Greg Knight

Conservative - East Yorkshire

Finance and Services Committee
14th Jan 2013 - 30th Mar 2015
Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills (Joint Committee)
15th Jun 2011 - 30th Mar 2015
Vice Chamberlain (HM Household) (Whip, House of Commons)
6th Sep 2012 - 7th Oct 2013
Liaison Committee (Commons)
9th Nov 2005 - 17th Oct 2012
Procedure Committee
9th Nov 2005 - 17th Oct 2012
Procedure Committee
12th Jul 2005 - 6th Sep 2012
Committee on Reform of the House of Commons
20th Jul 2009 - 6th May 2010
Standards and Privileges
17th Mar 2009 - 6th May 2010
Administration Committee
15th May 2006 - 6th May 2010
Modernisation of the House of Commons
13th Jul 2005 - 6th May 2010
Shadow Minister (Transport)
10th May 2005 - 8th Dec 2005
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Oct 2003 - 1st Jun 2005
Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Mar 2003 - 1st Oct 2003
Modernisation of the House of Commons
19th Jul 2001 - 8th Sep 2003
Minister of State (Energy and Industry)
5th Jul 1996 - 1st May 1997
Finance and Services Committee
10th Jun 1993 - 24th Jul 1996
Deputy Chief Whip and Treasurer
7th Jun 1993 - 22nd Jul 1996
Broadcasting
1st Apr 1993 - 3rd Apr 1996
Lord Commissioner (HM Treasury) (Whip)
28th Nov 1990 - 27th May 1993
House of Commons (Services): Accomodation & Administration Sub-Committee
13th Feb 1991 - 22nd Oct 1991
House of Commons (Services): New Building Sub-Committee
12th Feb 1991 - 22nd Oct 1991
House of Commons (Services)
12th Feb 1991 - 22nd Oct 1991
Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)
28th Jul 1989 - 25th Jul 1990


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Information Commissioner (Remuneration)
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 359 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 2
Speeches
Thursday 22nd April 2021
Business of the House

As we move along the road map towards normality, Ministers are rightly reminding the public of the mantra “Hands, face, …

Written Answers
Tuesday 15th June 2021
Care Homes: Coronavirus
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to relax restrictions on care …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 21st April 2020
Sky lanterns
That this House is concerned that sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, continue to pose a serious fire safety …
Bills
Wednesday 19th July 2017
Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019
A Bill to make provision for and in connection with a code of practice containing guidance about the operation and …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 7th December 2020
6. Land and property portfolio: (i) value over £100,000 and/or (ii) giving rental income of over £10,000 a year
Residential property in London: (i) and, until 20 November 2020, (ii). (Registered 13 February 2013; updated 02 December 2020)
EDM signed
Tuesday 15th June 2021
The fur trade in the UK
That this House welcomes the Call for Evidence on the fur trade in the UK; urges the Government to introduce …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 5th September 2017
Voter Registration Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Greg Knight has voted in 273 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Greg Knight 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
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(14 debate interactions)
John Hayes (Conservative)
(3 debate interactions)
Mike Wood (Conservative)
(3 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(7 debate contributions)
Ministry of Justice
(3 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(2 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Greg Knight's debates

East Yorkshire 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 East Yorkshire signatures
Greg Knight has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Greg Knight

14th June 2021
Greg Knight signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 15th June 2021

The fur trade in the UK

Tabled by: Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)
That this House welcomes the Call for Evidence on the fur trade in the UK; urges the Government to introduce legislation to ban the import and sale of fur in the UK having first banned fur farms more than 20 years ago, something that is possible now that the UK …
9 signatures
(Most recent: 15 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 3
Labour: 3
Liberal Democrat: 1
Independent: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
20th May 2021
Greg Knight signed this EDM on Thursday 27th May 2021

Ban on trophy hunting imports

Tabled by: David Amess (Conservative - Southend West)
That this House welcomes the Government’s commitment to implementing a robust, comprehensive and world-leading ban on trophy hunting imports; agrees that the trophy hunting of animals, including those at risk of extinction, is morally reprehensible; notes the strong support for such a ban among the general public, with the most …
54 signatures
(Most recent: 15 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 19
Scottish National Party: 12
Conservative: 7
Liberal Democrat: 4
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Alba Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Green Party: 1
View All Greg Knight's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Greg Knight, 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.


Greg Knight has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Greg Knight has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Greg Knight


A Bill to make provision for and in connection with a code of practice containing guidance about the operation and management of private parking facilities; and for connected purposes.

This Bill received Royal Assent on Friday 15th March 2019 and was enacted into law.


135 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
2 Other Department Questions
11th Feb 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to encourage greater international action against deforestation; and if he will make a statement.

The UK Government is fully committed to tackling global deforestation, working in partnership with international governments.

Under our COP26 Presidency we have established the Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue. This aims to agree collaborative actions to reduce the impact of agriculture on tropical forests and other carbon-rich ecosystems, whilst investing in sustainable production and promoting trade.

More broadly, the Prime Minister recently pledged to spend £3bn on international climate change solutions that protect and restore nature and biodiversity over the next five years.

The UK Government is bringing forward world-leading due diligence legislation, making it illegal for large UK businesses to use key commodities if they have not been produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what recent assessment the Commission has made of the level of risk of covid-19 spreading through the Parliamentary estate in areas and rooms which are air conditioned; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Maintenance Services Team (PMST) has developed a high-level management plan to identify and control risks relating to air conditioning systems.

Specific industry guidance on how to operate and use air conditioning systems to minimise the spread of covid-19 has been issued by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). PMST has applied this guidance and also follow the UK Planned Preventive Maintenance Standard SFG20, which has a specific revision dealing with covid-19. This, in combination with PMST’s management arrangements constitutes a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk.

Regarding the operation of the systems, wherever buildings have mechanical ventilation PMST has switched air conditioning units to fresh air only, so there is no recirculation of air from the indoor environment – it is all discharged into the atmosphere outside. PMST is also modifying controls strategies to run plant at 100% 24/7 to ensure greater air exchanges.

There is no current evidence of ventilation systems transmitting covid-19 at present. The supply air ductwork brings filtered fresh air from outside the buildings into the environment and the extract ductwork discharges air to outside; therefore, there will be no risk to building occupants as no extracted air is recirculated.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish full details of his review of the potential role and scope of a UK covid-19 vaccine certification scheme; what organisations will be involved in that review; and if he will make a statement.

As set out in the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021, published on 22 February, the Government will review whether COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety. The Government will set out its conclusions ahead of Step 4 of the roadmap, which will happen no earlier than 21 June.

The Government has published the Terms of Reference for the review:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/969427/TORs_-_Certification_Review.pdf

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government has taken to ensure that OmniGov support for local news outlets in Yorkshire is (a) equitable and (b) commensurate with the support provided to regional news outlets.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to introduce voter ID as a requirement in elections; what the planned timescale is for implementing that requirement; and if he will make a statement.

Voter ID is part of a body of work this Government is delivering to strengthen the integrity of our electoral system and give the public confidence that our elections are modern, fair and secure.

We will bring forward legislation enabling the implementation of voter ID and wider electoral integrity measures when Parliamentary time allows.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will ensure that the Government’s covid-19 public information campaign makes widespread use of local news outlets in addition to regional and national newspapers.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to PQs 37724 and 37725 on 27 April 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact of biomass electricity subsidies on deforestation; what provisions are in place to minimise that impact; and if he will make a statement.

The UK only supports biomass which complies with strict sustainability criteria, and electricity generators receive subsidies only for compliant biomass.

The criteria ensure that the carbon stock and area of the forest, irrespective of its location, is not decreased. The evidence does not show that deforestation has occurred in the areas from where UK electricity generators source their biomass.

The sustainability criteria require that biomass fuels are sourced from forest waste wood and residues from commercial forestry operations, and that the forest owner adheres to the relevant legal requirements to protect biodiversity and the environment.

Suppliers must demonstrate to the regulators (Ofgem) that they meet the criteria, and their evidence is independently audited.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to increase the uptake of heat pumps in domestic premises; when he plans to publish details of the new heat and buildings strategy; and if he will make a statement.

In the Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced our ambition to grow the heat pump market to 600,000 installations per year by 2028 to put us on track for net zero by 2050.

The Government is developing a comprehensive package of policies to help meet this ambition. We have set out proposals for some parts of this package and will consult on others alongside the Heat and Buildings Strategy, which we will publish in due course.

The Future Homes Standard, for instance, will ensure that from 2025 new homes are built zero carbon-ready, with low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps. We will also set out plans to improve the incentives for industry to invest in developing the UK heat pump market and we will consult on regulations to meet our commitment to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid this decade, in favour primarily of heat pumps.

We also currently provide financial support to consumers to install heat pumps through schemes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive, and we will continue to do so through the investments we are making in the Clean Heat Grant from next year, the Home Upgrade Grant and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the prevalence of shill bidding taking place at auctions; what his Department's policy is on preventing, deterring and detecting that matter; and if he will make a statement.

‘Shill bidding’ refers to the practice during an online auction of a seller or a seller’s acquaintance placing bids on his or her goods in order to drive up the price. Trading Standards have brought successful prosecutions against sellers engaging in these practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and will continue to do so where appropriate.

Anyone who feels they have been the victim of a fraudulent sale should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 (Welsh speaking). They provide help and advice on consumers’ rights. Citizens Advice will refer cases to Trading Standards offices for enforcement action where necessary.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that there is sufficient universal broadband network coverage to enable smart meters to function effectively and continuously; and when the Government plans for such network coverage to be made available throughout Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement.

Second generation smart meters use a dedicated national smart metering communications network, which uses a variety of technologies to deliver connectivity to premises. These include cellular mobile technology plus wireless mesh radio, and long-range radio technology.

The Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates the national communications infrastructure for smart metering, is obligated under the conditions of its licence to provide communications coverage to at least 99.25% of premises across Great Britain by the end of 2020.

The DCC is required by licence conditions to assess opportunities to increase the overall level of coverage beyond its contractual requirements where it is practicable and cost proportionate.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of households in England that have insufficient broadband network coverage to support the functioning of smart meters.

Second generation smart meters use a dedicated national smart metering communications network, which uses a variety of technologies to deliver connectivity to premises. These include cellular mobile technology plus wireless mesh radio, and long-range radio technology.

The Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates the national communications infrastructure for smart metering, is obligated under the conditions of its licence to provide communications coverage to at least 99.25% of premises across Great Britain by the end of 2020.

The DCC is required by licence conditions to assess opportunities to increase the overall level of coverage beyond its contractual requirements where it is practicable and cost proportionate.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK remaining on British Summer Time to (a) encourage travel, (b) extend the tourist season and (c) reduce energy usage as part of the recovery plan from the covid-19 outbreak; and with reference to the European Union's policy on Daylight Saving Time, if he will conduct a review of the time zone most appropriate for the UK to adopt in future years; and if he will make a statement.

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

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the average (a) wholesale and (b) retail margin of profit on sales of vehicle fuels since the covid-19 outbreak; what steps he is taking to ensure that the price paid for vehicle fuels is not kept artificially high; and if he will make a statement.

The Government monitors the national average retail prices of fuels. These are published at: www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/oil-and-petroleum-products-weekly-statistics.

BEIS analysis shows that changes in the global price of crude oil is the primary driver of movements in the national average retail prices of fuels such as petrol and diesel. Other factors include currency exchange rates and the balance of supply and demand for these fuels in the wholesale petroleum products markets. Changes in the price of crude oil feed through to retail prices over the course of about 6 weeks. Since March, retail prices have broadly moved in line with movements in crude oil and wholesale product prices – falling initially as crude oil prices fell and then rising as oil prices recovered through June and July.

The UK has some of the lowest pre-tax prices in Europe for both petrol and diesel, and our evidence suggests that the?UK road fuels sector as a whole is competitive and ensures that consumers get a fair deal.

The Government believe that a competitive market is the best way to keep prices low. Retail fuel markets are subject to UK competition law under the Competition and Markets Authority.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will commission an independent judge-led investigation into the Post Office and its (a) management and (b) administration of the Horizon computer system.

Government has committed to launching an Independent Review to consider whether the Post Office has learned the necessary lessons from the Horizon dispute and to assess its work to rebuild its relationship with its postmasters.

The findings outlined throughout the Horizon judgments provided an extensive insight as to what went wrong at the Post Office, including an independent view of the facts all sides have been looking for.

Government wants to be fully assured that the right lessons are learned for the future and concrete changes have taken place at Post Office Ltd to ensure that this situation will never be repeated. This is the purpose of the independent review we are in the process of setting up.

Full details of the Terms of Reference for the independent review have been set out in a Written Ministerial Statement that Minister Scully made on Wednesday 10th June. An independent chair will be announced in due course

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to bring into force the provisions of the Easter Act 1928 to fix the date of Easter.

The Government has no plans to bring into force the provisions of the Easter Act 1928 to fix the date of Easter.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the rules, restrictions and bans on advertising products or services in on-line adverts are as similar as possible to rules governing mainstream media advertising; and if he will make a statement.

