Gill Furniss Portrait

Gill Furniss

Labour - Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough

Opposition Whip (Commons)

(since July 2020)
Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities)
10th Apr 2020 - 10th Jul 2020
Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Steel, Postal Affairs and Consumer Protection)
13th Oct 2016 - 10th Apr 2020
Women and Equalities Committee
13th Jun 2016 - 5th Dec 2016


Oral Question
Thursday 2nd December 2021
09:30
Department for International Trade
Oral Question No. 13
What recent discussions she has had with UK trade partners on inserting clauses on environmental standards into future trade deals.
Save to Calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 1st December 2021
Finance (No. 2) Bill
was Teller for the Ayes
Tally: Ayes - 215 Noes - 299
Speeches
Wednesday 17th November 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

Q6.   Last week I visited a GP practice in my constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough and was horrified to …

Written Answers
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Yemen: Armed Conflict
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 25th May 2016
INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT PENNINE FOODS, SHEFFIELD
That this House is disturbed by widespread reports that employers across the country are seeking to offset the costs of …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 1st November 2021
4. Visits outside the UK
Name of donor: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
Address of donor: Qatar Embassy, 1 South Audley Street, London W1K 1NB …
EDM signed
Monday 25th October 2021
Campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall
That this House welcomes the creation of the Covid Memorial Wall on Albert Embankment by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Gill Furniss has voted in 351 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Gill Furniss 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
Paul Scully (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(9 debate interactions)
James Cleverly (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(6 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(4 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Education
(12 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(5 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Gill Furniss's debates

Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with most Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough signatures
Gill Furniss has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Gill Furniss

23rd September 2021
Gill Furniss signed this EDM on Monday 25th October 2021

Campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall

Tabled by: Afzal Khan (Labour - Manchester, Gorton)
That this House welcomes the creation of the Covid Memorial Wall on Albert Embankment by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; notes that this memorial now includes over 150,000 hand-painted hearts to symbolise all those who lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic; praises the work of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for …
132 signatures
(Most recent: 16 Nov 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 95
Scottish National Party: 13
Liberal Democrat: 10
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Conservative: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
14th January 2021
Gill Furniss signed this EDM on Monday 18th January 2021

Godfrey Colin Cameron

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting covid-19; extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 117
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Gill Furniss's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Gill Furniss, 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.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Gill Furniss

Gill Furniss has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Gill Furniss has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Gill Furniss has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


211 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
18th Aug 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what recent assessment he has made of the potential for an agreement between world leaders on measures to reach net zero at the COP26 conference.

The science is increasingly clear that in order to keep 1.5 degrees celsius within reach, we must halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero CO2 emissions by the middle of the century. The UK COP26 Presidency has made it a priority to encourage all countries to make net zero commitments and they now cover over 70% of the global economy, up from 30% at the start of our Presidency. We will continue to press all countries to make such commitments as part of an outcome in Glasgow that keeps 1.5C within reach.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the Women's Budget Groups analysis that working-class women were most affected by the covid-19 lockdown; and what steps she (a) plans to mitigate those effects on those women and (b) is taking to ensure that disparity does not exist in the tiered covid-19 restrictions.

We are committed to ensuring a fair recovery for all. During the crisis we have rolled out unprecedented levels of support to protect jobs for both women and men.

As of 20 September, our COVID business support schemes provided £57.31bn of finance to businesses in need. In the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, all strong employers of women, eligible businesses will continue to pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1st April 2020, saving them almost £10 billion.

For the 1.7 million self-employed women in the UK, the Self Employment Income Scheme has supported many through the crisis, seeing 2.7m claims since launch and there is an opportunity now for women to grow innovative businesses.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the date on which gender identity clinics may return to full functionality.

The Minister for Women and Equalities has written to Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, and Dr Michael Brady, National LGBT Health Advisor, to ask what can be done to ensure that gender identity clinics can still provide their necessary services for transgender service users.

We are aware that the impact of COVID-19 may reduce access to gender identity clinics, as gender identity clinics have complied with national advice to prevent face-to-face contact where possible.

The NHS has advised GPs to consider putting all suitable patients on electronic repeat dispensing, with appropriate arrangements in place for monitoring and blood tests that are clinically necessary. I am informed that services will be back to normal as soon as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of easing covid-19 restrictions on christenings on 21 June 2021 in line with weddings and funerals.

Guidance on significant life events, such as baptisms and bar mitzvahs, is available on gov.uk as part of the guidance for the safe use of places of worship. This guidance is kept under continual review, and the government continues to work with its Places of Worship Taskforce and faith leaders to review and amend this guidance, as necessary.

If significant life events take place as part of communal worship, participation is limited by the capacity of the venue, in line with the wider rules on communal worship. If significant life events take place as standalone events, there is a limit of up to 30 people (indoors or outdoors, excluding inside private homes). Anyone working is not included in this limit.

From 21 June, there is no longer a maximum number cap for attendees at wedding or civil partnership ceremonies and receptions set out in law. Many people have planned for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies and receptions a long time in advance, and these types of events can be difficult to book and to cancel. They often require aligning multiple businesses, sometimes years in advance, and can have a significant social and economic cost. The exact number of attendees will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of each venue or outdoor space, and measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he will take to evaluate the effectiveness of audio voting devices for blind and partially sighted people in pilot programmes planned for the next election.

The Government is committed to ensuring that elections are accessible for all those eligible to vote and has been working with the RNIB to improve the voting process for voters with sight loss. We are currently considering how best to implement changes better to support blind and partially sighted people to cast their vote. Announcements will be made in the usual way.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what incentives will be provided to encourage local authorities to take part in the pilot schemes of audio voting devices for blind and partially sighted people planned for the next election.

The Government is committed to ensuring that elections are accessible for all those eligible to vote and has been working with the RNIB to improve the voting process for voters with sight loss. We are currently considering how best to implement changes better to support blind and partially sighted people to cast their vote. Announcements will be made in the usual way.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on what date Paula Vennells CBE ceased to be a Non-Executive Board Member in the Cabinet Office; and what the circumstances were surrounding her departure from Government.

Details of Cabinet Office Non Executive Board Members are listed on gov.uk and updated as appropriate. Paula Vennells stood down from the Cabinet Office Board on 5 March 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of strengthening employees' rights to flexible working from the start of employment.

The Government is currently consulting on measures that would increase the availability and support the uptake of flexible working arrangements, including whether to extend the right to request flexible working to employees from their first day of employment. The consultation closes on 1 December 2021 and the Government will issue its response in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will provide a timescale for the allocation of funding under the Clean Steel Fund.

In its response to the Call for Evidence on the Clean Steel Fund, the steel industry indicated a preference for the Fund to start in 2023.

The Government recognises the vital role that the sector plays in all areas of the UK and our economy and will continue to work with the sector to support its decarbonisation. The Department announced the Clean Steel Fund in 2019 and a number of options have been explored, together with ongoing feedback from industry.

In March 2021, the Government published the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy in which we committed to working with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035 and the business environment necessary to support the transition. We will provide further information in due course.

Lee Rowley
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to his Answer of 22 September 2021 to Question 51016, how much funding from the public purse has been diverted through relief schemes to the steel sector to help reduce the effect of recent energy price increases on that sector.

The value of the schemes was £122m in 2020.

Lee Rowley
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to encourage inward investment into the UK’s steel sector to aid the transition to net zero carbon emissions.

The Government recognises the importance of the UK steel sector as a foundation industry and the role it plays in the supply chain for other important advanced manufacturing sectors in the UK, as well as for direct and indirect jobs across the country.

Decarbonising the sector is a core part of the Government’s plans to meet its stated carbon emission reduction targets, for supporting local economic growth and for our levelling up agenda.

The Steel Council was reconstituted in March 2021. This forum offers the Government and industry the opportunity to work towards creating an achievable, long-term plan to support the sector’s transition to a competitive, sustainable, and low carbon future.

The Government has announced a £250 million Clean Steel Fund to support the UK’s steel sector to transition to lower carbon iron and steel production, through new technologies and processes, placing the sector on a pathway consistent with the UK Climate Change Act. Our expectation is that the Fund will provide a proportion of the investment for projects, with the rest funded by industry.

Lee Rowley
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to reduce the UK’s industrial energy prices.

The Government is committed to minimising energy costs for businesses to ensure our economy remains strong and competitive. We deliver relief schemes to reduce the cumulative impact of some energy and climate change policies on UK’s industrial energy prices for eligible energy intensive industries, such as steel, chemicals, and glass manufacturing.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made on the appointment of a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement.

Cracking down on non-compliance in the Labour Market is a priority for the Government and a new Director for Labour Market Enforcement will be appointed as soon as possible. Recruitment for the role is ongoing and a successful candidate will be announced in due course.

The temporary vacancy has no impact on workers’ rights. The three enforcement bodies themselves are responsible for their overall work and enforcement responsibilities. They will continue to work hard to protect workers and bring enforcement action against employers who break the rules.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to take steps to encourage international students to complete their PhD in the UK.

We want to attract and retain the most highly skilled, globally mobile talent from around the world, and ensure the UK is a top destination for scientists, researchers and innovators.

The UK has a world-leading research base: with less than 1% the world’s population, the UK accounts for more than 3% of researchers, 7% per cent of the world’s academic publications, and 14% of the world’s most highly-cited academic publications.

In order to encourage international PhD students to study in the UK, UKRI has increased the overall proportion of UKRI studentships available to international students from Academic Year 2021/22. All students would receive a full award, to include a stipend and fees at the home level.

The new Student route was launched by Government on 5th October as part of the UK's new points-based immigration system, streamlining the immigration process for international students. Furthermore, from summer 2021, the new Graduate route will enable students who have completed a PhD to remain in the UK after graduation to stay and work, or look for work, for up to three years. Students who have successfully completed undergraduate and master’s degrees will be able to stay for a further two years after study.

The Government has implemented a number of concessions to assist visa holders in the UK who have been impacted by global travel and health restrictions. This has included offering extensions of visas for those whose leave has expired, and relaxing the rules on switching in the UK, as well as extending the deadline by which international students need to be in the UK to be eligible to apply for the Graduate route.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the UK Research and Innovation budget.

This year’s overall settlement for BEIS follows four years of significant growth in R&D funding, including a boost of more than £1.5 billion in 2020/21 and will mean UK Government R&D spending is now at its highest level in four decades. The Government is committed to increasing public expenditure on R&D to £22 billion.

Despite current fiscal challenges, the November 2020 Spending Review set out the Government’s plan to cement the UK’s status as a global leader in science and innovation by investing £14.9 billion in R&D, with £11.3 billion for BEIS.

Specific funding breakdowns for 2021/22, including UKRI's funding, is subject to our Departmental allocations process, which is progressing at pace. As set out in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State takes advice from UKRI’s Board to ensure strategic priorities are met within BEIS’ overall R&D settlement.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to improve guidance on (a) knowledge of and (b) training on whistleblowing for employees.

The Government recognises how valuable it is that whistleblowers are prepared to shine a light on wrongdoing and believes that they should be able to do so without fear of recrimination.

BEIS has provided guidance for whistleblowers and employers (including a non-statutory code of practice).  This aims to ensure that more employers follow good practice when responding to disclosures relating to whistleblowing. The Department will review the effectiveness of guidance in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what fiscal steps he is taking to prevent fuel poverty during winter 2020-21.

Improving the energy efficiency of homes is the best long-term solution to tackle fuel poverty. The Energy Company Obligation is a GB wide energy efficiency scheme worth £640m per year until March 2022 and is focused on low-income and vulnerable households. The Green Homes Grant, launched in September 2020, is a £2 billion programme which will help improve the energy efficiency of homes in England. Of this, around half is specifically for low income, vulnerable and fuel poor households.

We recognise that some households may need immediate support this winter and so we provide assistance with energy bills for low income and vulnerable consumers through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments.

We have also successfully negotiated an agreement with energy suppliers to support customers impacted by COVID-19. Based on the circumstances, this could include reassessing, reducing, or pausing debt repayments for households in financial distress and support for prepayment meter customers to stay on supply.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the amount of carbon dioxide was emitted in the Sheffield City Region in (a) April and (b) December 2020.

While the Government does account for carbon dioxide emissions at the regional and local authority level, estimates of these emissions following the introduction of Covid restrictions last year are not yet available. For 2018, the latest year available, carbon dioxide emissions for the Sheffield local authority area were estimated to be 2,200ktCO2. Total carbon dioxide emissions for the Yorkshire and Humber region in 2018 were estimated to be about 10% of the UK’s total.

As the Government continues to take the steps necessary to reduce our carbon emissions in line with our climate commitments, the Sheffield City Region, and the Yorkshire and Humber region more widely will play an important part in reaching net zero by 2050. For example, as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, working with industry, the UK is aiming for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. This could see the UK benefitting from around 8,000 jobs across our industrial heartlands and beyond.

The Government is also determined for the UK to become a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with an ambition to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide a year by 2030, equivalent to all of Humber’s industrial emissions today. This is supported by an extra £200 million of new funding to create two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s, with another two set to be created by 2030. This increased investment totals £1 billion, helping to support 50,000 jobs, potentially in areas such as the Humber, North East, North West, Scotland and Wales.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of planned reductions in posts at WH Smith on the Post Office network.

The Department have made no such assessment given that WHSmith’s restructuring programme is not expected to impact Post Office services provided in WHSmith stores. The review of WHSmith’s operations is to ensure the company is able to navigate the current uncertain economic times, particularly as a result of the decline in travel during Covid-19. However, the Department has an open dialogue with both Post Office Limited and WHSmith and will keep monitoring the situation.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to maintain the public subsidy allocated to Post Offices in rural locations after March 2021.

The Government has invested over £2 billion in the Post Office network since 2010.

Our current funding agreement with Post Office runs up to 2021 and we are working with Post Office to ensure the network is sustainable beyond that point. Beyond 2021, Government remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the network and will work with Post Office Limited to achieve this.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Government financial support for businesses who operate from a domestic premise during the covid-19 outbreak.

Businesses operating from a domestic premises are eligible to benefit from a range of Government support during the pandemic, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Future Fund, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

As of 12 July, £45 billion worth of loans have been approved under the three debt schemes (CBILS, CLBILS and BBLS). 429 convertible loans have been approved under the Future Fund, worth almost £419.6 million.

Around 95 per cent of those with more than half their income from self-employment in 2018-19 could be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). As of 12 July, SEISS had helped 2.7 million individuals, claiming £7.8 billion of government support.

Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company via a PAYE scheme, including those based in domestic premises, are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). As of 12 July, 9.4 million jobs had been furloughed under the CJRS.

We engage frequently with businesses of all sizes including micro businesses and self-employed people and their representative organisations, to understand and identify the most effective support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the average time taken for banks to process applications to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

In order to apply for the Bounce Back Loans scheme, businesses complete a short, simple, online application form, meaning that applications can be submitted and processed rapidly. The Government is providing lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan to give them the confidence they need to quickly support the smallest businesses in the country.

The scheme has proved popular with businesses and as of 5 July, there had been 1,013,410 approved loans totalling £30.93 billion.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to encourage businesses to incorporate gender impact assessments into their plans to reopen with alternative working arrangements after the covid-19 lockdown.

