Owen Thompson Portrait

Owen Thompson

Scottish National Party - Midlothian

SNP Chief Whip

(since March 2021)
European Statutory Instruments Committee
10th Feb 2020 - 25th May 2021
Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)
27th Jan 2020 - 25th May 2021
Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)
27th Jan 2020 - 25th May 2021
Committee of Selection
15th Jan 2020 - 25th May 2021
SNP Whip
7th Jan 2020 - 9th Mar 2021
SNP Whip
20th May 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Committee of Selection
17th Jun 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Select Committee Meeting
Monday 1st November 2021
16:00
Procedure Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Voting by proxy
1 Nov 2021, 4 p.m.
At 4.15pm: Oral evidence
Tracey Crouch MP
Amy Callaghan MP
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Monday 8th November 2021
16:00
Procedure Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Voting by proxy
8 Nov 2021, 4 p.m.
At 4.15pm: Oral evidence
Sir Bernard Jenkin MP
Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP
View calendar
Division Votes
Friday 22nd October 2021
Prayers
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 8 Scottish National Party No votes vs 1 Scottish National Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 3 Noes - 336
Speeches
Tuesday 19th October 2021
High Streets

I thank the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) for securing this debate. It is a great opportunity for …

Written Answers
Wednesday 27th October 2021
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to his Answer of 13 July 2021 …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 27th October 2021
Loanhead girl's skipping challenge for the National Deaf Children's Society
That this House congratulates Charlotte Hinton on completing her challenge to skip 1000 times a day for 10 days to …
Bills
Wednesday 20th January 2021
Ministerial Interests (Emergency Powers) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require a Minister to make an oral statement to Parliament if a contract is awarded under emergency …
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
30 December 2019, received salary of £1,020.98 from the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP, for work done as staff of …
EDM signed
Tuesday 26th October 2021
Scottish Interfaith Week 2021 and COP26 vigil
That this House welcomes the range of events and activities planned to mark Scottish Interfaith Week 2021, which takes place …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Owen Thompson has voted in 205 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Owen Thompson Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(44 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(15 debate interactions)
Steve Barclay (Conservative)
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
(9 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(34 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(31 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(21 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Owen Thompson's debates

Midlothian Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with highest Midlothian signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

In light of the recent outbreak and lock down, those on maternity leave should be given 3 extra months paid leave, at least. This time is for bonding and social engaging with other parents and babies through baby groups which are vital for development and now everything has been cancelled.


Latest EDMs signed by Owen Thompson

27th October 2021
Owen Thompson signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Wednesday 27th October 2021

Loanhead girl's skipping challenge for the National Deaf Children's Society

Tabled by: Owen Thompson (Scottish National Party - Midlothian)
That this House congratulates Charlotte Hinton on completing her challenge to skip 1000 times a day for 10 days to raise money for the National Deaf Children’s Society; understands that Charlotte, 10 years old, is a member of 1st Loanhead Brownies and devised the challenge to earn her Charities Badge; …
1 signatures
(Most recent: 27 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 1
26th October 2021
Owen Thompson signed this EDM on Tuesday 26th October 2021

Death and recognition of Walter Smith OBE

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House expresses its deep sorrow at the death of Rangers Football Club legend, and one of the great modern day football managers, Walter Smith OBE; recognises Walter's extraordinary contribution to Scottish football, both as a manager and as a player, beginning his playing career at Dundee United in …
39 signatures
(Most recent: 27 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 31
Labour: 4
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Liberal Democrat: 1
Independent: 1
View All Owen Thompson's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Owen Thompson, 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.


Owen Thompson has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Owen Thompson has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Owen Thompson


A Bill to require a Minister to make an oral statement to Parliament if a contract is awarded under emergency statutory powers to a person in whom, or a company in which, a Minister has a personal, political or financial interest.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 20th January 2021
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make provision about controls on the transportation of nuclear weapons.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 20th January 2016

Owen Thompson has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


450 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
11 Other Department Questions
15th Oct 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to help ensure that developed nations meet the commitment to create a $100 billion annual fund for lower income countries to tackle climate change.

COP26 needs to deliver for all countries, including the most climate vulnerable. This is why developed countries’ commitment to jointly mobilise $100 billion of climate finance a year is critically important; it helps developing countries raise their climate ambition and supports their transition.

Through the UK’s COP26 and G7 Presidencies, we have been pushing developed countries to meet existing commitments and come forward with ambitious post-2020 climate finance pledges, to achieve the $100 billion a year goal. We have seen progress. I have asked Germany and Canada to lead on the development of a Delivery Plan which sets out how donor countries will meet the goal; the intention is for this to be published ahead of the COP. I urge countries which have yet to commit, or who are looking to increase their existing commitments, to do so now.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the international communities that are worst affected by climate change are involved in designing the (a) mitigation and (b) adaptation solutions supported by the $100 billion climate fund.

The UK is ensuring a large majority of our own international climate finance is grant-based. We are pressing other donor countries for similarly ambitious commitments. Under our G7 Presidency, the G7 committed to scaling up adaptation finance, and we have seen concrete new individual pledges from Canada, Japan, the US, and Denmark in recent months to this effect.

The UK has committed to delivering a balance through our scaled up ICF and has launched - with other bilateral donors Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark - a Champions Group on Adaptation Finance, with a commitment to deliver a balance of adaptation in climate finance, in response to calls from developing countries. Since launching, Finland and Germany have joined.

Finance needs to be accessible, particularly for the most marginalised communities. Locally led adaptation is a central priority for the COP26 Presidency, amplifying the calls for greater support for locally led action, and also addressing the barriers that restrict and prevent finance flowing to the local level. Locally led adaptation means communities are directly involved in the design of the solutions.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what impact assessment has been undertaken of the potential effect of the end of the £20 universal credit standard allowance uplift on local government budgets throughout the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and people’s livelihoods. This includes continually supporting individuals and businesses.

The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19.

Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a Covid support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced with the success of the vaccine rollout. Now the economy is reopening and as we continue to progress with our recovery our focus is on helping people back into work.

Any extension to the uplift or further Covid support is a matter for HMT.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to answer Questions 95141, 95142 and 95143 tabled on 24 September 2020 by the hon. Member for Midlothian.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer to PQs 95141 and 95143 and my answer to PQ 95142.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the differential treatment of maternity allowance in the calculation of universal credit awards.

As has been the case under successive administrations, details of internal policy discussions are not routinely disclosed.

The Government is determined to do more to ensure pregnant women and new mothers are not disproportionately affected by redundancy. The Government has committed to extend the statutory redundancy protection which a mother currently enjoys while on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave for a period for six months following a return to work. BEIS will bring these measures forward as soon as there is an appropriate opportunity.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when her Departments plans to publish the Government's response to the Government Equalities Office consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, which concluded on 2 October 2019.

The Government consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace focussed on ensuring that laws to protect people from harassment at work are operating effectively.

We are considering the responses we received and will publish our response to this consultation in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when they plan to (a) review and (b) bring forward new proposals on the legislative framework for electoral law.

The Government has welcomed the Law Commissions’ Electoral Law report. The Government will consider the issues raised in the report in conjunction with its wider programme of electoral integrity reforms, and will respond fully in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress he has made on the Defending Democracy programme announced on 22 July 2019; and what plans he has to publish a report on that programme.

The Government takes the integrity and security of our democratic processes very seriously and has welcomed the Law Commissions’ Electoral Law report.

As we have previously set out, Defending Democracy brings together work and expertise in this space and to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach. This is to safeguard against future risks, strengthen our resilience and ensure that the regulatory framework is as effective as possible.

The Government regularly engages with a range of stakeholders as part of this work, including regulators, civil society organisations and others.

Publications and announcements will be made in the usual way.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Written Statement of 22 July 2019, Cabinet Office update, HCWS1772, what consultation the Government has undertaken on electoral integrity as part of the Defending Democracy programme; and which stakeholders that programme has engaged with.

The Government takes the integrity and security of our democratic processes very seriously and has welcomed the Law Commissions’ Electoral Law report.

As we have previously set out, Defending Democracy brings together work and expertise in this space and to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach. This is to safeguard against future risks, strengthen our resilience and ensure that the regulatory framework is as effective as possible.

The Government regularly engages with a range of stakeholders as part of this work, including regulators, civil society organisations and others.

Publications and announcements will be made in the usual way.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Government plans to respond to the final report from the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commision on Electoral Law, published on 17 March 2020.

The Government takes the integrity and security of our democratic processes very seriously and has welcomed the Law Commissions’ Electoral Law report.

As we have previously set out, Defending Democracy brings together work and expertise in this space and to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach. This is to safeguard against future risks, strengthen our resilience and ensure that the regulatory framework is as effective as possible.

The Government regularly engages with a range of stakeholders as part of this work, including regulators, civil society organisations and others.

Publications and announcements will be made in the usual way.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, which recommendations from the Review into the Development and Use of Supply Chain Finance (and Associated Schemes) in Government Part 2: Recommendations and Suggestions, published on 5 August 2021, the Government plans to implement.

I refer the Honourable member to the answer to PQ56701.

The Government notes the work of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs and Treasury Committees, as well as the forthcoming Standards Matter 2 report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Once these reports have been published, we will consider their work alongside Mr Boardman’s recommendations and set out a substantive Government policy statement to Parliament in due course.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the oral statement by the Paymaster General of 16 September 2021 on Brexit: Opportunities, Official Report, column 1148, what (a) tests or (b) decision-making frameworks the Government plans to put in place before taking the decision to alter or replace retained EU legislation.

The Cabinet Office will lead this review, working with departments across Whitehall and a range of stakeholders.

The Government is committed to high standards of workers’ rights and environmental protections. The initiative referred to by the hon. Member is about ensuring that we have a regulatory environment which is the right fit for the UK as an independent nation.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the oral statement by the Paymaster General of 16 September 2021 on Brexit: Opportunities, Official Report, column 1148, whether retained environmental standards legislation will be reviewed.

The Cabinet Office will lead this review, working with departments across Whitehall and a range of stakeholders.

The Government is committed to high standards of workers’ rights and environmental protections. The initiative referred to by the hon. Member is about ensuring that we have a regulatory environment which is the right fit for the UK as an independent nation.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the oral statement by the Paymaster General of 16 September 2021 on Brexit: Opportunities, Official Report, column 1148, whether retained workers' rights legislation will be reviewed.

The Cabinet Office will lead this review, working with departments across Whitehall and a range of stakeholders.

The Government is committed to high standards of workers’ rights and environmental protections. The initiative referred to by the hon. Member is about ensuring that we have a regulatory environment which is the right fit for the UK as an independent nation.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what consultation was undertaken with members of the legal profession ahead of the Government’s announcement that it will review retained EU law.

The Cabinet Office will lead this review, working with departments across Whitehall and a range of stakeholders.

The Government is committed to high standards of workers’ rights and environmental protections. The initiative referred to by the hon. Member is about ensuring that we have a regulatory environment which is the right fit for the UK as an independent nation.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to reform parliamentary scrutiny of procurement within the broader reforms proposed in the Green Paper on Transforming Public Procurement, published in December 2020.

In the Green Paper, we propose embedding transparency by default throughout the commercial lifecycle, which will enable greater scrutiny of public procurement activity. Following the analysis of responses to the Green Paper consultation, the Government will table a Procurement Reform Bill which will be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from (A) August 2020 to (B) December 2020.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data(opens in a new tab).

We work closely across all four nations to ensure that our communication activity reaches the intended audiences effectively.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from (A) August 2020 to (B) December 2020.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

We work closely across all four nations to ensure that our communication activity reaches the intended audiences effectively.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate his Department has made of the additional costs to (a) businesses in (i) Midlothian and (ii) Scotland and (b) British exporters to Northern Ireland of trading arrangements made as a result of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill.

This is the first free trade agreement the EU has ever reached based on zero tariffs and zero quotas. The Agreement ensures there will be zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, where goods meet the relevant rules of origin, and includes provisions to facilitate trade and address non-tariff barriers for UK exports to the EU and vice versa. This will benefit businesses across the UK.

On the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the UK-EU Joint Committee agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol complements the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure trade is as streamlined as possible and minimises burdens for businesses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to ensure that all new procurements take account of social value.

Through our work to extend the use of the Social Value Act we will ensure that all major central government procurements will, where appropriate, explicitly evaluate social value.

In terms of the Government's approach to procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic, I refer to the answers I gave in Cabinet Office oral questions on 17 December.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether it is Government policy that personal connections may play a formal role in the awarding of contracts during a procurement process.

Through our work to extend the use of the Social Value Act we will ensure that all major central government procurements will, where appropriate, explicitly evaluate social value.

In terms of the Government's approach to procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic, I refer to the answers I gave in Cabinet Office oral questions on 17 December.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of requiring (a) Ministers, (b) civil servants and (c) Special advisors to declare potential sources of (i) influence or (ii) conflict of interest from foreign states.

The Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code (including the Civil Service Management Code), and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers set out the requirements on declaring and managing conflicts of interest. The various Codes are published on GOV.UK.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies of the Electoral Reform Society’s Democracy in the Dark: Digital Campaigning in the 2019 General Election and Beyond report.

The Government is committed to upholding and protecting the integrity of elections. We are taking forward a programme of work that will strengthen and update the UK’s electoral regulation to ensure it is fit for the modern age; provides a robust framework for campaign finance; and supports public confidence in our processes.

We have already launched a consultation on digital imprints which will require political parties, campaigners and others to clearly show who they are when promoting campaign content online. We continue to work closely with social media companies, and welcome steps they have taken to improve transparency.

Across all of this work the intention is to improve transparency to ensure voters can make informed choices, and to enforce spending rules that ensure an even playing field. Policy or political arguments which can be rebutted by rival campaigners or an independent free press as part of the normal course of political debate are not regulated.The Government does not support creating a regime which would seek to police the accuracy or truthfulness of content.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans the Government has to further empower voters to access information on online adverts by non-party campaign groups.

The Government is committed to upholding and protecting the integrity of elections. We are taking forward a programme of work that will strengthen and update the UK’s electoral regulation to ensure it is fit for the modern age; provides a robust framework for campaign finance; and supports public confidence in our processes.

We have already launched a consultation on digital imprints which will require political parties, campaigners and others to clearly show who they are when promoting campaign content online. We continue to work closely with social media companies, and welcome steps they have taken to improve transparency.

Across all of this work the intention is to improve transparency to ensure voters can make informed choices, and to enforce spending rules that ensure an even playing field. Policy or political arguments which can be rebutted by rival campaigners or an independent free press as part of the normal course of political debate are not regulated.The Government does not support creating a regime which would seek to police the accuracy or truthfulness of content.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to introduce further means of (a) scrutinising and (b) regulating online adverts by non-party campaign groups.

The Government is committed to upholding and protecting the integrity of elections. We are taking forward a programme of work that will strengthen and update the UK’s electoral regulation to ensure it is fit for the modern age; provides a robust framework for campaign finance; and supports public confidence in our processes.

We have already launched a consultation on digital imprints which will require political parties, campaigners and others to clearly show who they are when promoting campaign content online. We continue to work closely with social media companies, and welcome steps they have taken to improve transparency.

Across all of this work the intention is to improve transparency to ensure voters can make informed choices, and to enforce spending rules that ensure an even playing field. Policy or political arguments which can be rebutted by rival campaigners or an independent free press as part of the normal course of political debate are not regulated.The Government does not support creating a regime which would seek to police the accuracy or truthfulness of content.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to implement the ten key recommendations of the Electoral Reform Society’s Democracy in the Dark: Digital Campaigning in the 2019 General Election and Beyond report.

The Government is committed to upholding and protecting the integrity of elections. We are taking forward a programme of work that will strengthen and update the UK’s electoral regulation to ensure it is fit for the modern age; provides a robust framework for campaign finance; and supports public confidence in our processes.

We have already launched a consultation on digital imprints which will require political parties, campaigners and others to clearly show who they are when promoting campaign content online. We continue to work closely with social media companies, and welcome steps they have taken to improve transparency.

Across all of this work the intention is to improve transparency to ensure voters can make informed choices, and to enforce spending rules that ensure an even playing field. Policy or political arguments which can be rebutted by rival campaigners or an independent free press as part of the normal course of political debate are not regulated.The Government does not support creating a regime which would seek to police the accuracy or truthfulness of content.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will (a) issue guidance to the general public and (b) make a public announcement advising people living in England not to enter Scotland in order to help contain the spread of covid-19.

The Government will not be issuing such guidance. It is important that people travelling to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland adhere to the laws and guidelines of the relevant devolved administrations at all times.

We will continue to confront the virus as one United Kingdom, but as the virus may be spreading at different speeds across the UK, measures may need to change in different ways and on different timetables.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 4 June 2020 to Question 52215, in what respect the conduct of Special Adviser Mr Dominic Cummings was in his official role during his trips to (a) Durham from March 27 2020 and (b) Barnard Castle on April 12 2020.

