Mike Penning Portrait

Mike Penning

Conservative - Hemel Hempstead

First elected: 5th May 2005


Holocaust Memorial Bill Select Committee
20th Nov 2023 - 11th Dec 2023
British Sign Language Bill
9th Feb 2022 - 23rd Feb 2022
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
15th Jul 2016 - 12th Jun 2017
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Jul 2014 - 15th Jul 2016
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Jul 2014 - 15th Jul 2016
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2013 - 15th Jul 2014
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Sep 2012 - 7th Oct 2013
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) (Roads and Motoring)
17th May 2010 - 6th Sep 2012
Shadow Minister (Health)
6th Jul 2007 - 6th May 2010
Health and Social Care Committee
12th Jul 2005 - 10th Dec 2007


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Mike Penning has voted in 827 divisions, and 6 times against the majority of their Party.

4 Nov 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 308 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 516 Noes - 38
17 Jun 2020 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 104 Conservative Aye votes vs 124 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 253 Noes - 136
22 Nov 2021 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 19 Conservative No votes vs 269 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 272 Noes - 246
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 97 Conservative No votes vs 224 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 126
16 Jan 2023 - Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and in line with the House
One of 299 Conservative No votes vs 18 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 49 Noes - 482
6 Jun 2023 - Committee on Standards - View Vote Context
Mike Penning voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and against the House
One of 32 Conservative No votes vs 28 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 185 Noes - 40
View All Mike Penning 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
Maria Caulfield (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
(13 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(11 debate interactions)
Jo Churchill (Conservative)
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(68 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(26 debate contributions)
Department for Business and Trade
(15 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
British Sign Language Act 2022
(2,689 words contributed)
Building Safety Act 2022
(2,602 words contributed)
Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022
(1,708 words contributed)
Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021
(1,397 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Mike Penning's debates

Latest EDMs signed by Mike Penning

17th April 2024
Mike Penning signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 18th April 2024

Derek Underwood MBE

Tabled by: Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)
That this House acknowledges the sad passing of Kent and England cricketer Derek Underwood MBE, who represented England from 1966 until 1982; notes that he claimed 297 wickets over 86 Test match appearances at an average of 25.83, making him the sixth leading wicket taker to represent England and the …
4 signatures
(Most recent: 18 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 3
Independent: 1
24th January 2024
Mike Penning signed this EDM on Thursday 18th April 2024

Postural Tachycardia Syndrome awareness

Tabled by: Cat Smith (Labour - Lancaster and Fleetwood)
That this House notes that Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) is an autonomic nervous system abnormality where sitting, standing and exercise can cause symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, brain fog, dizziness, pain, fainting, vomiting and fatigue; recognises that many people suffer a combination of symptoms, which can be chronic …
34 signatures
(Most recent: 18 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 9
Scottish National Party: 7
Liberal Democrat: 7
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alliance: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
View All Mike Penning's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Mike Penning, 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.



Latest 50 Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2 Other Department Questions
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to reply to correspondence from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead of 4th October 2021 case number MP71787 on the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on disabled people.

I refer the Rt Hon Member to the answer to PQ 141152 on 21 March 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
16th Mar 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she will respond to correspondence from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead of 4 October 2021 on the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on disabled people, reference case number MP71787.

I apologise for the delay in responding to the Rt. Hon. Member’s correspondence. The response was sent on 17 March 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
13th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 12 July 2023 to Question 192984 on Blood: Contamination, when he plans to update the House on further interim compensation payments.

Work continues across Government to consider the recommendations in Sir Brian Langstaff's second interim report, including those relating to interim compensation payments. I remain committed to updating the House as soon as is appropriate.

7th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make it his policy to provide an immediate second interim payment to people who received infected blood and blood products in the context of the compensation arrangements relating to the infected blood inquiry.

Work is underway to consider the recommendations in Sir Brian Langstaff's second interim report, including those relating to further interim compensation payments. It is important that we give consideration to the recommendations ahead of making any announcements. I am committed to updating the House on these matters as soon as is appropriate.

18th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish the preliminary report by Sir Anthony Duff into the events outside the Libyan People’s Bureau and murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher on 17 April 1984, dated 29 April 1984.

The Cabinet Office has no plans to publish the report. As is usual in the case of records relating to security and intelligence matters, it has been retained in line with the Public Records Act 1958.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress has been made on the independent public inquiry into the Government's handling of the covid-19 pandemic, announced on 12 May 2021.

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

Further details will be set out in due course.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a list of events covered by the description other life events in Step 4 of the Covid-19 response roadmap.

References to life events in the roadmap refer to gatherings for the purposes of a ceremony, rite or ritual to mark or celebrate a significant milestone in a person’s life. This will include events such as weddings, wakes, baptisms, naming or coming of age ceremonies and stone setting ceremonies. As the Government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact by Step 4, this would enable gatherings for any purpose without the need to publish an exhaustive list of life events. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is also leading an Events Research Programme, to support the Government’s aim to remove all limits on weddings and other life events.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the importance of ensuring that expert advice is publicly accountable; and what steps he is taking to ensure that SAGE and its sub-committees can be held accountable to Members of Parliament.

The Government is committed to sharing information and data that informs decision-making. The minutes of SAGE meetings and the evidence considered by SAGE are routinely published on GOV.UK.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to include kennels and catteries in the Standard Industrial Classification codes within the Accommodation and Food Service Activities sector.