The Government’s Safer Working guidance does not affect employers’ existing responsibilities under employment and equalities legislation. For example, this guidance does not change employers’ responsibilities towards new or expectant mothers. Workers who are pregnant are part of the “clinically vulnerable” group who are at higher risk of coronavirus.

Employers, therefore, need to bear in mind the particular needs of different groups or individuals, and make sure that the steps they take to address the risk of COVID-19 do not unjustifiably impact on some groups compared with others.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to prevent elderly and vulnerable people being targeted with scams related to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to protecting consumers from those who seek to profit from scams, and particularly those associated with Covid-19.

The Consumer Protection Partnership of consumer advice and enforcement agencies collects regular intelligence on scams as they emerge. Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute issued advice and warnings on Covid-19 related scams earlier this month.

Consumers can access advice on how to spot a scam and how to report one through the Citizens Advice website. Citizens Advice refer cases onto enforcement agencies including local Trading Standards where appropriate.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 10 March 2020, Official Report, column 43WH, what steps he is taking to challenge Post Office Ltd leadership on its engagement with sub-postmasters.

The Government believes that Post Office Limited’s commitments for cultural and organisational change following the mediation are of the upmost importance and is determined to see them delivered.

I have personally challenged the Post Office CEO and Chair to strengthen their relationship with postmasters and take onboard the lessons learnt through the litigation. I will continue to raise this issue and test progress during my regular meetings with the CEO going forward. Officials will also monitor progress at regular meetings with Post Office officials.

BEIS has established and chairs a quarterly working group with the National Federation for Subpostmasters and the Post Office. This is a forum for discussing how the relationship between the Post Office and postmasters can be improved and highlighting any concerns that postmasters may have. This is a further forum where we will test whether progress is being made.

The Government is also committed to establishing an independent review to look at these issues further. We will announce more details in due course. We will ensure that any review does not undermine the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s work or the separate Director of Public Prosecution’s consideration.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether (a) the most recent Network Subsidy Payment or (b) any other funding from the public purse to the Post Office (i) was and (ii) will be used to fund any settlement or litigation.

The Government believes that Postmasters are at the heart of communities and we recognise the strength of feelings about the negative impact the Horizon Court case has had on postmasters, causing distress to them and their families.

In relation to £57.75 million settlement that was agreed between Post Office Limited and the postmasters concerned. The costs involved in the legal defence of this litigation were drawn from Post Office Limited’s own commercial revenues, including the settlement offer. The shareholder has specifically required that government funding is not used for this purpose.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to support customers of Thomas Cook that have outstanding personal injury claims against that company.

Following the collapse of Thomas Cook, the Government committed to develop proposals for a capped, statutory payment scheme to support customers who suffered life-changing injuries, illness or loss of life while on Thomas Cook holidays for which the company would have been liable and who may now face serious financial hardship as a result of the company’s approach.

We intend to bring forward the legislation necessary to establish such a scheme in due course.

21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when she plans to publish the revised definition of treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

Officials are currently working on the secondary legislation required to introduce the revised definitions, including working with stakeholders on the changes. Once this work is completed it is proposed to introduce the secondary legislation, subject to the constraints of parliamentary time.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of the resource and capital budget needs of public libraries in the financial years up to 2024-25.

Funding for public libraries is not ring-fenced but forms part of the overall Local Government Funding Settlement.

In this year’s Settlement, the Government made available an increase in Core Spending Power in England from £49 billion in 2020-21 to up to £51.3 billion in 2021-22, a 4.6% increase in cash terms. This recognises the resources councils need to meet their pressures and maintain current service levels.

Local authorities in England have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service that meets local needs and it is for each local authority to consider how best to manage their total funding mindful of this statutory duty.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure broadband is affordable to people on low incomes.

In response to Covid-19, the Government and Ofcom agreed a set of commitments with the UK’s major broadband and mobile operators to support vulnerable consumers. Providers committed to working with customers who are finding it difficult to pay their bill to ensure that they were treated fairly and appropriately supported, in addition to providing new and generous landline and mobile offers, such as free or low cost mobile data boosts.

A range of broadband social tariff packages are already available in the market to support those on low incomes or who receive specific benefits. BT, for example, recently announced a Home Essentials package to launch in June which will provide fibre and voice services to those on Universal Credit and certain other legacy benefits for £15 per month. Hyperoptic and other providers are offering similar packages to assist on low incomes. The Government continues to encourage all fixed-line providers to introduce a social tariff offer so as to ensure those on low incomes have affordable access to services and information.

In addition, the Government has strengthened Ofcom's consumer protection rules, to ensure that consumers can access the right information to make informed decisions about new services, have stronger contract rights, and switch between providers more easily. The Government’s work complements that of the regulator particularly its vulnerability guide issued in July 2020, which set out how the sector should support those with financial, health or emotional issues.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on support for the cultural sector after existing support packages end in March 2021.

We recognise the significant challenge the Covid pandemic poses to our world-leading cultural sectors, and DCMS is fully committed to supporting cultural organisations to survive this period.

This is why over £1bn of funding has already been committed across arts, heritage and independent cinemas through the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, and we are working hard to ensure that Round 2 funding supports as many culturally significant organisations as possible. We are continuing to work closely with our Arm’s Length Bodies to understand the need in the sector and how best to support them as we transition out of lockdown over the coming months.

The Government’s response to Covid-19 impacts on workers has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world. This includes the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, both of which have been extended until April 2021. And the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme is creating job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit, with employers able to spread the start date of job placements up until the end of December 2021.

At the Budget the Chancellor will set out the next phase in our economic support package to reflect the steps set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing restrictions published last month, tailoring support for individuals and businesses to reflect the changing public health restrictions.'

22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on support for sporting venues operating at reduced capacity once reopened as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

To date, the government has provided an unprecedented £300 million Sport Winter Survival Package to give a lifeline to organisations that would otherwise not survive the winter as a result of the restriction on spectators announced from 1 October.

At next week’s Budget the Chancellor will set out the next phase in the Government’s economic support package to reflect the steps set out in the roadmap, clarifying the further support for individuals and businesses to reflect the changing public health restrictions.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with social media companies on the prevalence of misinformation, conspiracy theories and extremist material on their platforms.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings with social media platforms on a range of topics, including misinformation, conspiracy theories and extremist material. Information about Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the gov.uk website.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has for social media reform.

The Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place to be online.

The Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, published in December 2020, sets out expectations on tech companies, including social media providers, to keep their users safe online. This includes a proposed legal duty of care on companies and the appointment of a new communications regulator, Ofcom, to ensure that new laws are enforced.The Full Government Response will be followed by legislation, which will be ready later this year.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to limit or stop the spreading of extremist materials on social media.

The Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, published in December 2020, sets out expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. This includes a proposed statutory duty of care on companies and the appointment of Ofcom as the regulator to ensure that new laws are enforced.

Under the new framework, all companies in scope will need to tackle the spread of illegal content and protect children. In addition, high risk and high reach social media platforms will need to set clear terms and conditions about content that is legal but harmful to adults, such as extremist materials, and enforce those terms consistently, transparently and effectively.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on public health of misinformation and conspiracy theories on covid-19 on social media platforms.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it continues to be vitally important that the public has accurate information about the virus, and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle disinformation.

That is why we stood up the Counter Disinformation Unit up in March 2020 to bring together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities. The Unit’s primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation and misinformation regarding Covid-19 and to work with partners to ensure appropriate action is taken.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been working closely with social media platforms to help them to quickly identify and respond to potentially harmful content on their platforms, including unfounded conspiracy theories, in line with their terms and conditions, and to promote Government and NHS messaging.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support theatres in tier three local covid alert level areas.

In Tier 3 areas, indoor and outdoor performing arts venues, such as theatres, concert halls and music venues will be closed to audiences. However, training, rehearsals and performances without an audience for broadcast or recording purposes may continue. Drive-in venues will remain open to performances with audiences. Outdoor performing arts activity can still take place in line with the restrictions laid out in the Performing Arts Guidance, if not in an outdoor venue. The Performing Arts guidance covers both professional and non-professional activity and events.

We know that the introduction of venue closures in Tier 3 areas will affect some scheduled shows around the country. However we know that a number of venues are adapting their performances to broadcast without audiences. We have updated the performing arts guidance to enable all forms of performing arts activity to go ahead where it is safe for them to do so.

The Government continues to work with the cultural sector to bring back more and more performances and fuller audiences when it is safe to do so.

We have committed to a review of the Tiers on 16 December.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the financial sustainability of libraries.

My department has not undertaken a recent assessment of the financial sustainability of public libraries in England.

The most recent assessment was the National Audit Office report published in 2018 on the Financial sustainability of local authorities for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government - https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Financial-sustainabilty-of-local-authorites-2018.pdf

The Government is providing local councils with unprecedented support during the pandemic with a £4.3 billion package, including £3.7 billion which is not ringfenced and £600 million to support social care providers. This is part of a wider package of almost £28 billion which the Government has committed to support local areas, with funding going to councils, businesses and communities. The 2020 Spending Review will look at pressures facing the sector and provide them with the certainty they need to aid financial planning.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he plans to publish an updated timetable for the phased return of business events, music concerts, crowds in sporting events and other cultural events as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

On 17 July, the Prime Minister announced that as long as the prevalence of COVID-19 remains around or below current levels into the Autumn, we will reduce easements on a number of sectors including those listed from 1 October. We have always been clear that easing lockdown restrictions depended on the prevalence of COVID-19. As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

From 15 August, audiences adhering to social distancing were able to return to live indoor theatres, music and performance venues. This is the fourth stage of the performing arts roadmap and we continue to work with the sector on how we can achieve the final stage of the roadmap, indoor performances with fuller audiences. Exhibition and conference centers were allowed to show small groups of up to 30 people with social distancing requirements to view the facilities and plan future events and to enable government-backed pilots to take place.

The Government also announced that a small number of sporting events and business events will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators and attendees through September– with the ambition to reopen competition venues for sports fans and venues for business events, with social distancing measures in place, from 1 October, subject to the covid situation.

We have worked closely with events stakeholders through both the Visitor Economy and Events & Entertainment Working Groups to develop Covid-19 Secure reopening guidance for the business events industry. We continue to meet with the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel to discuss the specific issues facing the industry.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jul 2020
What assessment he made of the potential merits of enabling theatres to reopen with social distancing measures on the same date as cinemas.

Cinemas were able to reopen on the 4th of July thanks to the guidance that was recently published.

We also recently published a 5-stage roadmap for reopening performing art venues - which are currently allowed to rehearse and broadcast shows without an audience.

We hope to move to stage 3 which will allow for outdoor performances, and stage 4, indoors with social distancing soon.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing sector-specific support for cultural and leisure facilities unable to open during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 5 July, DCMS announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, including performing arts and theatres, museums and galleries, heritage sites, live music venues and independent cinema. We want this package to support organisations across the cultural, heritage and creative sectors, and will publish further detailed guidance as soon as possible in July.

The income scheme announced on Thursday 2 July by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, aims to support local authorities who have incurred irrecoverable loss of income from sales, fees and charge which they had reasonably budgeted for. Further guidance will follow on the principle of the scheme.

30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what (a) guidance and (b) support he is providing to libraries to protect staff, volunteers and customers as they prepare to reopen on 4 July 2020.

Practical guidance for heads of library service and library staff to assist the reopening of physical library buildings in England from 4 July was published by Libraries Connected on Monday 29 June. The Libraries Connected Service Recovery Toolkit, developed in partnership with key library stakeholders and DCMS, will help libraries to reopen and to reintroduce their services gradually, in line with the latest public health advice. The toolkit is available at: https://www.librariesconnected.org.uk/resource/service-recovery-toolkit-june-2020-word.

3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made on the adequacy of funding for childcare and social care services to meet the increase in public sector pay and the National Living Wage.

The Department for Education has spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements and the government will continue to support families with their childcare costs.

At the Spending Review on 27 October, it was announced that the department is investing additional funding for the early years entitlements worth £160 million in the 2022-23 financial year, £180 million in the 2023-24 financial year and £170 million in 2024-25 financial year, compared to the current year. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers and reflects the costs of inflation and national living wage increases.

Local authorities spent over £10 billion on children and young people’s services in the 2019-20 financial year. Local authorities fund their services, including those for children, from their core spending power and this year councils have access to £51.3 billion for their services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that government will provide local authorities with £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the next Spending Review period, which is intended to help meet the costs of delivering care for our most vulnerable children. This will enable the sector to maintain vital frontline services, including children’s services workforce, in light of additional pressures including inflation.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to introduce an alternative student finance model for higher education students.

I refer the hon. Members for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, and Ealing Central and Acton to the answer I gave on 18 October 2021 to Question 53884.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made on the number of children who read for recreation on a daily basis.

The Government is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards – ensuring all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can read fluently and with understanding. One of the overarching aims of the National Curriculum is to ensure that all pupils develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 disruption on the attainment and progress of all students is a key research priority for the Government, and we have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to provide a baseline assessment of catch-up needs for pupils in schools in England and will monitor progress over the course of the year. The research will be based on existing assessments and help us target support across the system. The Department’s research on lost education has produced interim findings based on reading and maths assessments taken in the autumn and spring terms of the 2020/21 academic year. Interim findings show that between March 2020 and Spring 2021, pupils on average made more progress than expected in periods where they were in the classroom, but less progress than expected when there were restrictions on in-person teaching. The Department is committed to publishing its full findings by October 2021.

COVID-19 Reading Habits[1]

The July 2020 National Literacy Trust (NLT) report into ‘Children and young people’s reading in 2020 before and during the COVID-19 lockdown’ reviewed reading practices of 4,141 pupils between May and early June 2020. Compared to the NLT’s pre-lockdown findings, nearly 17% more of children surveyed reported they are enjoying reading.

This report found that the lockdown provided many children ‘the opportunity to discover… themselves as readers’, and that this was due to children having more time available to read and an increase in online access to stories. Reading was also important for mental health and wellbeing, with 3 in 5 children reporting that reading helps ‘make them feel better’. However, a lack of a suitable reading environment in the home and reduced support from schools has negatively impacted some children’s ability to read, and their motivation to read for enjoyment.

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) data from 2016 has also reviewed the number of primary aged pupils in England who enjoy reading:

  • 2016 PIRLS data for England showed that 83% of pupils liked reading a lot or somewhat compared to 17% of those who did not like reading.
  • In addition, the 2016 PIRLS data demonstrated that 53% of England’s pupils report very high confidence in reading. This is above the international median of 45%.

PIRLS is an assessment of the reading abilities of primary aged pupils across the world. The results of the next study, PIRLS 2021, will be published in late 2022.

[1] https://cdn.literacytrust.org.uk/media/documents/National_Literacy_Trust_-_Reading_practices_under_lockdown_report_-_FINAL.pdf.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to improve primary school library facilities.

The Department believes that all pupils deserve to be taught a knowledge-rich curriculum that promotes the extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts, both in and out of school. School libraries complement public libraries in allowing pupils to do this.

It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian. Many head teachers recognise the important role school libraries play in improving literacy and encouraging pupils to read for pleasure and ensure that suitable library facilities are provided.

The National Curriculum requires teachers to encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. It also emphasises the importance of listening to, discussing, and reading for themselves a wide range of stories, poems, plays and non-fiction books.

