnerable.

Vulnerable religious minority groups will experience crises such as COVID-19 outbreaks differently. Crises are likely to reinforce their marginalised position in society, their experience of discrimination, violence and stigma, and further limit their access to essential support and services. For this reason, guidance was circulated across DFID highlighting that inclusion must be central to our response and that the specific contexts and needs of vulnerable religious communities and other vulnerable groups should be taken into account when developing practical programmes of assistance.

On 8 June, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for Human Rights, hosted a roundtable to hear from faith leaders and faith-based development organisations about the specific challenges minority faith communities were facing during this COVID-19 pandemic.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will list the countries with which the Government is conducting bilateral trade negotiations.

HM Government has agreed trade deals with 66 countries, in addition to the EU, covering trade worth £890 billion in 2019.

My Department has agreed continuity arrangements with the European Economic Area (EEA) and continue to make progress towards a new comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA). We are continuing discussions from last year with Serbia too, with a view to concluding an agreement soon.

FTA negotiations are continuing with the US, Australia and New Zealand. We will re-open negotiations with Canada and Mexico this year, which supports our strategy to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).