Advertising standards in the UK are set out in the CAP (The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing) and BCAP (The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising) codes. The BCAP code for broadcasting is enforced by a co-regulatory relationship between the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Ofcom, where Ofcom acts as the ASA’s legal backstop for broadcast advertising. This means failure of an advertiser to stick to an ASA ruling could result in them being referred to Ofcom, who have the power to take legal action. More information about this agreement can be found here: https://www.asa.org.uk/uploads/assets/23cc61df-e57c-4957-81ac15378b7730b7/mou-asa-ofcom.pdf

For the CAP code for non-broadcast advertising, the ASA acts as the industry’s self-regulator. My department is looking at the wider regulatory framework for advertising online through the Online Advertising Programme. In 2019 Government launched a call for evidence on this issue and we will be consulting on this later this year.

Government’s aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for citizens, businesses and society as a whole. In particular, we want to ensure standards about the placement and content of advertising can be effectively applied and enforced online so that consumers have limited exposure to harmful or misleading advertising. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-advertising-call-for-evidence/online-advertising-call-for-evidence#introduction

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of whether there has been an increase in loneliness and isolation due to the covid-19 outbreak and the onset of winter, particularly in respect of people living in rural areas; what support and funding is available to tackle loneliness and isolation; and if he will make a statement.

Emerging evidence from sources including the Office for National Statistics and University College London suggests that whilst the overall number of people feeling lonely has remained stable during Covid-19, those already likely to experience loneliness may be at a higher risk of feeling lonely during the pandemic. Studies on loneliness during the pandemic have not explored the differences between rural and urban areas. In general, evidence from the Community Life Survey suggests there is no significant difference in loneliness levels between rural areas and urban areas.

Government has provided support to tackle loneliness and isolation during the pandemic, including issuing guidance on how people can help themselves and others safely, and a new cross-sector Tackling Loneliness Network. Since the start of the pandemic, the government has provided £23 million to over 1100 charities who undertake activities that tackle loneliness. This has been awarded as part of the government’s £750 million charity funding package.

We will shortly launch a further £4 million fund, together with the National Lottery Community Fund, targeted at small local charities and grassroots groups. There will be two application rounds next year, with local groups able to apply for up to £2 500 each through this fund.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the availability and adequacy of education facilities for children diagnosed with autism and other special needs in each county; what plans he has to ensure that future demand for such facilities is met; and if he will make a statement.

We are investing £300 million of capital funding in the 2021-22 financial year to support local authorities to deliver new places and improve existing provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or who require alternative provision. This funding is on top of the £365 million we have invested through the Special Provision Capital Fund from the financial years 2018-19 to 2020-21, and our continued investment in the free schools programme. We are also providing an increase in revenue funding for those children and young people with more complex needs, of nearly a quarter (24%) over 2 years, bringing the total high needs budget to more than £8 billion in the 2021-22 financial year.

The department will continue to work with local authorities to better understand future demand for SEND provision, including for children with autism, as it considers how it can best support the sector going forwards. Funding for places required in future years will be subject to the outcomes of the next government Spending Review, where we will have a chance to consider how we can best support the sector in the round.

The SEND review is looking at ways to make sure the SEND system is consistent, high quality, and integrated across education, health and care. It is also considering measures to make sure that money is being spent fairly, efficiently and effectively, and that the support available to children and young people is sustainable in the future.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to encourage more secondary school pupils to consider pursuing a career in (a) medicine and (b) the NHS, particularly in areas where NHS recruitment is low; and if he will make a statement.

It is essential that young people have information on a wide range of jobs and careers so that they can make informed choices. The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) connects schools and colleges with employers from a variety of sectors, including medicine and the NHS, to provide meaningful encounters with the world of work for young people. They do this through their Enterprise Adviser Network and Careers Hubs, in collaboration with Local Enterprise Partnerships who tailor support according to local labour market information.

Thirteen NHS Trusts, including Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, which are all large healthcare employers, are part of CEC’s Cornerstone employers’ group. Cornerstone employers are major employers who target support for young people in disadvantaged areas. Four in five schools and colleges in England have adopted the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of good careers guidance. These include learning from career and labour market information, encounters with employers and employees, and experiences of workplaces. 3.3 million secondary aged school and college students now benefit from regular and meaningful employer encounters – an increase of 70% in two years.

From September this year, T Levels in Health and Healthcare Science are being introduced. During these two-year programmes, students will develop the core knowledge and skills that are needed for entry to a range of healthcare occupations. Both T Levels include a minimum of nine weeks working with an employer on an industry placement.

The National Careers Service provides independent, professional advice on skills and the labour market. Secondary school pupils can find information on a variety of careers, including those in medicine and the NHS, on the National Careers Service website. Young people aged 13 to 18 can also access ongoing in-depth guidance via local telephone-based advisers and web chat.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason domestic rabbit welfare was not included in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare published on 12 May 2021; what plans he has to improve the welfare of domestic rabbits in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

The Government continues to take positive action to protect the welfare of companion animals – including domestic rabbits. The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations, introduced in 2018, require anyone who is in the business of selling rabbits as pets, to obtain a valid licence from their local authority. Licences must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. The 2018 Regulations are supported by statutory guidance which provides specific information about the keeping of rabbits for sale:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936832/selling-animals-as-pets.pdf

Meanwhile other advice is available to educate pet owners on providing for the welfare needs of their rabbit, including the British Rabbit Council’s Codes of Practice: https://thebritishrabbitcouncil.org/codes-practice.php

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for its welfare. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 was recently granted Royal Assent. This realises the Government’s manifesto commitment to increase the sentences available to our courts for the most serious cases of animal cruelty. It means that from 29 June 2021, anyone who is cruel to an animal (including domestic rabbits) faces being sent to prison for up to 5 years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both. This strengthened penalty sends a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated. Following a conviction for animal cruelty or welfare offences, the court may also ban the offender from keeping certain types of animals and/or order that their animals are removed from them. The Action Plan for Animal Welfare provides an overview of current priorities – particularly those which require legislative action and reform. We will continue to work closely with the companion animal welfare sector to monitor future developments in welfare standards for all domestic animals including rabbits.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the decision to issue a licence for white-tailed eagles to be introduced into England on the risks posed to (a) livestock and (b) domestic pets; what consultations have taken place with farming groups and their representatives on that matter; and if he will make a statement.

Natural England examined the diet and feeding behaviour of white-tailed eagles elsewhere in continental Europe and found no evidence of predation of livestock or pets. The evidence strongly suggests it is most likely that the birds will feed on a range of wild prey and carrion – fish, birds, rabbits and hares - usually around the coast or waterbodies. The areas surrounding the proposed release site will provide ample wild prey for the birds. There appears to be no evidence of livestock or pet predation elsewhere in Europe with the exception of some lamb predation in Scotland where husbandry conditions are very different to East Anglia and there is a lower abundance of wild prey.

Natural England also looked at evidence from the Isle of Wight reintroduction project which has closely monitored all of the GPS tagged birds including studying their diets. Some of these birds have spent time on livestock farms in Norfolk and have been shown to feed only on wild prey. In the unlikely event of livestock predation occurring, it is most likely to be localised, rare and perpetrated by just one or two eagles and there is a conflict management plan and exit strategy to address any concerns.

The licence applicants consulted a number of farming organisations including the National Farmers Union (NFU) and representatives of the sheep, pig and poultry industries. They also participated in a webinar organised by the NFU for livestock farmers in the East Midlands and East Anglia and wrote directly to a number of local farms and estates. A web based survey was conducted in which 63% of 216 farmers expressed support for the project.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has in place to ensure adequate UK recycling capacity for obsolete batteries used in electric vehicles from 2030 onwards; and if he will make a statement.

The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 ban the disposal of industrial, including electric vehicle, and automotive batteries to landfill and their incineration. Under producer responsibility requirements, the regulations also obligate those placing these types of batteries on the market to take them back at end of life and provide for their appropriate treatment. We are currently reviewing these regulations, with a consultation on proposals due to be issued by the end of this year, and this will consider the implications of the growing numbers of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The Government has committed £318m into the Faraday Battery Challenge to support the research, development and scale-up of world leading battery technology in the UK. The innovation strand is supporting several business led collaborative R&D projects on reuse and recycling of EV batteries.

UK Research and Innovation has also recently invested £22.5m in interdisciplinary circular economy centres to explore how reusing waste materials, including rare metals, in the textiles, construction, chemical and metal industries could deliver huge environmental benefits and boost the UK economy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve the welfare of (a) domestic and (b) other animals in the UK.

The UK is a global leader in animal welfare. The Government has already taken significant steps to improve the welfare of domestic and others animals and we are currently considering the best legislative vehicle to bring forward a range of further animal welfare and animal-related measures to strengthen our position as a world leader in this field. This includes delivering our manifesto commitments when Parliamentary time allows.

We have modernised the regulation (licensing) of a range of animal activities including dog breeding, pet selling and animal boarding. These animal welfare regulations apply modern welfare standards and make it easier for local authorities to enforce.

We banned the commercial third-party sale of puppies and kittens which has been a significant milestone towards disrupting the unscrupulous trade that supports cruel puppy farming and smuggling. Through our national ‘Petfished’ campaign we continue to educate prospective pet owners on how to source pets responsibly, avoiding the common tricks and tactics used by deceitful sellers which may result in the purchase of a mistreated or unwell pet.

We launched a public consultation on introducing compulsory cat microchipping in England. Microchipping means lost cats can be identified and returned home rather than handed into rehoming charities as strays. It also means that injured cats can be quickly identified by vets and their owners can be informed and involved in their care.

We are supporting the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill which will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty offences from six month to five years imprisonment. This increase will act as a strong deterrent to those that commit such appalling acts and provide one of the toughest sanctions in Europe. This legislation, coupled with the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019, will also ensure that those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.

We have a strong track record in raising the bar for farm animal welfare standards — such as banning battery cages for laying hens, sow stalls and veal crates and introducing CCTV in all slaughterhouses in England. We will strengthen the regulatory baseline to ensure we maintain our high standards and look to raise them sustainably over time as new research and evidence emerges.

We are currently examining the evidence around the use of cages for farm animals.

We are delivering on our manifesto commitment and we hope to have legislation in place to end live animal exports for slaughter and fattening by the end of the year.

We have consulted on a wide range of proposals to improve animal welfare in transport and we will be publishing our response to the consultation and outlining how we will take reforms forward later this year. We are carefully considering potential improvements identified by the recent review of the regulations concerning the welfare of animals at the time of killing.

We are also co-designing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which aims to promote the production of healthier, higher-welfare farm animals at a level beyond compliance with current regulations. The direction of the Pathway so far has been developed in active partnership with industry and a range of stakeholders through our co-design approach.

As part of the Pathway, we are developing publicly-funded incentives for English farmers to provide enhanced animal health and welfare beyond the regulatory baseline. These incentives will be for enhancements valued by the public but not sufficiently provided for by the market. Small and large grants will also be used to co-fund investment in measures that will increase animal health and welfare over the statutory baseline.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will increase the range and scope of penalties available for hare coursing offences including (a) extending the seizure and forfeiture powers in relation to dogs and vehicles and (b) enabling full kennelling costs to be recovered from defendants; and if he will make a statement.

We are determined to continue our efforts to prevent illegal hare coursing. In consultation with stakeholders and others we are exploring a number of options for additional measures and will continue to keep these under review.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to discourage littering in (a) tourist and (b) other areas as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased and outdoor socialising increases; and if he will make a statement.

We know that people’s health, wellbeing and resilience can be improved by spending time in the natural environment and there has been an encouraging increase in the number of visitors accessing the countryside. We are clear, however, that everyone should follow the recently updated Countryside Code, which is available on gov.uk. A key part of the Government’s strategy is to get clear and consistent messages to the media, which promote better behaviour in the countryside and encourage a partnership response.

We continue to campaign to raise awareness of the impacts of littering.

In response to Covid-19, Defra developed a ‘Respect the Outdoors’ campaign to encourage people to follow the Countryside Code and to highlight the impacts of littering. This has been promoted both online and in locations across the country near to urban parks, beaches and national parks. We also supported, and provided funding for, Keep Britain Tidy’s Love Parks campaign, which encouraged people to treat our parks with respect.

I recently spoke at the launch of Keep Britain Tidy’s 2021 Great British Spring Clean, encouraging everyone to get involved. By doing so, we are setting the tone for the summer ahead, by showing that litter is not acceptable, and that people care deeply about protecting their local environment.

It is an offence to drop litter, and councils have legal powers to take enforcement action against offenders. Anyone caught littering may be prosecuted in a magistrates’ court, which can lead to a criminal record and a fine of up to £2,500 on conviction. Instead of prosecuting, councils may decide to issue a fixed penalty (on-the-spot fine) of between £65 and £150.

To support councils to meet their duties in keeping land clear of litter and refuse and maintaining public bins, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has recently published guidance on the provision of litter bins, available at https://wrap.org.uk/content/binfrastructure-right-bin-right-place.

In support of this guidance, WRAP has recently run a grant competition, funded by Defra, for local authorities in England to apply for grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 to purchase new litter bins. In total, 44 applications were approved, worth almost a million pounds.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) reduce food waste and (b) promote more efficient use of resources; and if he will make a statement.

We are fully committed to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target, which seeks to halve global food waste at consumer and retail levels by 2030.

In December 2018, the Government launched its Resources and Waste Strategy which sets out our approach to address food waste.

Government grant funding of nearly £3m is supporting the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to reduce food waste across the supply chain and in the home.

Consumer campaign initiatives including Food Waste Action Week in March and the Love Food Hate Waste programme aim to help consumers tackle waste in the home.

This is supported by the Courtauld 2025 Commitment, a collaboration across the supply chain which aims to help the industry become more resource efficient including a target to reduce UK food waste by 20% per capita by 2025. We also work closely with WRAP on its work with the hospitality industry and the provision of resources such as Guardians of Grub to embed food waste management at the centre of business operations.