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

16th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, when she plans to respond to the correspondence from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead of 20 July 2023, followed up on 2 August, 25 September, 20 October, 2 November 2023, and 11 January 2024, reference MP79291.

The Department apologies for the severe delay the Member has experienced in this case. Timely responses to Member’s correspondence is a priority for the department, with resources being aligned to ensure the department achieves this in all cases. A full response will be issued to the Member as a matter of urgency.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
30th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if he will respond to the open letter entitled Pause giant AI experiments: an open letter.

It is important that industry voices are actively engaged in the discourse around responsible AI. British based companies, like Deepmind, are at the forefront of responsible innovation. However, it should be noted that questions have been raised regarding the veracity of some of the signatures of the open letter on Artificial Intelligence published by the Future of Life Institute (FLI). Some of the researchers whose work was cited in the letter have also apparently raised concerns. It is also important to note that the letter is not expressly targeted towards the UK or any other government.

Government recognises the need to act to adapt the way in which we regulate AI as systems become more powerful, and are put to different use. As Sir Patrick Vallance highlighted in his recent regulatory review, there is a small window of opportunity to get this right and build a regulatory regime that enables innovation while addressing the risks. Government agrees that a collaborative approach is fundamental to addressing AI risk and supporting responsible AI development and use for the benefit of society. The AI regulation white paper we published on 29 March identifies “trustworthy”, “proportionate” and “collaborative” as key characteristics of the proposed AI regulation framework.

The AI regulation white paper sets out principles for the responsible development of AI in the UK. These principles such as safety, fairness, and accountability are at the very heart of our approach to ensuring the responsible development and use of AI. We will also establish a central risk function to bring together cutting-edge knowledge from industry, regulators, academia and civil society – including skilled computer scientists with a deep technical understanding of AI - to monitor future risks and adapt our approach if necessary. This is aligned with the calls to action in FLI’s letter.

In addition, our recently announced Foundation Model Taskforce has been established to strengthen UK capability - in a way that is aligned with the UK’s values - as this potentially transformative technology develops.

The approach to AI regulation outlined in the AI regulation White Paper is also complemented by parallel work on AI Standards, supported by the AI Standards Hub launched in October 2022, and via the Centre for Data Ethics and Innvovation’s AI Assurance Roadmap, published in December 2021. In concert, our holistic approach to AI governance combining regulation with an approach to standards development and AI assurance is in line with efforts to develop shared safety protocols, and will at the same time allow the UK to benefit from AI technologies while protecting people and our fundamental values.

20th Feb 2023
To ask Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of requiring the Information Commissioner’s Office to (a) maintain a (i) central and (ii) publicly accessible repository of privacy notices providing the required Articles 13 and 14 information in the standard format and (b) challenge organisations where the information provided does not fully and clearly inform data subjects.

The UK Data Protection regime is administered and enforced independently of the government by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Article 52(1) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) requires that the Information Commissioner is to act with complete independence in performing his tasks and exercising his powers under the UK GDPR. Article 52(2) goes on to require that the Commissioner must remain free from external influence and neither seek nor take instructions from anybody when carrying out his functions under the UK GDPR. The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) sets out further detail about the governance arrangements and responsibilities of the Information Commissioner, in particular at Part 5 and Schedule 12.

The Information Commissioner is directly accountable to Parliament and reports against agreed key performance indicators to the DCMS Select Committee. The ICO-DCMS management agreement provides more information about the relationship between the ICO and DCMS, and can be found at: https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/who-we-are/relationship-with-the-dcms/.

The UK GDPR can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/eur/2016/679/contents, whilst the DPA can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/contents/enacted.

20th Feb 2023
To ask Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will take steps to require that statutory disclosures under articles 13 and 14 of the General Data Protection Regulation be presented in a standard format that (a) identifies (i) all the personal data categories processed for each purpose and (ii) the lawful basis for each purpose and (b) itemises the rights available to data subjects in each case.

Articles 13 and 14 give data subjects the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data. Article 13 and 14 already stipulate that controllers must include (i) information about the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing, and (ii) information about the rights available to the data subject in relation to their information, such as the rights of access, rectification and erasure.

Article 12 of the UK GDPR states that the information provided in Articles 13 and 14 must be provided in a ‘concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language’. Additionally, Article 12 makes provision for this information to be provided in a variety of formats, rather than a single, standard format (‘the information shall be provided in writing, or by other means, including, where appropriate, by electronic means’).

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides detailed guidance on the right to be informed. This guidance sets out that it is most effective to provide information to data subjects using a combination of different techniques including layering, dashboards, and just-in-time notices. The guidance also provides advice for controllers on what to consider when presenting this information to a data subject. This can be accessed here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/the-right-to-be-informed/

20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to maximise the potential of tidal flows on the River Severn to generate electricity from (a) barrage or (b) tidal lagoons.

The Government remains open to considering well-developed proposals for harnessing the tidal range energy in the bays and estuaries around our coastlines, including barrage schemes and other alternatives. Any such proposal would need to demonstrate strong evidence of value for money in the context of other low-carbon technologies, as well as details of its associated energy system benefits and environmental impact mitigation strategies before the Government could take a view on its potential case for support.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to increase national energy storage potential by using grid-scale batteries.