On 24 May, the Prime Minister explained that Dominic Cummings had given him a full account of his actions and the reasons for his decisions.

The Prime Minister asked Mr Cummings to repeat his account to the public on 25 May.

This was in the context of allegations surrounding Mr Cummings’ conduct in his role as special adviser to the Prime Minister.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement of 8 June by my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister, published on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-minister-message-on-black-lives-matter

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether Special Adviser Dominic Cummings sought advice from his Department on the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers in advance of making a public statement on 25 May 2020.

The Prime Minister authorised Mr Cummings’ statement to the media of 25 May, in accordance with paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

The Cabinet Secretary has set out that as the event related to his conduct in his official role, it was considered appropriate for the No 10 Press Office to facilitate it on Government premises.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether Dominic Cummings media appearance on 25 May 2020 was in breach of clause 14 of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

The Prime Minister authorised Mr Cummings’ statement to the media of 25 May, in accordance with paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

The Cabinet Secretary has set out that as the event related to his conduct in his official role, it was considered appropriate for the No 10 Press Office to facilitate it on Government premises.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to his Answer of 13 July 2021 to Question 29853, on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, when he plans to publish the Government’s evaluation of the covid-19 loan guarantee schemes.

The British Business Bank has commissioned a multi-year evaluation of the Covid-19 loan schemes, comprising process, impact and economic evaluations.

Reports will be published in due course in line with usual government guidelines. The exact timings will depend on how the evaluation progresses. It is expected that results will be published early in each year from 2022 to 2024.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what provision has been made in Treasury accounts for the potential exercising of its Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme guarantee.

Provisions for guarantee claims by lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme are made in the accounts of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is because the guarantees are issued in the name of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Potential losses arising from these two schemes are referenced in the Department’s 2019/20 Annual Report and Accounts as items arising after the reporting period. Accounting provision for potential future losses will be made in the Department’s 2020/21 Annual Report and Accounts, which will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the (a) current and (b) estimated rate of default amongst (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme borrowers.

Estimates of potential guarantee claims by lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) were provided in the Department’s 2019/20 Annual Report and Accounts.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of default rates amongst (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme borrowers in its accounting calculations.

Estimates of potential guarantee claims by lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) were provided in the accounts of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for 2019/20. These estimates were in the range of 10-25% for CBILS and 35-60% for BBLS. Accounting provision for losses and potential future losses will be made in the Department’s 2020/21 accounts, which will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the cost of household insulation in the context of rising energy prices and the climate emergency.

The Energy Company Obligation has already installed 3.3 million measures in 2.3 million homes. Government is increasing the amount energy suppliers invest in energy efficiency measures for low-income households and recently consulted on a successor scheme ECO until 2026, boosting its value from £640 million to £1 billion a year. This will help an extra 305,000 families with green measures such as insulation, with average energy bill savings of around £300 a year.

The Government is also working to catalyse attractive and affordable green home finance to support homeowners to improve the energy performance of their homes. Government has consulted on proposals for mortgage lenders to improve the energy performance of homes they lend to and will publish a Government Response in due course.

The Government is also expanding its funding commitment for both the Home Upgrade Grant scheme and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund with up to £950m and £800m respectively over the next three years.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what targets exist for the delivery of geothermal heat projects in order to help meet the UK's net zero emissions target.

The Government supports the development of geothermal projects provided it can be done at an acceptable cost to consumers. The most promising use of geothermal energy in the UK is for heat applications such as in district heating network schemes. The Government is supporting the development of low carbon heat networks and thereby building the UK’s capability to harness heat from sources such as geothermal energy. Electricity generated from geothermal heat is able to be included in the Contracts for Difference scheme.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help protect areas at higher altitudes from the effects of coronal mass ejections from the sun.

On 27th September 2021, the Government published the Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy. This sets out a 5-year roadmap to enhance our understanding of severe space weather, its impacts and the UK’s ability to forecast events and recover from them quickly.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what lessons have been learned on the United Kingdom’s preparedness to coronal mass ejections from the sun from the solar flare on 11 October 2021.

There were no reported impacts to UK infrastructure caused by the solar flare and subsequent Geomagnetic Storm on the 11 October 2021.

The Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre had forecast the event and issued accurate warnings. The impacts of this event were as expected, which helps strengthen the existing assessment, that this type of event would have negligible impacts on the UK.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what effects the solar flare on 11 October 2021 had on UK infrastructure.

There were no reported impacts to UK infrastructure caused by the solar flare and subsequent Geomagnetic Storm on the 11 October 2021.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to develop a specific geothermal strategy to support and promote development of geothermal energy extraction projects across the UK.

The Government supports the development of geothermal projects provided it can be done at an acceptable cost to consumers. The most promising use of geothermal energy in the UK is for heat applications such as in district heating network schemes. The Government are supporting the development of low carbon heat networks and thereby building a capability to harness heat from sources such as geothermal energy. Electricity generated from geothermal heat is able to bid into the Contracts for Difference scheme.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders are not required to notify the British Business Bank of the repayment of loans.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders are not specifically required to notify the British Business Bank of loan repayments. This is because, at the time the scheme was launched, a decision was taken to streamline administrative burdens on lenders to allow them to concentrate resources on processing the large number of applications from businesses.

However, lenders do have an overarching duty to ensure that accurate records are kept, and loans that have reached maturity are automatically removed from the Bank’s web based reporting tool.

Further information related to loan repayments for the Government’s Covid-19 loan schemes will be included in the Department’s 2020-21 Annual Report and Accounts, to be published in due course

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the number of people who will be repaying (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme debt during retirement.

The Government’s Covid-19 loan schemes have provided a lifeline to millions of businesses across the UK – helping them survive the pandemic and protecting millions of jobs. As of 31 May 2021, over £26 billion has been lent through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme, and over £47 billion has been lent through the Bounce Back Loan scheme, for a total of nearly £74 billion.

Age is classed as personal data which is not held by the British Business Bank. Where loans have been taken out by companies, it is those companies that are responsible and any liability remains with the company entity, not individuals.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment the Government has made of the resilience of (a) power grids and (b) internet infrastructure against coronal mass ejections from the sun.

The Government works closely with infrastructure operators to ensure that the impacts of a severe space weather event are well understood, and the appropriate steps are taken to ensure the sector’s preparedness for major space weather events.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to tackle supply chain delays and disruptions to industrial supply chains as a result of the (a) covid-19 outbreak and (b) UK's departure from the EU.

The Government is committed to supporting UK manufacturing businesses and recognises the vital role they play in the UK economy, by driving innovation, exports, job creation and productivity growth. Successful resolution of supply chain pressures will be a joint effort between industry and Government, and we will continue to engage with other departments to find practical solutions to these challenges, which are not unique to the UK.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 13 July 2021 to Question 29853 on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, what the timeframe is for the Government’s evaluation of the covid-19 loan guarantee schemes.

The Government continues to progress its evaluation of the Covid-19 loan guarantee schemes, which will include an assessment of delivery processes, impacts and value for money.

The full results of the evaluation will be finalised after 3 years when we will have enough data and experience to measure the impact of the loan schemes on business outcomes. Within that there will be annual reports to share emerging findings, although the exact timings of these dependent on how the evaluation progresses operationally. We intend to have published results no later than Q1 of each year up until 2024.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what ongoing data his Department is collecting on repayment rates for the (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme debt.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme lenders are required to notify the British Business Bank of any prepayment or repayment of a Scheme Facility via the Bank’s dedicated online portal. This reporting includes data such as the number of borrowers who have repaid their loan in full, and the number of borrowers who have taken up ‘Pay as you Grow’ measures.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders may, but are not required to, notify the British Business Bank of repayment of loans through this same portal.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) borrowers asking their lenders to restructure or refinance their CBILS debt on those borrowers' credit ratings.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) operates as a delegated scheme and lenders are expected to follow their commercial process when assessing restructure/refinance requests. It is also up to the lender to determine how this would impact a customer’s credit rating in line with their own standard policies.

Following a Government announcement last year, CBILS lenders are able to extend the repayment period for CBILS facilities where this is needed, to a maximum of 10 years. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders, and for forbearance purposes only.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance the Government has issued to (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme private lenders on borrowers seeking to refinance or restructure their debt.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme are delegated schemes, so it is for lenders to manage relationships with their borrowers. Lenders are expected to follow their normal commercial process when assessing restructure/refinance requests.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment has he made of the impact of repayment arrangements for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme debt on businesses.

Many businesses have already begun paying off their Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facility. While the Government covers the interest due on CBILS loans for the first twelve months of the loan, repayments of capital are required during this period unless the lender chooses to grant additional forbearance measures.

The Government have amended the CBILS rules to allow lenders to extend loan terms from six to a maximum of ten years where the borrower is in difficulty and where the lender judges that an extension would help their situation. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders, and any business concerned about their ability to repay their finance should discuss this with their lender in the first instance.

The British Business Bank is participating in the Government’s evaluation of the Covid-19 loan guarantee schemes, which will include an assessment of delivery processes, impacts and value for money.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the outcome of the meeting on 21 June 2021 between the mineworkers' pension scheme trustees and the Minister of State.

My meeting with Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme Trustees on 21 June was helpful in enabling me to understand their views of the future of the Scheme.

I responded to the Select Committee’s report on 28 June and the Committee has now published that response.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to incentivise (a) investment in and (b) development of deep geothermal energy projects.

The Government believes that geothermal energy has an important role in the United Kingdom’s transition towards net-zero, particularly in the decarbonisation of heat. The most promising use of geothermal energy in the UK is in district heating schemes, also known as heat networks.

The Government has been supporting the deployment of heat networks powered by geothermal energy. Geothermal projects can seek capital funding from the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) (2018-2022) and as part of the project we have funded a £3.5m to an innovative Colchester shallow geothermal network. In terms of future support, we are currently considering geothermal energy as a low carbon technology to be within scope of our new £270m Green Heat Network Fund (2022-2025). The eligibility criteria for the fund were the subject of our consultation which closed on 29th January this year, and the response will be published in due course.

Finally, to encourage investment and drive costs down, the Government has funded £31m to the UK Geoenergy Observatories which will provide world-class infrastructure for a wide range of geoenergy related research. This research facility aims to attract leading geothermal scientists and engineers from all over the world, and the knowledge, expertise and technology generated from this research will propel the UK to becoming a leader in this field.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has had discussions with representatives of the Coal Authority on the (a) feasibility and (b) potential merits of extracting geothermal energy from mine water in abandoned mines.

I can confirm that we are in close contact with the Coal Authority and that we see working with them to develop energy from mine water as essential to decarbonising the UK’s heating systems.

Heating and hot water make up around 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and nearly a third of the UK greenhouse gas emissions. Around 25% of UK homes are situated in the former coalfields and since the water in the now flooded mines is geothermally heated Around 25% of UK homes are situated in the former coalfields, the Coal Authority estimates there is sufficient energy in the geothermal water found in former coal mines to heat all of the homes on the coalfields.

Depending on the depth from which the water is extracted, the temperature varies from 21 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. Where mine water reaches the surface, the heat can be extracted through a heat pump and transmitted through heat networks to both industrial and domestic customers. Using naturally warmed water, rather than already chilled water, for these systems reduces the energy requirement involved in these systems.

The Seaham Gardens heat network in County Durham is a great example of the merits of this. Working with the Coal Authority and Durham County Council we have recently awarded £3.8m for commercialisation and construction of a mine-water heat network scheme through our Heat Network Investment Project. When finished the scheme will use 6MW of heat to supply 1,500 homes.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish a timetable for the delivery of the national space strategy, announced in the Queen's speech on 19 December 2019.

This Government is committed to making the UK a global science and technology superpower. This will be achieved through the UK’s first comprehensive national space strategy that unleashes growth and innovation in the UK space sector. The strategy will be published in due course.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the (a) priorities and (b) policy objectives of the strategy delivery team in the UK Space Agency have been since January 2021.

The UK Space Agency is working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Defence to publish a cross-government National Space Strategy this summer. The strategy will unleash growth and innovation in the UK space sector and ensure that the UK has access to the technology needed to address our needs from space. The UK Space Agency sets its strategic objectives and priorities to deliver Government’s space ambitions annually in its corporate plan.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to prevent the practice of scalping to circumvent maximum purchase quantities in order to resell at an inflated price for profit.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given by my Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to the Hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife on 22nd December 2020 to Questions 129026 and 130123.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce legislative proposals to prohibit the resale of (a) gaming consoles and (b) computer components at prices significantly above manufacturer’s recommended retail price on a similar basis to the law on secondary selling of tickets.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given by my Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to the Hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife on 22nd December 2020 to Questions 129026 and 130123.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the Government will bring forward legislative proposals to make the resale of goods purchased using an automated bot illegal.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given by my Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to the Hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife on 22nd December 2020 to Questions 129026 and 130123.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from (A) August 2020 to (B) December 2020.

This information is not held centrally and can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it a legal requirement for employers to allow all pregnant women who pass (a) 20 weeks or (b) 28 weeks gestation to work from home or be suspended on full pay during the covid-19 outbreak.

Ministers and officials regularly discuss a wide range of issues relating to Coronavirus and employment rights. Existing legislation and public health guidance covering the health and safety of pregnant women in the workplace puts in place protections to cover the risks pregnant women may face during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Department of Health and Social Care is also working with the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and health departments in the devolved nations on developing guidance on occupational health advice for pregnant women in the workplace. The Department plans to publish the guidance shortly.

Under current public health guidance, pregnant women are in the clinically vulnerable group. This means that they are advised to work from home where it is possible to do so. Where working from home is not possible, pregnant women can attend a place of work provided this is supported by the employer's health and safety risk assessment and particular attention is paid to social distancing guidelines. Guidance on working safely can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

A small number of pregnant women are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. Current guidance strongly advises that clinically extremely vulnerable individuals work from home. Where this is not possible they are advised not to attend work for this period of restrictions. The guidance makes clear that pregnant women who are clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work from home should be suspended on full pay. This is in line with normal requirements under regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This guidance can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/protect-people.htm?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_term=more-2&utm_content=digest-10-jul-20#pregnant_workers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on bringing forward legislative proposals to require employers to allow pregnant women who pass (a) 20 weeks or (b) 28 weeks gestation to work from home or be suspended on full pay.

Ministers and officials regularly discuss a wide range of issues relating to Coronavirus and employment rights. Existing legislation and public health guidance covering the health and safety of pregnant women in the workplace puts in place protections to cover the risks pregnant women may face during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Department of Health and Social Care is also working with the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and health departments in the devolved nations on developing guidance on occupational health advice for pregnant women in the workplace. The Department plans to publish the guidance shortly.

Under current public health guidance, pregnant women are in the clinically vulnerable group. This means that they are advised to work from home where it is possible to do so. Where working from home is not possible, pregnant women can attend a place of work provided this is supported by the employer's health and safety risk assessment and particular attention is paid to social distancing guidelines. Guidance on working safely can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

A small number of pregnant women are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. Current guidance strongly advises that clinically extremely vulnerable individuals work from home. Where this is not possible they are advised not to attend work for this period of restrictions. The guidance makes clear that pregnant women who are clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work from home should be suspended on full pay. This is in line with normal requirements under regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This guidance can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/protect-people.htm?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_term=more-2&utm_content=digest-10-jul-20#pregnant_workers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to Article III point 1 b) of the UK/USA Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on Technology Safeguards associated with United States Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom [CS USA No.1/2020], what the process is for determining significant quantitative or qualitative inputs of equipment, technology, manpower, or funds.

Assessments are made on a case-by-case basis by the relevant UK Government departments and agencies.

The Government and its regulatory authorities already work closely with UK companies, and in the future will work with UK based launch operators, to understand the nature and degree of any inputs of equipment, technology, manpower, or funds from countries, in this area especially by those which are not partner members of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

This is in line with the UK’s existing international commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Hague Code of Conduct and other international non-proliferation instruments.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to Article II point 5 of the UK/USA Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on Technology Safeguards associated with United States Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom [CS USA No.1/2020], whether the Government plans to introduce UK regulatory involvement into the administering of segregated areas.

The Government plans to realise its obligations under the Agreement through the Space Industry Regulations, published for consultation on 29 July 2020 and licence conditions for operators. Regulations 180-181 of the Draft Space Industry Regulations address segregated areas and highlight that the area remains designated as segregated only if there is US technology in that area.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to Article III point 1(e) of the UK/USA Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on Technology Safeguards associated with United States Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom [CS USA No.1/2020], whether proceeds from those launches will be able to be used by the UK to create competing enterprises to the US launch vehicles.

Proceeds from those launches will be limited to any charges for licensing (although the Government is not proposing to cost recover for three years) which will be used to cover costs of licensing, and associated taxes.