In addition to the WRAP funding, a £15m Food Waste Fund was announced in 2018 to help tackle food waste. Over £11m has been awarded to help food surplus redistributors to get more surplus from the supply chain to those in need. Awards have also been made to behaviour change projects and support for a field force for the Food Waste Roadmap that helps businesses become more resource efficient through a Target, Measure, Act approach to food waste.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the provisions of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 were last reviewed by him, what assessment he made of the effectiveness of the penalties in that legisaltion; and if he will make a statement.

My Department takes the issue of livestock worrying very seriously, recognising the distress this can cause farmers and animals, as well as the financial implications.

All reported crimes should be taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 provides a specific offence of allowing a dog to worry livestock with a maximum fine of £1,000. Data available shows that on average 36 livestock worrying cases faced prosecution per annum from 2015 to 2019.

Recent reports on livestock worrying, including by the National Chiefs’ Police Council, have recommended reforming the 1953 Act to address current enforcement challenges and ensure it remains fit for purpose. We are currently engaging closely with key stakeholders to improve our understanding of the scale of the issue and the views of both livestock keepers and dog owners. That includes considering the effectiveness of this law and opportunities to improve it.

In addition to the 1953 Act, the police can and do take action under the Dogs Act 1871 where there are dogs that are out of control and dangerous to other animals. Section 2 of the 1871 Act allows a complaint to be made to a Magistrate’s court by any individual, the police or local authorities, where a dog is “dangerous and not kept under proper control”. The court may make any Order it considers appropriate to require the owner to keep the dog under proper control, or if necessary, that it be destroyed. The court may specify measures to be taken for keeping the dog under proper control, such as muzzling and remaining on a lead when in public.

Guidance is available to educate owners about handling their dogs responsibly in the vicinity of livestock, in order to prevent the occurrence of attacks or chasing.

The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs provides owners with information on how to provide for their dog’s natural needs as required by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Code of Practice explains how to handle dogs responsibly in the vicinity of other animals, including livestock, in order to prevent the occurrence of attacks or chasing. It also clearly sets out that all dogs need to be trained to behave well, ideally from a very young age and should be introduced gradually and positively to different environments, people and animals. If owners become aware of changes in behaviour, or their dog is fearful of, or aggressive, towards other dogs and people, they should avoid the situations which lead to this and seek veterinary advice. The Code asks owners to ensure that they prevent their dogs from chasing or attacking any other animals, including livestock and horses; for example, through use of a lead or avoidance of such situations.

Natural England is currently working with a broad range of stakeholders to review and refresh the Countryside Code. This work will be in two phases: the refresh of the detail of the Code in time for Easter and an associated campaign running from then throughout 2021 which will include a broader conversation with stakeholders about what a ‘post Covid’ Code for the 21st century would look like and how to promote more awareness and positive behaviour. Both the short and long versions of the Code make specific reference to keeping dogs under control.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the existing penalties for unlawfully leaving litter; and if he will make a statement.

We published the Litter Strategy for England in April 2017, setting out our aim to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation. The Litter Strategy brings together communities, businesses, charities and schools to bring about real change by focusing on three key themes: education and awareness; improving enforcement; and better cleaning and access to bins. A copy of the Litter Strategy can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-strategy-for-england.

Littering is a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £2,500, although most enforcement is carried out by local authorities using fixed penalties.

Following consultation, with effect from April 2018, we increased the maximum fixed penalty for littering from £80 to £150, and from April 2019, the minimum fixed penalty was also raised from £50 to £65. We have also given councils in England (outside London) new civil penalty powers to tackle littering from vehicles. We have no plans to make further changes to the level of fixed penalties or fines for littering at this stage.

It is up to local councils to decide how they use their enforcement powers. We have published improved guidance to councils and others on the use of their fixed penalty powers for littering and related offences. We are also seeking powers in the Environment Bill to ensure that enforcement powers are always used with a high degree of professionalism.

Enforcement action should only be taken when it is in the public interest to do so. Enforcement action should always be proportionate, and penalties should not be issued for trivial offences or accidental littering.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to help reduce the (a) level of unlawful littering and (b) number of offences of leaving litter that are undetected; and if he will make a statement.

We published the Litter Strategy for England in April 2017, setting out our aim to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation. The Litter Strategy brings together communities, businesses, charities and schools to bring about real change by focusing on three key themes: education and awareness; improving enforcement; and better cleaning and access to bins. A copy of the Litter Strategy can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-strategy-for-england.

Littering is a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £2,500, although most enforcement is carried out by local authorities using fixed penalties.

Following consultation, with effect from April 2018, we increased the maximum fixed penalty for littering from £80 to £150, and from April 2019, the minimum fixed penalty was also raised from £50 to £65. We have also given councils in England (outside London) new civil penalty powers to tackle littering from vehicles. We have no plans to make further changes to the level of fixed penalties or fines for littering at this stage.

It is up to local councils to decide how they use their enforcement powers. We have published improved guidance to councils and others on the use of their fixed penalty powers for littering and related offences. We are also seeking powers in the Environment Bill to ensure that enforcement powers are always used with a high degree of professionalism.

Enforcement action should only be taken when it is in the public interest to do so. Enforcement action should always be proportionate, and penalties should not be issued for trivial offences or accidental littering.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent the (a) import and (b) advertising and sale of dogs with cropped ears in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

The practice of mutilating dogs’ ears is abhorrent and has rightly been banned in the UK for 15 years.

We already have some of the world’s highest animal welfare standards. The end of the transition period has opened up new opportunities for managing our own pet travel and commercial importation rules. We are actively listening to the concerns of stakeholders and the Government is considering options regarding the importation and commercial movements of dogs with cropped ears into Great Britain in line with World Trade Organization rules.

Importers of animals must adhere to welfare standards as set out in Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and in domestic legislation, The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 (WATEO). This legislation aims to protect the health and welfare of animals during transportation and applies to dogs that are suffering injury as a result of non-exempted mutilations including cropped ears.

The maximum penalty for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal or cropping a dog’s ears in England is six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, the Government is committed to increasing the maximum custodial penalty for both of these offences from six months to five years. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, currently before Parliament, which will implement this increase, will continue to receive Government support as it completes its passage through Parliament.

The Government also continues to raise awareness regarding the improper selling of pets by deceitful sellers in the UK and abroad through our ‘Petfished’ campaign. This seeks to educate prospective pet buyers on common tricks and tactics used by deceitful sellers which may result in the purchase of a mistreated or unwell pet, including those that have been subject to cropping. The campaign urges buyers to mitigate risks, for example by buying from trusted sellers such as those under the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder scheme, viewing puppies with their mothers and siblings, asking questions of the seller and following the Animal Welfare Foundation and RSPCA Puppy Contract to ensure that puppies are in good health when purchased.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to authorise the creation of a small number of new designations of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as part of the Government's 25 year Environment Plan; and if he will make a statement.

The statutory responsibility in England to appraise the designation of new or extended National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is held with Natural England.

In his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution the Prime Minister announced that this Government will start the process this year for designating more of England’s beautiful and iconic landscapes as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, safeguarding these areas for future generations and bringing more people within closer reach of nature.

These new Protected Landscapes will play a key role in meeting the Government’s commitment to protect and improve 30% of UK land by 2030.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of existing legislation designed to (a) end unacceptable puppy farming practices and (b) stop puppy smuggling; if he will consider bringing forward further measures if this is deemed necessary; and if he will make a statement.

The Government takes the issues of puppy farming, puppy smuggling and other illegal importations of pets, including rescue animals, very seriously. These are abhorrent trades which cause suffering to animals and put the health of pets and people in the UK at risk.

In 2018, the laws on dog breeding and selling were updated and improved. Now, under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (the 2018 Regulations) , anyone who is breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs and/or who breeds three or more litters in a twelve month period needs a licence from their local authority. All licensees must adhere to strict minimum animal welfare standards. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the 2018 Regulations and have powers to grant, refuse or revoke a licence.

Commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens were banned in England from 6 April 2020. The ban was introduced as amendment to the 2018 Regulations. This prevents pet shops, pet dealers and other commercial outlets from selling these animals in England unless they themselves have bred them and is an integral step towards disrupting the low welfare trade that supports unscrupulous puppy farming.

Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of a dog being sold should report the matter to the relevant local authority which has powers to investigate such matters.

Under the 2018 Regulations the Secretary of State must carry out a review of the regulatory provision contained in these Regulations, and publish a report setting out the conclusions of the review. The first report must be published before 1 October 2023. Meanwhile we remain committed to working with the sector, enforcement agencies and other interested parties to improve the traceability of puppy sales in England and potential solutions to address this.

At present, there has been no substantive change to the pet travel requirements for pets entering Great Britain (GB) from the EU. However, now the transition period has ended, we have the opportunity to manage our own pet travel and commercial importation rules. We are actively listening to the concerns of stakeholders and the Government is considering options to strengthen our efforts to tackle puppy smuggling. These options will take into consideration the results from our latest disease risk assessments for GB, the recommendations of stakeholders such as the British Veterinary Association and Dogs Trust, and recent Parliamentary work from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

I would encourage anyone who has suspicions or evidence of illegal activity relating to the importation of animals to contact the APHA Intelligence Unit or by contacting their local authority's Trading Standards officer.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to (a) tackle the issues that UK exporters of crab and lobster have been experiencing at UK borders and (b) minimise the volume of paperwork associated with those exports; and if he will make a statement.

Defra is working with other government departments, industry and EU authorities to ensure smooth trade flow and minimise disruption at the border. To do so, we have established a twice-weekly seafood exports working group to identify issues and resolve across government, as well as a Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force to consider medium to longer term issues, with the aim of increasing confidence in the seafood and aquaculture supply chains.

To further support businesses, Defra has developed a support package of guidance and training with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), including an online journey that guides fish exporters through each step of the export journey. The £23 million Seafood Disruption Support Scheme opened for applications for support towards the costs of disruption of exports to the EU during January, whilst expanded eligibility criteria were announced on 21 February to target catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses which have been affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and abroad.

We are also conducting a series of sector-specific workshops in cooperation with HMRC and other partners to provide technical support to exporters, including a dedicated session for crab and lobster exporters. A joint Defra/HMRC support package of online guidance and training has also been issued to exporters,

The UK has developed the Fish Export Service to provide catch certificates for UK fish exporters for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are also looking at improvements to the Export Health Certificate Online system to simplify the process for exporters and certifiers and we continue to work closely with the European Commission and EU Member States to address issues in interpretation of Export Health Certificates where they arise at the EU Border.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that best practice is understood and widely followed on (a) horse tethering and (b) other horse welfare issues; and if he will make a statement.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals.

The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the correct way to tether a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

In addition, the equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media e.g. National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/ .

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to extend financial support for carbon negative farming and land use beyond the existing schemes for woodland and peatland; and if he will make a statement.

Yes we do. Reaching our Net Zero target is one of this government's top priorities. This will mean changes to the way land is managed to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. We will support the sector to make these changes through the schemes set out in our Agricultural Transition Plan, which was published in November using the powers in the Agriculture Act 2020.

Specifically, our new environmental land management schemes, the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, will all help support farming and land management to contribute to Net Zero. The Agricultural Transition Plan set out examples of the types of actions that we envisage paying for under the schemes and the timetable for those schemes opening to applicants.

We are also offering new agreements and extensions to existing agreements under the legacy Countryside Stewardship scheme. This scheme continues to help farmers manage their land sustainably and contribute to Net Zero whilst we test and roll out our future environmental land management schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of river dredging to remove silt and reduce the incidence of flooding; and if he will make a statement.

Dredging is an important part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) annual river maintenance programme. The Environment Agency assesses each situation individually and will dredge when it is the right solution to reduce flood risk and provides long-term value for money.

The Environment Agency carried out a comprehensive series of trials in 2010 to review and update evidence on the benefits and effectiveness of dredging as one method for keeping rivers flowing freely. The trials showed that dredging can reduce flood risk, but its effectiveness and value-for-money varies significantly depending upon the location.

In many cases, dredging isn’t the best long-term solution because rivers can quickly silt-up again and other measures such as building walls or storage upstream may be more effective. It can even increase flood risk and erosion and alter the ecosystem and wildlife. Dredging is unlikely to be effective in isolation but it can be part of a solution involving multiple interventions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is planning to take in response to the National Audit Office report on Managing the risks of flooding and coastal erosion in England, published November 2020; if he will make it his policy to deliver greater certainty in future funding for flood management programmes to enable longer term planning; and if he will make a statement.

The NAO report on Managing Flood Risk was published on Friday 27 November and follows on from a 2014 study on the same subject. Following the Public Accounts Committee hearing on this report, the Government will respond later this year in the usual way by publishing a Treasury Minute.

The report confirms that the Government’s current investment programme of £2.6 billion of capital investment which will conclude on 31 March 2021 is on track to deliver 300,000 homes better protected, to time and budget, which represents strong performance for a major infrastructure programme.

The Government has committed to invest a record £5.2 billion in a further six-year capital investment programme which will commence in April 2021. This investment will better protect 336,000 properties including 290,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion by 2027. This will enable long-term planning. The Government also provided an additional £170 million in economic recovery funding to accelerate 22 shovel ready schemes that better protect businesses and jobs.