The Government is facilitating the deployment of electricity storage at all scales, including grid-scale batteries, through the joint BEIS and Ofgem Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan published in 2021.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing non-essential retail shops to run a click and collect service during the national covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

The Government recognises the importance of allowing retailers to be able continue operating during these very challenging times which is why all shops can offer click-and-collect services.

Click-and-collect allow the public to have access to goods they need quickly, where they aren’t available from retailers that can remain open and allows goods to be pre-ordered and collected without customers entering the premises, thus remaining in well ventilated spaces - which are, by definition, safer environments where transmission is less likely to occur.

7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has in place to report carbon emissions embedded in imports when reporting UK carbon emissions statistics.

The UK follows the agreed international approach for estimating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which is for countries to report the emissions produced within their territories.

The Climate Change Act defines UK emissions as being those of greenhouse gases from sources within the UK, consistent with international reporting practice.

There is no internationally agreed approach to measuring consumption emissions. Estimates of imported emissions in particular are associated with greater levels of uncertainty than estimates of UK-based territorial emissions. These emissions do not, therefore, include emissions from the manufacture of goods imported into the UK, which are reported in the country of manufacture, as this would risk double counting. Accounting for emissions produced within each country’s own border in line with international accounting standards, therefore allows for direct comparison of the UK’s emissions with other countries.

Nevertheless, the UK is at the forefront of measuring consumption emissions with statistics published annually and policies developed to reduce emissions. Emissions on a consumption basis (i.e. including emissions embedded in imports) fell by 21 per cent between 2007 and 2017, and by 3 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to prioritise and support research into covid-19 which (a) uses advanced non-animal scientific methods that are relevant to humans and (b) avoids the known issues of species differences which make the translation of animal research data to humans unreliable and can delay or prevent the availability of effective vaccines and treatments.

The Government considers that the carefully regulated use of animals in scientific research remains an important tool in the development of safe new medicines and treatments. At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs). This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) which has invested £67million in research, and works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.

With regard to specific research into Covid-19, human trials are already underway. The Government is currently funding two UK vaccine candidates; one at the University of Oxford and one at Imperial College, London. The University of Oxford began Phase 1 human safety trials on 23 April and have recently recruited healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 to take part in these trials.

Animal testing has not been skipped, however. Clinical trials of any vaccine must follow a predefined development pathway. It was agreed at the meeting of the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities, held on 18 March 2020 that it is scientifically justified to use toxicology data and clinical data collected from other trials using animals to support a first-in-human clinical trial for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. It was also agreed that data from animal disease models would be required to support Phase II clinical trials.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when she will publish the Gambling Review White Paper.

The Gambling Act Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. We will publish a white paper setting out our conclusions and next steps in the coming weeks.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will extend eligibility of the £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts and entertainment sector announced on 5 July 2020 to (a) sound system and set build providers and (b) other supply chain businesses in that sector.

The Government recognises the severe impact the pandemic has had on supply chain businesses for the events sector. Supply chain organisations were eligible for - and many were successful in securing from - the first and second rounds of Culture Recovery Funding. They are recognised as a critical part of the sector.

An announcement on the additional £300 million provided to the Culture Recovery Fund announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the recent Budget will be made in due course.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will meet with (a) the Football Association and (b) Wembley Stadium to discuss the potential of rescheduling the 2019-20 Non-league Finals Day.

The department continues to meet with the football authorities, including The Football Association (FA), on a range of matters including the return of spectators.

Coronavirus has presented many challenges for sport, and the sector’s success thus far at maintaining their competitive programmes should be commended. The FA is responsible for the scheduling of its competitions, including Non-league Finals Day, as well as preparations for the return of spectators.

Football is clearly not the same without fans, which is why we will look to get spectators back to outdoor stadiums in a safe and manageable way. We will continue to engage with the sector as we progress along the Roadmap, and look forward to welcoming spectators back to stadia across the country from step 3 of the Roadmap.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with the Betting and Gaming Council to encourage gambling firms to cease TV and radio advertising during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021 to protect people who are affected by gambling disorders at a time when they may be more susceptible to out-of-control gambling.

The government and the Gambling Commission continue to be clear that gambling operators must act responsibly during the Covid-19 period, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned operators that they must not look to exploit the situation in their adverts or marketing. In June 2020 members of the Betting and Gaming Council committed to ensure at least 20% of broadcast advertising is given over to safer gambling messaging.

The Gambling Commission has monitored gambling behaviour during the Covid-19 period and will continue to do so. Survey data published by the Commission this month indicated that 86% of those who gamble did so the same amount or less during the pandemic than they had previously. The Commission recently wrote to operators to remind them of its expectations under guidance issued in May 2020 to increase protections for those who may be at heightened risk of gambling harm. That guidance directed operators to monitor customer behaviour more closely to identify signs of potential harm, and banned mechanisms by which customers could cancel requests to withdraw money from their account.

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8th December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we have called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise. In addition, the ASA is currently consulting on proposals to further strengthen the advertising codes, including new rules to minimise the potential for gambling adverts to appeal to vulnerable people, or adversely impact them.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Betting and Gaming Council to encourage gambling firms to stop all TV and radio advertising during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown to protect people who are affected by gambling disorders.

Gambling advertising is subject to strict controls on content and placement which dictate that adverts must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people, or seek to appeal particularly to these groups. Operators who breach these rules are subject to sanction by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Gambling Commission. The ASA is currently consulting on proposals to strengthen these controls further, including new rules to minimise the potential for adverts to appeal to vulnerable people, or adversely impact them.

