Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
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).
Allow international travel to visit partners and familyGov Responded - 20 Apr 2021 Debated on - 24 May 2021 View Huw Merriman's petition debate contributions
The Government should class in-person interaction with family members and unmarried partners abroad as an essential reason to travel.
Reduce curriculum content for year 10 & 12 students who will sit exams in 2021.Gov Responded - 30 Jul 2020 Debated on - 12 Oct 2020 View Huw Merriman's petition debate contributions
A significant number of students will sit their final 2021 examinations. The outcome of which undoubtedly will be their passport, for many of their future life chances and successes. In order for this to be done fairly, it is imperative that the amount of content they are tested on is reduced.
Review the decision to use previous data to calculate exam gradesGov Responded - 4 Sep 2020 Debated on - 12 Oct 2020 View Huw Merriman's petition debate contributions
We want the Education Secretary and the Government to step in and review the exam board’s decision on how GCSE and A-Level grades will be calculated and awarded due to the current coronavirus crisis. We want a better solution than just using our previous data to be the basis of our grade.
These initiatives were driven by Huw Merriman, 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.
Huw Merriman has not been granted any Adjournment Debates
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for passengers to receive automatic compensation from travel operators in certain circumstances; to require train operators to ring-fence certain funds received from Network Rail for service disruption and planned possessions for the development of ticketing technology to facilitate the payment of automatic compensation for passengers; and for connected purposes.
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to require banks to provide cash machines to be made available on designated streets; to enable local authorities to designate streets that require cash machines in towns of more than 5,000 residents; and for connected purposes
The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
There is extensive evidence that tutoring, by trained tutors who may or may not be qualified teachers, is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress, can lead to positive impacts and can boost catch up for lost teaching time by much as 3 to 5 months.
High quality tuition is one of the fundamental principles of the NTP, and the Department has worked closely with delivery partners to ensure it can be delivered across the programme.
Whilst we recognise that the education and experience of tutors is important to the delivery of high quality tuition, even tutors with relevant qualifications will require training to ensure that delivery is in line with the model offered by the Tuition Partners’ pillar of the NTP.
Opportunities to become a NTP tutor are available through approved Tuition Partners who are responsible for recruiting, training, and deploying tutors. Further information on each of our tuition partners can be found here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/ntp-tuition-partners/ntp-approved-tuition-partners.
The SEND Code of Practice is clear that schools (and further education colleges, sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies) are required to identify and address the special educational needs (SEN) of the pupils they support and to use their best endeavours to make sure that a child or young person who has SEN gets the support that they need.
One of the ways of ensuring that children with SEN are identified and receive good support is through the work of SEN Co-ordinators (SENCOs). All schools (including academies) must have a qualified teacher designated as a SENCO. SENCOs play an essential role in schools, supporting teaching staff to meet the needs of pupils with SEN and ensuring that schools have a clear and effective approach to inclusive education.
The department recognises the importance of teachers developing and building on their awareness and understanding of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Our school-led system places the responsibility on schools to determine the training and support required by their staff to meet the needs of children with SEND, within their approach to school improvement, professional development and performance management.
The performance of all teachers in maintained schools must be assessed every year against the Teachers' Standards, which set out that teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including pupils with SEN, and that teachers must be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support their pupils.
Through our contract with nasen, we have funded the Whole School SEND consortium to produce information for families and resources for schools (including training to support teachers to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak). This activity complements their wider programme of work to equip the workforce to deliver high-quality teaching for all children with SEND, for which we have provided funding of over £6 million since 2018.
For those working with children with autism, the department has funded the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to staff in early years settings, schools and colleges. To date, the AET has trained more than 287,000 people – not just teachers and teaching assistants, but also receptionists, dining hall staff and caretakers, promoting a whole-school approach to support for pupils with autism.
Regional networks have also been established to promote the use of the training developed by the AET in schools, and we encourage schools to access this training. The AET has also developed national standards for autism support and a progression framework for those who work with children who have autism. These are available from their website at: www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk.
Ensuring working parents and carers have access to the childcare they need remains a priority for the government. That is why we ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs, and other out-of-school settings were able to continue to stay open for children eligible to attend school on-site, for the duration of the national lockdown, i.e. for critical worker children, where the provision was reasonably necessary to support them to work, undertake education or access medical care, and for vulnerable children and young people. For this reason, we have also extended the eligibility for attendance as of 8 March, in line with the wider reopening of schools on 8 March, with all parents now able to access this provision for their children for certain essential purposes, including those outlined above, with vulnerable children and young people able to continue accessing provision under any circumstance.