The Agreement creates no limitation on the Government continuing to provide funding for the development of domestic space launch companies through other means.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to ensure that launch vehicles manufactured abroad by UK-based companies outsourcing their supply chains abroad are not classified as Foreign Launch Vehicles under Article 2 point 2 of the UK/USA Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on Technology Safeguards associated with United States Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom [CS USA No.1/2020].

The Government will follow the definition contained in the Agreement.

The definitions in the Agreement are designed to capture all possible business and operational models for UK based launch operators and were drafted to enable maximum flexibility for UK companies.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 June 2020 to Question 61542 on Spaceflight: USA, by what process he plans that Parliament will (a) scrutinise and (b) ratify the UK-US Technology Safeguards Agreement.

The Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) is a legally binding bilateral treaty with the United States of America and is subject to 21 sitting days scrutiny under section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRaG).

The Command Paper along with the Exchange of Notes for the TSA and Explanatory Memorandum was published and E-laid before Parliament on 16 October 2020.

The TSA will not enter into force until the enabling legislation (the Space Industry Regulations, published for public consultation on 29 June 2020) is in force, the CRaG scrutiny procedure has completed and following an exchange of notifications between the Parties confirming that all domestic procedures and requirements necessary for the Agreement’s entry into force have been fulfilled.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish the findings of his Department's consultation on Future support for low carbon heat.

The government response to the Future Support for Low Carbon Heat consultation will be published in due course.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many companies participate in the LaunchUK Industry Group; and which of those companies were consulted on the contents of the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement signed on 16 June 2020.

There are over 100 companies and research institutions in the LaunchUK Industry Group.

The US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) is a legally binding bilateral treaty with the United States of America and is subject to 21 sitting days scrutiny under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRaG). The Command Paper along with the Exchange of Notes for the TSA and Explanatory Memorandum was published and E-laid before Parliament on 16 October 2020.

Companies which are likely to be affected by the provisions in the TSA were consulted prior to and throughout its negotiation, both through the LaunchUK Industry Group and in direct consultations. The Agreement will not place any undue limitations on UK-based companies; indeed, it is expected to open new opportunities for them while meeting the UK’s counter-proliferation obligations.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 5 October 2020 to Written Question 96957, for what reasons the Government decided that the EU’s offer on Galileo did not meet the UK’s security and industrial requirements.

The UK and the EU discussed the Galileo programme during the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations. The EU’s offer on Galileo did not meet the UK’s security and industrial requirements.

The UK does not have a level of access to Galileo that would enable us to assure the system and use it for purposes such as defence and security. Our position remains unchanged and as such, the UK is not seeking to continue participation in Galileo.

The UK Space Agency is exploring alternative ways to deliver vital satellite navigation services to the UK through the new Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government plans to seek access to the EU's Galileo system in order to avoid disruption to existing satellite navigation capabilities.

The UK and the EU discussed the Galileo programme during the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations. The EU’s offer on Galileo did not meet the UK’s security and industrial requirements.

Our position remains unchanged and as such, the UK is not seeking to continue participation in Galileo.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish the outcome of his Department's evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy had made significant progress in evaluating the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme. Work has included commissioning and interrogating information collected through large scale, representative, surveys of employers and parents and a consultation on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay. We also commissioned a qualitative study of parents who have used the scheme. The various data sources will help us to better understand the barriers and enablers to parents taking Shared Parental Leave.

The evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme remains important for Government and we will publish our findings in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to implement the Law Commission's April 2020 recommendation that the time limit for making an employment tribunal claim be increased from three to six months.

Time limits for bringing claims in the Employment Tribunals are set out in legislation and in most employment cases, claims must be brought within three months. However in most types of employment claim, the legislation also provides that tribunals have the discretion to extend the time limit if it is satisfied (i) in discrimination claims that it is just and equitable to do so; or (ii) in unfair dismissal and most other employment claims that it was not reasonably practicable to bring the claim within the time limit.

The senior employment tribunal judiciary have published an FAQ to help users understand changes to the current employment tribunal processes during the pandemic, including details on how claims and responses will be handled, and consideration of time limits. If a claim is presented late, a judge may still allow it to proceed. Employment judges will decide based on the individual circumstances of the case and applying the relevant law. The guidance is available on GOV.UK.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has for the UK to access to the EU's Gallileo system.

The UK will not seek to access Galileo as we will not be able to assure its services for use in defence and critical national infrastructure.

Dedicated work is ongoing across Government to determine the UK’s positioning, navigation, and timing requirements, and to assess options for meeting them.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government plans to publish a fully funded hydrogen strategy in the first quarter of 2021.

The Government is committed to the development of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier for the UK. As set out at the Environmental Audit Committee on 10 September 2020, we plan to publish a Hydrogen Strategy in early 2021. The Strategy will include discussion around the costs associated with expansion of the UK hydrogen economy, and how these might be met.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to reform the Research Excellence Framework to (a) reduce levels of administration, (b) further incentivise collaboration and (c) focus on assessing groupings and teams.

As recently set out in the Research and Development Roadmap, the Government will be examining the mechanisms which we use to support university research in England and the incentives that these create within the R&D system, and we will work with the higher education sector in England to agree a set of reforms to support university research and knowledge exchange to become more resilient, more efficient and ensure better outcomes from public funding.

Research England, working with the HE Funding Bodies from the Devolved Nations, are conducting a thorough evaluation of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, including on the costs of the exercise and its incentive effects on research practice. The results of that evaluation will inform the design of future exercises, which will also be subject to detailed consultation with the university research sector.

Through this assessment and any subsequent recommended reforms, we aspire to implement a REF which helps progress to a system which is fair, unbureaucratic and rewards improvement.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to maintain the current level of Global Challenges funding.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) has made an important contribution to global efforts to defeat poverty. With its focus on international research and innovation partnerships, GCRF is tackling some of the most intractable development challenges, which is why the Government has committed £1.5bn to the Fund since 2016.

The Department’s future spending proposals are subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review, which was launched by the Chancellor in July. This will consider all areas of BEIS Research and Innovation, including activity such as GCRF which is funded by Official Development Assistance.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 1 September 2020 to Question 76792 on Oneweb: Investment, what assessment his Department has made of the ability of Oneweb to provide broadband to vast areas currently without connectivity, for example over entire oceans despite that system not having existing inter-satellite links.

OneWeb’s technology has the potential for providing broadband access to millions of people in remote and rural locations currently without access.

In advance of the Government’s investment, expert advice was provided on the commercial, financial and technical aspects of the investment. The investment will support the UK focus on research and innovation and will put Britain at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technology.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 16 July 2020 to Question 72998, what the evidential basis is for the Government to expect revenue streams from aerospace, maritime, government and military and enterprise/business broadband from 2022.

This is game-changing technology that could provide broadband to vast areas currently without connectivity, for example over entire oceans. This coverage in connectivity could provide valuable commercial services to sectors such as maritime and aviation, providing new ways to connect ships and planes. The current negotiations are commercially sensitive, so it would not be appropriate to comment further.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government has taken to develop a replacement for Galileo's encrypted service for use by UK military and emergency services from 1 January 2021.

The UK Space Agency is continuing to develop options for a UK space-based positioning, navigation and timing system (PNT). Galileo’s secure service is still under development and is only expected to be operational in the mid to late 2020s. Beyond January 1st 2021, the UK public and businesses will still have access to open services provided by various international GNSS systems such as GPS and Galileo, and the UK armed forces will still retain access to the US GPS secure service.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what due diligence the Government has undertaken to ensure that its investment in OneWeb is commercially sound.

This investment is likely to make an economic return, with due diligence showing a strong commercial basis for investment. The deal contributes to the government’s plan to join the first rank of space nations, and signals the government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies enabling enhanced broadband through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

We expect revenue streams from 2022 in several areas including aerospace, maritime, government & military and Enterprise/business broadband.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps may be taken against a lender which is found in a periodic audit not to be passing on the economic benefits of the CBILS Guarantee to borrowers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

Under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Government provides lenders with an 80 per cent guarantee on each facility approved. Lenders are required to pass the economic benefit of the existence of this guarantee to the borrower through lower pricing than it may otherwise have had. As part of the accreditation process, lenders must evidence how they will pass the economic benefit on to borrowers.

Lenders also undergo periodic audits (including an audit prior to moving from a probationary to a full Lender under the Scheme) to check that scheme eligibility rules and processes have been followed. If it is determined that a lender is not passing on the economic benefits of the CBILS Guarantee to borrowers, the lender will be required to take such action as is required by the British Business Bank to rectify this. This could include compensating the borrower and / or remediating their existing book. Ultimately, the Bank could suspend the lender from new lending or remove its accreditation. Any action will take into account the impact on the underlying SMEs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason he decided to restrict future funding support to heat pumps in smaller buildings.

Heat pumps will play an important role in decarbonising heat in the UK. The Clean Heat Grants scheme is focussed on supporting the installer base that will be required to implement regulations to phase out the installation of high-carbon fossil fuel heating off the gas grid. The Government is committed to doing this during the 2020s, as set out in the Clean Growth Strategy. In order to target taxpayer funding most effectively, we propose to introduce a 45kW capacity limit to focus this scheme on smaller installations. This reflects evidence that the majority of heat pump installations supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive have a capacity less than or equal to 45kW.

The Clean Heat Grant has been designed as part of a broader package of measures to support the decarbonisation of heat. Alongside the Clean Heat Grant scheme, the Budget announced future support for large heat pump installations in heat networks through the Green Heat Network Scheme. BEIS will consult on this scheme later in the year. The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund will also be open to large heat pumps providing process heat. In addition, as part of the Summer Economic Update made on 8 July, the government committed £1 billion of funding for the new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to upgrade public sector buildings, including schools and hospitals. This forms part of the wider manifesto commitments to invest in low-carbon heat and energy efficiency in buildings over the next decade.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish the (a) business case and (b) risk assessment for the decision to invest in OneWeb.

OneWeb holds a position as a global leader in Low Earth Orbit technology. This investment secures that leading position and signals the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in high-tech satellite technology.

Due diligence has shown that the investment is going to be commercially sound and is likely to make an economic return. Our investment provides a stable platform for OneWeb’s development and unlocks a range of future commercial and strategic opportunities for the UK.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what advantages the Government envisages the OneWeb low earth orbiting satellite system will have for navigation over continued use of the Galileo system.

The UK will not seek to access Galileo as we will not be able to assure its services for use in defence and critical national infrastructure.

The current OneWeb satellites are used to deliver satellite communications services, and we are actively considering what other capabilities OneWeb could provide.

Dedicated work is ongoing across Government to determine the UK’s positioning, navigation, and timing requirements, and to assess options for meeting them.

OneWeb holds a position since 2012 in the UK and U.S. of developing cutting-edge satellite technology from its bases both here in the UK and in the United States. It holds a global leadership position in Low Earth Orbit technology.

The move of acquiring Oneweb signals the government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to publish its National Space Strategy.

The UK’s space sector can strengthen our national capabilities, create high-skilled jobs and drive future economic growth across the UK. In order to support this, the Queen’s Speech on 19 December set out the Government’s intent to establish a new National Space Council and launch a comprehensive UK Space Strategy. The Council, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, will consider its strategy in due course.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answers of 30 June 2020 to Questions 64970 and 64971 on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), whether interest rates of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans are required to remain in line with the lender’s normal pricing framework after the initial 12 month period of the loan.

The accreditation agreement for CBILS lenders makes clear that the interest rate at which the?lender is prepared to lend at, and any associated fees, should be based on a?lender’s normal pricing framework throughout the duration of the facility, taking into account the benefits and costs of the guarantee.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, (a) how many businesses have received Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans and (b) how many of those loans have had interest rates of 10 per cent or more.

As of 28 June, a total of 52,257 loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), with a value of £10.53 billion.

We are currently unable to provide a breakdown of lending by interest rate. We are considering what more detailed data on CBILS and other schemes can be published going forward.

The interest rate charged on a CBILS facility varies in line with the lender’s own policies, as would be the case with any commercial facility. However, under the terms of the State aid framework, the Government fully expects that the benefit of the guarantee under the CBILS will be passed through to the borrower.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans for the Construction Leadership Council to produce advice on JCT and NEC contracts and include them as part of the industry recovery plan.

On 7 May, the Government issued guidance on responsible contractual behaviours, which was then updated on 30 June. This guidance applies to all organisations in the public and private sectors that operate under any form of contract, including the New Engineering Contract (NEC) and Joint Contracts Tribunal contracts, which are used in relation to construction projects. The guidance urges all parties to contracts to work collaboratively to avoid disputes, or if this is not possible, to seek to resolve these as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. This guidance has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and forms the basis of further advice on contractual issues provided to small businesses.

The Government welcomes the recovery plan produced by the CLC’s Coronavirus Task Force, which sets out a plan to ensure that all parts of the sector can increase activity, work safely, and maximise their contribution to our economic recovery. We will continue to work with the Task Force, which includes firms, business representative organisations, and representatives of the professional institutions, to support the recovery of the construction sector.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has carried out on the potential effect of the use JCT and NEC contracts on the construction industry's post-covid-19 recovery.

On 7 May, the Government issued guidance on responsible contractual behaviours, which was then updated on 30 June. This guidance applies to all organisations in the public and private sectors that operate under any form of contract, including the New Engineering Contract (NEC) and Joint Contracts Tribunal contracts, which are used in relation to construction projects. The guidance urges all parties to contracts to work collaboratively to avoid disputes, or if this is not possible, to seek to resolve these as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. This guidance has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and forms the basis of further advice on contractual issues provided to small businesses.

The Government welcomes the recovery plan produced by the CLC’s Coronavirus Task Force, which sets out a plan to ensure that all parts of the sector can increase activity, work safely, and maximise their contribution to our economic recovery. We will continue to work with the Task Force, which includes firms, business representative organisations, and representatives of the professional institutions, to support the recovery of the construction sector.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 30 June 2020 to Question 64970 on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), what steps the Government is taking to ensure that the benefit of the CBILS guarantee is passed through to the borrower.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), accreditation agreement makes clear that the interest rate at which the Lender is prepared to lend at, and any associated fees, should be based on a Lender’s normal pricing framework. The agreement also makes clear that lenders must pass the economic benefit of the Government guarantee to the borrower.

Lenders undergo periodic audits. Samples of transactions will be analysed during the audit to check that scheme eligibility rules and processes have been followed, including whether the economic benefits of the CBILS Guarantee has been passed on to borrowers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 30 June 2020 to Question 64971 on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), what steps the Government is taking to ensure that lenders pass the economic benefit of the existence of the Government's 80 per cent guarantee of a CBILS facility to the borrower through lower pricing than that borrower may otherwise have had.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), accreditation agreement makes clear that the interest rate at which the Lender is prepared to lend at, and any associated fees, should be based on a Lender’s normal pricing framework. The agreement also makes clear that lenders must pass the economic benefit of the Government guarantee to the borrower.

Lenders undergo periodic audits. Samples of transactions will be analysed during the audit to check that scheme eligibility rules and processes have been followed, including whether the economic benefits of the CBILS Guarantee has been passed on to borrowers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much the Government has invested in satellite operator OneWeb.

The Chapter 11 bidding process for OneWeb is commercially sensitive, so it would not be appropriate to comment.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made in developing a replacement for the Galileo satellite navigation system.

This Government has made clear its ambitions in space through a new ministerial level National Space Council and by developing a Space Strategy to bring long term strategic and commercial benefits for the UK. The Government recognises the contribution the space sector makes to our economy, national security, global influence and in helping the nation to tackle the COVID crisis.

A project led by the Cabinet Office is developing the UK's positioning navigation and timing (PNT) requirements, bringing together expertise from across Whitehall, industry and the PNT community to consider requirements across military, civil and Critical National Infrastructure sectors. In addition to other technologies, a UK GNSS capability could form part of the mix of solutions needed.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the capacity of OneWeb’s mega-constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver Government ambitions for UK navigation technology.

We have made clear our ambitions for space and are developing a new National Space Strategy to bring long-term strategic and commercial benefits to the UK.

We are in regular discussions with the space industry as part of this work.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to publish its feasibility study on the plan to build a UK global navigation satellite system.

This Government has made clear its ambitions in space through a new ministerial level National Space Council and by developing a Space Strategy to bring long term strategic and commercial benefits for the UK. The Government recognises the contribution the space sector makes to our economy, national security, global influence and in helping the nation to tackle the COVID crisis.

The GNSS programme is currently in its Engineering Design and Development Phase to research and understand what would best suit the UK's requirements. The programme is taking the appropriate time to investigate the requirements, design specifications and costs as fully as possible. This work is ongoing, and we envisage that the majority of this will be complete this year.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the level of interest rates in a lender’s normal pricing framework is a factor in determining whether that company is accredited as a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lender.

Interest rates are one of a range of factors taken into consideration when the British Business Bank reviews a lender’s application to become a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) delivery partner.

The accreditation agreement makes clear that the interest rate at which the lender is prepared to lend at, and any associated fees, should be based on a lender’s normal pricing framework.