The Department is investing £14 billion more in schools over the three financial years to 2022-23, allowing schools to provide more resources like library provision, to make sure all pupils get the top quality education they deserve.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to improve literacy levels among primary school children.

The Government is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards, including for those children from disadvantaged backgrounds. English is fundamental to education and provides the knowledge pupils need to communicate with others, both in school and in the wider world, providing pupils the opportunity to develop their spoken language, reading and writing.

The National Curriculum has been designed to make sure that all children leave primary school fully literate and ready to progress at secondary school. There is a renewed focus on the requirement for pupils to be taught to read through systematic synthetic phonics and applying phonic knowledge to word reading. By ensuring high quality phonics teaching, the Government wants to improve literacy levels to give all children a solid base upon which to build as they progress through school and help children to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

The curriculum places a greater focus on reading and requires pupils to study a range of books, poems and plays to encourage the development of a lifelong love of literature. Within the framework of the National Curriculum, schools make their own choices on the specific programmes or resources they use. The curriculum for English increases the level of challenge from an early age with greater emphasis on grammar and vocabulary development, and in 2013 the Department introduced a new test of pupils’ knowledge in this area to be taken by Year 6 pupils. Ofsted’s inspection framework now puts much more focus on how well schools are teaching their pupils to read, with inspectors listening to children reading aloud, watching phonics classes, and checking how schools help weaker readers to improve. The Ofsted inspection framework is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study rankings. This improvement is largely attributable to increases in the average performance of lower performing pupils. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum, and a particular focus on phonics.

In 2018, the Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading, with a focus on supporting children making the slowest progress in reading, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The 34 English Hubs in the programme are primary schools which are outstanding at teaching early reading. The Department has since invested a further £17 million in this school to school improvement programme, which focusses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. Since its launch, the English Hubs Programme has provided appropriate and targeted support to several thousands of schools across England. In the 2020/21 academic year the programme is providing intensive support to over 875 partner schools.

The proportion of Year 1 pupils meeting the expected standard in the phonics screening check has gone from 58% in 2012, when the check was introduced, to 82% in 2019. For disadvantaged pupils, this has gone from 45% to 71%.

22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to introduce guidance to schools and colleges on the use of transparent face coverings when teaching pupils and students who rely on lip-reading.

In schools and colleges where year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and pupils when moving around indoors, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Face coverings can make it more difficult to communicate with children with additional needs or children who may rely on lip reading or facial expressions for understanding. We expect staff to be sensitive to these needs when teaching and interacting with children.

As the Department’s guidance outlines, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or aiding someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Based on current evidence and the measures that schools are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom.

Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering and older children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities may be exempt from wearing them, depending on their need.

The Department’s guidance on face coverings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been requested by schools in Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough constituency during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown to date; and how many laptops have been allocated to those schools.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. The Government is providing this significant injection of devices on top of an estimated 2.9 million laptops and tablets already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 12 January, the Department announced that it will be providing a further 300,000 devices over the course of this term. The Get Help with Technology scheme will email all schools with information on the number of additional devices allocated to them, and when they will be able to order.

The number of devices available for each school, academy trust or local authority is based on children eligible for free school meals and takes into account existing devices available in schools. Schools, academy trusts and local authorities are responsible for distributing the laptops and tablets and are best placed to know which disadvantaged children and young people need access to a device.

Figures on the number of devices delivered is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data. These figures are broken down by local authority and academy trust. Information on delivery by constituency is not available.

Laptops and tablets provided under the Get Help with Technology scheme meet defined technical specifications to enable remote education and allow for use in schools and colleges. Information on devices specifications is published at: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/devices/device-specification.

Details of the contracts for this programme are available at: https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder, in line with normal Government commercial practice. Information on the proportion of each contract that has been fulfilled is not available.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the minimum specifications are for laptops provided to schools and local authorities during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. The Government is providing this significant injection of devices on top of an estimated 2.9 million laptops and tablets already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 12 January, the Department announced that it will be providing a further 300,000 devices over the course of this term. The Get Help with Technology scheme will email all schools with information on the number of additional devices allocated to them, and when they will be able to order.

The number of devices available for each school, academy trust or local authority is based on children eligible for free school meals and takes into account existing devices available in schools. Schools, academy trusts and local authorities are responsible for distributing the laptops and tablets and are best placed to know which disadvantaged children and young people need access to a device.

Figures on the number of devices delivered is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data. These figures are broken down by local authority and academy trust. Information on delivery by constituency is not available.

Laptops and tablets provided under the Get Help with Technology scheme meet defined technical specifications to enable remote education and allow for use in schools and colleges. Information on devices specifications is published at: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/devices/device-specification.

Details of the contracts for this programme are available at: https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder, in line with normal Government commercial practice. Information on the proportion of each contract that has been fulfilled is not available.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what contracts his Department has in place for the provision laptops or other digital equipment to schools and local authorities during the covid-19 outbreak; and what proportion of those contracts have been fulfilled.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. The Government is providing this significant injection of devices on top of an estimated 2.9 million laptops and tablets already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 12 January, the Department announced that it will be providing a further 300,000 devices over the course of this term. The Get Help with Technology scheme will email all schools with information on the number of additional devices allocated to them, and when they will be able to order.

The number of devices available for each school, academy trust or local authority is based on children eligible for free school meals and takes into account existing devices available in schools. Schools, academy trusts and local authorities are responsible for distributing the laptops and tablets and are best placed to know which disadvantaged children and young people need access to a device.

Figures on the number of devices delivered is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data. These figures are broken down by local authority and academy trust. Information on delivery by constituency is not available.

Laptops and tablets provided under the Get Help with Technology scheme meet defined technical specifications to enable remote education and allow for use in schools and colleges. Information on devices specifications is published at: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/devices/device-specification.

Details of the contracts for this programme are available at: https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder, in line with normal Government commercial practice. Information on the proportion of each contract that has been fulfilled is not available.

14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of childcare arrangements for key workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced on 4 January 2021 that early years settings remain open for all children during the national lockdown. Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home. For school-aged children, schools, childminders and wraparound care remain open for vulnerable children and children of key workers.

Early years provision should continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetabled hours. This includes early years registered nurseries and childminders, maintained nursery schools, as well as nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites. Only vulnerable children and children of critical workers should attend on-site reception classes. Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission.

We do stay in regular contact with the early years sector, and we are closely monitoring both parental take-up of places and the capacity and responses of providers. An estimated 49,000 early years settings were open on 7 January 2021. This represents 72% of all settings, with 13% closed and 15% unknown. The percentage closed may include some providers which are open, due to differences in the ways local authorities collect data and report non-responses.

The Department for Education does not hold a central register of all wraparound provision and so does not routinely collect data on the number of providers in operation. However, ensuring sufficiency of childcare provision for critical worker parents and carers remains a government priority. This is why we have ensured that wraparound childcare providers, and other providers of out-of-school activities, can continue to remain open during the current national lockdown for the children of critical workers to support their parents or carers to work, seek work, undertake training or education, or to attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, as well as for all vulnerable children. We have also published updated guidance on ‘Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ to support providers to continue to operate as safely as possible during the national lockdown. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

In addition, we are encouraging all schools to continue offering their before and after school provision to ensure parents and carers who are critical workers can continue to work, as well as to ensure vulnerable children continue to have access to this valuable provision. Schools can also continue to open up or hire out their premises for use by external wraparound providers, such as after-school or holiday clubs, to support them to do so.

Our Regional Education and Children Team, comprising education and social care staff from both the Department for Education and Ofsted, are also continuing to work closely with local authorities, and will act as a valuable source of intelligence on the sufficiency of wraparound and early years childcare places for the children of critical workers, and for vulnerable children and young people during the current national lockdown.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has of the adequacy of support for parents delivering home learning.

Given the critical importance of ensuring that all children and young people continue to learn during the national lockdown, we have updated the remote education guidance for schools and colleges to clarify and strengthen expectations while on-site attendance is restricted, drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education. Further information on this is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950510/School_national_restrictions_guidance.pdf.

Schools are expected to offer pupils online lessons and a set number of hours of remote education, having increased from the Department’s previous minimum expectations. This includes time for independent study and either recorded or live direct teaching. Schools are also now expected to have a system in place for checking daily whether pupils are engaging actively with their work and education. The Department has also asked schools and colleges to publish information about their remote education provision on their websites. This should be done by 18 January 2021 for colleges and 25 January 2021 for schools.

The Department recognises that different expectations are appropriate for younger and older age groups when undergoing remote education. We expect schools to consider the remote education expectations in relation to pupils’ age, stage of development or special educational needs. The number of hours of remote education we expect schools to deliver also varies according to pupil stage.

The Department also recognises that younger children in Key Stage One or Reception often require high levels of parental involvement to support their engagement with remote education, which makes digital provision a particular challenge for this age group. We therefore do not expect that solely digital means will be used to teach these pupils remotely.

The Department is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. We have already provided over 54,000 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, and have also partnered with some of the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, further supporting remote education where it is needed.

The Department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy, both for the summer term of the 2019/20 academic year, and for the 2020/21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects, for Reception up to Year Eleven. Specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities is also available.

The BBC has also adapted their education support for the spring term 2021 and will be making educational content available on the television. Bitesize Daily primary and secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button as well as episodes being available on demand on BBC iPlayer. This TV offer is in addition to the BBC’s online offer, which parents, children, and teachers can access when and where they need it.

A range of resources are available to help support children’s wellbeing at present. Public Health England has provided advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing, including suggested key actions to take, such as supporting safe ways to connect with friends. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing. Resources are also available through the Every Mind Matters campaign and Rise Above, which aim to build resilience and support good mental health in young people aged ten to sixteen specifically. These can be accessed here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/ and https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/schools/topics/rise-above/overview.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he has made on the provision of laptops to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

This includes over 560,000 laptops and tablets that have already been delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities in 2020.

The Department will have dispatched over 750,000 devices in total by the end of this week.

Laptops and tablets are owned by schools, trusts or local authorities who can lend these to children and young people who need them most during the current COVID-19 restrictions.

The Department has partnered with some of the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to education resources, including Oak National Academy, and other websites.

Families will benefit from this additional data until July 2021. Schools are able to request free mobile data uplifts via the Get Help with Technology service. Further information on the Get Help with Technology service is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Department has already provided over 54,000 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, and continues to provide 4G wireless routers where children need to access remote education.

Support is also available for schools to get set up on Google or Microsoft platforms. These platforms bring together the school community, pool resources and give pupils the opportunity to work with their peers remotely. As of 5 January 2021, 6900 schools have applied to the Department’s digital platforms programme that forms part of the Get Help With Technology programme.

The EdTech Demonstrator Programme is in place to promote effective use of devices, including ways they can be used to promote greater accessibility to the curriculum.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish his Department's contingency plans relating to Summer 2021 GCSE and A Level exams.

The Government’s position is clear: exams will take place in summer 2021. Schools across the country, including in areas of high prevalence of COVID-19, are doing a brilliant job staying open and providing high quality education to pupils.

We recognise that there will be challenges for students being assessed in summer 2021. We have announced a wide range of contingency measures to ensure that as many pupils as possible can take an exam paper in their chosen subjects, and all students will have the opportunity to be awarded a qualification.

Exams will be sufficiently spaced to account for periods of self-isolation. If a student misses all their assessments in a subject, they will have the opportunity to sit a contingency paper held shortly after the main exams. Students who miss part of their exams because of the COVID-19 outbreak will be able to get a grade through the special consideration process, provided they have sat one paper or non-exam assessment and met requirements.

In the extreme case where a student has a legitimate reason to miss all their papers, then a validated teacher informed assessment can be used, only once all chances to sit an exam have passed. The Government will set out further detail on this process, and on adaptations to exams, in the New Year.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to modify Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests in 2021 to account for the adverse impact of covid-19 on pupils’ learning.

The purpose of the national curriculum tests is to determine pupil attainment in relation to the national curriculum. This enables parents to understand the performance of their child with respect to national expectations and supports schools in planning the appropriate next steps for teaching. As a result, it would not be appropriate to modify the tests to account for the adverse impact of COVID-19 as this would provide only a partial picture of pupil attainment.

Instead, to recognise the challenges that primary schools are facing, the key stage 1 tests and the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests at key stage 1 and 2 have been removed for one year. There will also be no requirement to undertake and report on science teacher assessment at both key stages. In addition, the introduction of the multiplication tables check will be postponed by a further year, whilst still enabling schools to use it on an optional basis.

20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish the further education White Paper.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, confirmed to the House on 1 October 2020 in his oral statement, we will publish our further education white paper later this year.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to provide free breakfasts for disadvantaged children during school holidays; and what contingency planning he is undertaking to provide that support in the event of school closures as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

During the COVID-19 outbreak while schools were largely shut, children from more than 1,800 schools taking part in the National School Breakfast Programme in disadvantaged areas were offered healthy breakfast support over the summer holidays, giving them nutritious meals to start their day.

Schools on the programme have flexibility in how they provide breakfast meals and can choose to support children in the way which works best for them. This may include parents collecting food parcels from open schools or breakfast food ‘drop offs’ to families where appropriate. This should be arranged alongside the school’s wider support for children on free school meals (FSM), and schools must follow the government’s advice on social distancing at all times.

In the event of local restrictions on education and childcare settings (including before-school clubs and after-school clubs) being required, the department will publish operational guidance for settings in the affected area to support them to implement contingency plans. We have also published guidance to help schools with secondary year groups plan for tier 2 local restrictions, outlining their responsibilities regarding FSM. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions#free-school-meals.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that all disadvantaged children are able to access a free school breakfast.

The department is investing up to £35 million into the National School Breakfast Programme. This includes our extension of the programme by a further year until March 2021, with up to £11.8 million being invested during this current financial year. Overall, this money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in up to 2,450 schools in disadvantaged areas, making them sustainable in the long run. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the department's Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life. Any further investment in school breakfast clubs beyond March 2021 is subject to the upcoming Spending Review.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding available to further education colleges to provide remote learning and learning packages to students unable to physically attend those colleges as a result of covid-19.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, further education colleges have responded swiftly to deliver education to students remotely and many have made enormous strides in the delivery of online learning, for which we are very grateful.

On 31 August 2019, the government announced that an extra £400 million would be invested in 16-19 education in 2020-21. This is the largest injection of money in a single year since 2010 and represents an increase of 7% in overall 16-19 funding. As part of this, the base rate of 16-19 funding will increase by 4.7% in the 2020/21 academic year, from £4,000 to £4,188.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2020/21).

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed, and payments will be made in line with the national profile, which has been confirmed in the relevant 2020 to 2021 funding rules. This should provide the funding certainty required to seek to address the impact of responding to COVID-19.

To support remote learning specifically, we have ensured that colleges are able to gain access to devices and connectivity for students facing financial barriers to participation through the 16-19 Bursary Fund. This was always possible with the 16-19 Bursary Fund and to complement this, we have introduced a change to the ESFA and AEB Funding Rules for the 2020/21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices and meet learners’ IT connectivity costs.

The department has also funded professional development support for staff to improve their skills and confidence in delivering online learning through funding the Education and Training Foundation and the EdTech Demonstrator Programme which delivers free training for further education providers. We are also funding 7 College Collaboration Fund projects to develop new high-quality digital curriculum content which will begin to be available for use by the sector from the Autumn.