The government and the Gambling Commission have been clear that gambling operators must act responsibly during the Covid-19 period and the ASA has warned operators that they must not look to exploit the situation in their adverts or marketing. In June 2020 members of the Betting and Gaming Council committed to ensure at least 20% of broadcast advertising is given over to safer gambling messaging.

The Gambling Commission has monitored gambling behaviour during the Covid-19 period and will continue to do so. Survey data published by the Commission in October indicated that 84% of gamblers spent the same amount or less on gambling during lockdown (mid-March to mid-June 2020) than they had previously. The Commission updated its guidance for operators in May to increase protections for those who may be at heightened risk of gambling harm, directing operators to monitor customer behaviour more closely to identify signs of potential harm, and banning mechanisms by which customers could cancel requests to withdraw money from their account.


Ministers have regular meetings with stakeholders on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the government’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/search/transparency-and-freedom-of-information-releases?content_store_document_type=transparency&organisations%5B%5D=department-for-digital-culture-media-sport.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2020 to Question 49878 on Gyms: Coronavirus, what the evidential basis is for the decision to exclude indoor gyms from the list of premises allowed to reopen on 4 July 2020.

The government recognises the importance of returning all sectors to activity, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health. The Government is in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to restart grassroots sport and will update the public when it is deemed safe to reopening indoor sports venues and facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.

Keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with is a key way to reduce the spread of the virus. If it is not viable for a business to operate with 2m social distancing and the business has to operate at 1m social distancing additional mitigating measures need to put in place – for instance ensure customers from different household groups or support bubbles sit back-to-back, but if this is not possible, sit side-to-side.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance his Department has issued to indoor sports and leisure activity providers on the safe reopening of instructing facilities for (a) snow sports and (b) indoor rock-climbing during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Indoor sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting people to be active and the Government is committed to reopening facilities, including snow sports and indoor rock climbing facilities, as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are holding regular discussions with representatives from the leisure sector and national sports organisations to develop guidance that will support them to open their facilities in a timely and safe manner once lockdown measures are eased.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether a foundation providing financial support towards private medical cannabis prescriptions for patients where clinically appropriate would be eligible for charitable status; and if she will make a statement.

In England and Wales, an organisation is a charity if it meets a number of legal tests; namely that it is established for exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit and that it falls within the jurisdiction of the High Court regarding charities. Supporting the cost of medical treatment has long been recognised as capable of being a charitable purpose where the benefit and safety of the treatment can be demonstrated


The Charity Commission, as the independent charity regulator in England and Wales, is responsible for determining whether or not an institution is a charity and for registering those that are and which meet the legal threshold for registration


The Commission robustly assesses each application on its merits against these tests, based on the information provided in the application.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, to take steps to ensure that all pupils designated with profound and multiple learning disabilities in special education have access to (a) sub vocal phonation methods and (b) other alternative and augmentative communication devices and systems.

The department recognises the importance of providing high-quality support for this group of children with very severe needs, and the work of special schools to provide these children and their parents with education and support that helps them prepare for adulthood. The department’s ambition for Special Educational Needs policy is for all children and young people, no matter what their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are, to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

The department knows that the development of communication for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties is critical, which is why the department places a huge emphasis on its teaching in special schools. For those pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties in special schools who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are therefore not engaged in subject-specific study, the department has developed the ‘engagement model’ which is driven by a teacher assessment tool. This model has been designed to enable all pupils’ achievements and progress to be identified and celebrated, including the area of communication and interaction which is one of the four areas of need in the SEND code of practice. The model uses a holistic approach which takes into account their preferred ways of communicating, in recognition of the different barriers that each individual child can face to their communication skills.

Assistive technology (AT) such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices can remove barriers to learning for students with SEND. The department is committed to building the evidence base around the effective use of AT to ensure it understands the needs of staff and pupils. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme to increase mainstream school staff confidence with AT, the department extended the training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The department will publish the impact report in May. The department is exploring the AT support needs of staff at special schools, including those working with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and/or those using AAC.

All schools, including special schools, have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. This is particularly important in ensuring that schools are providing tailored support for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties that help with their communication.

More widely, the department is creating a new single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system for identifying and meeting needs. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, as well as guidance on when specialist provision may be more appropriate for meeting a child or young person’s needs.

As part of this, the department is developing practitioner standards to provide advice to frontline professionals, including teachers and early years staff. The practitioner standards will set out evidence-based best practice in identifying and meeting individual needs. They will cover the areas of need in the SEND code of practice, including speech, language and communication needs.

Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC) is a two year pathfinder programme being co-led by the department and NHS England, and is one of the reforms being tested in the SEND and AP Change Programme. The programme will fund innovative workforce models to identify and support children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs at an early stage and support them through universal and targeted interventions, to reduce exacerbation of need that might lead to a specialist speech and language therapy and/or Education, Health and Care plan referral.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that pupils designated with profound and multiple learning disabilities who can demonstrate use of internal language and higher intellect are given access to appropriate alternative and augmentative communication devices and systems.