Given the significant increase in Government investment in the flood defences and the changes already made to our partnership funding rules, the new six-year flood defence programme will require less in wider partnership contributions compared to the current programme. We are confident that the scale of the remaining contributions can be found and this will help deliver more schemes and therefore better protect more properties.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to mitigate the risks associated with veterinary medicine (a) shortages and (b) unavailability after 1 January 2021; and if he will make a statement.

Veterinary medicines manufacturers and suppliers have prepared for the end of the transition period by establishing appropriate stock levels and working with delivery partners so they are ready to meet the new customs and border requirements. Many veterinary medicines transit into the UK from manufacturing sites in the EU and do so via the short straits. This ferry crossing is vulnerable to disruption and as such pharmaceutical companies have been considering alternative logistics options. Veterinary medicines are classified as Category 1 goods and can access Government secured freight capacity. These contingencies provide assurance that there are ways to facilitate the ongoing flow of veterinary medicines into the UK.

In addition, veterinary surgeons will continue to be able to use the Special Import Scheme to apply for alternative medicines to be imported where there is no suitable UK authorised medicine available in the UK.

Defra has well-established mechanisms for dealing with supply issues as and when they arise and works closely with the veterinary pharmaceutical industry to detect potential problems at the earliest point.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what advice he plans to issue to farmers and animal owners on maintaining an adequate stock of animal feed and food for their animals on and after 1 January 2021; and if he will make a statement.

On and after 1 January 2021, farmers and animal keepers will continue to have a duty of care to their animals, which includes ensuring that they have access to a sufficient quantity of quality feed and food to maintain animal health and welfare.

Publications and datasets for animal feed will continue to be published by the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board so that farmers and animal keepers have the most up to date statistics and predictions to enable them to make informed decisions on obtaining feed for their animals.

We are committed to having in place a robust and effective regulatory regime which will mean businesses can continue to operate as normal and therefore there are no changes in terms of imports of animal feed to the UK. The majority of feed imported into the UK will not be subject to import checks and this will continue to be the case at the end of the Transition Period. The UK will retain EU legislation that is applicable at the end of the Transition Period to ensure animal feed is safe and our high standards of food and feed safety and consumer protection will be maintained.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to improve food labelling regulations to ensure that the public are adequately informed when salt has been added to products destined for human consumption, wherever and however such products are sold.

In the UK we maintain high standards on the information that is provided to consumers, including on food labels, through our legislation on the provision of food information to consumers. The fundamental principles of our food labelling rules are that information provided to the consumer must not mislead, must enable consumers to make informed decisions and must enable the safe use of food.

The rules lay out what information must be given to consumers and how it must be provided, including that all ingredients present in food must be indicated in the food's list of ingredients. This means that, other than in very limited circumstances such as unprocessed cheese, the presence of salt as an ingredient in a food must be indicated on a foods list of ingredients. It is also required that the amount of salt in a food is declared in the mandatory nutrition declaration.

In addition to these mandatory requirements indication of salt content is also given on the voluntary front of pack nutritional information panel where one is provided.

After the Transition Period we will also have an opportunity to review food labelling so that consumers have the information they need to have full confidence in the food they buy.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to notify and encourage farmers and agronomists to respond to the consultation on reducing ammonia emissions from urea fertilisers; and if he will make a statement.

The consultation on reducing ammonia emissions from solid urea fertilisers was published on the GOV.UK website on 3 November 2020 and runs until 26 January 2021.

Defra issued a press release announcing the consultation launch to national, trade and regional media and covered the news on the Defra in the Media blog. The news was covered in key farming trade journals in early November - Farmers Guardian and Farmers Weekly. I was also interviewed on Farming Today on 23 November to further encourage participation in the consultation.

We also posted an explainer video across Defra's Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Our content to launch the consultation gained a total of 80,200 impressions, 24,500 video views, and 2,400 engagements, which included 350 clicks to the consultation webpage.

Further communications activity is planned for January ahead of the consultation closing to remind would-be respondents the deadline is approaching. Finally, we will be holding a series of stakeholder workshops over December and January to ensure we get responses to our consultation on urea fertilisers from those that might be affected most. This will include a separate workshop with farmers, agronomists and other users of solid urea fertilisers planned for later this month.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the risks of (a) microchip migration to another location, (b) tumour development at the injection site and (c) other side effects as a result of the microchipping of cats; and if he will make a statement.

The Government will be issuing a public consultation on compulsory cat microchipping shortly.

It is a requirement of the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 to report adverse reactions to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Adverse reactions include microchip migration and any negative health reaction the veterinarian considers to be adverse. Adverse reactions to dog microchipping are relatively rare. In 2019, it was reported that out of around 540,000 dogs microchipped that year, around 0.07% of dogs experienced adverse reactions, of which approximately 98% were due to microchip migration and failure of the microchip.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of rivers (a) are fit for and (b) require (i) upgrading work for and (ii) extensive maintenance for flood risk management purposes; what the names are of those (A) rivers and (B) stretches of river; what plans he has to undertake that work; and if he will make a statement.

The Environment Agency (EA) prioritises maintenance, improvement or construction work on main rivers that pose the greatest flood risk for people, homes and businesses. The EA maintains 36,000 km of main rivers in England for flood risk management purposes.

The EA uses its own assessments and modelling to identify required maintenance and publishes this in a programme each year. The published 5 year maintenance programme shows what work is intended to maintain, repair or refurbish assets, which includes work on main rivers. This is available through a postcode search on gov.uk at https://environment.data.gov.uk/asset-management/index.html. The maintenance requirement varies each year often as a result of weather conditions.

Maintenance activities on main rivers to manage flood risk appropriately includes clearing overgrown vegetation, dredging, controlling populations of rabbits on embankments, maintaining pumps, repointing brick walls and repairs to culverts. The EA’s annual river maintenance programme is timetabled using information from inspections, maintenance standards, levels of flood risk and from legal and statutory obligations.

Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, the EA invested over £180 million on maintenance for flood and coastal risk management to ensure communities continue to be protected.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what measures are in place to ensure that all slaughterhouses (a) are compliant and (b) remain compliant with rules mandating the instillation and use of CCTV; and if he will make a statement.

The Mandatory Use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) in Slaughterhouses (England) Regulations 2018 came into force on 4 May 2018. In order to allow slaughterhouses in England time to install a suitable CCTV system a six-month transition period was included so that enforcement powers came into force in November 2018. Guidance and support on implementation was provided to slaughterhouse operators during the transition period.

CCTV compliance is monitored and enforced in all approved slaughterhouses in England by Official Veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency. They also ensure that all animal welfare requirements are met and CCTV complements this.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will postpone the introduction of proposed Clean Air Zones until after the end of the covid-19 outbreak to minimise the financial and societal effects on businesses and residents; and if he will make a statement.

In many areas we have seen significant improvements in air quality as a result of the reduction in traffic caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, allowing people to breathe cleaner air than they have done in years. However, traffic levels are increasing in many areas. As my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has said, we do not believe that the temporary drops in traffic levels should be used as a reason for not progressing actions to clean up our air. For this reason, we remain fully committed to working with local authorities on the introduction of Clean Air Zones in those areas where they have been identified as necessary.

While we accepted delays to the implementation of Clean Air Zones following the initial outbreak of Covid-19, we are now working with local authorities to introduce them as soon as possible where evidence shows they are still required.

Local authorities can continue to access support from the Clean Air Fund to help businesses impacted by Clean Air Zones, which forms part of the £880 million funding to deliver nitrogen dioxide reductions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend regulations to require labelling of food where salt has been added to fresh fish by either brining or any other deliberate salting process from 2021.

Such labelling is already required under Annex VI (1) of the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers.

The annex requires that in all cases where omission of such information could mislead the purchaser, the name of a food shall include, or be accompanied by, particulars as to the physical condition of the food or the specific treatment which it has undergone.

This requirement will continue to apply when the Transition Period ends, at which point the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 will be retained in UK law.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) effectiveness of duck welfare regulations for commercial duck farms; whether he plans to increase those welfare standards after the transition period; and if he will make a statement.

The Government's ambition is to raise our already high animal welfare standards still further, as new research and evidence emerges and we are currently reviewing priorities for farm animal welfare reform.

The welfare of ducks is currently provided for in the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Defra also has a statutory duck welfare code which encourages high standards of husbandry for the keeping and breeding of farmed ducks, including requirements for suitable housing, stocking rates and the provision of feed and water.

In addition to legislation, the main farm assurance schemes have standards in place which their members must also comply with, which set requirements to ensure the health and welfare of commercially produced ducks.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the (a) value and (b) range of support his Department has allocated to each local authority to tackle giant hogweed; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the EU co-funded project to (a) develop a regional approach to tackling invasive non-native species and (b) facilitate the co-ordination of support to local action groups; and if he will make a statement.

Defra does not provide any direct support to local authorities specifically in regard to giant hogweed. Local authorities have a suite of powers at their disposal to deal with landowners that allow giant hogweed to become a problem and spread outside of their land. Defra is happy to provide advice to local authorities as and when it is needed.

The Reducing and Preventing Invasive Alien Species Dispersal (RAPID) LIFE Project, co-funded by the EU, has received a six-month extension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We anticipate the end of project report to be completed in the coming months. This report will include an assessment of the efficacy of the project. In addition to this an assessment of the socio-economic impact of the project and contribution to ecosystem function will be produced.

The project is on track to meet four of its five goals, which include helping the invasive non-native species management of local action groups (LAGs) become more coordinated both regionally and nationally. Uptake and engagement has had varying success, often depending on geography and density of LAGs. This will be covered in both reports.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of current levels of micro plastics in food destined for human consumption; and if he will make a statement.

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The UK is a world leader in tackling plastic pollution, including microplastics.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been monitoring the scientific literature concerning the occurrence and effects of microplastics in food. On the basis of current evidence, the FSA considers it is unlikely that the presence of microplastics particles that have been reported to occur in certain types of food, especially seafood, would cause harm to consumers.

The FSA will continue to monitor and assess emerging information concerning microplastics in food including further consideration of this issue by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) later this year.

Despite research findings that show the presence of low levels of microplastics in a few types of food or drink, microplastics analysis is very challenging and there are still no practical fully validated methods that would allow reliable routine analysis for microplastics in food and therefore to assess trends.

Our priority is preventing plastic from entering the environment in the first place. The Government’s landmark Resources and Waste Strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will (a) undertake research into current micro plastic levels in food destined for human consumption and (b) make an assessment of the trend in those levels; and if he will make a statement.

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The UK is a world leader in tackling plastic pollution, including microplastics.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been monitoring the scientific literature concerning the occurrence and effects of microplastics in food. On the basis of current evidence, the FSA considers it is unlikely that the presence of microplastics particles that have been reported to occur in certain types of food, especially seafood, would cause harm to consumers.

The FSA will continue to monitor and assess emerging information concerning microplastics in food including further consideration of this issue by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) later this year.

Despite research findings that show the presence of low levels of microplastics in a few types of food or drink, microplastics analysis is very challenging and there are still no practical fully validated methods that would allow reliable routine analysis for microplastics in food and therefore to assess trends.

Our priority is preventing plastic from entering the environment in the first place. The Government’s landmark Resources and Waste Strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has, after the covid-19 restrictions are lifted to encourage the development and expansion of the UK's aquaculture industry with regard to shellfish production; and if he will make a statement.

Defra supports industry led growth in aquaculture. We are actively involved in developing the English Aquaculture Growth Strategy through the Aquaculture Leadership Group set up by Seafish under the Seafood 2040 strategic framework. The strategy, to be published this autumn, will include growth targets and a short to long-term delivery plan.

Recognising the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the aquaculture sector as export and domestic markets have fallen away, Defra has provided some £725,000 to 79 aquaculture businesses as part of the Fisheries Response Fund.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that the system for gun licences that comes into force on 1 August 2020 has the minimum level of bureaucracy for people seeking to (a) renew and (b) obtain a licence; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State has today announced that six general licences for the control of wild birds will be reissued on a temporary basis from 1 August to 31 December. New general licences will come into force on 1 January 2021.

Defra is committed to achieving a general licensing regime for wild birds which is both robust and workable for users, ensuring that longer-term licensing arrangements are informed by the best available evidence. The review of general licences launched in June 2019 by the then Secretary of State has made significant progress. However, additional time is needed to thoroughly analyse scientific and practitioner evidence for which species can be controlled under the licences for which purposes, and to fully develop a general licensing solution for protected sites.

No action is required by general licence users, beyond the ongoing requirement to act in accordance with the licence conditions. There is no application or renewal process involved.

Defra intends to publish new licences in November to allow user groups to become acquainted with the changes before they officially come into force on 1 January.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what advice he is giving to local authorities, members of the public and others on the risk to health posed by giant hogweed; and if he will make a statement.

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is an invasive non-native species with established populations in the UK. If the sap of giant hogweed comes into contact with human skin it causes blistering if exposed to sunlight. This toxic sap complicates eradication efforts.

Giant hogweed is listed in England and Wales, under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 (the Order). As such, it must not be imported, kept, bred, transported, sold, used or exchanged, allowed to reproduce, grown, cultivated, or released into the environment. Under the Order, the Government has recently published a set of management measures for widespread listed species and advises the control and safe removal of giant hogweed, where possible.

Local Authorities may use Community Protection Notices made under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to tackle the impact to their communities of invasive non-native species including giant hogweed. The Home Office guidance on using community protection notices to tackle invasive non-native plants can be found at:

www.nonnativespecies.org//downloadDocument.cfm?id=1176.