The department is looking carefully at all elements of further educational funding, in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) removing or (b) relaxing rules surrounding requirements of study in relation to students who have not yet received a Level 2 in English and/or maths in the 2020-21 academic year in order to prevent the breakage of covid-secure bubbles within further education colleges.

Students who leave school with a good grasp of English and maths increase their chances of securing employment, apprenticeship or going on to further education. It is important now more than ever to give this opportunity to students who have yet to secure a Level 2 in these essential subjects and we will continue to do so.

Young people from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds will be amongst those hardest hit by the unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of COVID-19. I recognise that colleges and their staff around the country have worked tremendously hard responding to this unprecedented challenge and working with us to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our students. Colleges and providers swiftly moved more learning online to allow students to continue with studies remotely.

We are aware that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused disruption to people of all ages in education, in particular lost teaching time. Many further education providers opened over the summer for priority learners, subject to the required safety measures being met. We know that we have the professional knowledge and expertise in the education system to ensure that students recover and get back on track. From Autumn 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post-16 learning provider. To support providers, additional funding of up to £96m for the academic year 2020/21 has been made available to schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the provision of fast-tracked testing for teachers with (a) symptoms of covid-19 and (b) who have come into contact with someone with covid-19 symptoms.

All members of school staff and pupils should get a test if they have symptoms of COVID-19. The capacity of the NHS Test and Trace system must be protected for those with symptoms of the virus, and so it is vital that only those with symptoms get tested.

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate in line with guidance, but should not get tested unless they themselves develop symptoms.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what contingency planning he has undertaken to support sixth form students in the event they are unable to fully return to college in September 2020.

Further education college corporations as statutory corporations and exempt charities are responsible for completing risk assessments and the board must publish a statement in its annual accounts about how it manages risk. Health and safety legislation requires employers to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect staff, students and others from COVID-19 within the education setting.

As set out in the further education autumn return guidance, further education providers are responsible for ensuring that these risk assessments are adequate and meet the relevant legal requirements.

We expect most students will be able to fully return to college in the autumn term, apart from a small number of students who are self-isolating or have been advised not to attend due to local restrictions. In these circumstances, we expect colleges to make sure education and training is delivered remotely, as set out in our further education autumn return guidance published on 2 July and updated on 29 August. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) assessment he has made of and (b) plans he has to monitor the adequacy of covid-19 risk assessments undertaken by further education colleges.

Further education college corporations as statutory corporations and exempt charities are responsible for completing risk assessments and the board must publish a statement in its annual accounts about how it manages risk. Health and safety legislation requires employers to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect staff, students and others from COVID-19 within the education setting.

As set out in the further education autumn return guidance, further education providers are responsible for ensuring that these risk assessments are adequate and meet the relevant legal requirements.

We expect most students will be able to fully return to college in the autumn term, apart from a small number of students who are self-isolating or have been advised not to attend due to local restrictions. In these circumstances, we expect colleges to make sure education and training is delivered remotely, as set out in our further education autumn return guidance published on 2 July and updated on 29 August. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to provide further information on the reassessment procedure for students completing BTECs in summer 2020.

As set out in the Secretary of State’s statement of 1 September, most vocational and technical qualifications were not subject to standardisation like GCSEs and A levels. However, where an element of standardisation was used for some vocational qualifications, awarding organisations have reviewed these grades. This was done to ensure fairness for all pupils.

Pearson, the awarding organisation responsible for BTECs reviewed its results to ensure no BTEC pupils were disadvantaged and that consistency was achieved with the principles applied to GCSEs and A Levels. Pearson published guidance on how BTEC results were being reviewed. This is available at: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/campaigns/assessment-and-grading-in-2020.html. They have worked closely with schools and colleges throughout the process.

The vast majority of VTQ results have now been issued or reissued. No students saw their VTQ results downgraded - results either stayed the same or improved.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to nurseries to support the 30 hours free childcare entitlement for eligible children.

The government continues to support families with their childcare costs. Last October, we announced increases in our hourly rates for the 2 year old entitlement and in the vast majority of areas for the 3 and 4 year old entitlement, effective from April of this year.

We also announced that supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools will continue until the end of the financial year 2020-21. We are committed to supporting maintained nursery schools in the long term. Guidance on the use of free early education entitlements funding during the COVID-19 outbreak is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

We are planning to spend over £3.6 billion on our early education entitlements in 2020-21. Future funding is a matter for the next spending review.

We will continue to monitor the market closely through a range of research projects which provide insight into various aspects of the childcare and provider market.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have continued to pay the entitlements to local authorities as usual.

The government has also provided childcare providers with a range of measures to offer financial assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak, including business rates relief, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

On 20 July, we announced that we will fund childcare at the level we would have done before the COVID-19 outbreak until the end of the year. This will give nurseries and childminders another term of secure income, regardless of whether fewer children are attending.

We continue to work closely with the early years sector to understand how it can best be supported to ensure that sufficient childcare is available for those returning to work now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help ensure that key workers have access to childcare during school summer holidays.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed in his announcement on 23 June, community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children will be able to operate over the summer holiday with safety measures in place. Adjustments to the measures for out-of-school provision were taken as part of Step 3 of the government’s recovery strategy from Saturday 4 July. This guidance covers tuition and learning centres, extracurricular clubs (such as football coaching), uniformed youth organisations (such as Scouts and Guides), supplementary schools, private language schools and religious schools offering education (such as madrassahs, yeshivas, and Sunday schools).

Before the end of the summer term, while state schools in their local area are open, out-of-school provision will only be able to operate for children from the eligible and priority groups, including vulnerable children, children of critical workers and select year groups (early years, Reception, year 1 and year 6). However, during the summer holiday period, out-of-school provision can open to all children, provided they put in place the appropriate protective measures, which are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of (a) stockpiling and (b) purchase limits being placed on products by supermarkets on the quantity of food donations to food banks.

The Government is in regular contact with the food industry on the response to coronavirus, building on our well-established links with the industry to manage disruption. The industry has adapted quickly to what have been unprecedented changes in consumer demands, and food supply into and within the UK is resilient.

To help supermarkets, the Government has already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have relaxed competition law, issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up more quickly, and have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent discussions her Department has had with international organisations on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

During my ‘virtual visit’ to Yemen on 18 June, I met with members of international organisations, including UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande, to discuss the deteriorating COVID-19 situation and impacts of UN funding shortages in Yemen.

We actively participate in Humanitarian Country Team meetings and interact with senior officials from international organisations working in Yemen every week. In addition, my officials are in regular dialogue with UN agencies and NGOs who are delivering our programmes in Yemen to understand the challenges that they are facing on the ground.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she is taking following UNICEF's call for urgent humanitarian support in Yemen.

The UK is extremely concerned by the devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the rapid spread of COVID-19.

As part our new £160 million commitment to Yemen this financial year (2020/21), we are continuing to support UNICEF to provide essential health services, treat malnutrition and provide clean water and sanitation. By the end of July 2020, we expect to have disbursed over £20 million of funding for UNICEF, including £10 million for their COVID-19 response.

We are also encouraging other donors to urgently provide funding to the UN humanitarian response ahead of Yemen’s expected COVID-19 peak in late July.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
What recent assessment she has made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. We also estimate 100,000 coronavirus cases, which are quickly overwhelming Yemen’s depleted healthcare system. The UK recently pledged £160m to support Yemen, bringing our contribution to almost £1bn since 2015. Ultimately, the crisis must be addressed through a political settlement. We therefore strongly encourage all parties to engage with Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the Written Statement of 7 July 2020, WS339, what her Department's definitions are of (a) any patterns of non-compliance, (b) lack of commitment to comply with IHL and (c) a lack of capacity or systemic weaknesses which might give rise to a clear risk of IHL breaches.

The Department does not place its own specific definitions on these phrases.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of (a) employment, (b) recruitment and (c) retention of bus drivers.

My Department is working closely with ADEPT and CPT to gather information to gain an understanding of, and assess, the current staffing levels and recruitment pipeline in the bus sector. This will inform the Department about the extent of the shortages across the country, so that this can be monitored as the situation develops and ensure that Government’s response is appropriate and effective. The Government is committed to maintaining high service levels for bus users to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and has announced £226.5 million in Bus Recovery Funding to support this.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, by what date his Department estimates the backlog of driving practical tests at DVSA Middlewood test centre, Sheffield, will be cleared.

As of 23 November 2021, the average waiting time for a car practical driving test at Middlewood test centre, Sheffield, is 24 weeks. The suspension of testing due to the pandemic has meant some candidates are having to wait longer than usual to take their driving test. Middlewood test centre is operating at full capacity and offering overtime to examiners to increase test availability. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is in the process of a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners, including at Middlewood.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress his Department has made on bi-lateral agreements for covid-19 vaccination certification for international travel; and when he plans for those agreements to be operational.

We are working closely with international partners on reopening travel and will provide an update in due course on how to safely reopen travel for fully vaccinated people from overseas.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the travel industry on (a) reducing the cost of covid-19 tests for international travel and (b) improving the length of time taken to receive the results of those tests.

We are working with the travel industry and private testing providers to see how we can further reduce costs for the British public while ensuring travel is as safe as possible. We are considering a range of options ahead of international travel re-opening on 17 May. The price of tests has reduced significantly in recent weeks, with providers offering testing packages for green arrivals starting at £20 and a single PCR test for £44.90.

We have established minimum standards for laboratories and testing providers, which cover turnaround times for Covid test evaluation, and providers that offer a sub-standard service are given 5 days to rectify the problem. Failure to do so means they are removed from the gov.uk list of providers.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has plans to extend the eligibility for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme to people under the age of 65 diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) is primarily aimed at improving mobility. There are seven categories of disability under which a person may be considered eligible for the concession. The categories do not focus on any specifically identified medical condition but on its effect and how it may impair a person’s mobility. Under the existing categories, people with a wide range of disabling conditions will therefore already be considered eligible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that workers in airports are not affected by job losses due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The aviation sector can draw on the unprecedented package of economic measures we have put in place during this time. These measures include: HMRC’s Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, including VAT deferrals; the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; HMT and the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility; and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for large and small businesses.

If airlines or airports find themselves in trouble as a result of coronavirus, even following the Government’s cross-economy wage and financial interventions, the Transport Secretary and Chancellor have confirmed that we are prepared to enter discussions with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted all other options. Any intervention would need to represent value for money for taxpayers.

The recent announcements about proposed redundancies will be very distressing news for employees and their families. Government recognises the challenges facing the aviation industry and remains committed to an open dialogue with the sector and unions, to minimise the damage to industry and retain jobs. We encourage airports and unions to engage constructively with each other, striving to provide employees with as much certainty as possible during this challenging time.

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that disabled people who are exempt from the public transport face-covering requirement do not encounter (a) harassment or (b) difficulties when travelling.

We recognise that some people are not able to wear a face covering for a variety of reasons, including people with certain health conditions. We are working with transport operators and the police to understand how this is working on the ground, and reminding them of need to be sensitive.

Our Safer Transport Guidance and DFT-produced communications are clear that face coverings don’t need to be worn if disabilities make that difficult, and that people relying on this exemption should not routinely be required to produce any written evidence in support of their reliance. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers

It is important that anyone who should not be wearing a face covering is able to travel without fear of harassment. We are working closely with transport operators to make sure that their staff and passengers are aware that not everyone is required to wear a face covering.

We do not want members of the public to challenge anyone not wearing a face covering – they may have a perfectly good reason. It is a matter for operators and police

The Government remains committed to delivering inclusive transport for all passengers. As part of the work to implement the changes, we have undertaken an Equalities Impact Assessment and have taken advice from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, as well as other disability stakeholder groups.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has established a minimum percentage of British-made steel to be used in the HS2 project.

HS2 has huge potential to support growth across the UK and will promote regeneration, boost skills and generate new jobs. Our procurement process is open to all bidders with the relevant experience and required credentials and ensures value for money for the taxpayer.

HS2 Ltd has a continuing programme of engagement with local businesses, attending events arranged by local Chambers of Commerce and other networks to ensure that the procurement opportunities of the project are spread across all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure the prompt completion of outstanding customer claims for compensation as a result of the collapse of Thomas Cook.

We are sympathetic to those affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook and passengers with ATOL protection are entitled to a full refund on any future bookings.

Following the collapse of Thomas Cook, the Government and the CAA together carried out the largest peacetime passenger repatriation. Consequently, the CAA are undertaking the UK travel industry’s largest ever refund programme.

In order to process refund claims as quickly and efficiently as possible, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) set up an automated claims process for claims to be submitted online, using the dedicated Thomas Cook claims website. Over the last four months the CAA have processed more than 95% of the claims they have received which totals over £310 million of ATOL payments to over 320,000 customers. They are still receiving hundreds of claims per week. If people require further assistance they should contact the CAA.

19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made on the impact of the removal of the £20 uplift to the standard allowance of universal credit on regional inequalities.

No such assessment has been made of the impact on regional inequalities.

The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people

We recognise that some people continue to require extra support, which is why we have introduced a £421 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable people in England with essential household costs over the winter as the economy recovers. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to reduce food insecurity.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling poverty in all its forms. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to protect incomes by spending £407 billion last year to protect jobs, keep businesses afloat and help families get by. This includes spending an additional £7.4billion to strengthen the welfare system for those most in need, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £112 billion in 2020/21. In December 2020 we introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme providing funding to Local Authorities in England to enable them to support people with food and essential utility bills during the coldest months. It will now run until June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

The Department for Work and Pensions has recently published new data from the Family Resources Survey on household food security, giving us a better understanding of who is most at risk and underlining how seriously we take the issue of food insecurity. The new data shows that 92% of households are food secure.

As the economy recovers, our ambition is to help people move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence about the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. Our Plan for Jobs is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country and includes investing over £7 billion on new schemes such as the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, the Restart Scheme and our Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the finding in the report by the Trussell Trust entitled The State of Hunger, published in 2019, that 62 per cent of food bank users were disabled, what steps she is taking to reduce poverty among disabled people.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling poverty. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to support the most vulnerable including through spending an additional £7.4billion to strengthen the welfare system, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £112 billion in 2020/21. In December 2020 we introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme providing funding to Local Authorities in England to enable them to support people with food and essential utility bills during the coldest months. It will now run to the 20th June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

We will spend over £57 billion during 2021/22 on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions, including but not limited to new style Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment. Benefits to meet the additional costs of disability were excluded from the benefit freeze which was in place from 2016 to 2020 and during that period were uprated in line with prices.

There is clear evidence about the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. The Government recognises the important economic contribution of disabled people in the labour market and in 2017 we set a goal to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027. DWP delivers a range of programmes to support disabled people, to stay in or move into work. These include the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, Access to Work, Disability Confident and initiatives in partnership with the health system, including Employment Advice in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services and Individual Placement and Support.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she made of the potential merits of suspending the under-occupancy charge during the covid-19 outbreak.

No assessment has been made.

The policy already allows for the provision of an additional bedroom in certain circumstances, such as to support the needs of disabled people, as well as exempting households in receipt of pension age Housing Benefit.