The department recognises the importance of providing high-quality support for this group of children with very severe needs, and the work of special schools to provide these children and their parents with education and support that helps them prepare for adulthood. The department’s ambition for Special Educational Needs policy is for all children and young people, no matter what their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are, to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

The department knows that the development of communication for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties is critical, which is why the department places a huge emphasis on its teaching in special schools. For those pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties in special schools who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are therefore not engaged in subject-specific study, the department has developed the ‘engagement model’ which is driven by a teacher assessment tool. This model has been designed to enable all pupils’ achievements and progress to be identified and celebrated, including the area of communication and interaction which is one of the four areas of need in the SEND code of practice. The model uses a holistic approach which takes into account their preferred ways of communicating, in recognition of the different barriers that each individual child can face to their communication skills.

Assistive technology (AT) such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices can remove barriers to learning for students with SEND. The department is committed to building the evidence base around the effective use of AT to ensure it understands the needs of staff and pupils. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme to increase mainstream school staff confidence with AT, the department extended the training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The department will publish the impact report in May. The department is exploring the AT support needs of staff at special schools, including those working with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and/or those using AAC.

All schools, including special schools, have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. This is particularly important in ensuring that schools are providing tailored support for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties that help with their communication.

More widely, the department is creating a new single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system for identifying and meeting needs. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, as well as guidance on when specialist provision may be more appropriate for meeting a child or young person’s needs.

As part of this, the department is developing practitioner standards to provide advice to frontline professionals, including teachers and early years staff. The practitioner standards will set out evidence-based best practice in identifying and meeting individual needs. They will cover the areas of need in the SEND code of practice, including speech, language and communication needs.

Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC) is a two year pathfinder programme being co-led by the department and NHS England, and is one of the reforms being tested in the SEND and AP Change Programme. The programme will fund innovative workforce models to identify and support children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs at an early stage and support them through universal and targeted interventions, to reduce exacerbation of need that might lead to a specialist speech and language therapy and/or Education, Health and Care plan referral.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to tackle mismatches between the designation of profound and multiple learning disabilities for children and young people in special schools and evidence of sub vocal language identifying their comprehension as well beyond that attributed to pupils with such disabilities.

The department recognises the importance of providing high-quality support for this group of children with very severe needs, and the work of special schools to provide these children and their parents with education and support that helps them prepare for adulthood. The department’s ambition for Special Educational Needs policy is for all children and young people, no matter what their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are, to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

The department knows that the development of communication for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties is critical, which is why the department places a huge emphasis on its teaching in special schools. For those pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties in special schools who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are therefore not engaged in subject-specific study, the department has developed the ‘engagement model’ which is driven by a teacher assessment tool. This model has been designed to enable all pupils’ achievements and progress to be identified and celebrated, including the area of communication and interaction which is one of the four areas of need in the SEND code of practice. The model uses a holistic approach which takes into account their preferred ways of communicating, in recognition of the different barriers that each individual child can face to their communication skills.

Assistive technology (AT) such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices can remove barriers to learning for students with SEND. The department is committed to building the evidence base around the effective use of AT to ensure it understands the needs of staff and pupils. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme to increase mainstream school staff confidence with AT, the department extended the training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The department will publish the impact report in May. The department is exploring the AT support needs of staff at special schools, including those working with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and/or those using AAC.

All schools, including special schools, have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. This is particularly important in ensuring that schools are providing tailored support for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties that help with their communication.

More widely, the department is creating a new single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system for identifying and meeting needs. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, as well as guidance on when specialist provision may be more appropriate for meeting a child or young person’s needs.

As part of this, the department is developing practitioner standards to provide advice to frontline professionals, including teachers and early years staff. The practitioner standards will set out evidence-based best practice in identifying and meeting individual needs. They will cover the areas of need in the SEND code of practice, including speech, language and communication needs.

Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC) is a two year pathfinder programme being co-led by the department and NHS England, and is one of the reforms being tested in the SEND and AP Change Programme. The programme will fund innovative workforce models to identify and support children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs at an early stage and support them through universal and targeted interventions, to reduce exacerbation of need that might lead to a specialist speech and language therapy and/or Education, Health and Care plan referral.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to include pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities in their Education, Health and Care Plan Reviews by using sub-vocal communication methods for those who cannot access alternative and augmentative communication aids.

The department recognises the importance of providing high-quality support for this group of children with very severe needs, and the work of special schools to provide these children and their parents with education and support that helps them prepare for adulthood. The department’s ambition for Special Educational Needs policy is for all children and young people, no matter what their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are, to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

The department knows that the development of communication for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties is critical, which is why the department places a huge emphasis on its teaching in special schools. For those pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties in special schools who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are therefore not engaged in subject-specific study, the department has developed the ‘engagement model’ which is driven by a teacher assessment tool. This model has been designed to enable all pupils’ achievements and progress to be identified and celebrated, including the area of communication and interaction which is one of the four areas of need in the SEND code of practice. The model uses a holistic approach which takes into account their preferred ways of communicating, in recognition of the different barriers that each individual child can face to their communication skills.

Assistive technology (AT) such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices can remove barriers to learning for students with SEND. The department is committed to building the evidence base around the effective use of AT to ensure it understands the needs of staff and pupils. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme to increase mainstream school staff confidence with AT, the department extended the training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The department will publish the impact report in May. The department is exploring the AT support needs of staff at special schools, including those working with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and/or those using AAC.

All schools, including special schools, have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. This is particularly important in ensuring that schools are providing tailored support for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties that help with their communication.

More widely, the department is creating a new single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system for identifying and meeting needs. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, as well as guidance on when specialist provision may be more appropriate for meeting a child or young person’s needs.