As set out in the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ guidance, from 29 March, in line with the Easter school holidays, out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers will also be able to offer outdoor provision to all children, without any restrictions on the purposes for which they may attend. The guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021. Indoor provision will also be available regardless of circumstance to vulnerable children and young people, as well as children eligible for free school meals, where they are attending as part of the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme. Other children will continue to be able to access indoor provision, where the provision is necessary for certain essential purposes, as already mentioned. We have updated our protective measures guidance for the sector, which outlines eligibility and aims to support providers to allow them to open for as many children as safely as possible. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
In addition to this, we have also ensured that there are several other ways that parents and carers can continue to access the childcare they need. This includes:
We have also encouraged all local authorities to consider using local grants made available to them by government to help bolster this part of the childcare sector in their areas, to safeguard sufficient childcare provision. This includes the £594 million discretionary fund for councils and the devolved administrations to support local businesses that may not have been eligible for other support during the current national lockdown, as well as funding streams such as the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, aimed to support disadvantaged children. The expanded programme, which comprises a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities, will be expanded to reach all local authority areas during the upcoming Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays this year.
However, where parents are still finding it difficult to access sufficient childcare, we recommend that they contact their local authority’s family information services. Local authorities are required by legislation to secure sufficient free early years provision and paid-for childcare places, so far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents, or parents who are studying or training for employment, for children aged 0 to 14.
Ensuring that working parents and carers have access to the childcare they need remains a priority for the government. That is why we have ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs and other out-of-school settings have been able to continue to stay open for children eligible to attend school on-site (i.e. for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people), for the duration of the national lockdown, in line with the protective measures guidance for the sector which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
We have also made clear that schools should be continuing to offer before and after-school provision for those pupils eligible to attend for on-site provision, where it is feasible for them to do so. We have provided guidance for schools to support them to resume this provision. A copy of the guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
In addition to this, we have also ensured that there are several other ways that parents and carers can continue to access the childcare they need during the national restrictions. This includes:
The welfare of companion animals remains a priority for Defra throughout the coronavirus pandemic. My Department continues to work closely with the companion animal welfare sector to understand their concerns and address how organisations that work with horses and other companion animals are affected by Covid-19.
We provide and regularly update online Government guidance for people who are responsible for horses and other animals to reflect the changing position relating to Covid-19 and to help them understand how to provide for their equine welfare. This includes clarifying what activities may be undertaken in light of restrictions in place to tackle Covid-19, such as rescue and rehoming, and also advising what people should do if they show symptoms of Covid-19, or are self-isolating, or are unable themselves to care for their horses.
We continue to hold discussions with key equine welfare organisations and want the sector to be able to continue to carry out its good work. The Government has announced various measures to support charities, including VAT deferral, paying no business rates for their shops next year and furloughing staff where possible with the Government paying a significant contribution of their wages.
The Department for Transport has published ‘Safer Transport’ guidance for operators, which helps transport organisations understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers.
The Safer Transport guidance, which is reviewed and updated regularly, includes a section on ‘Ventilation’, which suggests ways in which transport operators could ensure that a fresh air supply is consistently flowing through vehicles.
The Bus Service Improvement Plan guidance, which was published by the Department on 17 May 2021, is intended to help Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) and local bus operators develop an ambitious plan to improve bus services and access new funding, as outlined in the National Bus Strategy.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is not planning the cessation of safety checks on light trailers weighing more than 0.75 tonnes and less than 3.5 tonnes.
The DVSA is actively supporting work to help improve trailer safety. It is running checks throughout the summer to support the ‘Tow Safe for Freddie Campaign’, which has focus on caravans that tend to have greater use in this period. That campaign ends in September 2021, but the DVSA will continue with roadside checks of trailers and its broader educative work.
Highways England produces Post Opening Project Evaluation (POPE) reports ‘1 year after’ and ‘5 years after’, following the opening of a road scheme. It is currently producing: a five-year POPE report on the M1 Junctions 10 to 13; and, 1-year POPE reports on the M1 junctions 28 to 31, and M1 Junctions 32 to 35a. These are expected to be published by Summer 2021.
Highways England is not aware of any new cameras being installed on any section of the A55 near Chester that forms part of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), for which it is responsible. The A158 is operated and maintained by Lincolnshire County Council, and it would be for the Council to comment on any new cameras implemented on it.
Local authorities are free to make their own decisions about the roads under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation. They are responsible for ensuring that their actions are within the law and are accountable to local people for their decisions and their performance. Local councillors are responsible for ensuring that local decisions about street infrastructure take account of the needs and opinions of local people.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has thoroughly reviewed its processes and systems, with advice from a range of external experts, to understand further opportunities for working remotely. Consultants were commissioned but this review heavily focused on process automation for the longer term, and was not about Covid 19 and workplace safety at the DVLA.
The safety of staff is the top priority for the Department for Transport and the DVLA. Extensive safety measures have been put in place across the DVLA’s sites, in accordance with, and sometimes going beyond, all relevant Welsh government advice. These include enhanced cleaning, social distancing and leasing an additional building, which is now in use. The DVLA continues to work closely with the local environmental health team and Public Health Wales.