If a claimant’s ability to mitigate any shortfall between their housing support and rent has changed as a result of Covid-19, Discretionary Housing Payments can be considered by their local authority. We have allocated a further £140 million for Discretionary Housing Payments for 2021/22 in England and Wales.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many small businesses have benefited from the Kickstart scheme to date.

As of the 4th March 2021, there have been over 900 unique gateway applications approved and 1,000 unique employer bids accepted on the Kickstart Scheme.

We are unable to provide the number of small businesses that have benefitted from the Kickstart Scheme at present as many of these SME’s will have applied through a Gateway organisation.

We have responded to feedback to make the scheme as accessible as possible for small businesses, most recently removing the 30 threshold for the number of jobs to make a direct application.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what sanctions are available to the Pensions Regulator in cases where an employer has consistently withheld pension contributions from an employee's workplace pension.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR), as the compliance authority for workplace pensions, has a range of statutory powers including the ability to issue fixed and escalating penalty fines to employers for failure to comply with the law.

Information about the use made of those enforcement powers can be found in TPR’s quarterly automatic enrolment compliance and enforcement bulletins, the most recent of which is published on its website, here: https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/enforcement-activity/enforcement-bulletins/compliance-and-enforcement-quarterly-bulletin-april-to-june-2020

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all employers fulfil their legal duties to make contributions to workplace pension schemes.

Automatic enrolment duties continue to apply to all employers with eligible workers.

The Pensions Regulators latest message on reporting duties and enforcement is published on its website, here: https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/covid-19-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-consider/covid-19-an-update-on-reporting-duties-and-enforcement-activity

Government is monitoring the implications of Covid-19 for savers, employers and the pension industry. And as part of supporting the United Kingdom’s economic recovery, our aim remains to help workers achieve greater financial resilience for the long term.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 16 July 2020 to Question 73027 on Universal Credit: Coronavirus, what progress has been made on the Government target to double the number of work coaches.

Work Coach recruitment commenced in June with an initial cross government campaign and followed by a further 12 targeted external campaigns at the beginning of July. Additional external campaigns will be launched on Wednesday 9 September with further adverts launching on a weekly basis over the following 4 weeks.

Over 300 new work coaches have now started and our plans will see over 4500 start by 31 October with a further 9000 starting by 31 March 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made on the preparedness of her Department to (a) process a potential increase in the number of universal credit applications and (b) provide support to those applicants in an adequate time frame in the event of an increase in unemployment as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department continues to keep the services it provides to customers and the resources to support that service under review: this includes our response to the effect of COVID-19 on the labour market.

We are rapidly making provision, in line with public health guidance, for jobseekers to be offered face-to-face appointments with our work coaches, as we re-open our jobcentres across the country.

We have already committed to the doubling of the number of work coaches, the majority of these [13500] roles will be new posts.

The ‘Job Finding Support’ online service will provide tailored support for those who have lost their job to improve their employability, as well as skill-matching them with employers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications for universal credit were made (a) online and (b) by telephone in June 2020.

The number of claims made between 01 June 2020 and 23 June 2020 are as follows:

(a) online 254,840

(b) telephone 4,280

Notes:

1. Figures provided to 23 June 2020 in line with published Universal Credit Management Information

2. Figures are GB and rounded to nearest 10

3. Based on claims declared between 01 June 2020 and 23 June 2020

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans to allocate emergency funding to food banks to provide support for claimants of social security benefits that need additional support.

Food banks are independent charitable organisations and, as such, are best placed to decide on the most appropriate arrangements for supporting people who use them. As both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

I also refer the honourable member to the response given by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in response to an oral question made on 19 March:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-19/debates/EBB8F3D7-F9F4-4C5C-B913-86FD27851B5D/VulnerablePeopleFoodSupplies

Additionally announcements were made at the Prime Minister’s daily briefings on 21 and 22 March in relation to food supply.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will produce a national strategy to ensure that existing and new users of foodbanks will be fed by the food bank networks during the covid-19 pandemic.

Food banks are independent charitable organisations and, as such, are best placed to decide on the most appropriate arrangements for supporting people who use them. As both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

I also refer the honourable member to the response given by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in response to an oral question made on 19 March:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-19/debates/EBB8F3D7-F9F4-4C5C-B913-86FD27851B5D/VulnerablePeopleFoodSupplies

Additionally announcements were made at the Prime Minister’s daily briefings on 21 and 22 March in relation to food supply.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support GP practices in the most deprived areas.

We have invested £250 million in the Winter Access Fund to expand capacity in general practice, in addition to £1.5 billion provided to the sector until 2023/24. Access to the Winter Access Fund is dependent on local systems demonstrating value including the scale of increased capacity and expected impact. A maximum indicative amount will be calculated on the clinical commissioning group primary care weighted capitation formula, which takes account of deprivation.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Access Improvement Programme is supporting practices whose patients are experiencing the greatest challenges in providing good access to patients. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently supporting over 900 practices to design and deliver tailored support packages. In October 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement introduced a new service specification and Impact and Investment Fund incentives for Primary Care Networks (PCNs) on ‘Tackling neighbourhood health inequalities’. As part of the new specification, PCNs must identify and engage populations experiencing health inequalities within their area and co-design an intervention to address unmet needs.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to recruit more GPs; and if he will publish an updated target on GP recruitment by 2024.

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that approved covid-19 vaccines delivered in Pakistan are recognised in the UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Pakistan to travel to the UK without the need for quarantine.

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to end geographical disparities in dementia care.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for services and support for people with dementia. We expect CCGs to commission services that take into account relevant guidance, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines and the Dementia Care Pathway, which sets out benchmarks to improve the delivery and quality of care and support.

Public Health England has published factsheets for CCGs to understand local patterns and potential reasons for trends in dementia diagnosis rates, as well as identifying specific areas for support. In addition, £17 million has been made available to CCGs to address the needs of those waiting for diagnosis and those who have a diagnosis but are unable to access support services due to the pandemic.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that healthcare workers are adequately trained in assisting people living with dementia.

The training needs for staff supporting those living with dementia are available at the following link:

https://skillsforhealth.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Dementia-Core-Skills-Education-and-Training-Framework.pdf

Since 1 April 2015, health care assistants and social care support workers, including those providing care to people with dementia, have received training as part of the implementation of the Care Certificate. As at September 2020, over 1.5 million episodes of tier 1 basic dementia awareness training have been completed by National Health Service staff. In addition, over 233,000 episodes of dementia training at tier 2 and nearly 32,000 episodes of dementia training at tier 3 have been delivered and over one million care workers have completed the Care Certificate or common induction standards. We will be setting out our plans on dementia for England, including training, for future years in due course.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made on the number of women and girls subjected to (a) virginity testing and (b) hymenoplasty procedures.

Data on the number of women and girls subjected to virginity testing is not held. NHS England does not collect data on hymenoplasty procedures in the format requested. Both procedures are often carried out outside the National Health Service. The Department, in conjunction with the Home Office, is working rapidly to investigate both practices. We will set out the findings from this review, including any proposals for legislation, in the ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy’ in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy will include a recommendation for a legislative ban on virginity testing and hymenoplasty.

Data on the number of women and girls subjected to virginity testing is not held. NHS England does not collect data on hymenoplasty procedures in the format requested. Both procedures are often carried out outside the National Health Service. The Department, in conjunction with the Home Office, is working rapidly to investigate both practices. We will set out the findings from this review, including any proposals for legislation, in the ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy’ in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of people who have booked covid-19 quarantine hotel rooms have requested accommodation for a large family since February 2021.

As of 30 June, there have been 10,300 bookings for accommodation for family rooms or 12.7%.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of people returning from red list countries are receiving confirmation of their hotel quarantine booking by one week prior to arrival.

For bookings made via the online portal, 100% of customers receive a confirmation and invoice within 15 minutes. For family room booking requests, 67% of all requests received three to five days ahead of travel with confirmations provided, subject to availability, 24 hours ahead of departure to the United Kingdom. Over 30% of all Managed Quarantine Service hotel bookings made are subject to customer amendment in advance of travel due to date change, an airline schedule change, or COVID-19 test result delay.

All bookings made online should be confirmed within 30 minutes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the availability of quarantine hotel rooms for families with two or more children.

The Department is constantly adding additional Managed Quarantine Service (MQS) hotel capacity to meet requirements for large family groups. Currently, 18% of all MQS hotel capacity is suitable for larger families.

It is not possible to select a particular room at the quarantine hotel. However, hotels will prioritise allocating larger or connecting rooms for families.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what standards he has set for those providing quarantine hotel rooms on the timely confirmation of bookings.

For bookings made via the online portal, 100% of customers receive a confirmation and invoice within 15 minutes. For family room booking requests, 67% of all requests received three to five days ahead of travel with confirmations provided, subject to availability, 24 hours ahead of departure to the United Kingdom. Over 30% of all Managed Quarantine Service hotel bookings made are subject to customer amendment in advance of travel due to date change, an airline schedule change, or COVID-19 test result delay.

All bookings made online should be confirmed within 30 minutes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure people returning from red list countries who require more than two hotel quarantine rooms are able to book that accommodation smoothly.

The Department is constantly adding additional Managed Quarantine Service (MQS) hotel capacity to meet requirements for large family groups. Currently, 18% of all MQS hotel capacity is suitable for larger families.

It is not possible to select a particular room at the quarantine hotel. However, hotels will prioritise allocating larger or connecting rooms for families.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made on the effect of covid-19 restrictions on those living with dementia.

No formal assessment has been made. However, we continue to work with stakeholders and health and care system partners to support people with dementia and their carers, including NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance on the adjustments needed across the Dementia Well Pathway to ensure people continue to be diagnosed and can access care and support.

We have also commissioned research through the National Institute for Health Research on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and their carers living in the community. This includes help to manage the psychological and social impacts of social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown. Leaflets were produced for people with dementia and their carers and are available at the following link:

http://www.idealproject.org.uk/covid/

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve healthcare services for those living with dementia.

Personalised care and support planning is supported by ‘Dementia: Good Care Planning – information for primary care and commissioners’ which sets out the development of care and support planning following an initial holistic assessment of a person’s health and well-being needs within the context of their whole life and family situation. This process recognises the person’s skills and strengths as well as their experiences and the things that matter most to them. The guide is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/dementia-good-care-planning-information-for-primary-care-and-commissioners/

We continue to work with stakeholders and health and care system partners to support people with dementia and their carers, including work by NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance on the adjustments needed across the Dementia Well Pathway during the pandemic to ensure people continue to be diagnosed and can access care and support. In addition, we have made £17 million available to NHS England and NHS Improvement to address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that pregnant women are offered the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent body made up of scientific and clinical experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level.

The Government has accepted the JCVI's advice, updated on 19 April, which now indicates that women who are pregnant should be offered vaccination at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on their age and clinical risk group. Clinicians should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with the woman, who should be told about the limited evidence of safety for the vaccine in pregnancy. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with Oxford/AstraZeneca are advised to complete with the same vaccine.

Pregnant women may wish to contact their general practitioner, who will identify the available vaccination centres where the person is able to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of vaccine, she may complete vaccination during pregnancy using the same vaccine product unless contra-indicated. Alternatively, vaccination should be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to tackle discrepancies in life expectancy between the North and South of England.

To support and drive local action to address inequalities, Public Health England, with the Association of Directors of Public Health and the Local Government Association, published an evidence-based resource Place Based Approaches for reducing health inequalities. This was produced to support cross-system action to address avoidable differences in health outcomes between populations and groups. We have a refreshed obesity strategy, are providing National Health Service health checks, have a tobacco control plan in place and the world’s first diabetes prevention programme. The NHS also funds national vaccination and screening programmes.

In March, we published ‘Transforming the Public Health System: Reforming the Public Health System for the challenges of our times’ which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transforming-the-public-health-system

This sets out our plans to reform the public health system by establishing a new Office for Health Promotion within the department, with professional oversight from the Chief Medical Officer. The Office will lead work across Government to promote good health and prevent illness.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made on the adequacy of public health provision in the most deprived areas of England.

To support and drive local action to address inequalities, Public Health England, with the Association of Directors of Public Health and the Local Government Association, published an evidence-based resource Place Based Approaches for reducing health inequalities. This was produced to support cross-system action to address avoidable differences in health outcomes between populations and groups. We have a refreshed obesity strategy, are providing National Health Service health checks, have a tobacco control plan in place and the world’s first diabetes prevention programme. The NHS also funds national vaccination and screening programmes.

In March, we published ‘Transforming the Public Health System: Reforming the Public Health System for the challenges of our times’ which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transforming-the-public-health-system

This sets out our plans to reform the public health system by establishing a new Office for Health Promotion within the department, with professional oversight from the Chief Medical Officer. The Office will lead work across Government to promote good health and prevent illness.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve (a) life expectancy and (b) healthy life expectancy in the most deprived areas of England.

To support and drive local action to address inequalities, Public Health England, with the Association of Directors of Public Health and the Local Government Association, published an evidence-based resource Place Based Approaches for reducing health inequalities. This was produced to support cross-system action to address avoidable differences in health outcomes between populations and groups. We have a refreshed obesity strategy, are providing National Health Service health checks, have a tobacco control plan in place and the world’s first diabetes prevention programme. The NHS also funds national vaccination and screening programmes.

In March, we published ‘Transforming the Public Health System: Reforming the Public Health System for the challenges of our times’ which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transforming-the-public-health-system

This sets out our plans to reform the public health system by establishing a new Office for Health Promotion within the department, with professional oversight from the Chief Medical Officer. The Office will lead work across Government to promote good health and prevent illness.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the mental wellbeing of young carers during the covid-19 outbreak.

During the pandemic the Government has provided over £11 million to the See, Hear, Respond programme, to support vulnerable children and young people whose usual support networks have been impacted by the outbreak, including young carers as a target group. The programme provides a range of support, including online counselling and helping children and young people stay connected with school.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing payments to student nurses conducting shifts on covid-19 hospital wards.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced on 14 January 2021, that it was reintroducing the emergency education standards, to enable final year nursing students to opt into paid placements to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, dependent on local National Health Service need.

Student nurses opting into paid placements will be paid a salary and will receive an automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Time spent on paid placements can count towards students’ requirements to complete a specified number of training hours in order to successfully complete their degree.

Students may also volunteer or undertake paid ‘bank’ work within a health or care setting while maintaining their academic study if they wish to do so. In line with current guidelines, volunteering or paid work on the ‘bank’ will not be counted towards NMC required practice hours and assessed experience.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to bring forward a third round of the Infection Control Fund to help social care providers protect residents during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Infection Control Fund has provided over £1.1 billion of ring-fenced for infection prevention and control in the care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial support is being provided to the sector in other key areas through the £149 million Rapid Testing Fund and the £120 million Workforce Capacity Fund. Additionally, £4.6 billion has been provided to support local authorities to address pressures on public services, including adult social care.

In 2021/22, we expect to provide local authorities with estimated funding of around £3 billion to help manage the impact of COVID-19 across their services, including in adult social care and to compensate for income losses. The Government will continue to monitor pressures on the sector and will keep future funding under review.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 vaccines have been discarded as a result of logistical or storage issues.

This information is not currently held centrally.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve pay and working conditions for social care workers.

The Government does not have direct responsibility for pay or wider terms and conditions in adult social care in England.