As part of this, the department is developing practitioner standards to provide advice to frontline professionals, including teachers and early years staff. The practitioner standards will set out evidence-based best practice in identifying and meeting individual needs. They will cover the areas of need in the SEND code of practice, including speech, language and communication needs.

Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC) is a two year pathfinder programme being co-led by the department and NHS England, and is one of the reforms being tested in the SEND and AP Change Programme. The programme will fund innovative workforce models to identify and support children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs at an early stage and support them through universal and targeted interventions, to reduce exacerbation of need that might lead to a specialist speech and language therapy and/or Education, Health and Care plan referral.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to assess pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities who are unable to respond to existing test measures but demonstrate language development by their use of sub vocal utterances.

The department recognises the importance of providing high-quality support for this group of children with very severe needs, and the work of special schools to provide these children and their parents with education and support that helps them prepare for adulthood. The department’s ambition for Special Educational Needs policy is for all children and young people, no matter what their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are, to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

The department knows that the development of communication for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties is critical, which is why the department places a huge emphasis on its teaching in special schools. For those pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties in special schools who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are therefore not engaged in subject-specific study, the department has developed the ‘engagement model’ which is driven by a teacher assessment tool. This model has been designed to enable all pupils’ achievements and progress to be identified and celebrated, including the area of communication and interaction which is one of the four areas of need in the SEND code of practice. The model uses a holistic approach which takes into account their preferred ways of communicating, in recognition of the different barriers that each individual child can face to their communication skills.

Assistive technology (AT) such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices can remove barriers to learning for students with SEND. The department is committed to building the evidence base around the effective use of AT to ensure it understands the needs of staff and pupils. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme to increase mainstream school staff confidence with AT, the department extended the training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The department will publish the impact report in May. The department is exploring the AT support needs of staff at special schools, including those working with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and/or those using AAC.

All schools, including special schools, have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. This is particularly important in ensuring that schools are providing tailored support for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties that help with their communication.

More widely, the department is creating a new single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system for identifying and meeting needs. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, as well as guidance on when specialist provision may be more appropriate for meeting a child or young person’s needs.

As part of this, the department is developing practitioner standards to provide advice to frontline professionals, including teachers and early years staff. The practitioner standards will set out evidence-based best practice in identifying and meeting individual needs. They will cover the areas of need in the SEND code of practice, including speech, language and communication needs.

Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC) is a two year pathfinder programme being co-led by the department and NHS England, and is one of the reforms being tested in the SEND and AP Change Programme. The programme will fund innovative workforce models to identify and support children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs at an early stage and support them through universal and targeted interventions, to reduce exacerbation of need that might lead to a specialist speech and language therapy and/or Education, Health and Care plan referral.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to enable primary schools to make effective use of PE and Sport Premium funding for 2023-24.

​​On 8 March 2023, the Government announced funding to support school sport during the school day and after school, encouraging all schools to deliver a minimum of two hours of PE and sport in their timetable.

​​This funding announcement included confirmation that the PE and Sport Premium would continue for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years, providing over £600 million to primary schools in England. The Government also confirmed £22 million of further funding for the School Games Organiser network for two years, until the 2025 summer term. The Government also confirmed up to £57 million in funding for the Opening School Facilities programme which will support increased after school sport and the provision of swimming.​

​To improve accountability for the PE and Sport Premium, the Department will issue updated guidance this summer to support schools to use their PE and Sport Premium funding more effectively. In addition, a new digital tool will be introduced for schools to report more easily on their use of the PE and Sport Premium.

6th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Primary PE and Sport Premium Research Key findings published by the Youth Sport Trust in February 2023, what steps she is taking to help ensure that schools do not cut back on after-school sport and top-up swimming lessons from September.

​​On 8 March 2023, the Government announced funding to support school sport during the school day and after school, encouraging all schools to deliver a minimum of two hours of PE and sport in their timetable.

​​This funding announcement included confirmation that the PE and Sport Premium would continue for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years, providing over £600 million to primary schools in England. The Government also confirmed £22 million of further funding for the School Games Organiser network for two years, until the 2025 summer term. The Government also confirmed up to £57 million in funding for the Opening School Facilities programme which will support increased after school sport and the provision of swimming.​

​To improve accountability for the PE and Sport Premium, the Department will issue updated guidance this summer to support schools to use their PE and Sport Premium funding more effectively. In addition, a new digital tool will be introduced for schools to report more easily on their use of the PE and Sport Premium.

14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to announce PE and sport premium funding for schools for 2022-23; and if he will make a statement.

The department is considering arrangements for the primary PE and sport premium for the 2022/23 academic year and beyond. We are aware of the importance of providing schools with sufficient notice of future funding and will confirm the position as early as possible.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many moderators each examination board has employed in the academic year (a) 2020-21 compared to (b) 2018-19.

The Department recognises that head teachers and staff have worked hard over last year to support their pupils. It would not have been possible for pupils to have received their results without the commitment and expertise of head teachers, teachers and support staff.