On the 25th of February we published the Government response to the consultation paper “Introducing E10 petrol”. This paper both announces the introduction of E10 petrol in the standard 95-octane petrol grade by 1 September 2021 and reaffirms our commitment to ensure E5 remains available for owners of older vehicles that are not compatible with E10. To further mitigate concerns around vehicle compatibility, and to aid the public in adjusting to this change, we have also published guidance for motorists on E10 petrol and developed an online E10 vehicle compatibility tool.
Further to extensive consultation, E5 will remain available at the higher-octane super grade. The Department has taken the needs and concerns of classic car users into consideration in developing these policy proposals and understands that many owners of classic cars already use the higher-octane option. It would also remain open to fuel retailers to sell ethanol free super grade petrol; whether they choose to do so is a commercial decision. As such the introduction of E10 should not affect the economic viability of businesses that hire out classic cars, nor given the continued availability of E5 will this change impact the operation or safety of classic cars.
There are now eight specialist centres in operation across England to provide services for women with complications of mesh inserted for urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse. NHS England and NHS Improvement will announce the location of a provider in the south west in due course.
The recommendation of the establishment of specialist centres for those impacted by medication taken during pregnancy remains under careful consideration. We will respond to the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review report in full this year.
The current member contribution structure in the NHS Pension Scheme has been in place since 1 April 2015. The NHS Pension Scheme is a mutual scheme for the benefit of the National Health Service workforce, and the contribution structure is designed to cover the average 9.8% employee contribution towards the cost of the generous benefits provided to members.
The NHS Pension Scheme Advisory Board, a statutory body made up of employer and staff representatives, has been asked to make recommendations on the future structure of employee contributions to be implemented from 1 April 2022. The Department expects to consult on proposals for changes to the employee contribution rate structure during 2021, following consideration of those recommendations.
To protect jobs, pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused next year, with the exception of those on lower incomes and NHS workers. The NHS Pay Review Body will report next year and the Government will take their recommendations into account in setting Agenda for Change pay, which includes nurses.
The Government is deeply concerned by the continuing attacks on media freedom in Belarus. There have been more than 400 reported incidents of persecution of media figures in Belarus. The Government has repeatedly called on Belarus to release journalists who have been arbitrarily detained and hold to account those responsible for attacks on journalists, including the case of Mr Aliaksandrau. The Government has increased financial support to independent media organisations in Belarus and condemns the actions of the Belarusian authorities in international fora. I spoke out on Belarus at the UN Security Council (Arria Forum) on 11 January. As co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, the UK was joined by 25 other nations in a statement, which condemns the authorities actions against journalists in Belarus and which highlights the plight of Mr Aliaksandrau.
Although the supply of staff is generally standard rated, in order to keep costs down for older people, the supply of sheltered housing schemes is exempt from VAT, meaning no VAT is charged to the final consumer
Going further would come at a cost to the Exchequer and must be viewed in the context of over £50 billion of relief requests from VAT since the EU referendum. VAT makes a significant contribution to the public finances, raising about £130 billion in 2019/20, and helps to fund key spending priorities including on health, schools, and defence. Given this, there are no current plans to change the VAT treatment of supplies of staff.
The Government is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the transition towards electric vehicles and the phase out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will make a vital contribution to this.
The interim Net Zero Review report in December last year highlighted that structural changes in the economy related to net zero will have fiscal implications. Much of the revenue from fossil fuel-based taxes is likely to be eroded during the transition to a net zero economy. However, there is currently a high level of uncertainty regarding the effect on receipts.
As we move forward with this transition, the Government will need to ensure that revenue from motoring taxes keeps pace with this change, so that the Government can continue to fund the first-class public services and infrastructure that people and families across the UK expect.
The CJRS is designed to protect jobs and to keep people in employment. Where employers must make redundancies, they should do so in accordance with the normal rules and with contractual obligations. This includes giving a notice period and consulting staff before a final decision is reached.
Employers may continue to claim under the scheme for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period subject to eligibility based on contact of employment.
At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Government took unprecedented action to protect tenants from eviction by ensuring no one could be evicted from their homes as a result of the pandemic.
The Master of the Rolls working party, of which HMCTS are members, has introduced robust measures to ensure that HMCTS can deal with the backlog of cases to provide access to justice for landlords while protecting the most vulnerable.
These arrangements include improvement in the signposting and guidance for landlords and tenants, the introduction of a review process to allow early engagement between parties and provisions for possession hearings to take place in a safe way.
Abortion services are now a matter for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.
I am pleased that some service provision has commenced through existing sexual and reproductive health services in the Belfast, Northern and Western Trust areas. Information on these services is available through the Informing Choices NI helpline and the Central Booking Service.
I hope that longer-term services can be commissioned as soon as possible in the current circumstances, consistent with the Regulations we made.
The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 which were laid in March have now been replaced with the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 , which were laid in the House today. These regulations come into effect on 14th May and revoke the earlier regulations. Their legal effect in supporting the provision of services remains consistent, with a small correction having been made to address the concerns of the JCSI, so services can continue on the same basis.