The Government expects that the benefit of the CBILS guarantee is passed through to the borrower. This should be reflected in the interest rate and lender-levied fees that are charged on each CBILS facility, both during the period of the Business Interruption Payment and for the remainder of the facility.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether accredited Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders are permitted to charge interest rates above 10 per cent for loans through that scheme.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is being delivered by more than 90 accredited lenders operating across the market. Lenders of the CBILS are permitted to set interest rates above 10%.

The interest rate charged on a CBILS facility is at the discretion of the Lender, in line with their own policies, as would be the case with any commercial facility. Under the CBILS scheme, SMEs do however benefit from lower initial costs, as the government provides a 'Business Interruption Payment' to cover any interest and Lender-levied fees within the first 12 months. Therefore, the interest rate, and any associated fees, should be determined based on lenders' normal pricing framework and take into account the benefits and costs of the guarantee.

The Government also guarantees 80% of a CBILS facility and lenders must pass the economic benefit of the existence of this guarantee to the borrower through lower pricing than it may otherwise have had.

For further information about interest rates after the initial 12-month period, businesses should speak to their lender on what interest rates they will charge after this time.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with (a) the Chancellor and (b) other Cabinet colleagues on establishing a UK-wide hydrogen strategy.

The Government is committed to developing hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier. We are currently developing our strategic approach to hydrogen and its potential to deliver against our net zero goals.

We are undertaking extensive stakeholder engagement as we develop new policy to help bring forward the technologies and supply chain we will need to grow the UK hydrogen economy. This includes business models to support the deployment of, and investment in, low carbon hydrogen production and a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund to stimulate capital investment. We will be further engaging with industry on both schemes throughout the year.

BEIS ministers have held no formal discussions with my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer or other Cabinet colleagues on establishing a UK-wide hydrogen strategy.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement signed on 16 June 2020 will be published.

The draft Agreement was signed by the US and UK governments on 16 June 2020 and will be subject to scrutiny and ratification by Parliament. It will be laid in Parliament after enabling legislation is in force, and the Agreement will be published as soon as practically possible thereafter.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what consultation was undertaken with the UK-based commercial space industry prior to the signing of the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement on 16 June 2020.

Regular engagement with UK based commercial space industry was undertaken over a three-year period prior to the signing of the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement. This included direct consultations with companies and presentations to industry groups. Companies provided valuable advice which informed the negotiations.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether lenders accredited under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme are offering interest rates of 10 per cent or more.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is being delivered by a network of more than 90 accredited lenders operating across the market. Individual lending decisions are at the discretion of these lenders.

The Government pays the interest and any lender-levied fees in the first 12 months of any CBILS facility. Interest rates after 12 months will vary between lenders and will depend on the specific lending proposal. The Government also guarantees 80% of a CBILS facility and lenders must pass the economic benefit of the existence of this guarantee to the borrower through lower pricing than it may otherwise have had.

For further information about interest rates after the initial 12 month period, businesses should speak to their lender on what interest rates they will charge after this time.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the interest rates that a lender sets for CBILS loans is a factor in determining whether that company is accredited as a CBILS lender.

Interest rates are one of a range of factors taken into consideration when the British Business Bank reviews a lender’s application to become a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) delivery partner.

The accreditation agreement makes clear that the interest rate at which the lender is prepared to lend at, and any associated fees, should be based on a lender’s normal pricing framework.

The Government expects that the benefit of the CBILS guarantee is passed through to the borrower. This should be reflected in the interest rate and lender-levied fees that are charged on each CBILS facility, both during the period of the Business Interruption Payment and for the remainder of the facility.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with representatives of the construction industry on support for construction companies operating under JCT and NEC forms of contract that face cashflow problems when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.

The Government welcomes the recovery plan produced by the Construction Leadership Council’s Coronavirus Task Force, which sets out a plan to ensure the sector can increase activity, work safely, and maximise its contribution to our economic recovery.

We will continue to work with the Task Force, which includes firms, business representative organisations, and representatives of the professional institutions, to support the recovery of the construction sector.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to ensure that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is suitable for construction companies operating under the (a) JCT and (b) NEC form of contract.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is designed to help employers severely affected by Coronavirus, including construction companies, so they can retain their employees and protect the UK economy. All employers can claim under the CJRS for eligible employees. The forms of contract that a construction company enter into do not impact their eligibility to claim.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of taking steps to support construction companies operating under (a) JCT and (b) NEC forms of contract during the initial months after the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased and workers are taken off furlough.

The construction sector will be a key part of our economic recovery. The Government continues to work closely with the sector to ensure that it is in a position to support.

The Government has also worked with construction firms to develop guidance on safer working on construction sites, to enable them to reopen safely as soon as possible. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what feedback the Government has received on the effectiveness of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme; and from whom that feedback has been received.

As of 10 May, over £6 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to almost 36,000 businesses.

Since the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was launched, Government has listened to feedback from stakeholders and made changes to ensure that loans are processed as quickly as possible to allow businesses to get the support they need. These changes include:

  • Extending the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19 are eligible;
  • Removing previous restrictions on the following groups to enable them to access the CBILS, subject to other eligibility criteria being met: Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisations and trade unions;
  • Removing the ability for lenders to ask for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and reducing the personal guarantee for loans over £250,000 to 20% of the outstanding balance after recoveries;
  • Introducing technical changes to ensure that applications will be processed faster;
  • Removing the forward-looking viability test; and
  • Removing the per lender portfolio cap.

Responding to concerns from larger businesses that were not eligible for the existing Government-backed loans, on 3 April, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the launch of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLIBS) to support viable businesses with a turnover of above £45 million. Following feedback from businesses, banks and industry groups, the turnover cap was removed from the CLBILS.

We have also responded to feedback from smaller businesses that were struggling to access funding as quickly as they needed by introducing the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. This allows businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. To apply for the scheme businesses complete a short, simple, online application form, meaning that applications are submitted and processed rapidly, and businesses can access loans within a matter of days.

In May, the Government will launch the Future Fund which will provide between £125,000 and £5 million to businesses that might be reliant on equity investment and are therefore unable to access the current loan schemes.

The Government continues to work with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and lenders to assess how effectively these schemes are working.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department's plans to publish more comprehensive Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme data will include an analysis of the most prevalent reasons for businesses' applications to that scheme being rejected.

In order to minimise administrative burden and therefore facilitate the issuing of as many loans as possible, the British Business Bank’s system only gathers data from lenders when loans are offered and drawn. Decisions on whether to capture information relating to rejected loans are at the discretion of the lender.

The Government continues to work with the British Business Bank, and the lenders on providing transparent and regular data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has issued to lenders on the reasons for rejecting applications for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The British Business Bank has issued guidance to all accredited lenders on assessing eligibility for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • Your business’s activity is UK-based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year;
  • You have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender; and
  • You can self-certify that your business has been adversely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

For facilities above £30k, lenders are required to gain comfort that a SME is not an ‘Undertaking in Difficulty’, but this includes the option for lenders to rely on self-certification.

Decision-making on whether a business is eligible to access the CBILS is fully delegated to accredited lenders, using the guidance above, and individual lending decisions remain at the discretion of these lenders.

The Secretary of State continues to hold a regular dialogue with each of the biggest CBILS lenders to monitor its implementation and ensure that companies receive the full benefits of the support being provided.

The new Bounce Back Loans Scheme launched on May 4 to help the smallest SMEs to access loans from £2000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover, with maximum loan amount of £50,000. To apply for the scheme businesses will be able to complete a short, simple, online application form, meaning that applications can be submitted and processed rapidly and businesses can access loans within a matter of days. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan to give them the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to take steps to end the consideration by lenders of a business’s historic losses when conducting forward credit checks to assess Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme applications.

A business is eligible for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme if:

  • Its business’s activity is UK-based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year;
  • It has a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender;
  • It can self-certify that the business has been adversely impacted by the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Government has removed the forward-looking viability test that required an assessment of whether the business can trade out of the crisis. The only test that remains is whether a business was viable before Covid-19.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of applications for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme have been approved (a) by each lender and (b) in each constituency.

As of 29 April, in total over £4.1 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to over 25,262 businesses.

Lenders have received 52,807 completed applications.

We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on regular and transparent data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the most prevalent reasons for businesses being rejected for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Accredited lenders are responsible for providing loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Decision-making on whether a business is eligible to access the CBILS are fully delegated to the accredited lenders, and individual lending decisions remain at the discretion of these lenders.

Since launch, the Government has received a lot of feedback on how the scheme has been working. The Business Secretary continues to hold a regular dialogue with each of the biggest CBILS lenders to address feedback on how the scheme has been working and closely monitor its implementation to ensure that companies feel the full benefits of this support.

To date, the Government has responded rapidly by:

  • Extending the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing;
  • Removing previous restrictions on the following groups to enable them to access the CBILS, subject to other eligibility criteria being met: Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisations and trade unions are now eligible for the CBILS;
  • Removing ability for lenders to ask for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and reducing the personal guarantee for loans over £250,000 to 20% of the outstanding balance after recoveries;
  • Removing the forward-looking viability test; and
  • Removing the per lender portfolio cap.

The Government will continue to monitor the scheme as a whole.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to take steps to ensure that fewer businesses are rejected from Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.

Accredited lenders are responsible for providing loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Decision-making on whether a business is eligible to access the CBILS are fully delegated to the accredited lenders, and individual lending decisions remain at the discretion of these lenders.

The Government has responded rapidly to feedback to ensure that companies feel the full benefits of available support through the CBILS by:

  • Extending the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19;
  • Removing previous restrictions on the following groups to enable them to access the CBILS, subject to other eligibility criteria being met: Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisations and trade unions are now eligible for the CBILS;
  • Removing ability for lenders to ask for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and reducing the personal guarantee for loans over £250,000 to 20% of the outstanding balance after recoveries;
  • Removing the forward-looking viability test; and
  • Removing the per lender portfolio cap.

In addition to the above, the Government:

  • Launched the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) on 20 April to help businesses with an annual turnover of over £45m to access the finance they need.
  • Announced the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which will ensure that the smallest businesses can access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of days. This Scheme launched on 4 May.

The Government will continue to monitor the schemes.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that new businesses that are not yet profitable do not have their applications to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme rejected as a result of losses in their initial years of operation.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is for businesses with turnover of up to £45m. For start-ups, or SMEs which have traded for less than 12 months, the lender should estimate turnover based upon the SME’s forecasted turnover for the first 12 months of trading. Turnover need not be generated with the intention of making a profit – charities and non-profit entities are potentially eligible for support.

Government has removed the forward-looking viability test that required an assessment of whether the business can trade out of the crisis. The only test that remains is whether a business was viable before Covid-19.

On Monday 20 April we announced a new £1.25 billion support package to protect start-ups and businesses driving research and development, which are one of our great economic strengths and will help power our growth out of the coronavirus crisis.

This package includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis, made up of funding from government and the private sector, and £750 million of grants and loans for SMEs focusing on research and development.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what metrics he is using to measure the success of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

As of 6 May, in total over £5.5 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to 33,812 businesses. Lenders have received 62,674 completed applications.

Since launch, the Government has received feedback on how the scheme has been working. We are closely monitoring the implementation and working with the financial services sector to ensure that companies receive the full benefits from the support being provided.

In order to assess how effectively the scheme is working, we are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and lenders on regular and transparent data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of lending (a) rules and regulations and (b) practice with ensuring that small businesses receive loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Individual lending decisions under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) are delegated to over 60 lenders accredited under the Scheme. These banks and other financial institutions are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and are required to comply with a number of regulations, including anti-money laundering and ‘know your customer’ rules, designed to combat fraud and other forms of financial crime.

The majority of lenders also subscribe to voluntary Standards of Lending Practice overseen by the independent Lending Standards Board.

These regulations and standards are compatible with ensuring that small businesses receive CBILS loans, as shown by the fact that as of 6 May, in total over £5.5 billion worth of loans have been issued under the scheme to 33,812 businesses.

The new Bounce Back Loan Scheme launched on 4 May to help the smallest SMEs to access loans from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover, with maximum loan amount of £50,000. To apply for the scheme businesses will be able to complete a short, simple, online application form, meaning that applications can be submitted and processed rapidly and businesses can access loans within a matter of days.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will strengthen the (a) investigatory, (b) enforcement and (c) regulatory powers of the Consumer and Markets Authority to enable that Authority to take more effective action against online (i) price gouging and (ii) misleading claims.

The Competition and Markets Authority have created a COVID-19 taskforce to investigate consumer concerns in light of COVID-19.

The CMA is writing to firms suspected of profiteering to challenge unjustifiable price increases and stands ready to take enforcement action where there is evidence that competition or consumer protection law has been broken.

The Government continues to monitor the situation and is keeping all options under review to tackle these issues.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of whether lenders are collating data on the number of (a) applications and (b) rejected applications under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme.

As of 29 April, in total over £4.1 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to over 25,262 businesses.

We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on providing transparent and regular data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of his Department collating data on the number of applications (a) submitted and (b) rejected under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme.

As of 29 April, in total over £4.1 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to over 25,262 businesses. Lenders have received 52,807 completed applications.

We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on providing transparent and regular data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to regulate online retail prices to prevent price gouging.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State met with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), business, trade and consumer organisations on Thursday 9 April to review the prevalence and impact of profiteering.

The CMA has written to firms suspected of profiteering to challenge unjustifiable price increases. The CMA stand ready to take enforcement action where there is evidence that competition or consumer protection law has been broken.

The Government continues to monitor profiteering and is keeping all options under review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what investigatory, enforcement and regulatory powers the Competition and Markets Authority holds to tackle price gouging.

The Competition and Markets Authority have created a COVID-19 taskforce to investigate consumer concerns in light of COVID-19.

They have written to warn firms suspected of profiteering and stand ready to take enforcement action where there is evidence that competition or consumer protection law has been broken.

We are keeping all options under review to tackle profiteering.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to combat online retail price gouging.

The Government has been clear that it does not want to see profiteering of any kind. Although only a small minority of businesses or individuals engage in profiteering, we are concerned about the harm it could cause, particularly to the vulnerable.

The Competition and Markets Authority has written to firms suspected of profiteering, and the Secretary of State recently met business, trade and consumer representatives to discuss the scale of profiteering and actions to address it. We are keeping all options under review to tackle profiteering.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with representatives of the independent brewing sector on support required by that sector to begin operating again once social distancing measures are lifted.

The Government is engaging regularly with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to assess how the independent brewing sector can return to normal operations following the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme applications have been (a) approved and (b) rejected to date.

As of 21 April, over £2.8bn worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to over 16,600 businesses.

In order to minimise administrative burden and therefore facilitate the issuing of as many loans as possible, the British Business Bank’s system only gathers data from these lenders when loans are offered and drawn. The system does not capture information on rejected loans. We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on providing transparent and regular data publication going forward.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the written statement made on 10 September 2021, HCWS276, what policy proposals the Government has on the future of personal data transfers to the US.

International data transfers are vitally important to global economies, societies, and individuals’ lives. Securing data adequacy arrangements with our priority partners will be a significant step in the UK’s ongoing plans to unlock the power of data to drive UK growth and innovation.

Given our strong security, economic, and trade relationships, the US is one of the UK’s most important partners. On 26th August, DCMS announced the US as a priority partner to assess for a data adequacy arrangement.

We are engaging positively with our US counterparts and progressing the technical assessment to ensure that high standards of data protection would be maintained under an adequacy arrangement. We will provide updates in due course.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has made an estimate of the daily cost to the UK economy in the event of a potential internet outage.

Yes. The internet is essential to modern life and the government takes its security and resilience very seriously. DCMS works across government on a programme to ensure we understand the risks to, and the impacts of, disruption to our internet infrastructure. This work includes the assessment of the impacts on essential services, life, the economy and the functioning of the state.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the outcome of the Youth Review gives youth groups parity in support with the level of support they previously received under Erasmus+.

International opportunities for the youth sector and young people outside of formal education settings, such as the types of activities funded under the Erasmus+ programme, are being considered as part of the DCMS-led Youth Review, which was commissioned by the Treasury at the 2020 Spending Review. DCMS recognises the value of international opportunities and has been discussing this issue with the devolved administrations, as well as with young people and stakeholders as part of the Review. Future funding is subject to decisions at the next Spending Review.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Department's Youth Review announced as part of the 2020 Spending Review, what representations he has made to the Secretary of State for Education on the provision of support for international opportunities for young people outside of formal education settings.

DCMS and the Department for Education have worked closely together on the delivery of the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programmes in the UK. Officials in both departments have also discussed potential future international opportunities. While the Department for Education is responsible for the Turing scheme and international exchange in formal education settings, DCMS is responsible for international opportunities for young people outside of formal education settings.