Awarding Organisations (AOs) are responsible for setting their exam fees, including any refunds on fees this year. The AOs have been clear that they do not intend to profit from reductions in costs this year. The Department understands that AOs have made commercial decisions on fees and refunds, taking into account the range of costs they incurred as part of their processes, which led to the awarding of qualifications. We are providing approximately £25 million to schools, colleges and exam boards to help with the delivery of 2021 Teacher Assessed Grades and the autumn series. The Department confirmed that it would directly fund AOs to support them with appeals costs and any autumn series losses they make, so that in turn they could increase rebates to centres. AOs have announced their rebates levels for the 2020/21 academic year as follows: AQA 26%, OCR 42%, Pearson 33% and WJEC 42%. Further details of individual AOs’ fees and any refunds can be accessed on AOs' websites.

As AOs are independent bodies, the Department does not hold data on the number of moderators employed. The quality assurance process this year was not designed to moderate grades, but support teachers to make their professional judgements so that pupils received grades that are meaningful.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much exam boards have charged each educational establishment that falls into the exam boards criteria in the academic year 2020-21 compared to the academic year 2018-19.

The Department recognises that head teachers and staff have worked hard over last year to support their pupils. It would not have been possible for pupils to have received their results without the commitment and expertise of head teachers, teachers and support staff.

Awarding Organisations (AOs) are responsible for setting their exam fees, including any refunds on fees this year. The AOs have been clear that they do not intend to profit from reductions in costs this year. The Department understands that AOs have made commercial decisions on fees and refunds, taking into account the range of costs they incurred as part of their processes, which led to the awarding of qualifications. We are providing approximately £25 million to schools, colleges and exam boards to help with the delivery of 2021 Teacher Assessed Grades and the autumn series. The Department confirmed that it would directly fund AOs to support them with appeals costs and any autumn series losses they make, so that in turn they could increase rebates to centres. AOs have announced their rebates levels for the 2020/21 academic year as follows: AQA 26%, OCR 42%, Pearson 33% and WJEC 42%. Further details of individual AOs’ fees and any refunds can be accessed on AOs' websites.

As AOs are independent bodies, the Department does not hold data on the number of moderators employed. The quality assurance process this year was not designed to moderate grades, but support teachers to make their professional judgements so that pupils received grades that are meaningful.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the accuracy of teacher assessed grades introduced as a result of the covid-19 outbreak that are required by examination boards.

Grades were based on a range of evidence and determined by their teachers. Teachers were best placed to understand the content students have covered and their pupils’ performance in the absence of exams.

To support teachers in assessing, marking and making judgements on pupils’ work, the Joint Council for Qualifications and the exam boards published guidance, training and other support materials. Where available, exemplar answers and data on past performance were provided to centres to assist teachers with marking these questions and making fair and consistent judgements of the standard of a pupil’s performance. There was also a process for both internal and external quality assurance to support teachers and ensure consistency. Ofqual worked closely with awarding organisations to ensure robust and similar quality assurance processes were also in place for vocational and technical qualifications being awarded via Teacher Assessed Grades in 2021.

12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to announce Sports Premium funding for 2021-22.

The Department is considering arrangements for the Primary PE and sport premium for the 2021-22 academic year and will confirm the position as soon as possible.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that sustainability and climate change are taught as (a) part of the school curriculum and (b) a stand-alone subject to equip future generations with the skills and knowledge needed for the green jobs of the future.

It is vital that young people are taught about climate change. For this reason, climate change and related topics, such as sustainability, are included throughout both the science and geography curricula and GCSEs. In primary science and geography, pupils are given a firm foundation for the further study of the environment in secondary school. For example, in primary science pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. They will learn about animals’ habitats, including that changes to the environment may pose dangers to living things. In geography at primary pupils will be taught about seasonal and daily weather patterns, climate zones and human geography, including land use, economic activity, and the distribution of natural resources.

In secondary science, pupils are taught about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect this has on the climate. This is expanded on in GCSE science where pupils will consider the evidence for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change. In secondary geography pupils will look at how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments, and the climate. As part of GCSE geography, pupils will look at the causes, consequences of and responses to extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards. In 2017, we also introduced a new environmental science A level. This will enable students to study topics that will support their understanding of climate change and how it can be tackled. School and teachers can go beyond the topics set out in the National Curriculum, or do more in-depth teaching of these topic areas, if they so wish.

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to announce his next allocation of sports premium funding; and if he will make a statement.

The Government will confirm arrangements for the Primary PE and Sport Premium in the 2020/21 academic year as soon as possible. The funding for PE and school sport in the 2021/22 academic year and beyond will be considered at the forthcoming Spending Review.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 4 June 2020 to Question 51707 on Private Education: Coronavirus, whether independent schools are permitted to reopen for year 8 pupils when that is their final year before moving on to secondary education.

The Department has asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups. Where primary and middle schools have already made provision for these children and where they have capacity, they may choose to welcome back additional pupils, in line with wider protective measures. It is up to schools to decide which pupils to prioritise, based on their knowledge of their children and communities.

Where middle schools choose to invite year 8 pupils back, they should be confident they can manage this within the strict measures the Department has asked primary schools to adopt. This includes having no more than 15 pupils in a class, and maintaining consistency of these groups. This guidance covers independent schools where year 8 pupils are in their final year before moving on to another school.

20th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 18 July 2022 to Question 35899 on Fuels: Prices, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of the increase in the price of red diesel on (a) farming and (b) other agricultural businesses; and if he will make a statement.

Defra engages extensively with the farming sector and other agricultural businesses and continues to do so through various forums including the Agri-Supply Coalition and the Arable Chain Advisory Group. Through these forums, we closely monitor live issues, including the increase in the price of red diesel, and their impact on farming and other agricultural businesses. Defra also works closely with other Government departments, particularly HM Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport, to relay the information gathered from industry.