Local Action Groups, with support from the Government, are actively involved in reducing and eradicating giant hogweed. They are supported by a project led by the Animal and Plant Health Agency which has published a good practice management guide for giant hogweed that provides health and safety advice relevant to the species. The guidance can be found by following the link below.

http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?pageid=624

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage fishermen to use fishing methods that are (a) dolphin and (b) turtle friendly when fishing for tuna; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is a leading global voice in ensuring appropriate management and protection is in place for vulnerable marine species globally. We recognise that bycatch in fisheries is one of the most significant threats to many marine species. The UK continues to press for the establishment of strong bycatch measures of vulnerable species within international Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

RFMOs that manage tuna fisheries have already adopted several conservation measures aimed at minimising the risk of dolphin and turtle bycatch. These measures include for example compulsory reporting of bycatch and safe handling practices, such as the disentangling and releasing of turtles, the use of line cutters and the use of dehooking devices for turtles. It is also prohibited within the Indian Ocean Tuna Convention (IOTC) waters to set a purse seine net around a cetacean if the animal is sighted prior to the setting of the net.

The UK will shortly become a member of RFMOs in its own right. This will provide us with an enhanced opportunity to press for stronger and more effective bycatch measures for vulnerable species to be adopted at an international level. We will work with stakeholders, international partners and international organisations to consider the effectiveness of measures in place and further measures we should support to provide for effective protection of these iconic species.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to promote the purchase of food with the Red Tractor logo (a) in supermarkets and (b) elsewhere in the UK.

Red Tractor is an independent and voluntary UK-based whole-chain food assurance scheme overseen by Assured Food Standards. Such schemes can help to build consumer confidence in producers who can comply with specific health, welfare or environmental standards. Red Tractor regularly promotes its work and achievements through TV and radio campaigns, as well as a strong presence on social media.

While we encourage membership of food assurance schemes among farmers, the Government is not, however, responsible for Red Tractor or any other independent and private scheme.

As a nation, we should be proud of our high quality produce, high standards of food safety, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability. Our farmers and growers are doing a fantastic job of feeding the nation during this challenging time.

In addition, we are working closely with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Dairy UK and Seafish as they develop consumer-facing marketing campaigns for the dairy, meat and seafood sectors. Specifically, AHDB and Dairy UK are launching a £1 million campaign, supported financially by Defra and devolved government partners, to encourage consumers to reconnect with milk. Defra and Seafish are working closely on the Sea For Yourself campaign, an initiative to promote seafood species caught in UK waters. The campaign directs consumers to tips and recipes on how to cook these species, as well as to information on online sales to help them find out where to buy local fish and shellfish.

Separately, Quality Meat Scotland, AHDB and Meat Promotion Wales have launched a £1.2 million ‘Make It beef’ campaign, aimed at showing consumers how they can recreate easy to cook restaurant-style meals with high-quality cuts, such as steak. The campaign will use the Red Tractor logo in England.

We will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the need for regulations on the welfare of rabbits (a) kept as pets and (b) reared for human consumption in (i) domestic and (ii) farming environments; and if she will make a statement.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide for its welfare and this includes rabbits kept in all respects. The maximum penalty for these offences is six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, the Government recently announced its support for a Private Members’ Bill which seeks to increase the maximum custodial penalty from six months to five years for the offence of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The keeping of commercially farmed rabbits is additionally provided for by the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007, which contains general provisions under which all farmed animals must be kept and has a specific schedule for rabbits. Defra also has a statutory welfare code for rabbits which provides good husbandry advice and which keepers of rabbits are required by law to be familiar with and have access to. Failure to observe the provisions of a code may be used in support of a prosecution.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will review the adequacy of the animal welfare requirements governing the (a) keeping and breeding of ducks and (b) provision of suitable environmental conditions for that activity; and if she will make a statement.

The welfare of ducks is provided for in welfare the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Defra has a duck code which encourages high standards of husbandry for the keeping and breeding of farmed ducks, including requirements for handling; suitable housing; stocking rates; and the provision of feed and water. The industry also has its own farm assurance schemes which represent the commercial duck farming industry and has specific requirements to ensure the welfare of farmed ducks, as well as protecting their health, hygiene and food safety.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the three most recent areas of outstanding natural beauty to be designated in the UK were; the dates of those designations; when he plans to make further designations; and if he will make a statement.

Designation of protected landscapes is a devolved matter. The three most recent Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designated in England are: Tamar Valley AONB in August 1995 (Cornwall and Devon), Nidderdale AONB in February 1994 (North Yorkshire) and Blackdown Hills AONB in June 1991 (Devon and Somerset). In addition, there have been variations to the boundaries of Dedham Vale AONB (Nayland-with-Wissington) in September 1991, Cotswolds AONB in December 1990; and Chilterns AONB in March 1990.

As part of the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government commissioned a Review of Designated Landscapes, led by Julian Glover – the final report was published in September 2019. The Government welcomes the review and is carefully considering its proposals, including those concerning new designations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage the formation and adoption of a code of practice on flooding by (a) local authorities, (b) drainage boards, (c) home owners, (d) landowners and (e) other stakeholders to ensure that effective and consistent action is taken when flooding occurs; and if he will make a statement.

The Environment Agency (EA) takes the lead role in managing flood risk in England under the Flood & Water Management Act (2010). They work with partners to reduce flood risk for people, property and the environment. Local authorities and internal drainage boards manage the smaller watercourses, and the EA manages the larger rivers.

The EA’s 2011 National flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England set the direction for all risk management authorities. The EA will be finalising their new national strategy for managing flood and coastal erosion risk during 2020. This new strategy will outline how partner organisations can work better together to create climate resilient places; growth and infrastructure resilient to tomorrow’s climate; and a nation of climate champions.

All risk management authorities and landowners have a role to play in planning for and responding to emergencies. The Civil Contingency Act (2004) sets out the roles and responsibilities of responders.

Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) come together to plan and prepare for localised incidents and catastrophic emergencies. They work to identify potential risks and produce emergency plans to either prevent or mitigate the impact of any incident on their local communities (including homeowners).

It is recommended that each LRF has a Multi-Agency Flood Plan (MAFP) outlining the roles and expectations of all organisations involved at a local level in preparation for, and during a flood. In 2018, a review was carried out of the effectiveness and consistency of MAFPs across the country and government’s response was published in 2019. To support that response, Defra has provided updated guidance for LRFs on what should be included within their MAFP.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans she has to negotiate an enhanced trade agreement with Mexico, subsequent to the UK-Mexico Trade Continuity Agreement signed in 2020.

The United Kingdom signed a Trade Continuity Agreement with Mexico on 15th December 2020. The Government has agreed to begin new negotiations with Mexico on an ambitious, modern and comprehensive free trade agreement within one year, and to conclude them within three years.

The joint political statement published by both countries commits that this will be at least as liberalising as the EU-Mexico Modernised Agreement that will come into force next year.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the new enhanced EU-Mexico Trade Agreement on levels of British imports from and exports to Mexico.

The United Kingdom is committed to starting negotiations with Mexico later this year towards an upgraded Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This deal will be tailored to the needs of British businesses and the British people. We are consulting through a ‘Call for Input’, which includes gathering feedback on the EU-Mexico Modernised Agreement. We will publish a response to the ‘Call for Input’ in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the report by the Railway Industry Association entitled Why rail electrification?, published on 22 April 2021; whether he has plans to utilise hydrogen powered trains in addition to electric traction in the future; and if he will make a statement.

I welcome this report and agree that further electrification will be required to decarbonise the railway to support our target of reaching Net Zero emissions across the entire UK economy by 2050. As part of the decarbonisation process, the government also supports the deployment of hydrogen and battery trains on some lines where they make operational and economic sense. The department’s forthcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan will set out the government’s ambition for the scale and pace for rail decarbonisation between now and 2050.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of requiring all police forces to include the involvement of e-scooters in the information provided in STATS19 data collection in respect of road traffic accidents.

The STATS19 data collection system has recently been reviewed. As part of this review, it is proposed that a new category of ‘powered personal transporter device’ – including, but not exclusive to, e-scooters – is added to the list of available vehicle types in STATS19. Stakeholder feedback on the review recommendations is currently being analysed and is scheduled for publication alongside the next road casualty statistics in June 2021.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to (a) resurface and (b) repair potholes on the A1 south of Newark; and whether his Department has plans to speed up repairs to the road surface on the A1 and A1(M).

Highways England’s inspectors carry out weekly safety inspections of the A1. If any safety critical defects, including potholes, are identified, an instruction is given to mitigate any immediate safety issues within 24 hours. Repairs are carried out according to the severity of the defect, frequently within 28 days.

Highways England continues work to identify schemes for necessary resurfacing treatments and is committed to start resurfacing works on the A1 northbound carriageway between Wothorpe and South Witham at the end of the 2021/22 financial year.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) level of risk of catching covid-19 posed to passengers on aeroplane flights and (b) effect of leaving all middle seats vacant on the level of that risk; what discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on the additional steps that could be taken to reduce that risk; and if he will make a statement.

The Government expects all airlines to manage the risks of COVID-19 transmission as far as possible and published guidance to provide safer services for passengers. The Safer Transport guidance for operators, which was developed with industry, is clear that robust social distancing, regular cleaning, and good hand and respiratory hygiene are the best ways of protecting against the transmission of coronavirus.

Where social distancing is not possible, airlines are advised to carry out a risk assessment and implement appropriate risk controls. For example, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect other passengers, which is why it is now mandatory to wear one on board aircraft.

It is also worth noting that passengers are seated facing forwards in the same direction on board aircraft, which avoids the increased transmission risk of being seated face to face.

In addition, air conditioning systems on modern aircraft filter cabin air every few minutes through High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These filters are very effective at capturing airborne microbes in the filtered air and, when coupled with the drawn in fresh air, can help to mitigate the longer-range risk of transmission.

Officials continue to engage with the aviation sector to ensure they are supported in implementing best practices.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the report commissioned by his Department with NatCen in response to the 2018 Cycling and Walking Safety Review.

The full report will be published shortly.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the level of public satisfaction with the performance and operation of the DVLA; what plans he has to improve that level of satisfaction level; and if he will make a statement.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s performance measures and achievements against targets are published in its annual report and accounts along with relevant explanations. The latest report is online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dvla-annual-reports-and-accounts

The 2019-20 version of the document contains the DVLA’s governance statement. This ensures DVLA is delivering transparency and accountability and providing the best value for money.

The DVLA carries out regular surveys to measure the level of customer satisfaction. The last report, which covers the period October 2020 to January 2021, showed that 93.05% of customers were satisfied with the service provided to them by the DVLA.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what changes he proposes to introduce in 2021 to the display and use of vehicle number plates and the information to be required or allowed to be displayed thereon; for what reason he plans to make each change; and if he will make a statement.

There are three changes to the regulations governing the display and use of vehicle number plates that will come into force in 2021.

Since 1 January 2021 it is no longer legal to display the European Union symbol on new number plates fitted to vehicles from that date. A GB sticker should be displayed on the rear of the vehicle when travelling abroad, but those vehicles which have both the letters “GB” and the Union Flag on their number plate do not need to display a separate GB sticker when travelling in the EU unless they are travelling to Spain, Malta or Cyprus.

Since 1 January 2021 it is also illegal to display an old style, pre-1973 black and silver number plate on vehicles recorded as historic i.e. vehicles that are 40 years old and over but were manufactured after 1 January 1980.

From 1 September 2021, it will also become mandatory for all new number plates fitted to vehicles to meet the revised technical standards contained in the British Standard for Retroreflective Number Plates (BS AU 145e). The new standard replaces BS AU 145d and introduces significant improvements to both the durability and readability of number plates.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the judgement of the European Court of Justice on Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav, whether he plans to incorporate into UK law any changes to the EU European Motor Insurance Directive on motor insurance in relation to (a) public roads and (b) private property for (i) ride-on lawnmowers, (ii) golf carts, (iii) tractors and (iv) motor sport activities; and if he will make a statement.

The issue of the Vnuk judgement on motor insurance in the UK is an important one. We understand the implications on motor sports, motorists and other road users, and the concerns raised by the insurance industry. During the transition period, EU law continues to apply to the UK through the EU Withdrawal Act and options for after that period will be for Government to decide.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to ensure that travel by air, road and rail networks run as smoothly as possible over the 2020 seasonal period; what steps he is taking to ensure that the public are adequately informed of any potential travel issues before they plan or commence their journeys; and if he will make a statement.

Today (3 December) the Government announced that it will be deploying a series of measures over the Christmas period to help people travel safely and minimise disruption as far as possible, including:

  • clearing 778 miles of roadworks,
  • ensuring over 95% of the rail network will be unaffected by engineering works,
  • lengthening trains and adding extra rail services,
  • and cutting ticket charges to help travellers with their journeys.

All transport operators have been asked to increase the clarity and regularity of communications with passengers/ users to help them plan their journeys, warn of any disruption and offer support.

We have also asked Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, to work alongside operators and officials to provide rigorous scrutiny of these plans.

We have submitted these plans to all colleagues in writing.


I am grateful to the entire transport sector, which has stepped up enormously throughout the course of this pandemic, and once again will rise to the challenge this Christmas

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many complaints about the DVLA his Department has received in the latest 12 months for which figures are available; and what plans he has to improve customer satisfaction with that agency.