International opportunities for the youth sector and young people outside of formal education settings are being considered as part of the DCMS-led Youth Review, which was commissioned by the Treasury at the 2020 Spending Review. DCMS recognises the value of international opportunities and has been discussing this issue with other Government departments and the devolved administrations, as well as with young people and stakeholders as part of the Review. Future funding is subject to decisions at the next Spending Review.

26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to make available backdated support to supply chain businesses for the live events sector that have (a) remained formally open during the outbreak of covid-19 and (b) been affected by the cancellation of live events.

The Government recognises that the events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by COVID-19. We continue to meet with stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Tourism Industry Council, to discuss the specific issues facing the industry.

The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has benefited the sector by providing support to venues and many other cultural organisations, allowing them to stay open and continue operating where COVID restrictions permit. Over £1.2 billion has now been allocated to over 5000 arts and culture organisations across the country. Examples of production service companies that have received CRF funds so far include Adlib Audio Limited (Knowsley), GLS Light and Sound Production Ltd (Southampton) and Lights Control Rigging Productions Ltd (Blackburn).

The Culture Recovery Fund as a whole also included £188 million for the devolved administrations via the Barnett formula, with Scotland receiving £97 million. We know that Scotland are also deeply committed to their arts, culture, and heritage sectors and have provided a range of support funding, building on and including the CRF allocation.

The furlough and loan schemes are part of the government’s wider plan to support, create and protect jobs through its Plan for Jobs. This includes the Kickstart Scheme, more investment in training and skills as well as the Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant, with a fourth grant.

The Government keeps all support and policies under review, and is in close contact with the production services industry to understand what support it needs.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has any plans to ensure that the Counter Disinformation Unit is active outside of periods of heightened vulnerability in order to tackle the persistent circulation of disinformation in the periods between democratic events.

The Government takes this issue very seriously and is committed to ensuring that there is an appropriate response to misinformation and disinformation in the periods between democratic events. This includes responding to Covid-19, for which the Counter Disinformation Unit was stood up on 5 March 2020, bringing together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and the reach of disinformation and misinformation linked to Covid-19, and to work with partners to stamp it out.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the recent report entitled Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, published by the University of Oxford, what plans the Government has to collect data on cyber troop activity in the UK.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation and misinformation very seriously. Disinformation and misinformation threaten our democratic freedoms, and can cause harm to individuals and to our society.

We welcome the valuable analysis and insights from academia and other experts who have a huge amount of expertise in this space. We take their findings and recommendations very seriously and engage widely with academia and civil society to ensure we are able to benefit from this work.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to (a) ensure free and fair elections and (b) ensure public trust in elections in response to the findings on threats to democracy in the report, Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, published by the University of Oxford.

The Government takes the issues of disinformation, online manipulation and abuse very seriously and remains committed to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system and giving the public confidence that our elections are modern, fair and secure.

The Defending Democracy programme is working to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach to safeguarding UK democracy. The programme’s objectives are to protect democratic processes; strengthen the integrity of elections; encourage respect for open and safe democratic participation; and promote open, fact-based discourse.

The Government is committed to ensuring that democratic events are delivered safely and securely. During major democratic events the Government stands up an Election Cell. This is a coordination structure that works with stakeholders to identify and respond to emerging issues.

Online abuse of any kind is unacceptable.To ensure the law is fit for purpose to tackle abuses online, we have asked the Law Commission to review our laws on harmful and abusive online communications and highlight any gaps in the criminal law that cause problems in tackling this abuse. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations by summer 2021, which the government will carefully consider.

In addition, the Government has established a dedicated Counter Disinformation Unit. The Unit stands up during periods of heightened vulnerability such as democratic events, and supports the Election Cell by providing a picture of the extent, scope and the reach disinformation and working with partners to identify and respond to it in line with platform terms and conditions. The Unit was previously stood up during the European Parliamentary Election and UK General Election in 2019. It stood up in March 2020 in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remains operational.

The Government is also preparing legislation to address some of these issues. Last year we published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online.

The Online Safety Bill will establish a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. Under the new framework, companies will be held to account for tackling illegal activity and content, such as illegal online abuse and illegal hate crime. Some companies will also need to address legal but harmful content for adults, including some forms of online abuse.

We are also developing a package of electoral integrity measures which we will bring forward when Parliamentary time allows.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the level of threat of (a) professionalised and organised bot activity, (b) trolling or doxing, and (c) politically motivated polarisation to UK public life (i) in general and (ii) in the context of the upcoming May elections.

The Government takes the issues of disinformation, online manipulation and abuse very seriously and remains committed to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system and giving the public confidence that our elections are modern, fair and secure.

The Defending Democracy programme is working to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach to safeguarding UK democracy. The programme’s objectives are to protect democratic processes; strengthen the integrity of elections; encourage respect for open and safe democratic participation; and promote open, fact-based discourse.

The Government is committed to ensuring that democratic events are delivered safely and securely. During major democratic events the Government stands up an Election Cell. This is a coordination structure that works with stakeholders to identify and respond to emerging issues.

Online abuse of any kind is unacceptable.To ensure the law is fit for purpose to tackle abuses online, we have asked the Law Commission to review our laws on harmful and abusive online communications and highlight any gaps in the criminal law that cause problems in tackling this abuse. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations by summer 2021, which the government will carefully consider.

In addition, the Government has established a dedicated Counter Disinformation Unit. The Unit stands up during periods of heightened vulnerability such as democratic events, and supports the Election Cell by providing a picture of the extent, scope and the reach disinformation and working with partners to identify and respond to it in line with platform terms and conditions. The Unit was previously stood up during the European Parliamentary Election and UK General Election in 2019. It stood up in March 2020 in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remains operational.

The Government is also preparing legislation to address some of these issues. Last year we published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online.

The Online Safety Bill will establish a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. Under the new framework, companies will be held to account for tackling illegal activity and content, such as illegal online abuse and illegal hate crime. Some companies will also need to address legal but harmful content for adults, including some forms of online abuse.

We are also developing a package of electoral integrity measures which we will bring forward when Parliamentary time allows.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to tackle the threat to UK public life from (a) professionalised and organised bot activity, (b) trolling or doxing, and (c) politically-motivated polarisation.

The Government takes the issues of disinformation, online manipulation and abuse very seriously and remains committed to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system and giving the public confidence that our elections are modern, fair and secure.

The Defending Democracy programme is working to ensure a joined-up cross-Government approach to safeguarding UK democracy. The programme’s objectives are to protect democratic processes; strengthen the integrity of elections; encourage respect for open and safe democratic participation; and promote open, fact-based discourse.

The Government is committed to ensuring that democratic events are delivered safely and securely. During major democratic events the Government stands up an Election Cell. This is a coordination structure that works with stakeholders to identify and respond to emerging issues.

Online abuse of any kind is unacceptable.To ensure the law is fit for purpose to tackle abuses online, we have asked the Law Commission to review our laws on harmful and abusive online communications and highlight any gaps in the criminal law that cause problems in tackling this abuse. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations by summer 2021, which the government will carefully consider.

In addition, the Government has established a dedicated Counter Disinformation Unit. The Unit stands up during periods of heightened vulnerability such as democratic events, and supports the Election Cell by providing a picture of the extent, scope and the reach disinformation and working with partners to identify and respond to it in line with platform terms and conditions. The Unit was previously stood up during the European Parliamentary Election and UK General Election in 2019. It stood up in March 2020 in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remains operational.

The Government is also preparing legislation to address some of these issues. Last year we published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online.

The Online Safety Bill will establish a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. Under the new framework, companies will be held to account for tackling illegal activity and content, such as illegal online abuse and illegal hate crime. Some companies will also need to address legal but harmful content for adults, including some forms of online abuse.

We are also developing a package of electoral integrity measures which we will bring forward when Parliamentary time allows.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the report entitled Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, published by the University of Oxford, what data the Government has collected on cyber troop activity in the UK.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation and misinformation very seriously. Disinformation and misinformation threaten our democratic freedoms, and can cause harm to individuals and to our society.

We welcome the valuable analysis and insights from academia and other experts who have a huge amount of expertise in this space. We take their findings and recommendations very seriously and engage widely with academia and civil society to ensure we are able to benefit from this work.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the implications for its policies of the findings of the report entitled Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, published by the University of Oxford.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation and misinformation very seriously. Disinformation and misinformation threaten our democratic freedoms, and can cause harm to individuals and to our society.

We welcome the valuable analysis and insights from academia and other experts who have a huge amount of expertise in this space. We take their findings and recommendations very seriously and engage widely with academia and civil society to ensure we are able to benefit from this work.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from (A) August 2020 to (B) December 2020.

DCMS spent the following on on communications, advertising and marketing:

August 2020:

Marketing and advertising:

England:

  • £48,773

Wales:

  • £28,328

UK:

  • £80,528

Communications:

  • UK: £800

September 2020:

Communications:

  • UK: £1,368

October 2020:

Communications:

  • UK: £2,155

November 2020:

Communications:

  • UK: £222

December 2020:

Marketing and advertising:

  • UK: £15,291

Communications:

  • UK: £761

20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 14 October to Question 99668, what fiscal steps he is taking to provide targeted support for small community-level voluntary organisations and charities in addition to the support available for the wider charity sector outlined in that Answer.

There are generous measures available for the whole voluntary and community sector which include more than £1.3 billion a year in respect of Gift Aid on donations. Charities play an invaluable role in this country, which is why we have committed £750 million in targeted funding so that they can continue their vital work through the coronavirus outbreak. £360m was allocated by central government departments to help charities in England based on service need, and £310m was allocated to support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people in England on the frontline of the coronavirus response. £60 million from the wider package has been distributed via the Barnett formula to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support all types of charities on the frontline of the response.

In addition to this support, the Charity Commission for England and Wales has published guidance on gov.uk, which sets out how charities can get support for their staff, advice on use of reserves, and other potential issues.

We are providing an unprecedented multi-billion-pound package of government support for charities. We are absolutely committed to ensuring taxpayers' money is spent effectively and are working flat out to ensure help reaches those who need it most.

6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what fiscal steps he is taking to support small community-level voluntary organisations and charities.

There are generous measures available for the whole charity sector which include more than £1.3 billion a year in respect of Gift Aid on donations. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the government has made available a support package to all charities and businesses, including deferring their VAT bills, paying no business rates for their shops next year, and furloughing staff where possible.

In addition, the Government has made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. This will ensure charities and other civil society organisations, including those at risk of financial hardship, can continue their vital work during the Covid-19 outbreak. £60 million from this package has been distributed via the Barnett formula to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support all types of charities on the frontline of the response.

24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Prime Minister's oral contribution of 2 September 2020, Official Report, column 160, what steps events and hospitality companies that cater for large events can take to get back to work while continuing to follow Government guidance.

Due to the sharp upward trajectory of Covid-19 cases, we took the decision to pause the planned 1st October reopening of business events in England. We recognise that this means that many companies who cater for affected large events cannot fully return to their roles.

We are aware that the events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19. We continue to engage with the stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

Events businesses can continue to make use of the broader support package available to them. This includes the Bounce Back Loans scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Meetings of up to 30 can still take place in permitted venues, as per the Covid-19 Secure guidance for the visitor economy. Since 11 July, a range of outdoor events have been able to take place.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with events and hospitality companies that have not received Government support in (a) Midlothian, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK.

We are aware that the events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19. Businesses can continue to access the government’s UK wide support package. This includes the Bounce Back Loans scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

As the Chancellor announced on 24 September, we are also offering affected businesses generous terms for the repayment of deferred taxes and government-backed loans, as well as extending the application window of the government-backed loan schemes.

We continue to engage with stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation facing companies across the UK.


I remain in regular contact with my devolved counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We will continue to work together with the Devolved Administrations to assess how we can most effectively support hospitality and events companies.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the likelihood of the UK receiving a positive data protection adequacy finding from the European Commission in the event that the transition period ends without a deal on the future relationship.

It is our intention to secure positive adequacy decisions from the EU to allow personal data to continue to flow freely from the EU/EEA to the UK. We see the EU’s assessment process on data adequacy as technical and confirmatory of the reality that the UK is operating the same regulatory frameworks as the EU, and we consider that it is self-evidently in the interest of both sides to have adequacy decisions in place by the end of the year. No other third country's standards have ever been closer to the EU's.

Adequacy assesses whether UK data protection standards are ‘essentially equivalent’ to the EU’s, not identical.

However, we will take sensible steps to prepare for a situation where decisions are not in place by the end of the transition period. In such a scenario businesses and other organisations would be able to use alternative legal mechanisms to continue to transfer personal data. Guidance is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

The UK is a global leader in strong data protection standards and protecting the privacy of individuals will continue to be a priority.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to negotiate an agreement with the US similar to Privacy Shield.

On Thursday 16 July the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its judgment in the case known as “Schrems II”. The Court invalidated the EU’s “Privacy Shield” adequacy decision and it is therefore no longer a valid basis for the transfer of personal data from the EU and the UK to the US. The UK Government intervened in the case, alongside the Commission, to support the validity of the Privacy Shield and is disappointed in the outcome of the judgment.

During the Transition Period, judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union apply to the UK. After the transition period, the UK will repatriate the powers to conclude its own adequacy decisions, on the basis of future independent UK assessments of other countries’ data protection laws. The UK cannot do such assessments until after the end of the transition period.

We propose to work with US and other stakeholders to support initiatives that reduce the burdens and barriers on organisations transferring personal data, unlocking the value of data within the modern digital economy, while providing trust and confidence that personal data is protected.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what policy proposals the Government has on the future of personal data transfers to the US.

On Thursday 16 July the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its judgment in the case known as “Schrems II”. The Court invalidated the EU’s “Privacy Shield” adequacy decision and it is therefore no longer a valid basis for the transfer of personal data from the EU and the UK to the US. The UK Government intervened in the case, alongside the Commission, to support the validity of the Privacy Shield and is disappointed in the outcome of the judgment.

During the Transition Period, judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union apply to the UK. After the transition period, the UK will repatriate the powers to conclude its own adequacy decisions, on the basis of future independent UK assessments of other countries’ data protection laws. The UK cannot do such assessments until after the end of the transition period.

We propose to work with US and other stakeholders to support initiatives that reduce the burdens and barriers on organisations transferring personal data, unlocking the value of data within the modern digital economy, while providing trust and confidence that personal data is protected.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of whether US data law ensures a level of protection equivalent to that provided by Article 47 of GDPR.

On Thursday 16 July the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its judgment in the case known as “Schrems II”. The Court invalidated the EU’s “Privacy Shield” adequacy decision and it is therefore no longer a valid basis for the transfer of personal data from the EU and the UK to the US. The UK Government intervened in the case, alongside the Commission, to support the validity of the Privacy Shield and is disappointed in the outcome of the judgment.

During the Transition Period, judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union apply to the UK. After the transition period, the UK will repatriate the powers to conclude its own adequacy decisions, on the basis of future independent UK assessments of other countries’ data protection laws. The UK cannot do such assessments until after the end of the transition period.

We propose to work with US and other stakeholders to support initiatives that reduce the burdens and barriers on organisations transferring personal data, unlocking the value of data within the modern digital economy, while providing trust and confidence that personal data is protected.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to tackle fake news and disinformation on covid-19 as part of its campaign entitled Don’t feed the Beast.

It is vitally important that the public has access to credible and verified information about COVID-19. As part of our counter disinformation campaign, “Don’t Feed the Beast”, we are increasing audience resilience by educating and empowering users who see or inadvertently share false and misleading information. The campaign promotes the SHARE checklist, providing the public with five easy steps to identify false information and actions to consider prior to sharing content online. It is currently running on Facebook and Instagram. Alongside publicly promoting the campaign, we continue to raise awareness of Don’t Feed the Beast with wider stakeholders, including social media platforms, civil society and academia.

The campaign was previously targeted at 18-34 year olds, as this audience is considered vulnerable to disinformation. In March 2020 the campaign was relaunched to tackle misinformation and disinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. It now targets all UK adults.


I also refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to his question number 48542 on 2 June, which captures the wider actions we have taken to counter misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19. This includes working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and remove incorrect claims about the virus, as well as promoting authoritative sources of information.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to tackle the spread of fake news relating to covid-19 circulating (a) on social media and (b) in print media.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. It is vitally important, at this time of national emergency, that the public has accurate information and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle disinformation. The Government has seen positive steps taken by social media platforms to curtail the spread of harmful and misleading narratives related to COVID-19. We are working closely with platforms to help them identify and remove dangerous and incorrect claims about the virus, in line with their terms and conditions, as well as promote authoritative sources of information.

To help drive awareness of the Government’s national campaign to provide information and reassurance to the public about COVID-19, we have created new and innovative partnerships to drive awareness, engagement and compliance. This includes a significant public information campaign across the local and national press which is providing information and reassurance to the public and is ensuring that authoritative, up-to-date information about the Government’s response to Covid-19 is distributed through reliable channels. The government does not intervene in what the press can and cannot publish. Newspapers are subject to independent self-regulation.