The Government nonetheless maintains oversight of the social care system and we are committed to raising the profile of the social care sector. The Government expects local authorities to commission care at the rate that allows providers to employ the staff they need to deliver quality care. We are providing councils with access to an additional £1 billion for social care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what advice he has given to primary care services on (a) handling and (b) treating people suffering from the long term effects of covid-19.

In July 2020, the National Health Service launched the ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service to support the recovery of people who have been in hospital or suffered at home with the virus. This is a two-phase endeavour with phase one being available as an open, publicly available site containing general information on all aspects of recovering from COVID-19, including physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. Over 100,000 people have used the online service since it was launched in July.

On 7 October the NHS announced £10 million is be invested this year to help kick start and designate ‘long COVID-19’ clinics that will be available to all patients in England. Alongside this, new guidance has been commissioned by NHS England from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the clinical case definition of ‘long COVID-19’. This will include patients who have had COVID-19 who may not have had a hospital admission or a previous positive test. It will be followed by evidence-based NICE clinical guidelines that will outline the support that ‘long COVID-19’ patients should receive, enabling NHS doctors, therapists and staff to provide a clear and personalised treatment plan. This will include education materials for general practitioners and other health professionals to help them refer and signpost patients to the right support.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he had made of the adequacy of funding for public health departments within local authorities in England.

The Public Health Grant to local authorities is £3.279 billion in 2020-21. This is in addition to what the National Health Service spends on public health, which included over £1.3 billion in 2019-20 on national public health programmes such as immunisations and screening. Local authorities have also been provided with £4.3 billion in 2020/21 to support their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Funding beyond 2020-21 will be set out at the next Spending Review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide support for GP practices to become covid-secure and allow for social distancing.

The Department has provided support to general practitioners (GPs) throughout the pandemic, reflecting GPs’ vital role in tackling the virus and maintaining business as usual services to patients. Our COVID-19 Support Fund is helping general practices with the additional costs of responding to the pandemic. Details of the Fund were laid out in a letter to GP practices on 4 August 2020 which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/C0651-covid-support-fund-letter-aug-2020.pdf

NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced detailed guidance on treating individuals in a COVID-secure way. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/managing-coronavirus-covid-19-in-general-practice-sop/

The guidance offers advice on maintaining social distancing during face-to-face appointments, sourcing personal protective equipment and on accessing the COVID-19 Support Fund.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made on the adequacy of covid-19 testing available to NHS and care workers.

All National Health Service patient facing staff in acute, mental health, ambulance and community trusts have been provided with lateral flow tests to enable them to test themselves at home twice a week. Lateral flow tests are also being distributed across primary care including general practice, community pharmacy, dentistry and optometry. In addition tests have been provided to independent sector providers and community interest companies providing NHS care.

For care homes, new guidance advises all care home staff to undertake an additional two lateral flow tests per week, in addition to the current regular polymerase chain reaction testing regime.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the findings of the report The prevalence of endometriosis in adolescents with pelvic pain: a systematic review, published in July 2020 in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, that one in ten girls may have endometriosis; and whether he plans to introduce a target to reduce the average waiting time for a diagnosis of endometriosis.

The Government is aware of and sympathises with the hardships faced by women who experience severe symptoms from conditions such as endometriosis.

There is currently no plan to introduce a target to reduce the average waiting time for a diagnosis. NHS England advises that women with symptoms suggestive of endometriosis may undergo diagnostic and/or operative laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure carried out by a gynaecologist on referral. This is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has sought guidance from SAGE on changing covid-19 social distancing guidance for children in England.

The Government is committed to the open sharing of the scientific advice guiding our response to COVID-19 where possible.

The scientific papers presented at Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) meetings together with the minutes of each SAGE meeting have been, and will continue to be, released into the public domain as soon as is practicable. The scientific papers and SAGE minutes are available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce the average waiting time for an endometriosis diagnosis.

Endometriosis manifests itself in a variety of ways and shares symptoms with other conditions. As a consequence, diagnosis can be difficult and is sometimes delayed.

There are currently no plans to reduce the average waiting time for an endometriosis diagnosis.

Given the highly invasive nature of the diagnostic procedure and the varying degree to which women experience symptoms, it can be more appropriate to treat mild symptoms on clinical grounds and reserve a laparoscopy with its inherent risks for women with more significant symptoms.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase understanding of endometriosis among (a) GPs and (b) other non-specialist medical professionals.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a range of information and guidance on diagnosing and managing endometriosis, and we expect all clinicians to use NICE guidelines to inform their clinical practice.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase public awareness of endometriosis to ensure women are able to recognise symptoms.

Endometriosis manifests itself in a variety of ways and shares symptoms with other conditions. As a consequence, diagnosis can be difficult and is sometimes delayed.

Information on endometriosis is available at the following webpages:

NHS.UK:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/endometriosis/

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/endometriosis/

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/conditions-and-diseases/gynaecological-conditions/endometriosis-and-fibroids

Endometriosis UK:

https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Department for Work and Pensions on the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to ensure employers provide increased (a) paid sick leave, (b) flexible working hours and (c) flexible breaks and (d) other support in the workplace for people with endometriosis.

No discussions have taken place between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions on the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to ensure that employers provide increased support for those in the workplace with endometriosis.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on charging for NHS services of the report by Doctors of the World, An unsafe distance: the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on excluded people in England, published in May 2020.

Regulations came into force on 29 January 2020 to add Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (now known as COVID-19) to Schedule 1 of the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015. This means there can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis, or treatment, of COVID-19. Patients that are known to be undergoing testing and treatment for coronavirus only are not subject to Home Office status checks.

This information has been widely communicated to NHS staff and the public, including a message published on Public Health England’s Migrant Health Guide, which has been translated into 40 languages.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to allow charities and local authorities to resume in-person physical and mental health support sessions as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 does not stop in-person physical and mental health support sessions from being held. The local authorities and charities who operate these sessions must decide on whether it is possible to do so whilst following relevant COVID-19 secure guidance.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase the regularity of pseudonymised testing data made available to public health teams in local authorities.

Public Health England (PHE) is providing record level data, including postcode, to local authorities on a daily basis. PHE is also, providing identifiable data to Directors of Public Health daily from 21 July via a secure platform to improve their accessibility to the data.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to enable public health teams in local authorities to access data from primary care facilities recording patients with possible covid-19 symptoms to help with syndromic surveillance.

The weekly syndromic surveillance reports are published on GOV.UK each Thursday and are available for local authorities and the public to access at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/news/weekly-covid-19-surveillance-report-published

They contain a range of primary care syndromic indicators, including COVID-19. COVID-19 syndromic outputs at England and Public Health England (PHE) Centre level are also included in the weekly PHE COVID-19 Surveillance Report. The England and Centre outputs are also included in the PHE Daily COVID-19 Surveillance Report. Both outputs are in the PHE COVID-19 LA Report Store available for Directors of Public Health and local authorities to access.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to allow family visits to residential care homes in England as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

We are aware that limiting visits in care homes is difficult for many families and residents who want to see their loved ones. All our guidance is designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed.

While we have recommended that care homes limit visits, we are clear that some visits, such as visits at the end of life, are important both for the individual and their loved ones and should continue with appropriate infection control precautions.

We are reviewing our policy on visitors and are looking to update our guidance shortly.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for public health teams in local authorities to be provided with personable and identifiable (a) real time or (b) near real time testing data to enable a more timely response to localised outbreaks of covid-19.

From 20 July and to augment the standing local arrangements between Public Health England (PHE) and Directors of Public Health, PHE will share daily fully identifiable (including names) test, case and contact tracing data via a dashboard with Directors of Public Health to further support their investigation of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many requests for coronavirus tests were made to the (a) NHS website and (b) 111 phone line in June 2020.

The information is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on the health of hospital workers of the mandated wearing of face masks for extended periods; and what steps he is taking to ensure that the health of those workers is maintained while wearing those masks.

The Government has published clear guidelines on helping to prevent facial skin damage beneath personal protective equipment (PPE), which can be found in the NHS England Health and Safety section online. These guidelines state the importance of keeping the skin clean and well moisturised before applying PPE and using skin protectants if individuals will be wearing PPE for extended periods. More detailed information around optimising the correct fit of masks is also included. For example, if the mask is digging in, it is advised to move away from direct patient contact and remove the mask - using doffing guidance - and allow the skin to recover for approximately five minutes. Individuals are encouraged to inspect skin for signs of redness or soreness and take regular breaks (we recommend every two hours), from wearing a mask to relieve the pressure, and reduce moisture build-up. Where possible, staff should rotate in teams where PPE can be removed between clinical shifts. This will help allow the skin time to recover.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the evidence on the risks of covid-19 to people with diabetes.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published a recent paper on type 1 and type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 related mortality in England which can be found on their website and accessed via the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/type-1-and-type-2-diabetes-and-covid-19-related-mortality-in-england/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2020 to Question 46117 on Coronavirus: Roma, how Public Health England plans to capture evidence on the outcomes for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, whose ethnic categories are not part of the NHS Data Dictionary.

It is not currently possible for Public Health England to capture evidence on the outcomes for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, whose ethnic categories are not part of the NHS Data Dictionary. We will raise this issue as part of the work that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) will be taking forward following the publication of PHE’s report into disparities in COVID-19 risks and outcomes and we are in discussion with NHS England and NHS Improvement about the equality monitoring data that can and should be gathered.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the rate of (a) infection and (b) death from covid-19 within the Roma community.

We have not made such an assessment but are working hard to understand more about COVID-19 and establish robust data on the factors impacting the number of COVID-19 cases and health outcomes for different groups within the population where data is available.

As part of this, we have commissioned Public Health England to consider the impact of various factors such as ethnicity, obesity, age, gender and geographical location.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app, what consultation the Government has had with the Information Commissioner before processing personal data under Article 36 of The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679.

There is no legal requirement for the data controller to consult the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under Article 36 of the General Data Protection regulation as the data collected is not identifiable and the processing is not therefore considered to be high risk.

However, the ICO has been working with NHSX for some time providing information governance assurance on the app development, including advising on the Data Protection Impact Assessment regarding risk mitigation. The ICO is represented on the Assurance Board and on the Ethics Advisory Board as an observer. Both boards report up to the app’s Oversight Board.

The ICO published a statement on 24 April confirming they will offer support during the life of the app as it is developed, rolled out, and when it is no longer needed.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people will have the right to access and erase data submitted through the covid-19 contact tracing app.

If users delete the app, all data stored on the phone and not already voluntarily shared with the Department or the National Health Service would be deleted. If users do not opt to share their data while the app remains on their phone, it will automatically be deleted on a continuous 28-day cycle within the app, on the phone.

By law, an individual has a number of rights as a data subject, such as the right to access information held about them or ask for their data to be deleted. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides more detail about individual rights at the following link:

https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made on whether data collected using the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app can be categorised as anonymous under UK law.

The data collected cannot identify an individual. It is not however anonymous: the data is categorised as pseudonymous and therefore is treated as personal data although not identifiable.

Existing law and National Health Service standards set out a framework of protective measures to ensure the app is legally compliant and meets the standards expected to keep data secure and confidential. These include the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016, Data Protection Act 2018, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (as incorporated into United Kingdom law by the Human Rights Act 1998) and the common law duty of confidentiality.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of whether the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app complies with the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 in relation to Bluetooth usage and embedded trackers.

The app complies with the law around the use of data, including the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. The Information Commissioner’s Office has worked with NHSX to ensure a high level of transparency and governance and we have appointed an independent ethics board to provide guidance on the app development.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the World Health Organisation recommendation of increased testing for covid-19.

Testing is a crucial part of the United Kingdom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government is working on multiple fronts to deliver additional testing capacity into the system.

We have committed to boosting National Health Service lab-based testing to at least 25,000 a day by the end of April for patients most in need and are working to increase our total testing capacity.

By increasing our testing capacity, we can provide better care for the most vulnerable patients across the NHS; help key workers get back to work as soon as possible; and provide certainty and reassurance to the wider UK population.

Key worker testing has now started, with hundreds of staff to be tested. This will increase from the end of March and tests will be turned around as quickly as possible.

We are also purchasing new types of tests including antigen tests to identify those who currently have the virus, and antibody tests to identify those who have had the virus and are now immune. We are working hard to bring additional tests to those that need them as soon as possible.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the adequacy of funding for support services for friends and family members of people with addictions.

No discussions have taken place between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health on funding for support services for friends and family members of people with addictions. The issues that addiction causes are all too often felt by family and friends. The Government is committed to ensuring that anyone with an addiction problem can access the help and support they need to overcome their problem and to help them rebuild their lives and sustain their recovery. There is a network of high quality addiction services across the country to support those who have drug and alcohol dependency issues and their families.

Local authorities are responsible for commissioning effective alcohol and drug prevention and treatment services based on an assessment of local needs. Local authorities have received £3.1 billion in 2019/20 to be used exclusively on public health including addiction treatment services. The public health grant for 2020/21 will increase in real terms allowing local authorities to continue to invest in the services they provide.

The Department of Health and Social Care, with the Department for Work and Pensions, is providing £6 million, over three years, for a package of measures, to improve outcomes and support for children whose parents are alcohol dependent. This includes a local authority innovation fund; funding for voluntary sector organisations to develop new resources and training; and additional helpline and contact services for children.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the situation in (a) Marib and (b) Al-Hudaydah in Yemen.

We condemn the Houthis' escalation of violence around Marib and their intensifying of cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, which is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. On 20 October the UK supported a UN Security Council Press Statement calling for an immediate end to the Houthi escalation in Marib. On 9 November we achieved international agreement to impose sanctions against Houthi military leaders for leading offensives, orchestrating cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia and using their position to seize the assets of opponents and circumvent the UN arms embargo.

The Houthis, and all other parties to the conflict, need to engage constructively in negotiations. Dialogue is the only way to sustainably end this conflict and alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her counterparts in the Middle East on Yemen since taking office.

UK Ministers and officials engage with their international and regional counterparts on Yemen regularly and use the monthly briefings to the UN Security Council to encourage efforts towards a political solution, deliver further economic support and bring an end to the humanitarian suffering. Administrative restrictions imposed on humanitarian partners remain the principal driver of access constraints across Yemen. We are clear that humanitarian aid must not be used as a political tool and call on all parties to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid, and unhindered access for the humanitarian response.

On 20 October the UK supported a UN Security Council Press Statement calling for an immediate end to the Houthi escalation in Marib, and the Foreign Secretary also visited Riyadh where she discussed the conflict in Yemen with Saudi counterparts. We urge the parties to engage constructively with the UN process and call on all states to release humanitarian funding commitments promptly.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her international partners to help ensure access for humanitarian aid to Marib and Al-Hudaydah, Yemen.

UK Ministers and officials engage with their international and regional counterparts on Yemen regularly and use the monthly briefings to the UN Security Council to encourage efforts towards a political solution, deliver further economic support and bring an end to the humanitarian suffering. Administrative restrictions imposed on humanitarian partners remain the principal driver of access constraints across Yemen. We are clear that humanitarian aid must not be used as a political tool and call on all parties to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid, and unhindered access for the humanitarian response.