The Department of Transport received 1604 items of correspondence relating to DVLA from October 2019 to October 2020. It is not possible to provide specific figures on how many of these were complaints or other enquiries about individual constituents’ cases.

DVLA’s customer satisfaction figure for 2018/19 was 92.83%. The latest customer satisfaction figure for 2019/20 is 94.02%. Figures are not yet available for this financial year.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will list the categories of people exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days when returning to the UK from a country not on the travel corridor list; what plans he has to amend that list; and if he will make a statement.

Exemptions to the self-isolation requirement are in place primarily to meet the UK’s international obligations, provide for continued security of supply into the UK and so as not to impede work supporting national security or critical infrastructure.

The full list of exemptions is available on gov.uk at the link below: full list here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules

The list of exemptions is kept under regular review.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the level of compliance with the requirement to self-isolate when returning to the UK from a country not on the travel corridor list; what provisions exist to verify that those meant to self-isolate are doing so; and if he will make a statement.

These measures are subject to review every 28 days and supported by an Impact Summary, to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.

On arrival Border Force conduct spot checks on passenger forms which include contact details, passport number and address while in the United Kingdom (UK).

Further compliance checks are carried out by Public Health England’s Isolation Assurance Service (IAS) who attempt to contact randomly sampled arriving passengers to ensure that they are self-isolating. IAS will only contact passengers with a quarantine address in England and Northern Ireland.

If IAS are not satisfied that the individual is self-isolating, their information will be passed to Border Force and the police for potential enforcement action.

Failure to self-isolate if required following international travel already attracts a £1,000 penalty. Anyone who commits a second offence will receive a penalty of £2,000. Further repeat offences will attract penalties of £4,000 and then £10,000 for each repeat offence.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will put in place plans to dual sections of the A15 north of Lincoln to support economic development within the Humber sub-region; and if he will make a statement.

The A15 north of Lincoln is the responsibility of local highway authorities – Lincolnshire County Council and North Lincolnshire Council. It is for those authorities to prioritise areas of their networks for improvements, and to seek funding, if required.

Government announced last month £4.5m towards the A15 (North) Asset Renewal project. This will resurface a section of the existing carriageway, reducing the need for disruptive road repairs and helping to support economic development within the Humber sub-region.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the level of compliance by airlines with article 8 of EC Regulation 261/2004, that requires those companies to provide a full refund to passengers booked on cancelled flights within seven days if requested.

The Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for enforcing European Regulation 261/2004, and have been clear that airlines should not systematically deny consumers their right to a refund. On 1 July 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority provided an update on its website about its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic. They are reviewing the refund policies of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The review is considering how airlines are handling refunds for flight-only bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will encourage local authorities to (a) ease parking restrictions and (b) lower parking charges in town centres to support people who are choosing to drive rather than use public transport during the covid-19 outbreak.

Local authorities need to decide on appropriate parking restrictions to manage a safe and controlled recovery from COVID-19. The British Parking Association, the Local Government Association and London Councils have published co-branded advice for local authorities, which is updated regularly to reflect the latest position in response to Covid-19. It includes recommendations that authorities prioritise parking restrictions at locations of heightened activity where a lack of controls would have a significant detrimental impact on safety and traffic management. The advice also recommends that local authorities consider taking a more flexible approach to their parking charging strategies where possible, within the bounds of statutory processes.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the latest guidance is that his Department has issued to (a) driving instructors and (b) motoring schools on teaching non-key workers during the covid-19 outbreak; whether he plans to relax restrictions on that activity in the next month; and if he will make a statement.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course. The DVSA is committed to resuming testing services for all candidates as soon as it is safe to do so and in line with Government advice.

The DVSA’s Chief Executive issued further guidance on resuming testing to approved driving instructors, motorcycle training schools, and vocational driving instructors on 15 June 2020. This guidance is published on GOV.UK and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-letter-from-dvsa-chief-executive-to-driver-and-rider-trainers-about-restarting-instruction-and-tests?utm_source=69d5d459-d250-4458-9252-9485392b0d13&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made from its use in other countries of the potential effect of E10 fuel on (a) farm machinery performance, (b) fuel filter usage and (c) levels of engine injector failure on tractors, mowers and other farm vehicles in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

Most farm machinery is diesel powered; our proposals to introduce E10 petrol are therefore expected to have a limited impact on farm operations. The main use of E10 would be in passenger cars, motorbikes and other petrol-powered equipment using fuel sold at filling stations. Any compatibility issues related to E10 are generally not associated with fuel filters or injectors specifically. Vehicles approved for use with E10 are not expected to experience any significant difference in performance when using the new grade.

However, as our recent consultation “Introducing E10 Petrol” set out, any vehicles and equipment not approved for E10 use are advised to continue to use E5 petrol. Vehicle manufacturers have published information on E10 compatibility and information for other equipment may be retrieved from the manual or require the owner to contact the manufacturer. Any introduction of E10 would be accompanied by legislation requiring the continued supply of E5 petrol for those that need it.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate he has made of the number of HGV vehicles awaiting their annual test since those tests were suspended due to the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps is taking to reduce that backlog.

Approximately 146,000 heavy goods vehicles (HGV) have been exempt from testing since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working to put plans in place to manage test demand and resume HGV testing (heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles (buses and coaches)) as soon as it is practical to allow safe vehicle testing. These plans are being developed jointly with the trade.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of outsourcing HGV annual testing; and if he will make a statement.

There are no plans to outsource heavy goods vehicle (HGV) testing.

Any future considerations made to the testing delivery model would need to provide assurance that testing is conducted free from the commercial pressures of vehicle maintenance and operation, and provide assurance that vehicle maintenance is done correctly.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of phasing out externally audible warning devices that activate when heavy goods vehicles are reversing and in their place require those vehicles to be fitted with reversing cameras.

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they manoeuvre their vehicle safely. Reversing cameras can assist by making it easier for them to see people and hazards around their vehicle, and work is underway internationally to improve direct and indirect vision for drivers. External audible alarms are complementary and are intended to warn people outside a vehicle that it is reversing. There are no plans to assess the phasing out of external audible alarms.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the use of E10 fuel on older vehicles.

Increasing the share of bioethanol in petrol by blending up to 10 per cent, known as E10, could provide significant carbon savings, helping us meet our climate change commitments. One of the main barriers to introducing E10 has been vehicle compatibility. Currently, around 95% of petrol cars used in the UK can use E10, but around 700,000 are not warranted by their manufacturers to use E10. This number is expected to decrease as vehicles come to the end of their life. However, some classic and cherished vehicles that are not advised to use E10 will remain in use.

The prolonged use of E10 fuel in those older and classic vehicles not under manufacturer warranty can cause corrosion of some rubbers and alloys used in the engine and fuel systems. For those vehicles, the Department remains committed to ensuring that E5 is retained as a protection grade, if E10 is introduced.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps not to implement the change to EU European Motor Insurance Directive on motor insurance in relation to (a) public roads and (b) private property for (i) ride-on lawnmowers, (ii) golf carts and (iii) tractors as a result of the judgment of the European Court of Justice on Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav; and if he will make a statement.

We have always made it clear that we oppose any measure which imposes an unreasonable burden on motor sports, motorists and other vehicle users. This is exactly the sort of rule that the UK has the option to opt out of after the Transition Period and Ministers will shortly be making a decision on this issue.

25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the timetable is for the resurfacing of the A1 through Rutland; and when the road surfaces on that stretch of road were last inspected.

Highways England Inspectors travel the network to carry out weekly safety inspections of the A1. They last inspected the section through Rutland on 25 February 2020 and some carriageway defects were identified.

Any safety critical defects identified are reported with the appropriate instruction to mitigate any immediate safety issues. Permanent repairs are then carried out within a timescale appropriate to the severity and impact of the defect, frequently within 28 days.

The A1 is being considered for future renewal schemes as Highways England develops its forward programme of works for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) period, covering the years 2020 to 2025.

We expect RIS2 to be published before the start of the second Road Period on 1 April 2020. Highways England will then publish its Delivery Plan for the period in response to RIS2.

5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to increase train speeds between Doncaster and Hull; and if he will make a statement.

Passengers between major urban areas across the North will benefit from a comprehensive range of improvements with the introduction of higher-quality services on longer-distance routes which includes the route between Doncaster and Hull. The package of improvements which are still being rolled out, will include better trains, more comfort and reduced journey times on some routes.

Train services between Hull and Doncaster are also provided by Hull Trains which is an open-access operator and is in the process of introducing a new fleet of brand new trains.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the timeframe is for the completion of the roadworks and temporary lower speed limit on the A1 south of Grantham; and what steps he has taken to ensure the timely completion of this work.

The Spittlegate Scheme is being promoted by Lincolnshire County Council and delivered by a private developer under a Section 6 agreement. Highways England is supervising the works, but it is wholly funded and promoted by the County Council. The scheme involves the construction of a new grade separated junction on the A1, referred to as Spittlegate. The works on the A1 will form part of the Grantham Southern Relief Road.

The 50mph temporary speed limit is required for safety reasons, both for road users and the workforce during the construction of the works. Highways England worked closely with the Council to ensure that the works were planned in a way to minimise the impact on road users.

Further information on the status of the scheme, including its timeframe for delivery, can be found on the County Council’s website: https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/major-projects/grantham-southern-relief-road

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the northbound carriageway of the A1 south of Newark was last inspected for potholes and other surface imperfections; and when that stretch of road is next scheduled to be resurfaced.

The A1 south of Newark was last inspected for potholes on 14/01/2020 northbound and on 15/01/20 southbound.

Highways England currently has no plans to resurface the A1 south of Newark this year, however, the A1 will be considered for future schemes as Highways England develops its programme of works for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2).

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve the electric vehicle charging infrastructure on motorways; and if he will make a statement.

In July 2019 work commenced to determine a vision for a core rapid charger network on England’s strategic road network. This will report in Spring 2020. Government and industry have supported the installation of over 17,000 devices providing over 24,000 publicly available chargepoints. This includes over 2,400 rapid chargepoints – one of the largest networks in Europe. We want all new public rapid chargepoints to offer ‘pay as you go’ card payments from spring 2020.

Highways England has committed £15m to ensure there are chargepoints rapid where possible every 20 miles on 95% of the Strategic Road Network by 2020.

Alongside the private sector, the Government plans to invest £1 billion in charging infrastructure – making sure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid charging station for electric vehicles.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to ensure that replacement LED bulbs and modules fitted retrospectively to vehicle head, side and tail lights for use on the public highway remain within the lumen limits set out in the relevant UNECE Regulations; and if he will make a statement.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations require vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1986 to be fitted only with lamps and light sources that have been approved to established standards, which govern luminous flux, colour and dimensions. The regulations also require vehicle owners to replace light sources with like-for-like approved replacements and ensure that the lamps fitted to their vehicles do not cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other road users.

The Automotive Market Surveillance Unit (MSU), based in the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency, is responsible for ensuring that vehicle products comply with legal standards and are sold for correct usage. If the MSU discovers evidence of non-compliance in a sector of the market, investigators will take action. This includes warning and potentially prosecuting any company involved in illegal activity.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the effectiveness of regulations on the manufacture, marketing and sale of biocides; what testing is required in each case to determine the efficacy of those biocides against viruses and bacteria before being sold to the public; and if she will make a statement.

The Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) was introduced as a stand-alone regime for Great Britain at the end of last year. Any review by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would follow evidence based on experience of operating the stand-alone regime in Great Britain. Efficacy is a requirement for the approval of biocidal active substances and authorisation of biocidal products under the BPR.

While the approach to testing varies, all products require the same level of robust testing to demonstrate efficacy. Whether or not a product needs to be authorised by HSE, it is the responsibility of product manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that their products are suitably safe and effective, including meeting any necessary testing standards.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's target timescale for processing applications for Alternative Payment Arrangements; and what percentage of claims are processed within this target.

There is no target timescale for processing applications for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs). APAs are available at any point during Universal Credit claims where there is risk of financial harm to a claimant and/or their family.

APAs can help claimants who need additional support with:

  • paying housing costs of Universal Credit as a Managed Payment direct to the landlord;
  • more frequent than monthly payments; or;
  • split payment of an award between partners.

Universal Credit payment timeliness statistics are published in the Households on Universal Credit section on Stat-Xplore. These figures can be broken down by those with APAs and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of claims for managed payments to landlords were rejected in each of the last 12 months.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that personal independence payments made following a decision by an Appeals Tribunal are automatically extended in line with other personal independence payments that are currently being automatically extended in cases where the decision to make an award was made by her Department; and if she will make a statement.

Since 24 March the Department has been extending awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) due to end from that date onwards, regardless of whether the final decision on the award was made by a Case Manager or a Tribunal.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to relax restrictions on care home residents who are fully vaccinated, in order that they can leave their care home for outside visits without having to self-isolate upon their return.

We have updated our guidance on care home visiting, which came into effect on 17 May. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/arrangements-for-visiting-out-of-the-care-home/visits-out-of-care-homes

We will continue to keep the guidance under review, in line with clinical advice, including on the effect of vaccination.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will undertake a review of access to fertility in the context of treatment varying from area to area under different policies of Clinical Commissioning Groups; if he will take steps to terminate such policy that varies according to a postcode, to ensure fairness and consistency; and if he will make a statement.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are expected to commission fertility services in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) guidelines, to ensure equitable access across England. We are aware that some individual CCGs set additional non-clinical criteria. The Department has undertaken an internal review and is currently considering options to address these variations.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the (a) level and (b) adequacy of respite care provision, by county, for parents or guardians of children diagnosed with autism; and if he will make a statement.