The Government is running a counter disinformation campaign, “Don’t feed the Beast” which aims to increase audience resilience by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information. The campaign promotes the SHARE checklist, providing the public with five easy steps to identify false content, encouraging users to stop and think before they share content online.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of whether there has been an increased risk of problem gambling among (a) adults and (b) children and young people through in-game purchases in video games during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps his Department is taking to mitigate such risks.

The government has no evidence of a causative link between in-games purchases and problem gambling, and we have no evidence that this has changed during the covid-19 outbreak. However, we continue to monitor the situation closely.

The government takes concerns around gambling-like behaviour in video games very seriously. We have committed to a review of the Gambling Act, with a particular focus on tackling issues around loot boxes. Further details will be set out in the government response to the DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies which will be published shortly.

We also continue to work with industry and the age ratings bodies to encourage the use of parental controls that can disable or limit spending on devices, and welcomed the launch in January 2020 of the games industry’s Get Smart About P.L.A.Y. campaign encouraging parents to use parental controls and take an active role in their children’s gaming. We also welcome PEGI’s decision to introduce a new ‘paid random items’ content label.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he plans to publish a response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report on Immersive and Addictive Technology, published on 12 September 2019, HC 1846.

The government response setting out further details and our planned next steps across a range of areas will be published shortly.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many complaints have been received by the Advertising Standards Authority on adverts for online gambling sites during the covid-19 outbreak.

Gambling advertising is subject to strict controls set out in the advertising codes of practice issued by the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). Rules on content mean that these adverts must never seek to exploit or appeal to children or vulnerable people, and rules on placement mean that they must never be targeted at these groups. Both the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – as the independent advertising regulator – and the Gambling Commission can take action where gambling advertising is found to be in breach of these rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 82 complaints about gambling advertising in March this year, and a further 97 complaints between 1 and 28 April. This is compared to 79 complaints received in January, and 71 received in February. Of the 179 complaints received between 1 March and 28 April, 109 related to TV advertising, 8 to radio advertising and the rest to online and non-broadcast media. The ASA does not record what proportion of these adverts were promoting online gambling sites. It did not find any of the adverts complained about to be in breach of the codes for gambling advertising but did take enforcement action where a gambling advert was found to be misleading and therefore in breach of the wider advertising codes.

Between 23 March and 28 April, the Gambling Commission identified a total of 11 online adverts for online gambling products that were in breach of the rules on advertising that relate to the protection of vulnerable adults. Gambling Commission intervention with the operators involved ensured that these adverts were removed or altered. During that period it did not find any adverts to be in breach of rules requiring adverts not to be targeted at children or of particular appeal to them.

The government, Gambling Commission and the ASA do not hold information about the volume of broadcast advertising promoting online gambling. The Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has written to operators to urge them to increase the prominence of safer gambling messaging adverts across all channels during the current period. In addition, the ASA has warned operators that they must continue to abide by existing rules and must not look to exploit the current situation. Industry group the Betting and Gaming Council announced on 27 April that in response to public concern its members would replace adverts for online slot, casino and bingo products on TV and radio with safer gambling adverts, or donate the slots to charity, for an initial period of six weeks.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the frequency of targeted adverts for online gambling sites on social media channels during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government, Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and Gambling Commission do not hold data on the frequency at which targeted advertising is shown to or seen by social media users. The nature of targeted advertising makes it difficult to generate accurate figures as the number of targeted gambling advertisements varies considerably between users.

Targeted gambling advertising on social media platforms, like all forms of gambling advertising, is subject to strict controls. Rules on content mean that these adverts must never seek to exploit or appeal to children or vulnerable people, and rules on placement mean that they must never be targeted at these groups. In October 2019 the Gambling Commission issued a challenge to industry to make better use of advertising technology to target away from vulnerable people. Following this, it was announced in April that industry has committed to make better and more consistent use of customer data to ensure paid-for advertising is targeted away from vulnerable people on social media platforms.

The government is aware of concerns that the anxiety and isolation experienced as a result of measures in place to curb the spread of covid 19 may increase the risk of gambling-related harms for some people. In recognition of this, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has written to operators to urge them to increase the prominence of safer gambling messaging in all adverts during the current period, including online. In addition, the ASA has written to operators warning them that they must continue to abide by existing rules and must not look to exploit the current situation.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many adverts for online gambling sites on online channels have been found to be in breach of existing standards (a) to protect adult audiences and (b) to limit exposure for under-18s during the covid-19 outbreak.

Gambling advertising is subject to strict controls set out in the advertising codes of practice issued by the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). Rules on content mean that these adverts must never seek to exploit or appeal to children or vulnerable people, and rules on placement mean that they must never be targeted at these groups. Both the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – as the independent advertising regulator – and the Gambling Commission can take action where gambling advertising is found to be in breach of these rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 82 complaints about gambling advertising in March this year, and a further 97 complaints between 1 and 28 April. This is compared to 79 complaints received in January, and 71 received in February. Of the 179 complaints received between 1 March and 28 April, 109 related to TV advertising, 8 to radio advertising and the rest to online and non-broadcast media. The ASA does not record what proportion of these adverts were promoting online gambling sites. It did not find any of the adverts complained about to be in breach of the codes for gambling advertising but did take enforcement action where a gambling advert was found to be misleading and therefore in breach of the wider advertising codes.

Between 23 March and 28 April, the Gambling Commission identified a total of 11 online adverts for online gambling products that were in breach of the rules on advertising that relate to the protection of vulnerable adults. Gambling Commission intervention with the operators involved ensured that these adverts were removed or altered. During that period it did not find any adverts to be in breach of rules requiring adverts not to be targeted at children or of particular appeal to them.

The government, Gambling Commission and the ASA do not hold information about the volume of broadcast advertising promoting online gambling. The Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has written to operators to urge them to increase the prominence of safer gambling messaging adverts across all channels during the current period. In addition, the ASA has warned operators that they must continue to abide by existing rules and must not look to exploit the current situation. Industry group the Betting and Gaming Council announced on 27 April that in response to public concern its members would replace adverts for online slot, casino and bingo products on TV and radio with safer gambling adverts, or donate the slots to charity, for an initial period of six weeks.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the financial effect on UK students studying abroad of the UK leaving the EU.

The department, with colleagues from other government departments, continues to monitor the impact of the UK leaving the EU on UK students studying in the EU including those studying their whole course at an EU university, those on a “Year Abroad” as part of their UK course and those on the Erasmus+ scheme and, in the future, the Turing scheme.

Grants available through the Turing Scheme are comparable with those available through Erasmus+, but in the Turing Scheme additional support is available for disadvantaged students and students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Construction Industry Training Board was able to access support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the first national covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

The Construction Industry Training Board was able to access support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the first national COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) the Construction Industry Training Board and (b) the Construction Industry Training Board Northern Ireland are able to access furlough funding.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ guidance (updated 26 January 2021) regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme states: ‘Organisations can use the scheme if they are not fully funded by public grants and they should contact their sponsor department or respective administration for further guidance.’

The construction levy is regarded as public funding by Her Majesty’s Treasury. However, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) also raises other income via commercial activity. Therefore, in some cases, it may be deemed appropriate for the CITB to request specific staff be ‘furloughed’. Any requests are referred to the CITB’s sponsor team in the Department for Education in the first instance.

The Construction Industry Training Board Northern Ireland is a matter for the Department for Economy (Northern Ireland).

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

From 1 August to 31 December 2020, the Department for Education spent £7.46 million on paid-for communications and campaigns activity, including spend on creative, production, agency fees and paid-for media. Of this, a total of £5.37 million was spent specifically on advertising media buying. It is not possible to break down spend separately by a) communications or c) marketing as these definitions include several areas of overlapping activity. These figures are for spend in England only. The Department does not spend any money on communications, advertising or marketing activity in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Broken down monthly, the spend was:

Month

Communications and campaigns

Advertising media buying

August 2020

£1,440,000

£941,000

September 2020

£392,000

£51,000

October 2020

£2,800,000

£2,380,000

November 2020

£1,900,000

£1,200,000

December 2020

£933,000

£787,000

This activity includes vital work to recruit 30,000 teachers a year and drive the uptake of the new T Level qualification. All our paid-for campaigns are approved and regularly assessed by the Cabinet Office to ensure effectiveness.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on higher education of the Turing Scheme not providing funding for incoming foreign students.

In deciding to launch the Turing scheme as an alternative to Erasmus+, the Government carefully considered the benefits of Erasmus+ and a domestic alternative scheme including cost and our ambitions for a global scheme that supports social mobility. On cost, Erasmus+ participation would have entailed a net cost in the region of £2 billion more than we received from the programme in funding over the seven-year period and an annual gross contribution of £600 million. As such we do not consider Erasmus+ participation to be value-for-money and in the interests of the UK taxpayer.

The design of the Turing scheme will be driven by our ambition for a truly global UK-wide scheme that promotes social mobility and provides excellent value for money for the taxpayer. These principles underpin the decision-making on the design of the scheme, including the decision not to fund inward mobility.

The Government has carefully considered whether to fund inward mobility as part of the scheme design, including through discussions with the sector, and is confident that students will continue to want to study in the UK. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with four universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international HE students with approximately 486,000 students from abroad and has been one of the most popular destinations within Erasmus+.

It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchanges. We will harness this to deliver an international education exchange programme that has a genuinely global reach, establishing new relationships with academic institutions across Europe and the rest of the world.

In terms of direct income to higher education providers, we expect tuition fees to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.

More generally, the International Education Strategy update, will respond to the COVID-19 context, challenges, and opportunities setting out how the Government will support the whole of the UK’s education sector in the recovery of its international activity in pursuit of the original IES ambitions to increase the value of our education exports to £35 billion per year, and to increase the number of international higher education students hosted in the UK to 600,000 per year, both by 2030.​

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will respond to the proposal of April 2020 from the University and College Union for the Government to urgently provide a sector-wide funding guarantee to protect universities against financial losses as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises that the COVID-19 outbreak is bringing significant financial challenges to the higher education (HE) sector and we have been working closely with the sector in England to monitor the likely impacts. Financial sustainability of providers in the devolved administrations is the responsibility of the relevant devolved government.

On 4 May 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced a package of measures to ensure sustainability in HE at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

We are pulling forward tuition fee payments, expected to be worth £2.6 billion, for providers so that they receive more cash in the first term of the 2020/21 academic year. This will have no impact on students but will allow providers to better manage financial risks over the autumn. This will be available to all providers across the UK. In reprofiling these payments, we are clear in our expectation that providers should use the cashflow benefits appropriately, taking significant steps to improve efficiencies and manage their finances in order to avoid cashflow problems in the future. Reprofiling in this way is a one-off intervention for the autumn term only, to help providers take all necessary steps now to prepare for the future.

In England, we will also be bringing forward £100 million of quality-related research funding for providers to the current academic year to help to address some of the immediate pressures faced by university research activities.

The department will consider purchasing land and buildings where they can be used for new or expanding schools and colleges in England. This will take place as part of existing programmes and using established procedures. This financial year (across purchases from all suitable vendors, including but not limited to HE providers), we have budgeted up to £100 million to acquire sites for planned projects in England. Details are available on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students.

The government has also confirmed that HE providers in England are eligible to apply for its support packages, including business loan support schemes, which the Office for Students (OfS) the regulator in England, estimates could be worth at least £700m to the sector.

We will only intervene further where we believe there is a case to do so and where we believe intervention is possible and appropriate and as a last resort.

In such instances, we will work with providers to review their circumstances and assess the need for restructuring and any attached conditions. The department will be working with HM Treasury and other government departments to develop this restructuring regime, and with the devolved administrations.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on COVID-19 and other national campaigns on a rolling monthly basis on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that all (a) sanitary and (b) toilet products are accurately labelled as flushable.

Most sanitary products and many toilet products are not flushable. If disposed of by being flushed down a toilet, they can cause sewer blockages and harm to the environment. The water industry has conducted research into blockages, which suggests baby wipes are one of the main items causing them.

In November 2016, a Defra Ministerial roundtable meeting with the water industry and the wipe manufacturers’ representative body was held to address sewer blockages. It resulted in improved industry labelling to indicate more clearly those wipe products, particularly baby wipes, that should not be flushed.

Since then the water industry has also devised a new ‘fine to flush’ standard for wipe products, covering largely moist toilet tissue. If products pass strict industry standards, manufacturers of wipes can feature an official water industry ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol on their packaging. This symbol is starting to be seen on an increasing number of products.

This standard requires that these products do not contain plastic and break up upon entering a sewer, therefore entering the sewage system without causing blockages or harming the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government will require companies to buy letters of access to use data held by the European Chemicals Agency after the transition period.

After the transition period we will establish our own independent chemical regime. Although both the UK and EU will operate REACH frameworks, the two systems will not be linked in any way. This means that companies wishing to retain access to the UK market will be required to notify and submit registration data to the Health and Safety Executive within given submission deadlines to confirm the registrations and ensure compliance with UK REACH.

The data that supports each substance’s registration in EU REACH is not owned by individual companies or the European Chemicals Agency, but by a commercial consortium of companies. Although there will be some UK companies that already own that data, others will need to negotiate access to fulfil the UK requirements.

That is why, in our published approach to negotiations, the Government has set out that to enable businesses to meet the separate requirements of the two markets, the UK and EU could, as part of a Chemicals Annex, agree data and information sharing mechanisms. We continue to pursue a negotiated deal on data sharing with the EU which we believe could mitigate the need for industry to provide full data packages and offer benefits to both UK and EU businesses. We believe that our proposal for a Chemicals Annex would be in the interests of UK and EU business.

We have also sought to minimise both the cost and burden to businesses through measures such as the grace period provisions relating to ‘Grandfathering’ and ‘Downstream User Import Notifications’ to minimise the disruption to industry. The aim of the transitional provisions we have put in place is to strike a balance which provides for a database to underpin robust, evidence-based regulation while placing achievable duties on business.

We said we would keep those provisions under review and have listened to concerns raised by a broad range of stakeholders about the current timelines for supplying data to the UK regulator. Therefore, we have recently announced our intention to extend the existing registration deadlines set in legislation (subject to parliamentary and devolved administration scrutiny). This will allow industry more time to reach agreement with commercial partners to access the registration data that they need and therefore reduce the risks of disruption to supply chains.

Information on these new deadlines can be found on the GOV.UK website at: www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-comply-with-reach-chemical-regulations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what is the estimated (a) cost and (b) timescale of the Government’s plan to create a UK equivalent to the European Chemicals Agency’s Reach registration database.

The preparations the Government made for the possibility of a no deal exit mean that we are well placed to be ready with our own independent regulatory regime for 1 January 2021. Our focus is now to build on what we have delivered already, taking the opportunity to develop and refine the systems and processes we are putting in place in preparation for UK REACH coming into force. This includes the Comply with UK REACH IT system for registrations that we have built, which will replicate key functions of the European Chemicals Agency’s REACH registration database to provide continuity for UK business.

The Government is increasing resource in the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and Defra to enable delivery of UK REACH. Once we have staffed up to full operating capability, we expect to spend about £13 million per year on the UK’s new REACH regulatory system. This figure covers the costs of operation and maintenance of the REACH IT system and staff resource in the three organisations, for example to ensure technical specialist input into risk and socio-economic assessment of chemicals for the UK.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how much her Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The total spend on UK advertising activity through paid media channels between August 2020 and December 2020 was £19,971.47 (excl. VAT). This excludes communications and marketing activity undertaken by the Department overseas.

This media spend targets the UK business audience as a whole and the Department does not hold information separating this spend by the nations of the UK.

The Department for International Trade publishes expenditure exceeding £25,000 on all communications and marketing on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will ensure that (a) general standards and (b) rules on geographic indicators will not be lowered in exchange for any reduction of tariffs in a UK-US mini trade deal.

Both the UK and the US have made clear their shared ambition for a comprehensive trade agreement. Getting the right deal is more important than meeting any particular deadline.

The UK’s reputation for quality, safety and performance drives demand for UK goods and is key to our long-term prosperity. In negotiations, we will uphold the UK's high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.

We will also maintain effective protection of food and drink names in a way that reflects their geographical origins, getting the balance right for consumers to ensure they are not confused or misled about the origins of goods, and have access to a competitive range of products.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many licences for the export of 12 gauge rubberised buckshot TEC Harseim ammunition to Chile have been granted in the last 12 months.

None.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how her department defines personal meetings in the context of classifying meetings to enable decisions of whether to publish them in the Government's quarterly transparency data.

The Department for International Trade takes issues over transparency and potential conflicts of interest incredibly seriously and so adheres to the Cabinet Office guidelines in relation to all meetings.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many licences for arms exports to Belarus her Department has approved in the last 12 months.

There are EU sanctions against Belarus already, including an arms embargo and a ban on the export of equipment that might be used for internal repression. Britain cannot issue export licences for items prohibited by these sanctions.