On 20 October the UK supported a UN Security Council Press Statement calling for an immediate end to the Houthi escalation in Marib, and the Foreign Secretary also visited Riyadh where she discussed the conflict in Yemen with Saudi counterparts. We urge the parties to engage constructively with the UN process and call on all states to release humanitarian funding commitments promptly.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps the Government has taken to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Foreign Secretary recently discussed the cases of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on 8 November. The Foreign Secretary has also taken every opportunity to discuss the situation with other key players in the region and more widely and will continue to do so. I raised their cases with my Iranian counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister, Bagheri Kani when he visited the FCDO on 11 November. Our Ambassador in Tehran also continues to regularly raise Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ministers hold regular meetings with officials to direct activity across the FCDO to secure the release of unjustly detained British nationals.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the scale of human rights violations in Kashmir; and what assessment she has made of the accuracy of the 2020 Human Rights and Democracy Report with respect to Kashmir.

We recognise that there are human rights concerns in both India-administered-Kashmir and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir.  We encourage all states to ensure domestic laws are in line with international standards. Any allegation of human rights violations or abuse is deeply concerning and must be investigated thoroughly and transparently.  We have raised our concerns with the Governments of India and Pakistan.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the scale of the current use of pellet guns by Indian security forces in Kashmir; and what discussions she has had with her Indian counterpart on the use of those weapons.

We have previously expressed concern at reports of use of pellet guns by Indian security forces. The UN Secretary General also expressed concern in a June report and called on India to end the use of shotgun pellets against children. Ministers and senior officials have raised our concerns with the Indian Government and we call on all states to take preventive measures to protect children.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions (a) she and (b) her predecessor has had with her Saudi counterpart on that nation's policy on deportations to Yemen.

We are aware of recent reporting related to migrants being expelled from Saudi Arabia. Officials have raised this issue and the potential humanitarian and economic implications with the Saudi authorities. I, Lord Ahmad and the previous Foreign Secretary raised human rights in our latest engagements with the Saudi authorities. No aspect of our relationship with Saudi Arabia prevents us from speaking frankly about human rights.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect British NGO’s importing life-saving goods into Yemen from potential legal repercussions following the US Administration’s designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group.

Following the US Administration's decision to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, we have urged the US ensure that the international humanitarian response, commercial imports and UN peace efforts are able to continue. We welcome the US commitment to work with the UN, NGOs and donors to address the implications for humanitarian activity and imports into Yemen. We await the release of full legal documentation of the designation framework, which will allow us to more fully understand its impact.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction of overseas aid spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income on the UK’s humanitarian work in Yemen.

The UK is committed to delivering our £200 million aid pledge to Yemen this financial year (2020/21) and we will have disbursed 87 per cent of this funding by the end of November. Our funding aims to support at least 600,000 vulnerable people each month to help buy food this financial year (2020/21) and treat 55,000 children for malnutrition.

The funding for next financial year (2021/22) will enable the UK to deliver humanitarian support in current and emerging crises, such as in Yemen, and to tackle the combined threats of coronavirus and famine.

Country specific financial allocations for the new financial year (2021/22) will be taken in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Saudi Arabian counterpart on the airstrikes in Washah in Yemen; and if he will make a statement.

We are deeply concerned by reports of civilian deaths in Washah. Whenever the UK receives reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), we routinely seek information from all credible sources, including from Non-Governmental Organisations and international organisations. We use every opportunity to raise the importance of complying with IHL with the Saudi Arabian Government and other members of the Coalition, including requesting investigations into alleged incidents of concern. The UK continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to exercise restraint, comply fully with IHL and engage constructively with the peace process led by the UN Special Envoy, which is the only way to end the cycle of violence.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the recent alleged downing of a US-operated AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma drone by Houthi rebels in Yemen on (a) the Yemeni civil war and (b) relations between Iran and the West.

We are aware of reports that the Houthis recently downed a US drone, but we have seen no evidence to corroborate these reports. We are clear that continued Houthi violence only makes a peaceful resolution to the Yemeni civil war less likely. We continue to urge all parties to de-escalate, participate in positive dialogue and engage with the peace process led by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths.

We are also deeply concerned by the findings of the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen that military equipment of Iranian origin was introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo. This puts Iran in non-compliance with Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015) and reaffirms our concerns about destabilising Iranian activity in Yemen and the wider region. We have raised these concerns with the Iranian Government.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release entitled, UK warns of catastrophic environmental threat from hazardous Yemeni oil tanker, what diplomatic steps he is taking to tackle the (a) humanitarian, (b) environmental and (c) economic threat posed by a potential an oil spill from the FSO Safer oil tanker in the Red Sea.

The FSO SAFER oil tanker is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Unless UN experts are allowed to access it, we are facing a catastrophic environmental threat. The Houthis cannot continue to hold the environment and people's livelihoods to ransom. It is in everyone's interests, especially the suffering people of Yemen, that this tanker is made safe immediately. In support of UN efforts, we have raised this directly with the Houthis and with other leaders to try avert an avoidable crisis. We are also working with the UN and other donors to ensure there is sufficient funding and that contingency plans are in place should a spill occur in the interim.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the level of risk to Yemen of the covid-19 pandemic.

Modelling funded by the Department for International Development predicts that Yemen could suffer up to 85,000 COVID-19 deaths in a worst case scenario. In response, the UK is disbursing its £160 million commitment to Yemen promptly this financial year to help the UN to tackle the spread of COVID-19. We expect our funding to provide over 700,000 medical consultations for a range of health conditions, train 1,500 healthcare workers to work safely in a COVID-19 environment and provide a much-needed boost to nearly 600 health centres to continue providing existing health services.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions his Department has had with the UN and regional partners in Yemen with the aim of a repatriation flight for British nationals in Yemen who wish to return to the UK.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) suspended its operations in Yemen in 2015. Since then our ability to offer consular assistance to British nationals in Yemen has been extremely limited. Since March 2011, the FCO has consistently advised against all travel to all parts of Yemen, and advised British nationals to leave the country. However, where possible, the FCO remains committed to doing what it can for those British nationals who remain in Yemen. Our consular team continues to work around the clock to provide support, advice and information. British travellers needing to speak to a consular officer should call the FCO in London on +44(0)20 7008 1500.

In light of the challenges following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent restrictions put in place by the authorities in Yemen, FCO officials have been in contact with 29 British nationals who have expressed a wish to return to the UK since the start of the outbreak. These British nationals are spread across Yemen, but most are located in Aden and Seiyun. Officials have worked with the UN and regional partners to arrange departures to neighbouring countries, from where onward flights to the UK have then been secured. To date, seven British nationals have successfully left Yemen.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, when his Department first became aware of British nationals in Yemen who wished to return to the UK during the covid-19 pandemic; and where in Yemen those British nationals are.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) suspended its operations in Yemen in 2015. Since then our ability to offer consular assistance to British nationals in Yemen has been extremely limited. Since March 2011, the FCO has consistently advised against all travel to all parts of Yemen, and advised British nationals to leave the country. However, where possible, the FCO remains committed to doing what it can for those British nationals who remain in Yemen. Our consular team continues to work around the clock to provide support, advice and information. British travellers needing to speak to a consular officer should call the FCO in London on +44(0)20 7008 1500.

In light of the challenges following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent restrictions put in place by the authorities in Yemen, FCO officials have been in contact with 29 British nationals who have expressed a wish to return to the UK since the start of the outbreak. These British nationals are spread across Yemen, but most are located in Aden and Seiyun. Officials have worked with the UN and regional partners to arrange departures to neighbouring countries, from where onward flights to the UK have then been secured. To date, seven British nationals have successfully left Yemen.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to provide repatriation flights for UK citizens in Yemen.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) suspended its operations in Yemen in 2015. Since then our ability to offer consular assistance to British nationals in Yemen has been extremely limited. Since March 2011, the FCO has consistently advised against all travel to all parts of Yemen, and advised British nationals to leave the country. However, where possible, the FCO remains committed to doing what it can for those British nationals who remain in Yemen.

In light of the challenges following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent restrictions put in place by the authorities in Yemen, FCO officials have been in contact with 27 British nationals who have expressed a wish to return to the UK. Officials have worked with the UN and regional partners to arrange departures to neighbouring countries, from where onward flights to the UK have then been secured. To date, six British nationals have successfully left Yemen.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to publish the LGBT Action Plan: Annual progress report for 2019-2020.

Due to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak our work in this area has been delayed. The Government will provide an update and next steps in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he is taking steps in the UN Security Council to secure sustainable arrangements for emergency flights into Yemen’s main airports; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is concerned at continued access restrictions within Yemen, including the closure of Sana'a airport. We are pressing the authorities to facilitate better access through ports and airports to ensure Covid experts and humanitarian personnel and supplies are able to enter Yemen, alongside food and fuel. This will be imperative to facilitate an effective international Covid-19 response. We support the UN Special Envoy's efforts to find a lasting solution to the airport issue with the parties.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

As of 6 May, in Yemen there were 23 publicly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. The World Health Organisation's (WHO) assessment is that a widespread outbreak in Yemen will be catastrophic. We are extremely concerned by the capacity of the healthcare system to respond to a severe outbreak of COVID-19. Only half of Yemen's health facilities are currently functioning and almost 20 million people lack access to basic health care. We are also concerned about the capacity of the Yemeni authorities to contain and manage the outbreak given the ongoing conflict; we are urging all parties to agree a ceasefire and to work together to enable a nationwide response. The Department for International Development is currently assessing how best to respond through existing programmes in Yemen, with the WHO and United Nations Children's Fund already working with Yemen's Ministry of Health to strengthen the country's health care capacity, by providing vital equipment across the country.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to spend 1 per cent of GDP each year on meeting climate targets, as recommended by the Climate Change Committee in its report, Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming, published May 2019.

The Government takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. In June 2019 the UK became the first major economy to legislate to end our net contribution to climate change by 2050. According to analysis by PwC, the UK has decarbonised its economy faster than any G20 country since 2000.

Last year, the PM set out his via his Ten Point Plan a blueprint to transition to a net zero economy whilst levelling up the country. This announced £12 billion of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030. Further announcements will be made in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, which will be published ahead of COP 26.

The CCC is an important advisor to the Government, advising on emissions targets and reports to Parliament on progress made. In December 2020, the CCC published an updated estimate of 0.5% of GDP in 2050 for the net cost of transitioning to net zero. The Government will fulfil its statutory requirement of formally responding to the CCC’s advice alongside the Net Zero Strategy later in the year.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to cap standard variable mortgage rates for inactive lenders to protect people who cannot move their mortgages.

Data released in July 2020 stated that customers with inactive lenders pay on average just 0.4% more than borrowers with the same lending characteristics with active lenders. In addition, the recent London School of Economics report on mortgage prisoners noted “capping SVRs at a level close to the best rate for new loans could create harm in other parts of the market, and we do not recommend it”.

The government is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority and industry to develop switching options for mortgage consumers with inactive lenders.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support mortgage prisoners.

The Government remains committed to supporting these borrowers and has worked with the FCA to implement rule changes to its mortgage lending rules, removing the regulatory barrier that prevented some customers, who otherwise may have been able to switch, from accessing new products. The new rules should allow customers to switch to an active lender as long as they meet the lenders’ risk appetite and meet certain criteria, such as not looking to borrow more. Lenders have now started contacting borrowers who have been struggling to switch with options specifically designed for them, and I hope to see even more options from active lenders over the coming months.

Some customers may not be eligible to access new mortgage products in line with the adapted affordability assessment. This is why the FCA recently confirmed additional options to support borrowers, including making intragroup switching easier and extending interest-only payments, recognising the impact of Covid-19 on borrowers. These modified rules came into force on 23 October 2020.

Moreover, on 14 September, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) launched online information and a dedicated phone service (accessible via MaPS’ main contact number) as a key source of information and advice for borrowers with inactive lenders, including signposting to specific brokers that will be able to help.

The Government continues to work with the mortgage lending sector to ensure support is available for consumers.

The FCA also recently noted that firms should be reviewing their variable rates to ensure they adhere to regulations regarding the fair treatment of consumers. The full statement can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/statement-mortgage-prisoners

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 4 November 2020 to Question 109525 on Taxis: Coronavirus, how many self-employed taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have received grants through the first three rounds of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The information requested is not available.

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are part of the “Transportation and Storage” sector.

225,000 self-employed individuals in the Transportation and Storage sector claimed the first SEISS grant and 212,000 claimed the second SEISS grant.

These figures were taken from the SEISS statistics published on 21 August and 22 October respectively.

The third SEISS grant is not yet open for claims and is due to open from 30 November 2020.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional support he is making available to (a) nightclub DJs and (b) other freelance workers in industries closed as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Following the implementation of further national restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus, the Government has announced additional economic measures to give individuals the flexibility to adjust and plan over the coming months. These include:

- An extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 2 December, allowing eligible employees to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

- The Government has announced more generous support to the self-employed, who will now receive 80% of average trading profits in November. As SEISS grants are calculated over 3 months, this increases the total level of the grant to 55% of trading profits for November to January and the maximum grant will increase to £5,160. We will also be paying this out more quickly by bringing forward the SEISS 3 claims window from 14 December to 30 November.

- An extension of existing government-backed loan schemes and Future Fund to the end of January and an ability to top-up Bounce Back Loans

These measures, on top of the £200 billion package of support we have committed since the beginning of the crisis, will ensure that freelancers, including night-club DJs, who temporarily cannot trade or have suffered reduced demand due to the pandemic are supported over the winter.

In order to support those individuals who are not eligible for the existing package of measures, the Government has also made the welfare system more generous - worth £9.3bn according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit (UC) standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make available additional support beyond the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and Job Support Scheme for people working in industries prevented from operating as a result of health protection regulations.

The Job Support Scheme will help employers that are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19, helping those businesses to retain their employees. The Government has also introduced several additional support schemes for businesses, in addition to the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The Government has extended the temporary loan schemes (the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Bounce Back Loans, and the Future Fund), provided flexibility with the repayment of these loans, deferred VAT payments, reduced the rate of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sectors, and introduced the Job Retention Bonus to encourage employers to keep their previously furloughed staff employed.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support furloughed workers in the events industry who may be unable to return to work after the furlough scheme ends in October 2020.

The introduction of flexible furloughing helps firms to adjust how they furlough to match their speed of reopening, and firms will be able to claim under the CJRS until October flexibly.

As economic activity develops, the Government must adjust its support to facilitate people’s return to work while protecting both the UK economy and livelihoods.

For businesses that may not be open after October, there is a range of continuing support including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

For employees who may need more support, the Government has introduced temporary welfare measures including a £1,000 a year increase to the Universal Credit (UC) standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants.
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of targeting Government funding towards areas with (a) a relatively higher unemployment rate and (b) fewer job centres and other social infrastructure that are vulnerable to the economic impact of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for businesses and workers across the country, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19. The Plan for Jobs will support employment across the whole country, including doubling the number of work coaches in Job Centre Plus, as well as through the Flexible Support Fund, which is delivered at a local level through Job Centre Plus branches and allocated based on local needs, and through the Rapid Response Service, which can be mobilised rapidly anywhere in the country to help provide immediate support to employees at risk of redundancy. These measures are designed to ensure that areas most vulnerable to the economic impact of the crisis are given the support they need.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will cancel beer duty payments due by direct debit on 25 March 2020 for small independent breweries.

Time to Pay arrangements are already available to all brewers, which enable them to seek deferrals for beer duty and other taxes with no interest or late penalties due. HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline can be reached by calling: 0800 0159 559.