Commissioning social care is a matter for local authorities, who have a duty to make sure there is a range of high-quality services in their area to meet local needs.

As set out in the COVID-19 Mental Health Wellbeing and Recovery Plan published on 27 March 2021, there is an additional £31 million allocated in 2021/22 to improve support in the community for autistic adults and children and for people with a learning disability, with £3 million allocated for respite and short breaks aimed at helping families, including those of autistic children.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to improve the (a) effectiveness and (b) powers of the National Food Crime Unit, and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises the importance of the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and its achievements so far in tackling serious and complex food crime. It has developed effective capabilities in intelligence and investigations but its capacity to operate with full autonomy and achieve a maximum return on investment would be enhanced with additional investigative powers. This would relieve the burden on other law enforcement partners who face other competing demands and is fully supported by the police and food industry. Ministers are in dialogue with the NFCU, industry and the police with a view to relieving police forces from some of the application of justice in this area.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the level of protection provided against new covid variants by standard surgical face masks currently used by the NHS; whether he plans to upgrade nursing staff to higher grade face masks; and if he will make a statement.

The personal protective equipment recommended for use in the National Health Service, including face masks, is dependent upon the setting and procedure being undertaken. These recommendations are set out in the infection prevention and control guidance (IPC), which was updated on 21 January and is available on GOV.UK.

A peer review has been undertaken by an expert group of clinicians to assess the new variant strains. The evidence review has not identified a change in the mode of transmission between the variants and previous circulating strains of COVID-19. Accordingly, there are no changes to the recommendations set out in the IPC guidance at this time. Emerging evidence and data on variant strains will be continually monitored and reviewed, and the guidance amended accordingly if needed.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to introduce (a) pre and (b) post covid-19 vaccination procedure to help ensure vaccines are effective at the point of being administered; what steps he is taking to mitigate the risk to vaccine effectiveness of mis-storage; and if he will make a statement.

General practitioner (GP) practices will ensure that all vaccines are received, stored, prepared and subsequently transported, where appropriate, in accordance with the relevant manufacturer, Public Health England and NHS England’s instructions as well as with all associated Standard Operating Procedures.

Where vaccinations are administered away from a designated site, for example, at a care home, the GP practice will ensure that appropriate measures are taken to ensure the integrity of the cold chain, following any guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation or Public Health England. Appropriate procedures will be in place to ensure stock rotation, monitoring of expiry dates and appropriate use of multi-dose vials to minimise wastage.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country follow the NICE guidance on fertility and the factsheet produced by NHS England, to ensure that adequate and consistent fertility services are provided across the country in each CCG area; and if he will make a statement.

The level of provision of local health services available to patients, including fertility treatment, is, and has been since the 1990s, a matter for local healthcare commissioners. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have a statutory responsibility to commission healthcare services including fertility services that meet the needs of their whole population. Ministers currently have no power to direct individual CCGs in relation to their commissioning functions.

In respect of National Health Service fertility services, the Government have been consistently clear that we expect CCGs to commission fertility services in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines, so that there is equal access across England. We also expect CCGs to give fair consideration to all patients who have had fertility treatment delayed so that no one misses out on treatment due to COVID-19, in line with NHS England’s recent statement.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the joint review by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland on UK-wide meat, what steps he is taking to increase the level of public confidence in the safety and authenticity of UK meat.

Consumer confidence is critical to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and confidence in the authenticity of the food people buy or eat currently stands at 76%, verified through its bi-annual Public Attitudes Tracker.

The FSA has invested in a new change programme – Operational Transformation Programme – to effectively modernise its role as a regulator for the meat, wine and dairy industries. At the heart of this programme are seven core principles which underpin the ongoing development and implementation of change. One of these principles is focused on consumer confidence and trust in food safety, which will continue to ensure we can provide assurance on food safety and authenticity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many successful prosecutions there have been by each local authority for meat fraud in each of the last five years; what recent assessment he has made of the veracity of the sampling data submitted by local authorities to the UK Food Surveillance System; and if he will make a statement.

The total number of successful prosecutions for meat fraud that local authorities reported to the Food Standards Agency or Food Standards Scotland in each of the last five years is provided in the following table. In each case the prosecution was taken by a different local authority.

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

4

1

3

0

0

Data submitted to the UK Food Surveillance System does not provide a comprehensive picture of samples taken by local authorities and the reported results cannot be used to determine the extent of any specific issue across the United Kingdom. This is because some but not all local authorities report results using the system and sampling is used as part of a targeted approach rather than being conducted on a random and representative basis.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to help ensure that tobacco companies are complying with the prohibition on the sale of menthol cigarettes under the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive; and if he will make a statement.

We expect the tobacco industry to comply with the requirements of The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), and this includes the recent ban on the sale of menthol flavoured cigarettes. A breach of the regulations could result in enforcement action taken.

The Government has a commitment to review TRPR as part of its post-implementation review process by May 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to prevent letters on shielding being sent in error to people who are recently deceased; and what steps are being taken to ensure that the database being used for such correspondence is up to date.

The NHS Shielded Patient List is reviewed daily against a national database of patient information known as the Personal Demographics Service which is updated by general practice, hospitals and information from the General Register Office. Patients who have sadly died are removed from the NHS Shielded Patient List at this point.

Sending a letter to the entire list will always carry the risk that some patients may have died before receiving a letter. This is because there are a few days’ delay between the list being generated, the letters being printed, and those letters arriving with patients. We apologise if this has caused distress to any family members.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the availability of Remdesivir to NHS hospitals; and if he will make a statement.

Remdesivir has been available to National Health Service patients with COVID-19 as part of clinical trials and, most recently, through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS). EAMS aims to give patients with life-threatening or seriously debilitating conditions access to medicines that do not yet have a marketing authorisation where there is a clear unmet medical need. Eligible NHS patients will continue to benefit from treatment with remdesivir and the NHS has sufficient stock of remdesivir for patients who need it.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of pre-natal testing for HTLV-1; and if he will make a statement.

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) advises Ministers and the National Health Service in the four UK countries about all aspects of population screening and supports implementation of screening programmes.

The UK NSC last reviewed the evidence for the introduction of an antenatal screening programme for Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV) infection in pregnancy in the UK in 2017 and concluded that the evidence did not support the introduction of screening. The UK NSC’s assessment is published and available at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/htlv

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what processes are in place to monitor the levels of nitrates in bacon sold in the UK; if he will encourage producers to reduce nitrate levels in bacon; and if he will make a statement.

Nitrites and nitrates are naturally present in vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and celery, with only around 5% of dietary exposure coming from food additive use. Nitrates are important preservatives that work against microorganisms that can spoil food and cause foodborne disease, in particular Clostridium Botulinum which causes botulism.

Based on scientific evaluation, legal maximum safe limits for nitrates have been set. These levels are monitored through risk-based compliance checks carried out by local authorities, and any non-compliant products are addressed through a range of interventions, including withdrawal.

The Food Standards Agency works closely with the meat industry to ensure that nitrites and nitrates are used at the lowest possible levels to achieve their technological function, without jeopardising product safety.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the extent of awareness among the general public of the implications of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019; and if he will make a statement.

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019 introduces a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England, known as ‘opt-out' or ‘deemed consent’. The Government aims for the new consent arrangements to be introduced from spring 2020.

NHS Blood and Transplant launched a communication campaign on behalf of the Government in April 2019 to make the public fully aware of the new system of consent. Several platforms have been used since then to raise public awareness of the new system, more recently through TV and radio adverts, as well as public advertising with specific targeting of people with different backgrounds, faith and beliefs. NHS Blood and Transplant will continue to work with general practitioner (GP) practices, schools and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to address barriers to organ donation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what rules or guidance his Department provides on preventing noxious substances being contained in fish food pellets where those fish may later be used for human consumption; and if he will make a statement.

Stringent rules apply to ensure food and feed safety in the United Kingdom. UK feed law implements European Union legislation to ensure feed is safe for animals, the environment and the public who consume animals and their by-products. Fish are regarded as food producing animals.

There are specific rules prohibiting certain materials from being used in animal feed and maximum levels for certain undesirable substances. Additionally, additives used in feed need to be authorised and used within maximum levels where specified. There are also rules on the hygiene, production and storage of animal feed. These are based on the best available scientific evidence and analysis.

The Government remains committed to ensuring that the high standards of food and feed safety and consumer protection we enjoy in this country are maintained.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to make the public fully aware of the implications of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019; and if he will make a statement.

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019 introduces a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England, known as ‘opt-out' or ‘deemed consent’. The Government aims for the new consent arrangements to be introduced from spring 2020.

NHS Blood and Transplant launched a communication campaign on behalf of the Government in April 2019 to make the public fully aware of the new system of consent. Several platforms have been used since then to raise public awareness of the new system, more recently through TV and radio adverts, as well as public advertising with specific targeting of people with different backgrounds, faith and beliefs. NHS Blood and Transplant will continue to work with general practitioner (GP) practices, schools and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to address barriers to organ donation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to reduce paperwork and other bureaucracy required on issues relating to rules of origin affecting companies exporting to the EU from 2022; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has been clear that leaving the Single Market and Customs Union will result in new customs processes for businesses trading with the EU. The UK has moved to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) relationship, and Rules of Origin are a standard part of all FTAs.

The Government has secured a number of administrative facilitations, such as self-certification of origin, and, until 31 December 2021, an easement on the need for UK businesses to hold supplier declarations at the time they issue statements on origin, which will considerably reduce the administrative burdens of complying with rules of origin in trade with the EU. The easement on supplier declarations has been introduced to allow businesses time to establish the necessary arrangements to meet the requirements of the agreement.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent representations he has received in support of a reduced UK VAT rate of 5 per cent for tourism attractions and accommodation providers; and if he will make an assessment of the potential benefit to the tourism sector of that proposition in advance of his next Budget.

Raising £130 billion in 2019/2020, VAT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer and plays an important part in funding the Government’s spending priorities including hospitals, schools and defence.

Reducing VAT on tourism and hospitality related activities would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has pledged a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the current processing time for the licensing and re-licensing of firearms; and what steps she plans to take reduce those processing times.

The duration of firearm and shotgun certificates is five years. We have no plans to increase the duration of these certificates at present. However, firearms licensing is kept under review and we will consider the duration of firearm and shotgun certificates following improvements to the arrangements for medical checks which are underway.

The administration of firearms licensing is an operational matter for police forces. The Government recognises that some firearms applications are inevitably being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Police Chiefs Council has been in contact with forces and I understand that during these exceptional times forces may need to flex their response but will maintain a business as usual approach wherever possible. I am aware that forces are rightly giving priority to renewal applications as those applicants are already in possession of firearms. The position is expected to ease as the national restrictions are lifted.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to increase the duration of firearms certificates; and if she will make a statement.

The duration of firearm and shotgun certificates is five years. We have no plans to increase the duration of these certificates at present. However, firearms licensing is kept under review and we will consider the duration of firearm and shotgun certificates following improvements to the arrangements for medical checks which are underway.

The administration of firearms licensing is an operational matter for police forces. The Government recognises that some firearms applications are inevitably being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Police Chiefs Council has been in contact with forces and I understand that during these exceptional times forces may need to flex their response but will maintain a business as usual approach wherever possible. I am aware that forces are rightly giving priority to renewal applications as those applicants are already in possession of firearms. The position is expected to ease as the national restrictions are lifted.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to improve the tackling of rural crime and ensure effective co-ordination across different police force areas; and if she will make a statement.

I recognise the importance of tackling rural crime, which is why the Government is recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers over the next three years to ensure that the public are protected against crime, including rural crime. To further support with existing efforts, the Government also provides regular funding to the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit.

It is the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to ensure that the police priorities reflect those of their communities and that resources, including these new officers are deployed accordingly.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of criminal acts committed in the last five years in which crossbows have been used; what representations she has received over a similar period in favour of tighter restrictions being imposed on the sale and use of those weapons; and if she will make a statement.

The Home Office does not collect information on whether an offence recorded by the police involved a crossbow.

We periodically engage with the police to assess if they see crossbows as an emerging threat in crime. While tragic when they do occur, the misuse of crossbows is rare and the vast majority of those using crossbows, do so safely and responsibly. Misuse of these articles could be an offence, and legislation is already in place to deal with those who use crossbows as a weapon. We keep the legislation on bladed articles and offensive weapons, including crossbows, under review.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance she has issued to police authorities on the holding of speed awareness courses during the covid-19 outbreak; where live classroom courses are not available, what alternatives exist for people with no internet provision or access to a webcam and microphone; and if she will make a statement.

The management of speed awareness courses is an operational matter for individual police forces and course providers who decide on the format and content of courses. Course providers do provide clear joining instructions for each person attending an online course. If individuals have poor IT skills or IT access providers can work with them via their call centres, to assist course completion on a case by case basis. The police are working with providers to develop alternative delivery methods for special characteristic groups for example a booklet with follow-up consultation.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Minister for Veterans or anyone nominated on his behalf has plans to meet with (a) former military personnel and (b) representatives of the Justice 4 Veterans group, to discuss issues of concern to those groups; and if he will make a statement.