More generally, information about export licences issued, granted and refused is publicly available at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 17 July 2020 to Question 73000, whether the Government will enact the right it retains to regulate in the public interest, including for public health purposes, as is already recognised under international law, should an investor state dispute settlement claim adversely affect steps the Government has taken to tackle covid-19.

The right to regulate is recognised in international law. Further, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions do not affect HM Government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.

ISDS tribunals cannot overrule the sovereignty of Parliament, overturn or force any changes to law. Indeed, they can only award compensation if a foreign investor’s rights under the treaty have been breached – for example, if the investor is found to have been treated in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner – though there has never been a successful ISDS claim against the United Kingdom.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what estimate he has made of the number of credible reports of international humanitarian law breaches required to be recorded that would result in the suspension of UK licenses for the export of (a) arms and (b) military equipment to Saudi Arabia for potential use in Yemen.

HM Government is able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require, and this is done in line with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

Specifically, Criterion 2c makes sure that we do not grant licences if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade set out in her Written Ministerial Statement of 7th July how she has fully considered Criterion 2c in relation to the re-taking of the licensing decisions, in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans she has to ban imports of Xinjiang cotton made using Uighur Muslim forced labour.

HM Government have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, with credible reports of the use of forced labour. It has always been the case that, where we have concerns, we raise them, as we did on this issue at the UN Human Rights Council in March. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

HM Government is committed to eliminating modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 made Britain the first country in the world to require businesses to report on how they are tackling modern slavery, including forced labour, in their operations and supply chains. Section 54 of the Act was designed to empower consumers, investors, civil society and others to scrutinise the action that businesses are taking to identify and address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make it her policy not to negotiate, sign or ratify any future trade agreements that include investor state dispute settlement provisions.

The precise details of any future Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) are a matter for formal negotiations, and HM Government would not seek to pre-empt these discussions.

The United Kingdom has investment agreements with Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions with over 90 trading partners. HM Government recognises the importance of strengthening international investment in response to COVID-19, and the continuingly important role played by both investment protection and ISDS provisions in safeguarding British investors overseas, including pensioners across the country through their pension funds and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Where ISDS is included in future agreements, we will seek to ensure fair outcomes of claims and high ethical standards for arbitrators. We are clear that HM Government and our treaty partners retain the right to regulate in the public interest, including for public health purposes, and this is already recognised under international law. There has never been a successful ISDS claim against the United Kingdom, nor has the threat of potential claims affected our legislation.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will take steps to renegotiate existing trade agreements allowing for the use of investor state dispute settlements (ISDS) to restrict their use in respect of covid-19 related claims.

The precise details of any future Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) are a matter for formal negotiations, and HM Government would not seek to pre-empt these discussions.

The United Kingdom has investment agreements with Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions with over 90 trading partners. HM Government recognises the importance of strengthening international investment in response to COVID-19, and the continuingly important role played by both investment protection and ISDS provisions in safeguarding British investors overseas, including pensioners across the country through their pension funds and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Where ISDS is included in future agreements, we will seek to ensure fair outcomes of claims and high ethical standards for arbitrators. We are clear that HM Government and our treaty partners retain the right to regulate in the public interest, including for public health purposes, and this is already recognised under international law. There has never been a successful ISDS claim against the United Kingdom, nor has the threat of potential claims affected our legislation.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that crowd control equipment and ammunition sold under export licences to Chile are used for training purposes only.

I have been sorry to see the unrest on the streets of Santiago and I can assure the Hon. Gentleman that all export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the ‘Consolidated Criteria’).

In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade (DIT) receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any items.

Assessments under Criterion 2 in particular, include the respect of rights and freedoms in the country of final destination. A licence will not be issued if, to do so, would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.

We continue to monitor global developments closely and are able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require, in line with the Consolidated Criteria.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government invited representatives of the Republic of Chile to an arms and surveillance fair in Farnborough in March 2020.

Representatives of the Republic of Chile were invited to the Home Office Security and Policing 2020 event, at Farnborough in March 2020, by the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation. They did not attend.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that retailers of e-scooters advise customers of the law on their use.

Ministers wrote to e-scooter retailers in December 2018 and July this year to highlight the need for providing consumers with clear information about the laws relating to privately owned e-scooter use, including, for example, that they are lawful to use on private land. Officials are continuing to consult with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who oversee consumer law, about further steps that can be taken to encourage retailers to be responsible in their messaging with consumers of e-scooters

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling people who hold a category DE driving licence to (a) automatically acquire a category C licence or (b) relax the requirements for obtaining that licence in the context of the shortage of HGV drivers.

The Government has no plans to allow drivers with a Category D licence for buses and coaches to drive large goods vehicles without obtaining a Category C licence. While these vehicles are similar in size, it is important to recognise that they are very different in their weight and their manoeuvrability.

Ensuring drivers have the right licence, and skills, needed to drive different types of vehicles is key to maintaining road safety.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to reduce queue waiting times for users attempting to access the DVSA theory test online booking system.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) launched the new theory test booking service on 19 July 2021.

To allow the prompt deployment of critical fixes, the DVSA introduced a maintenance window of 8pm to 8am running until 29 July 2021 to resolve issues faced by customers and to improve system stability. Whilst the system performed below expectations on its first two days of operation it stabilised quickly and has performed in line with expectations since.

To ensure technical issues are resolved quickly and effectively mitigated, further overnight maintenance is being carried out during August and may continue during September. To minimise disruption to customers, the service will be unavailable overnight only when absolutely necessary with customers notified in advance.

The DVSA uses a queuing system to protect the new service from being overloaded. As at 23 July 2021, no customers using the booking system had to queue.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that technical issues with the DVSA theory test online booking system that prevent users from booking a test are (a) resolved quickly and (b) effectively mitigated going forward.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) launched the new theory test booking service on 19 July 2021.

To allow the prompt deployment of critical fixes, the DVSA introduced a maintenance window of 8pm to 8am running until 29 July 2021 to resolve issues faced by customers and to improve system stability. Whilst the system performed below expectations on its first two days of operation it stabilised quickly and has performed in line with expectations since.

To ensure technical issues are resolved quickly and effectively mitigated, further overnight maintenance is being carried out during August and may continue during September. To minimise disruption to customers, the service will be unavailable overnight only when absolutely necessary with customers notified in advance.

The DVSA uses a queuing system to protect the new service from being overloaded. As at 23 July 2021, no customers using the booking system had to queue.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

Please see below estimates of spend by month and territory for the Department for Transport, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. There is no recorded spend for the Vehicle Certification Agency or for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency during this period.

Department for Transport

England Only

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£102,389.00

£276,496.00

£286,563.00

£100,628.96

£44,619.00

£810,695.96

Of which Advertising

£0.00

£178,537.00

£192,409.00

£100,039.00

£24,122.00

£495,107.00

England and Wales Only

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£186,035.45

£287,500.00

£137,352.00

£50,922.00

£177,135.00

£838,944.00

Of which Advertising

£12,819.45

£138,287.00

£71,988.00

£0.00

£0.00

£223,094.45

UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£107.81

£346.92

£25,719.97

£51,271.40

£1,382.59

£78,828.69

Of which Advertising

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency

UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£1,453.00

£1,500.00

£63,226.05

£451,930.082

£256,588.49

£774,668.46

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

England, Wales and Scotland only

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£32,000.00

£32,000.00

Of which Advertising

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

£32,000.00

£32,000.00

UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

August

September

October

November

December

TOTAL

Communications/ marketing spend

£70,706.00

£16,235.00

£4,726.00

£3,321.00

£1,770.00

£96,758.00

Of which Advertising

£63,000.00

£9,000.00

£1,150.00

£0.00

£0.00

£73,150.00

To note:

  • Not all costs for activity in the period stated have been processed yet.
  • Where possible advertising costs have been split out. Additional detail can only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to establish a standard mandatory (a) brightness and (b) width of flood for bicycle lights.

The lighting of road vehicles, including bicycles, is regulated by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (as amended). To control light output bicycle lamps emitting a steady light must comply with British Standard 6102: Part 3 or an equivalent European standard. The standard includes maximum and minimum luminous intensity requirements, and defines the beam pattern to ensure the road surface is adequately lit whilst minimising glare to other road users. Flashing lamps may also be used provided they comply with the mandatory minimum luminous intensity requirement.

It is an offence to dazzle other road users with bicycle lamps. There are no current plans to change these provisions.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has responded to the letter sent to the Prime Minister on 27 August 2020 from the British Educational Travel Association; and what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues copied into that letter on its contents.

The letter copied to the Secretary of State has been received. However due to the high number of correspondence the Department has received we have been unable to respond. However, I would like to assure the honourable member for Midlothian, that a response will be sent shortly.

The Department for Transport is in regular contact with the travel industry regarding the challenges facing the sector as a result of COVID-19. The sector is crucial to the UK’s economy and businesses across the industry are able to draw on the unprecedented package of economic measures we have put in place during this time.

This includes a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, two business interruption loan guarantee schemes for different sizes of business, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and VAT deferrals.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on transport decarbonisation of hydrogen lorries; and what discussions he has had with the transport industry on the introduction of those lorries to the UK.

In 2018, the Department for Transport published the outputs of the Transport Energy Model. The model provides a clear assessment of the relative environmental impacts of a range of fuel and powertrain options for road vehicles over the period to 2050, including hydrogen fuel cell heavy goods vehicles. Transport Ministers and officials regularly meet with sector representatives on a range of issues, including the use of hydrogen in the freight industry. During July and August officials engaged with over 700 key stakeholders to support the development of our Transport Decarbonisation Plan which will be published later this year and set out options and support for green hydrogen across road, rail, maritime and aviation.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason the list of countries that the Government asked the Scottish Government to agree to categorising as low risk on 2 July 2020 was different to that announced on 3 July 2020.

The Government shared the list of the countries it intended to exempt from the requirement for passengers to self-isolate with the Devolved Administrations at regular intervals as the policy developed. An updated country list was shared with the Devolved Administrations on 3 July, ahead of the public announcement.

The Government will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review. If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements. The Government will continue to work closely alongside the Devolved Administrations on this policy.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether UK citizens travelling to countries rated (a) green and (b) amber under the Government's proposed traffic light travel system will face mandatory testing for covid-19 on (i) leaving and (ii) returning to the UK.

UK citizens returning to the UK will not face mandatory testing for COVID-19. All passengers flying into the UK are provided with the latest public health advice at various stages in their journey and we expect them to follow the latest guidance, including around social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

In relation to UK citizens leaving the UK, it is the responsibility for all countries to set their own entry and public health requirements. Each country will have its own approach depending on their individual circumstances.

These measures will be subject to regular review and we will continue to explore further measures at airports in line with the latest scientific evidence and data.

The Government expects other countries to follow best practice in relation to aviation guidance and Covid-19, such as our own UK guidance or ICAO and EASA guidance.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency on extending provisional driving licence expiry dates in response to the unavailability of driving tests during the covid-19 outbreak.

Provisional driving entitlement is usually valid until a driver reaches the age of 70 and the photocard must be renewed every ten years. There are no plans to extend these dates.

Customers can renew their photocard licence online or by post. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have continued to operate as normal throughout the pandemic. However, paper applications are taking longer to process as they must be dealt with in person and the DVLA currently has a reduced number of staff on-site to comply with social distancing requirements and ensure staff safety.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many applications for new provisional driving licenses have been suspended as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; when the processing of those applications will resume; and how long applicants will have to wait to receive their new licence.

Applications for provisional driving licences can be made online at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence. Customers can also make postal applications for a provisional driving licence. However, paper applications are likely to take significantly longer to process in the current circumstances.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints have been received by her Department on the communication of changes to women's State Pension retirement age as at 18 October 2021.

As of 18 October 2021, DWP received 9822 complaints in the period from August 2016 to September 2021.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress his Department has made on (a) extending Automatic Enrolment to workers under 22 and (b) removing the automatic enrolment lower earnings threshold by the mid-2020s.

We are committed to implementing the 2017 Automatic Enrolment Review ambitions in the mid-2020s, lowering the age for being automatically enrolled from 22 to 18 and abolishing the automatic enrolment lower earnings limit, so that contributions are payable from the first pound of earnings.

In this way we will expand coverage of the successful workplace pension reforms and increase the amounts being put into retirement savings by millions of workers, particularly younger people and lower earners.

The 2017 Review report was clear that implementation will be subject to learning from previous workplace pension contribution increases, discussions with employers and others on the right approach, and finding ways to make these changes affordable. We will do this in light of the impact of the pandemic and our overall support for economic recovery, while continuing to support long-term saving, balancing the needs of savers, employers and tax-payers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of people who are automatically enrolled that are likely to reach a moderate lifestyle in retirement as defined by the PLSA’s Retirement Living Standards.

This Government is focussed on its goal of expanding the benefits of automatic enrolment in the mid-2020s, increasing the overall amounts being saved by working people, and extending the benefits of workplace pensions to younger workers. I welcome the PLSA standards as a contribution to the debate.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the impact of the 3.2 per cent rise in inflation on the financial wellbeing of recipients of universal credit.

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

Separately to the Universal Credit Uplift, the Secretary of State completes an annual review of most benefit rates for people below State Pension age to determine whether they have retained their value in relation to the general level of prices. Where prices have increased relative to the value of those benefits, the Secretary of State will increase certain disability and carers’ benefits – such as Personal Independence Payments and Carer’s Allowance – at least in line with that increase. She may also decide to increase other benefits, such as the Universal Credit Standard Allowance. That decision is discretionary, but it is conventional that these rates are also increased in line with the increase in prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The up-rating review is conducted in the Autumn of each year, with the outcome announced in November and the new rates implemented the following April.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to review the planned removal of the uplift to universal credit in response to the increase in inflation to 3.2 per cent.

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

Separately to the Universal Credit Uplift, the Secretary of State completes an annual review of most benefit rates for people below State Pension age to determine whether they have retained their value in relation to the general level of prices. Where prices have increased relative to the value of those benefits, the Secretary of State will increase certain disability and carers’ benefits – such as Personal Independence Payments and Carer’s Allowance – at least in line with that increase. She may also decide to increase other benefits, such as the Universal Credit Standard Allowance. That decision is discretionary, but it is conventional that these rates are also increased in line with the increase in prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The up-rating review is conducted in the Autumn of each year, with the outcome announced in November and the new rates implemented the following April.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on COVID-19 and other national campaigns on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will raise the level of statutory sick pay to protect people affected by covid-19 outbreak.

This government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially and we have taken steps to strengthen that safety net as part of the government’s response to the pandemic.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are sick or incapable of work. For those who are sick, self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus, SSP is now payable from the first day of work missed, rather than the fourth. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay.

SSP is just one part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, for example where they are not eligible for SSP, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on their personal circumstances.

Working people on low incomes who are required to remain at home by NHS Test and Trace to help stop the spread of the virus and cannot work from home could be eligible for a £500 payment to financially support them while self-isolating.

Background

  • Individuals are eligible for SSP, from day one – rather than day 4, where they are unable to work because they are:

o Sick, displaying symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus

o self-isolating because they, or someone in their household (including an extended or linked household), is displaying symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus

o self-isolating because they have been notified by the NHS or public health authority that they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

o Self-isolating because they have been advised to do so by their doctor or health clinician before being admitted to hospital for planned or elective surgery

o shielding because they live or work in an area where shielding is reintroduced and they have been advised to do so by their doctor or health authority

Other SSP eligibility criteria will apply.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make the £20 universal credit uplift permanent in light of the new January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this pandemic, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to (a) ensure that employers undertake covid-19 risk assessments for pregnant employees and (b) act in accordance with the result of those assessments.

(a) Employers are required to carry out risk assessments for all pregnant workers and protect them from harm. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has guidance on managing the risks of COVID-19 and specific information on protecting vulnerable workers, which includes the health and safety responsibilities for pregnant workers.

(b) Employers have a legal duty to act in accordance with the results of their risk assessment for pregnant workers. Where employers are not doing so, workers can contact the HSE to raise their concerns which will be followed up.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the temporary removal of the minimum income floor for all self employed universal credit claimants that has applied since April 6 2020 will end.

These easement regulations are due to expire on 12/11/20. We are monitoring the situation and carefully considering next steps. Universal credit claimants will be informed before the Minimum Income Floor is reinstated.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the financial effect of ending the removal of the minimum income floor for all self-employed universal credit claimants.

The government announced an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes, including the temporary relaxation of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for all self-employed UC claimants affected by the COVID-19, for the duration of the outbreak.

This means a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak is reflected in claimants’ awards. It ensures that the self-employed are supported by the benefit system so that they can follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing and self-isolation.

The Office for Budget Responsibility will be publishing its assessment of this in due course as part of its Autumn forecast.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make an assessment on the merits of implementing automatic approval for Universal Credit for self-employed people who are ineligible for other Government financial support.