In the Spring Statement 2022 and in response to fuel prices reaching record levels, the Government announced a temporary 12-month cut to the full rate of duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre and an equivalent percentage cut on the rates for rebated fuels. This is a significant tax cut that will deliver considerable savings to consumers and businesses over the next year, including those that use diesel, and is the first time in over a decade that the main rates of petrol and diesel have been cut.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 15 July 2022 to Question 33729 on Cats and Dogs: Imports, if he will take steps to help animal rescue and rehoming organisations develop processes that meet biosecurity standards to allow those organisations to import cats and dogs from Romania whilst the ban on commercial imports remains in place.

The Government appreciates the work of rescue and rehoming organisations to ensure that unwanted and abandoned animals are given the opportunity to find a forever home whilst complying with our animal health and welfare legislation. However, this measure is important to protect our biosecurity and the health of pets in this country. We would encourage organisations which are temporarily unable to import rescue dogs, cats, and ferrets into Great Britain to provide help and assistance to animals in situ.

We are regularly engaging with the rescue sector on the impacts of the temporary safeguarding measure on the import of cats, dogs and ferrets from Romania and on options to mitigate the biosecurity risks.

14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government is taking steps to (a) help reduce (i) supermarket and (ii) other retail food waste and (b) provide an outlet so that food that would otherwise go to waste is made available to (A) food banks and (B) other means to help people in need.

The Government is investing £2.6 million this year to combat food waste through funding the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Through WRAP we work to address food waste in households and supply chains. This includes support for the Courtauld 2030 Commitment, a voluntary agreement with industry to tackle food waste, which includes a target of a 50% per capita reduction in food waste by 2030 against a 2007 baseline. Action through Courtauld includes working with businesses to measure and reduce food waste through the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and the key tool to Target Measure and Act on waste. The government is currently conducting a consultation on options to improve food waste reporting by large businesses as measuring leads to a reduction in waste.

Grant-funding provided by Defra is also facilitating an increase in the availability, capacity, and capabilities of the redistribution sector laying the foundations for increasing surplus redistribution in the future. Since 2017 nearly £12 million has been awarded to over 250 redistribution organisations across the country. This funding has provided important infrastructure such as additional warehousing, vehicles, fridges and freezers. Recent data from WRAP stated that in 2021 over 106,000 tonnes was redistributed, worth over £330 million and the equivalent of over 253 million meals; over 40000 tonnes from the retail sector alone.

Surplus food redistribution in the UK 2015 to 2021 | WRAP

We also continue to support WRAP and its work with the redistribution sector in the provision of guidance and advice and the sharing of expertise and knowledge on practical ways of increasing redistribution and helping to facilitate new partnerships.

Surplus Food Redistribution Resource Hub | WRAP

11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to give special dispensation to animal rescue charities for the commercial import of cats and dogs from (a) Belarus, (b) Poland, (c) Romania and (d) Ukraine where those charities guarantee full compliance with all health and legal requirements.

The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments have temporarily suspended the commercial import of dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain if they originate from or have been dispatched from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine, until 3 September 2022.

We appreciate the impact that the temporary suspension will have on rescue organisations that operate in these countries. However, this measure is important to protect our biosecurity and the health of pets in this country.

This decision has been taken because of the serious health risk to humans and animals in Great Britain from commercial cats, dogs and ferrets from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine that do not comply with UK health and documentation requirements.

We understand the fluid situation at present due to the crisis and are aware that Romania, Belarus and Poland are currently experiencing high volumes of animal movements from Ukraine. Movements from these countries into Great Britain therefore present a higher risk at the current time due to the flow of animals from Ukraine.

In particular, there is evidence to suggest that commercial consignments of pet animals from Ukraine are being moved into Poland, Romania and Belarus, including strays, rescue and abandoned animals.

Unlike non-commercial pets accompanying Ukrainian refugees, these animals often have unknown history and disease status which increases the risk of disease spread.

Our standards of biosecurity are among the highest in the world. The Government takes the importation of pets seriously and is committed to preserving our high standards of biosecurity. The movement of commercial pets from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine represents a clear and serious enough biosecurity risk at the current time that we therefore consider the suspension of these movements necessary to protect the health of people and pets in Great Britain.

This risk has been exacerbated further by serious cases of non-compliance. There is a history of non-compliant movements of rescue animals into Great Britain from this region, which further increases the biosecurity risk.

The Government appreciates the work of genuine rescue and rehoming organisations who work to ensure that unwanted and abandoned animals are given the opportunity to find a forever home while importantly complying with our animal health and welfare legislation. It is important to note that this is a temporary measure which will be reviewed in due course. We would encourage organisations which are temporarily unable to import rescue dogs, cats, and ferrets into Great Britain to provide help and assistance to animals in situ.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals on banning the import of foie gras as set out in his Department’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

The Government has made clear that the production of force-fed foie gras raises serious welfare concerns. Building on the opportunities presented by our departure from the EU, we are now able to actively consider any further steps that could be taken in relation to foie gras that is produced overseas using force feeding practices. We continue to gather information and speak to a range of interested parties about the issues involved, in line with the Government’s commitment to improving animal welfare standards as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. This will be used to inform our approach to the issue of force-fed foie gras.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)