There are no plans to meet with Justice4Veterans. It has long been accepted by the UK Government that some veterans developed disabling non-specific symptoms on their return from the Gulf. Extensive international research has failed to establish a discrete underlying disorder or causal factors. Any veteran of the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict who believes their health has been adversely affected by their Service can apply for compensation under the War Pension Scheme, which covers any injury, illness, or death caused by Service before 6 April 2005.

4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will launch a formal consultation and a call for evidence to assess the level of public support for permanently enabling virtual participation to take place in all parish and town council meetings after 7 May 2021; and if he will make a statement.

The Government keeps all policy under review and will be carefully considering the experience of local authorities using the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the case for enabling local authorities to meet remotely on a permanent basis.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) guidelines and (b) processes are in place to ensure that local authorities in Business Improvement Districts carry out a periodic audit or value for money review into the (i) scope of work undertaken by BID management companies and (ii) their overall cost effectiveness.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are a proven and effective vehicle for leveraging private investment and have a significant role to play in high street regeneration.

In 2019, 259 BIDs across England raised over £106.7 million through levy payments to invest back into their respective towns and cities. Their role will be even more important in the recovery phase from the current crisis.

BIDs are vehicles for businesses to effect collective local action to manage and improve the high streets and town centres where they exist and trade. They are created under a democratic process which requires their mandate to be renewed every five years. They are also subject to the usual rules under the Companies Acts, such as standard accounting practices and audit and disclosure requirements, that apply to the corporate structure that they chose to adopt, such as companies limited by guarantee or limited liability partnerships. BIDs are also subject to The Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004.

Although many BIDs work closely and effectively with the local authorities in their area, they are independent of both local and central government. The work that they do must be approved in a ballot by their member organisations and the levy that they charge is similarly approved through the ballot process. If BID members are dissatisfied with the work that their BID is doing, or if there is any irregularity in the way the BID operates, the usual statutory remedies apply. BID members can also decline to vote for its continuation when a renewal ballot is held.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will review the length of time being taken by local authorities to process Local Authority Land Registry Searches; if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of imposing a maximum time limit for that processing; and if he will make a statement.

HM Land Registry is working with local authorities to transform the fragmented Local Land Charges services into a single national digital register across England and Wales as quickly as possible. The service offers instant online access helping users make quicker property related decisions. We have also set local authorities a target of ten working days to return local searches and nearly 88 per cent of authorities met this target this summer. We will continue to keep this performance under review.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will take steps to require local authorities to cancel levies in relation to Business Improvement Districts for 2020 and until after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)?are a proven and effective vehicle for?leveraging private investment and have a significant role to play in high street regeneration. Their role will be even more important in the recovery phase from the current crisis.

BID organisations are advised to work closely with their members, sector bodies and local authorities in coming to sensible arrangements on charging given the current circumstances. BIDs or local authorities may want to take legal advice on how they can manage their BID levy using their existing powers.

In March, the Government included provisions within the Coronavirus Act 2020 that enables?BIDs to delay any renewal ballots due to take place before 31 December 2020 until 31 March 2021. This allows businesses to focus on recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic before deciding whether to participate in future BID arrangements.

In addition to this legislation, the Government made available up to £6.1 million of support to BIDs. The funding has been delivered to 260 BIDs in England via local authorities, including £53,270.30 paid to Scarborough Borough Council on behalf of the Yorkshire Coast BID, part of which covers the East Yorkshire constituency.

We?will continue to?work closely with the sector to look at how further we can support BIDs, and the businesses that contribute to them, during this time.

28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to (i) review, (ii) improve and (iii) expand the Flood Recovery Framework, and the resources available, to manage more effectively future severe flooding; and if he will make a statement.

Following the first activation of the Flood Recovery Framework in November 2019, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government agreed with HM Treasury to lead a cross-government review on the efficacy and effectiveness of the Framework.

The review will consider how to improve the Framework and support future severe flooding.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities acting as billing authorities in Business Improvement Districts that wish to (a) suspend, (b) alter and (c) reduce that levy during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have a significant role to play in high street regeneration and will be even more important in the recovery from the current crisis.

That is why Government has introduced up to £6.1 million in funding. The funding is intended to cover the equivalent of three months’ of core operational costs and is based on a fair percentage of a BID's levy income from each BID’s operating year ending in 2019/20.

My department undertook a light-touch information gathering exercise to collect information needed from local authorities to prepare and process the section 31 grants. Following this information gathering exercise, the first batch of grant payments to 70 local authorities were paid out early in the week commencing 2 June. Other batches will follow shortly.

All local authorities who have submitted information to us by the initial deadline of 15 May should receive funding this month. We will provide funding to others as soon as possible.

We have encouraged local authorities to be pragmatic in the collection of BID levies while acknowledging that they have a statutory obligation to issue the BID levy invoices. The BIDs support funding will enable authorities to take a more flexible approach to the collection of BID levies at this difficult time for many businesses.

This funding is in addition to passing legislation which enables BIDs to extend the maximum duration of their BID arrangements until 31 March 2021. This allows businesses to focus on recovery from economic shock before deciding whether to participate in BID arrangements for the following 5-year period, and allows BIDs to coordinate their places’ recovery

We?will continue to?work closely with the sector to look at how further we can support BIDs, and the businesses that contribute to them, during this time.

19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the Local Government Act 2003, if he will take steps to enable local authorities to (a) waive, (b) cancel and (c) discount levies in relation to Business Improvement Districts.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have a significant role to play in high street regeneration and will be even more important in the recovery from the current crisis.

That is why Government has introduced up to £6.1 million in funding. The funding is intended to cover the equivalent of three months’ of core operational costs and is based on a fair percentage of a BID's levy income from each BID’s operating year ending in 2019/20.

My department undertook a light-touch information gathering exercise to collect information needed from local authorities to prepare and process the section 31 grants. Following this information gathering exercise, the first batch of grant payments to 70 local authorities were paid out early in the week commencing 2 June. Other batches will follow shortly.

All local authorities who have submitted information to us by the initial deadline of 15 May should receive funding this month. We will provide funding to others as soon as possible.

We have encouraged local authorities to be pragmatic in the collection of BID levies while acknowledging that they have a statutory obligation to issue the BID levy invoices. The BIDs support funding will enable authorities to take a more flexible approach to the collection of BID levies at this difficult time for many businesses.

This funding is in addition to passing legislation which enables BIDs to extend the maximum duration of their BID arrangements until 31 March 2021. This allows businesses to focus on recovery from economic shock before deciding whether to participate in BID arrangements for the following 5-year period, and allows BIDs to coordinate their places’ recovery

We?will continue to?work closely with the sector to look at how further we can support BIDs, and the businesses that contribute to them, during this time.

18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress he had made on the establishment of a new statutory regime to ensure that freeholders who pay maintenance charges have equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge the reasonableness of those charges; and if he will make a statement.

The Government intends to legislate to give freeholders on private and mixed tenure estates equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge the reasonableness of estate rentcharges as well as the right to apply to the First-tier Tribunal to appoint a new manager for the provision of services covered by estate rentcharges. We will bring forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average time taken is for a probate grant to be issued; what plans he has to reduce that time taken; what progress he has made in reducing the length of the time taken to process all probate cases in 2021; and if he will make a statement.

The most recently published information regarding combined waiting times for a grant of probate, on paper and digital cases, covers September 2020 to December 2020 and is published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly (Table 26):

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-court-statistics-quarterly-october-to-december-2020

Average time to grant issue for grants of Probate, England and Wales, quarterly Q2 2019 - Q4 20201,2,3

Probate - All

Application submission to grant issue

Document receipt to grant issue4

Year

Quarter

Grants issued

Mean weeks

Median weeks

Mean weeks

Median weeks

2019

Q25

:

:

:

:

:

:

2,019

Q3

53,403

9.5

8.0

9.5

8.0

2,019

Q4

54,389

7.8

5.6

7.6

5.4

2020

Q1

49,706

6.7

4.3

6.5

4.1

2020

Q2

45,493

6.6

4.6

6.3

4.4

2020

Q3

60,225

6.7

4.9

6.0

4.4

2020

Q4

54,476

7.2

5.3

6.2

4.9

Probate - Digital

Application submission to grant issue

Document receipt to grant issue4

Grants issued

Mean weeks

Median weeks

Mean weeks

Median weeks

:

:

:

:

:

:

7,166

9.4

7.6

9.0

7.1

11,060

10.2

9.0

9.2

8.3

10,784

7.1

4.9

6.0

3.7

10,955

6.1

3.7

4.7

2.1

21,591

6.4

4.4

4.3

2.6

21,875

6.6

3.1

4.2

0.3

Probate - Paper

Application submission to grant issue

Document receipt to grant issue4

Grants issued

Mean weeks

Median weeks

Mean weeks

Median weeks

:

:

:

:

:

:

46,237

9.6

8.1

9.6

8.1

43,329

7.2

4.7

7.2

4.7

38,922

6.6

4.1

6.6

4.1

34,538

6.8

4.7

6.8

4.7

38,634

6.9

5.1

6.9

5.1

32,601

7.6

6.3

7.6

6.3

Source: HMCTS Core Case Data

Notes:

1) HMCTS Core Case Data came into effect at the end of March 2019, following a transition between data systems recording information regarding the Probate Service.

2) The average timeliness figures are produced by calculating the time from application/document receipt (which may be from an earlier period) to the grant issued made in that period. Currently grants being issued on the same day as the application submission/document receipt are being calculated as 0 days. This is being reviewed as to whether it is an accurate reflection of workload and may be adjusted in future..

3) Some averages presented here may be based on a small number of grants. Where this occurs, any conclusion drawn from these will be limited..

4) Document receipt occurs after payment has been made and all accompanying paperwork has been received by HMCTS.

5) Due to quality issues in the transition between data systems, the breakdown by type of grant has not been published for Q2 2019.

6) A probate application can be stopped for several reasons: a caveat can be entered when there’s a dispute about either who can apply for probate or issues with a will or proposed will, or if an error is identified and a request for further information is made.

Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the probate service during the Covid 19 pandemic, the average waiting for a grant of probate following receipt of the documents required has been maintained at between four to six weeks.

More recent management information published by HMCTS (which does not go through the same level of quality assurance and analysis as the Family Court Statistics Quarterly) provides waiting time information up to March 2021. This shows that the waiting time on digital grant of probate applications, which are not stopped due to errors or missing documentation, has been below one week since September 2020. Similarly paper cases, not stopped, took less than three weeks on average in March 2021 compared to five weeks in March 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-management-information-march-2021

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the average time being taken for Grants of Probate to be issued; what plans he has to reduce that length of time (a) during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) permanently; and if he will make a statement.

The most recently published information regarding waiting times for a grant of probate covers April 2020 to June 2020 and is published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly (Table 26).

HMCTS increased resources in Spring 2020 in readiness of a potential increase in demand and waiting times have continued to improve despite the impact of Covid 19.

As of March 2020, all calls are now answered by the Courts & Tribunals Service Centres, which are equipped with modern technology to monitor performance levels and make improvements to the service being offered. The service can be contacted Monday to Thursday, 8am to 5pm or Friday, 8am to 4pm via:

For professional users, real time information about the progress of digital cases can be obtained via the online Probate service without the need to contact HMCTS.

The average wait for people telephoning the national Courts and Tribunal Service centre with queries relating to Probate between April 2019 to March 2020 was 2 minutes 21 seconds.

Volumes and waiting times for calls and emails have risen since March 2020, peaking at an average of 19 minutes in July 2020 but they are steadily improving, reducing to an average of 13 minutes in October 2020 and resources are being increased to meet the increased demand.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what facilities exist for solicitors, practitioners and members of the public to obtain answers to their emails and telephone queries seeking information or progress updates from the Probate Service during the covid-19 outbreak; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Probate Service in responding those inquiries; and if he will make a statement.

The most recently published information regarding waiting times for a grant of probate covers April 2020 to June 2020 and is published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly (Table 26).

HMCTS increased resources in Spring 2020 in readiness of a potential increase in demand and waiting times have continued to improve despite the impact of Covid 19.

As of March 2020, all calls are now answered by the Courts & Tribunals Service Centres, which are equipped with modern technology to monitor performance levels and make improvements to the service being offered. The service can be contacted Monday to Thursday, 8am to 5pm or Friday, 8am to 4pm via:

For professional users, real time information about the progress of digital cases can be obtained via the online Probate service without the need to contact HMCTS.

The average wait for people telephoning the national Courts and Tribunal Service centre with queries relating to Probate between April 2019 to March 2020 was 2 minutes 21 seconds.

Volumes and waiting times for calls and emails have risen since March 2020, peaking at an average of 19 minutes in July 2020 but they are steadily improving, reducing to an average of 13 minutes in October 2020 and resources are being increased to meet the increased demand.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent estimate he has made of the proportion of the prison population who are illiterate; and what steps he is taking to tackle illiteracy in the prison population.

The Department for Education publishes data on English & maths screenings undertaken when someone is received into prison. English screening data provides information on the proportion of prisoners who have very low levels of literacy. The most recent data available, for 2017/2018, can be found via the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fe-data-library-education-and-training

For English, approximately 34% of prisoners were below the level expected of an 11-year-old. These prisoners would be regarded as having a high priority level of need.

We have recently overhauled the prison education system, giving Governors control over the education budget for their prison, and have implemented two new prison education frameworks: the Prison Education Framework (PEF) and the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). Governors have the freedom to commission bespoke English education for prisoners with low levels of literacy through the PEF, aimed at addressing their high priority needs. The impact would be improvement in, for example, prisoners’ reading and writing.

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)