This comes on top of the wider package of support announced by the Chancellor, worth over £350bn. Small brewers will be able to access interest-free loans, defer their VAT payments due on VAT returns for the period until the end of June and receive support worth up to 80% of their employees’ wages.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide financial relief for pubs that are required to close as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses across the economy, including the pubs sector. Alongside £330bn worth of government-backed and guaranteed loans, firms eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be eligible for cash grants of up to £10,000, and firms in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with eligible properties with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for cash grants of up to £25,000. In addition, a business rates holiday has been put in place for all eligible businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.

18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason it would not be reasonably practicable for notice to be given to a person to be deprived of citizenship under clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill.

Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill amends section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 to allow a decision to deprive a person of British citizenship to be implemented in the absence of contact with a person, in specified circumstances, including where it is not reasonably practicable to give notice.

The reasons why it may not be reasonably practicable to give notice could include where the Home Office knows the address of an individual, but the postal service in the country does not function, private couriers do not operate, or the security situation prohibits an official serving notice in person.

Tom Pursglove
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to Women’s Aid's estimate of September 2021 that at least £409 million is needed in 2022 to run specialist domestic abuse services across England, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to tackle domestic violence and abuse.

We recognise the important work Women’s Aid and other such charities do in raising issues around support for victims of domestic abuse. The Home Office funds many such vital services, providing support to frontline services to victims and survivors, and the national domestic abuse helpline.

The Home Office has regular engagement with the sector in a multitude of forums, including regular dedicated stakeholder sessions. As part of this we use sector insight to understand their assessment of gaps in provision.

The Government set out its Budget and Spending Review plans in October of this year, including the high-level Home Office funding settlement for the next 3 years.

In order to deliver our ambition in the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, and complementary Domestic Abuse Strategy to be published later this year, we will take advantage of any multi-year Spending Review outcome to best fund specialist support services.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her timescale is for bringing to the UK unaccompanied Afghanistan refugee children currently in temporary camps in Qatar who have relatives in the UK.

The Home Office is aware of a group of unaccompanied Afghan minors with family links to the UK in Qatar and officials are working closely with UNICEF, the UNHCR and the US State Department to ensure the most appropriate outcomes for these children. Our priority is to ensure that the children will be safe and well cared for and to ensure any outcome is in the best interests of the children.

We are working with the utmost urgency to ensure that, where appropriate, these children are brought to the UK. However, we need to conduct assessments of the relatives the children will be living with to ensure the children’s safety, and that moving to the UK is in their best interests. As soon as these assessments are made, and we are content moving to the UK is in the best interests of the children, arrangements will be made to bring them to the UK.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she next plans to provide an update on the Afghan citizens' resettlement scheme.

The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) is not yet open. Officials are working urgently to stand up the remaining elements of the scheme, amid the complex and changing picture.

The Government will continue to work closely with other government departments, non-governmental organisations, charities, local authorities and other partners and relevant organisations in the development and implementation of the ACRS.

Further information on the eligibility, prioritisation and referral of people for the ACRS is set out in the policy statement published on gov.uk on 13 September, available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement

The Home Office is logging the cases we have received from Honourable Members, and we are considering how this data will be used in the future.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether Afghan citizens whose cases have already been raised with her Department by hon. Members will automatically be considered for the Afghan citizens' resettlement scheme.

The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) is not yet open. Officials are working urgently to stand up the remaining elements of the scheme, amid the complex and changing picture.

The Government will continue to work closely with other government departments, non-governmental organisations, charities, local authorities and other partners and relevant organisations in the development and implementation of the ACRS.

Further information on the eligibility, prioritisation and referral of people for the ACRS is set out in the policy statement published on gov.uk on 13 September, available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement

The Home Office is logging the cases we have received from Honourable Members, and we are considering how this data will be used in the future.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the efficiency of her Department's delivery partners in delivering Biometric Residency Permits.

Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are delivered by FedEx, which took over the delivery contract from DX in February 2020, with the key performance indicator being to attempt to deliver 99% of BRPs within 48 hours of collection from the production facility.

FedEx took over the delivery contract from DX in February 2020, after a bedding in period formal reporting started in July 2020. Between 1 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 FedEx attempted to deliver 99.2% of BRPs within 48 hours. Of the deliveries attempted, 90.4% were successful.

We are working with FedEx to improve the number of BRPs successfully delivered by improving Management Information reporting, incident/investigation reporting and reconciliation, and customer service functions.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether officials in her Department recognise Ahmadiyya marriage certificates which are not registered with the Pakistan Union Council for the purposes of EU Settlement Scheme family permit applications.

Ahmadiyya marriage certificates which for legitimate reasons are not registered with the Pakistan Union Council, but which have been accepted for official purposes by the Pakistani authorities, will be recognised as evidence of marriage in an EU Settlement Scheme family permit application.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect of covid-19 travel restrictions in respect of red list countries on a potential applicant's ability to apply for a EU Settlement Scheme family permit within the application window.

The EU Settlement Scheme family permit is open for eligible family members of a relevant sponsor to apply. Individuals in red list countries can apply in the normal way.

If their application is successful, they will not be prevented from travelling to the UK, as they have residence rights, but like all travellers to the UK must comply with the prevailing border health measures, including the managed quarantine service where relevant.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the UK will (a) become fully compliant with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence and (b) ratify that treaty.

The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, signalling its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remains committed to ratifying it as soon as possible.

The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 requires Ministers to publish annual reports on their progress towards being able to ratify the Convention. The most recent report was published on 22 October 2020 and can be found here: Ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence - progress report 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The October 2020 report confirmed that the UK already complies with almost all of the Convention’s articles (and in a number of respects goes beyond them) and sets out the steps which the Government and the Devolved Administrations are taking, to comply with the outstanding articles as we progress toward ratification.

When we are satisfied that we are compliant with the Convention then we will, in line with section 1(3) of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017, make a statement to Parliament confirming that fact and outline when we would expect to ratify.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of correspondence sent to the MP correspondence team is replied to within the 20 working day service standard for a comprehensive response.

71% of correspondence received in 2020, to the end of August, has been replied to within 20 working days. This includes replies to correspondence from hon. Members relating to immigration casework and operational matters provided by officials.

29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 25 September 2020 to Question 93656, for what reason she has not been able to update the House sooner on the Windrush Lessons Learned review’s findings.

On 30 September, I published a Comprehensive Improvement Plan in response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/windrush-lessons-learned-review-response-comprehensive-improvement-plan

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions she (a) has had and (b) plans to have with organisations to contribute to the review of the compliant environment as recommended by the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

My officials are consulting external experts, community organisations and the very people the Home Office has failed in the past in an extensive programme of engagement to ensure officials understand the change that is needed and that the organisation at every level learns the lessons of what went wrong.

I have accepted the Windrush Lessons Learned review’s important findings and I will be updating the House in the coming weeks.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the Government’s review on the restrictions on asylum seekers' rights to work, initiated in December 2018, will be concluded.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue and is under review; it is crucial we take the time to get this right. We are listening carefully to the arguments and considering the evidence put forward on the issue.

The findings of the review will be communicated once this work is completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to provide safe and legal routes of entry to the UK for asylum seekers in order to prevent the risk of exploitation and the dangers of crossing the Channel by boat.

The UK is one of the world’s leading refugee resettlement states. We resettle more refugees than any other country in Europe and are in the top five countries worldwide. Since 2015, we have resettled more than 25,000 refugees. We can be proud as a country of our ambitious commitments and achievements.

The UK has a long and proud tradition of providing safe haven to those who genuinely need our protection, and we remain committed to providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations.

Those who fear persecution should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not put their lives at risk by making unnecessary and dangerous journeys to the UK. Illegal migration from safe countries undermines our efforts to help those most in need - controlled resettlement via safe and legal routes is the best way to protect such people and disrupt the organised crime groups that exploit migrants and refugees.

While resettlement arrivals are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will resume them as soon as conditions allow, and intend to meet our full commitment to those fleeing the Syrian conflict.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of financial support available for people in the asylum system during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have been reviewing the level of the cash allowances provided to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we do each year to ensure that they remain capable of meeting their essential living needs.

As a result of this work, the standard allowance has been raised to £39.60 per week from £37.75 per week, an increase of around 5%.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the methodology is for (a) calculating changes to asylum support rates and (b) ensuring those rates are sufficient to allow asylum seekers to avoid destitution; and if she will make a statement.

A report published in March 2018 sets out the methodology for calculating the asylum support rates and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-on-review-of-cash-allowance-paid-to-asylum-seekers.

We are currently reviewing the level of the support rate, as we do each year, to ensure that they remain capable of meeting the essential living needs of asylum seekers.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has plans to provide additional funding to local authorities to support people at increased risk of becoming victims of domestic violence as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

£1.6 billion of the £5 billion COVID-19 fund announced in the Budget will go to local authorities to help them respond to pressures across all the services they deliver.

The Chancellor has further announced a funding package of some £750m to support charities including those providing domestic abuse services. In addition, the Home Office has announced £2 million in funding to support technological capability such as specialist helplines and websites.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to progress the Type 31 Frigate ships project.

The Type 31 frigate programme is progressing to schedule and to cost. The current key outputs for the programme are focused on design, shipyard infrastructure development and supply chain mobilisation.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make it his policy solely to use UK steel in the building of new Fleet Solid Support Ships.

It is too early to say what the steel requirement for the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships might be. Responsibility for sourcing steel for the FSS ships will rest with the Prime Contractor and in line with Cabinet Office guidelines, it will be for the Prime Contractor to make its steel requirements known to the UK steel industry in order that they may consider bidding.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Sep 2020
When his Department plans to award the contract to build the Fleet Solid Support Ships; and if he will make a statement.

We have already started a market engagement exercise and have had a healthy response. I intend to announce the procurement timetable for these warships in due course after market testing has completed. We intend to encourage international partners to work with UK firms to bid, which will build on the successes of Type 31.

Ben Wallace
Secretary of State for Defence
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which countries in 2019 UK armed forces were deployed on counter-terrorism operations where they used lethal force.

During 2019 UK Armed Forces exercised lethal force in Iraq and Syria as part of the counter-Daesh campaign.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which countries the UK is (a) conducting air and drone strikes and (b) deploying military personnel on countert-errorism operations.

UK Armed Forces are currently operating in support of counterterrorism operations in four countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Mali), are presently providing counterterrorism training to an additional nine partner nations: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia Kenya, Lebanon, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The RAF is conducting strike operations only in Iraq and Syria. The publicly available 'Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2018 to 19' contains further details.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which countries the UK armed forces are deployed on counter-terrorism operations for which their rules of engagement permit them to use lethal force.

UK Armed Forces are currently operating in support of counterterrorism operations in four countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Mali). For operational and personnel security reasons we do not comment on specific operational rules of engagement in each theatre. More broadly, UK Armed Forces have an inherent right of self-defence wherever they may be deployed. This permits them to use force, up to and including lethal force, if there is an imminent threat and provided that it is proportionate to the threat faced.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the adequacy of funding available to local authorities to fulfil their statutory duties to protect victims of domestic abuse.

MHCLG engaged with local authorities and service providers to ensure that the new duty is funded appropriately.

As a result of this evidence, £125 million new burden funding has been allocated to local authorities, to cover costs of the new duty to provide support in safe accommodation for 2021-22. Funding for future years will be determined as part of the next Spending Review.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to respond to the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group published in July 2019.

The Government is considering the recommendations in the report received from the independent working group on the regulation of property agents chaired by Lord Best. The Government is committed to ensuring that those living in the leasehold sector are protected from abuse and poor service. We believe very strongly that any fees and charges should be justifiable, transparent, and communicated effectively and that there should be a clear route to redress if things go wrong.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on ensuring the human rights of people living with dementia are adhered to.

My Department works closely with the Department for Health and Social Care on a range of issues of mutual interest.

Improving the lives of people living with dementia is a top priority for this Government. We want a society where every person with dementia receives high quality, compassionate care, from diagnosis through to end of life.

James Cartlidge
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (and Assistant Government Whip)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of polygraph tests in preventing reoffending by people convicted of domestic abuse related crimes.

Requiring certain sexual offenders on licensed supervision to take polygraph tests has shown itself to be an effective means of protecting the public from harm, as part of a wider set of licence conditions, controls and interventions. As a result of the 5,228 tests carried out on 2,249 sexual offenders between 2015 and 2019, 1,449 significant disclosures were made, providing important information to probation officers which might not have been obtained from other sources. Probation officers have then used that disclosed information to question offenders or make other enquiries, to establish whether they have breached their licence conditions – and where they have, probation officers have taken robust enforcement action, including recalling offenders to custody.

Once statutory powers are available, working with the National Probation Service (NPS), the Cambridge Centre for Evidence Based Policing will conduct a three-year pilot of mandatory polygraph examinations for domestic abuse perpetrators released on licence and assessed as presenting a high risk of causing serious harm. The pilot will involve a randomised control trial, with high risk domestic abuse perpetrators in four of the 12 NPS Regions split into intervention and control groups. Those in the treatment group will be required to take a polygraph test three months after release from custody and every six months thereafter (unless they fail a test, in which case the tests will become more regular). Those in the control group will not be tested, so that we can assess the effectiveness of polygraph testing on outcomes such as compliance with licence conditions, recall rates and reoffending. At the end of the period, the Government will lay a copy of the evaluation report before each House of Parliament and, based on its findings, will make final decisions regarding wider roll out.

Polygraph testing will be one of a set of standard and additional licence conditions to which those in the trial will be subject. The other licence conditions may include exclusion zones preventing offenders going to certain places (usually near where victims live or work), non-contact conditions preventing them contacting victims and their families, curfews, electronic monitoring and completing behaviour treatment programmes.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to ensure that prison teachers and other staff with desk-based roles within prisons are only undertaking essential duties and that they are working remotely wherever possible to help contain the spread of covid-19.

The safety of staff and prisoners is our top priority, which is why we have taken quick and decisive action – backed by Public Health England and Wales – to limit the spread of the virus. Due to the current risk level posed by Covid-19, all adult prisons are currently operating a Stage Four regime, as outlined in our National Framework (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-national-framework-for-prison-regimes-and-services).

These restrictions reduce contact between people and therefore reduce the chance of transmission. As part of these measures, staff who can work from home, including teachers, are doing so, and since September education staff have delivered in-cell distance learning. For staff who cannot work from home, we have established Covid-safe workspaces with robust risk assessments and safe systems to ensure safety.

We have also introduced a comprehensive testing regime of both staff and prisoners to help prevent the spread of the virus. We are also working closely with the NHS to support the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations for eligible groups in custody. Our experience and evidence gathering provides an indication that these measures have had a positive impact on limiting the transmission of the virus in prisons.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to ensure the Criminal Case Review Commission is adequately resourced to process quickly the cases of former subpostmasters convicted due to errors in the Horizon IT system.

The Government believes that the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is sufficiently funded for the valuable work that it undertakes including the work to complete its reviews into the Post Office Horizon cases, with the necessary speed and thoroughness.

For the 57 Post Office Horizon cases it is reviewing, the CCRC is currently preparing for a Case Decision Committee meeting, involving three Commissioners, on 24th March 2020.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)