From 6 April 2020 we temporarily removed the application of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for all self-employed Universal Credit claimants. This ensures that the self-employed are supported by the benefit system so that they can follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing and self-isolation. In addition to the temporary removal of the MIF we have also delayed the Gainful Self-Employment Test, and dis-applied work search and work availability conditionality requirements. This means self-employed Universal Credit claimants can follow public health England guidance, and the Universal Credit award will be assessed on any actual earnings.

The adjustment to self-employment policy is a part of a wider government package to support those on low incomes through the outbreak. Taken together, these measures provide over £9.3bn of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19. Further information about UC and self-employment can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/self-employment-and-universal-credit

Some small business owners may also receive a grant through the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, as well as various business loan schemes. There is a lot of ongoing support that can be accessed, including the Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the deferral of tax payments.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many women who have applied for universal credit since 1 March 2020 have had their universal credit award reduced as a result of being in receipt of maternity allowance.

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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the annual cost of ending the differential treatment of maternity allowance and statutory maternity pay in the calculation of universal credit awards.

No such estimate has been made as Statutory Maternity Pay is paid by an employer and is considered to be earned income, which can be taxed, and is therefore a form of earnings subject to Universal Credit’s Work Allowance (where a claimant is eligible) and tapering, in the same way as other earned income.

Maternity Allowance is paid by the Department to people who are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay but who do meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. The rate varies according to the criteria fulfilled which principally covers employed people who have worked less than the time before they become eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, self-employed people and people out of work.

It is a longstanding principle of the welfare system that benefits are not paid to claimants with income available from other sources to support themselves. Unearned income, which is provided to meet everyday living costs, is taken into account in the calculation of Universal Credit and benefit entitlement may be adjusted accordingly.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employers the Health and Safety Executive has (a) investigated and (b) taken enforcement action against since 16 March 2020 in respect of an alleged breach of the employer's obligations to a pregnant woman under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

HSE does not record specific regulations against all investigations, including the investigation of concerns raised by workers and others, except when formal enforcement action in the form of prosecutions and notices is taken. Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health of Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on employers to assess the risks to their employees including women of child bearing age and new or expectant mothers. From 16th March 2020 to 24th September 2020 no formal enforcement action has yet been recorded against employers for failing to meet the requirements of Regulation 3(1) in relation to women of child bearing age or new or expectant mothers. Similarly, where other forms of action including letters and Notification of Contravention letters are taken details are not specifically recorded on HSE’s database.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to publish guidance on small business organisations becoming intermediaries in the Kickstart Scheme.

Companies looking to recruit fewer than 30 Kickstart applicants are free to create their own consortiums or can find out who their local intermediaries are by speaking to their local jobcentre or by getting in touch with the employer team in their area. Guidance is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-as-a-representative-of-a-group-of-employers-through-the-kickstart-scheme

This guidance will continue to be updated as the Kickstart Scheme evolves, setting out how an employer or organisation can take advantage of the scheme.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the Government has set the minimum level of Kickstart Scheme roles at 30 per company.

Companies looking to offer roles to fewer than 30 Kickstart applicants are able to benefit from Kickstart by bidding for placements via an intermediary organisation. Intermediaries can gather employers keen to offer Kickstart jobs to make a collective bid of 30 or more vacancies. Smaller employers will have support from the intermediary to create quality roles and additional support so that young people get the most out of their placement, including training, this also reduces the administrative burden falling on the small employer. The department has received significant interest from a wide range of bodies including local authorities, charities and trade/industry bodies looking to become intermediaries.


Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to make an assessment of what lessons can be learned from the conclusions and recommendations in Basic Income Scotland’s Report on the feasibility of Scottish Citizens’ Basic Income pilots published in June 2020.

The Department for Work and Pensions have no plans to make an assessment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the benefit cap has not been raised in line with recent increases in universal credit payments.

There are currently no plans to change the benefit cap. The Benefit Cap restores fairness between those receiving out-of-work benefits and taxpayers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to uprate the benefit cap to ensure that universal credit claimants are not lifted above the cap by the Government’s decision to increase universal credit by £20 a week for a year.

There are currently no plans to change the benefit cap. The Benefit Cap restores fairness between those receiving out-of-work benefits and taxpayers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to extend the £20 weekly increase to universal credit to legacy benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support were increased by 1.7% in April 2020following the Government’s announcement to end the benefit freeze. .

It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. There are special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who will be able to make a new claim to Universal Credit from January 2021.

Claimants should check their eligibility before applying to Universal Credit as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. Neither DWP nor HMRC can advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits.

From 22 July 2020, a two-week run on of Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB) will be available for all claimants whose claim to UC ends entitlement to these benefits to provide additional support for claimants moving to UC.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to relax means testing for universal credit applications for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to relax means testing for Universal Credit.

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not not have to wait several months for a rise in the Universal Credit. Equally, as people’s pay increases, their Universal Credit payments reduce gradually, and the taper rate ensures that people are always better off in a job.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department distinguishes between savings for personal use and savings for the purpose of the ongoing basic maintenance of the applicant's business or self-employment when assessing universal credit applications.

Yes - Where a claimant has capital over £16,000 we will contact them to understand their circumstances and determine eligibility. If this money is to be used for business or tax purposes, it will not be counted towards their capital, but they may be asked to prove that the money is for these purposes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a system that calculates the level of benefit a claimant is entitled to under universal credit and informs the claimant of that figure before the claim is completed.

DWP cannot provide a preliminary indication of entitlement because this cannot be calculated until the end of the first Universal Credit Assessment Period.

The Department has published information on the Government website for prospective claimants, including signposts to independent benefit calculators.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of removing the minimum five week wait before universal credit claimants receive their first payment for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Universal Credit Assessment period and payment structure are fundamental parts of the Universal Credit design. The assessment period runs for a full calendar month from the date of entitlement, and the subsequent Universal Credit pay date will be within seven calendar days after the end of the initial assessment period. It is not possible to award a Universal Credit payment as soon as a claim is made, as the assessment period must run its course before the award of Universal Credit can be calculated. This monthly calculation has been hard-wired throughout the system, and cannot now be changed without significant re-build. At present, all resources are rightly focused on processing new claims.

New Claim Advances are available urgently if a claimant needs support during their first assessment period, and budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will temporarily amend the eligibility criteria for universal credit to allow students who are in financial difficulty as a result of the covid-19 pandemic to claim during the summer 2020.

A condition of entitlement for Universal Credit is that the claimant must not be in education, which excludes most students. Financial support for students comes from the system of educational loans, grants and bursaries designed for their needs. To safeguard fairness Universal Credit does not duplicate the support provided by the student support system. Exceptions are made where students have additional needs that are not met through the student support system.

Students will continue to receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year, which covers the summer period.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have taken telephone reassessments to transfer from disability living allowance to personal independence payment since the introduction of the covid-19 lockdown.

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

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many personnel in her Department are currently working on disability living allowance to personal independence payment reassessments.

Our priority as a Department is ensuring people get their benefit payments and that we can continue to support those who need us the most. On 23 March we announced that we are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits. This temporary measure is being taken to ensure the Department’s resources are focused on enabling access to financial support for new claimants and reassure claimants about continuity of their benefit during the coronavirus outbreak. We therefore, have around 100 people, dealing with the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP reassessments for those claimants that had started the DLA to PIP process prior to 23 March.

24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to suspend all (a) telephone and (b) paper-based reviews of people in receipt of disability living allowance who have been notified of a reassessment for personal independence payments.

Effective from 24 March, a decision was taken to suspend all review and reassessment activity unless an individual reports a change in their needs, including existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants who have been invited to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Activity has been suspended on the majority of cases and work is ongoing to suspend activity on any remaining cases identified. Recipients of DLA who have already been invited to claim PIP, and have not yet been invited to an assessment, will continue to be paid their DLA and will be contacted in the future about their PIP claim. Recipients of DLA who have been invited to claim PIP and have already been invited to an assessment, will be required to take part in a telephone assessment where possible as this will help us process their claim.

24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff are providing telephone support for people in Scotland trying to apply for universal credit; and what the average call waiting time is for those applicants.

We are unable to extract data for calls from claimants in Scotland from national data.

As of 24 April 2020 the Department has around 7.5 thousand full time equivalent (FTE) staff taking calls from claimants in Great Britain, this includes contracted supplier resource and DWP colleagues who also case manage claims. For week commencing 20 April 2020 the combined average waiting time for all Universal Credit service options on the national Freephone Universal Credit helpline was 22 minutes and 58 seconds, for the Department’s supplier (Serco) who handle inbound calls for new claims this was under one minute.

People making new claims for Universal Credit in fact no longer need to call the Department as part of the process and we have communicated that widely. Once they have completed their online application we will call them if we need to check any of the information they have given us. We have also introduced new processes to ease pressure on waiting times for identity verification over the phone and other processes.

The Department’s priority is to continue to ensure those who are entitled to benefit receive the support they need at a time when new claims for Universal Credit are at an unprecedented level.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether people in receipt of disability living allowance who have received notification for reassessment for personal independence payments will cease to receive those payments if they (a) do not attend a reassessment over the (i) phone and (ii) on paper and (b) cannot attend a reassessment due to the inability of a carer to provide the necessary support due to social distancing measures introduced during the covid-19 outbreak.

A.

  1. i) Claimants may have their claim disallowed if they fail to attend or participate in their telephony assessment, however we are taking a number of steps to ensure that no individuals are unfairly penalised. Claimants who fail to attend or participate in a telephony assessment will therefore be contacted in the first instance to establish the reason and rearrange the appointment where possible. This recognises that there may be situations where, due to circumstances outside their control (e.g. health conditions or disability) claimants may be unable to attend or participate.

  1. ii) Healthcare Professionals will continue to make recommendations based on paper-based evidence where possible for those claimants who have already returned their PIP2 and have a scheduled assessment. Where this is not possible a telephony assessment may occur. They will be of a similar structure to that of face-to-face assessments and provide the Healthcare Professionals with an opportunity to gain further evidence from the claimant about how their health condition or disability affects their daily life and mobility needs. DLA to PIP reassessment claimants will not need to return a PIP2 at this time, form unless their needs have changed.

B. Where appropriate, it is possible for an appointee and/or companion to join a telephony assessment even if they are based in different locations.

20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure her Department has adequate capacity to process new social security applications resulting from the outbreak of covid-19.

Our priority as a Department is ensuring people get their benefit payments and that we can continue to support those who need us the most. We have mobilised our robust business continuity plans to ensure we can do just that. We are already redeploying 10,000 staff from other parts of DWP and are also recruiting additional staff to assist with the processing of claims, including support from other government departments and the private sector.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that adequate stocks of diabetic (a) equipment and (b) medicine remain available in pharmacies across the UK in the context of the shortage of HGV drivers.

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

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the shortage of HGV drivers on medical supply chains for pharmacies.

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

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government will recognise as valid in England the EU Digital COVID Certificates of people resident in the UK who have been vaccinated in an EU member state in the event that proof of covid-19 vaccination is required.

The United Kingdom already accepts the EU Digital COVID Certificate as proof of vaccination for international travel.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government plans to take to determine the appropriateness of hotels for use as Managed Quarantine Facilities.

We are working closely with the hospitality sector providing the quarantine accommodation and continue to monitor the operation of the managed quarantine scheme to ensure it remains appropriate and can meet future demand.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The Department did not run any paid for communications, advertising or marketing activity centrally between August 2020 and December 2020.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will have discussions with the Health and Safety Executive on gathering and retaining data during the covid-19 outbreak on health and safety breaches regarding pregnant women and new mothers.

The methods for collecting meaningful data on health and safety breaches regarding pregnant women and new mothers during the COVID-19 outbreak are complex and unlikely to result in a data set that can provide useful information.

The Department is working with the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and health departments in the devolved nations on developing guidance on occupational health advice for pregnant women in the workplace. The Department plans to publish the guidance shortly.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will issue guidance to employers to allow all pregnant women who pass (a) 20 weeks or (b) 28 weeks gestation to work from home or be suspended on full pay during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is working with the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and health departments in the devolved administrations on developing guidance on occupational health advice for pregnant women in the workplace. The Department plans to publish the guidance shortly.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will introduce and promote standard procedures and contracts to deter poor employment practices in the social care sector.

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

The Government nonetheless maintains oversight of the social care system and we are committed to raising the profile of the social care sector. The Government expects local authorities to commission care at a rate that allows providers to employ the staff they need to deliver quality care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the Scottish Government on the effect of mutual recognition principle in the UK Internal Markets Bill on public health objectives across the UK.

Clause 14(2) of the Bill makes clear that the core public functions of public bodies such as the National Health Service are not in scope of mutual recognition for goods. Supplies of goods by public bodies will only be in scope if they are supplied for purely commercial purposes – such as a souvenir sold by a gift shop in a public museum.

Equally, health and social care services are excluded from the mutual recognition principle for services in Part 2. This means that health services will not be affected by the mutual recognition rule for services.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to roll out covid-19 antibody testing throughout the UK.

We are already offering antibody tests to National Health Service and care staff in England, with patients and social care residents eligible at their clinician’s request. We are also using antibody tests to support research studies.

In order to better understand the role that an antibody test could play in our response to the pandemic, we need to improve our understanding of how the immune system responds to the virus that causes COVID-19. We do not currently know how long an antibody response to the virus lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit the virus to others. Our understanding of the virus will grow as new scientific evidence and studies emerge. To date, over 1.6 million COVID-19 antibody tests have been carried out.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people suffering from the long term symptoms of covid-19.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study, to understand and improve long-term outcomes for survivors following hospitalisation with COVID-19. The research will inform future NHS service design and provision and the Government is currently considering options for future work in this area.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to recognise long covid as a medical condition.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study, to understand and improve long-term outcomes for survivors following hospitalisation with COVID-19. The research will inform future NHS service design and provision and the Government is currently considering options for future work in this area.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will extend the maternity exemption certificate for dental care to new mothers who have not been able to access dental care during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to extend the existing charges exemption for pregnant women and those who have given birth in the last 12 months due to the pandemic.

Urgent face to face dental care was available through the peak pandemic period via over 600 urgent dental centres. All dental practices providing NHS services were able to restart face to face care from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service in line with recommendations around infection control procedures and personal protective equipment. Urgent Dental Care Centres remain open to support the provision of urgent face to face care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of Luxe Lifestyle Ltd's capacity to fulfil it contract FFP2/KN95 to provide 1.2 million gowns and 10 million masks to the NHS during the covid-19 outbreak.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0120-responding-to-covid-19

The supplier will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is his policy to implement an elimination strategy in respect of covid-19.

Total eradication of SARS-CoV-2 globally is unlikely (unless there is some unexpected biological change in the virus). Elimination nationally (i.e. bringing the number of locally acquired cases to zero) may be possible transiently but is highly unlikely to be possible permanently. Though other countries appear to have eliminated the virus locally, it is still early in the pandemic and the virus is very likely to reappear in these countries. Instead of eradication/elimination, a realistic public health goal would be to have very good control of transmission so that the number of new cases, and therefore the disease burden, is very low.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what lessons his Department learned from the development phase of the centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app; and which of those lessons were applied to the development of the Track and Trace app.

Rigorous testing has been underway through development of the contact tracing app, including during the Isle of Wight pilot and in field tests. All of the lessons learned will be applied to the development of the app moving forwards.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which (a) companies and (b) other organisations received funding from the public purse to work on the Government's centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app.

The National Health Service continues to work constructively with organisations that are helping to develop and test the NHS COVID-19 App. These companies include VMware/Vmware Pivotal Labs, Zuhlke Engineering, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, the University of Oxford, the BBC, the RAF, as well as partners in countries including Singapore, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand and Germany.


For more information on companies and organisations that have received funding, details on individual contracts can be found on Contract Finder on GOV.UK.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what was the cost to the public purse of the development of the original centralised covid-19 contact-tracing app.

To date, the cost of developing the National Health Service COVID-19 app is £10.8 million. Our investment in the Isle of Wight phase has provided us with valuable information that we can combine with Google and Apple’s technology in a new solution to support the entire NHS Test and Trace service in a product that is right for the British public.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for the Test and Trace regime to be fully operational.

NHS Test and Trace is a new, large-scale service, which launched on 28 May.

We have recruited 27,000 contact tracing staff in England to support this service. In addition, a package of £300 million of new funding has been made available to local authorities to work with NHS Test and Trace to develop local outbreak control plans, building on the work already done so far to respond to COVID-19.

The latest data shows that in total, since 28 May 2020:

- 21,105 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in England and of these 20,968 (99.4%) were transferred for contract tracing;

- 72.6% (15,225) of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reached by our contact tracers and asked to share details of their close contacts; and

- 88.6% (113,925) of close contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate.

We are working to reach more people – and continually making improvements to the service to do that.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when (a) the Government and (b) Public Health England first held discussions with the companies selected to participate in the covid-19 antibody testing programme.

In April 2020, an industry call to action was announced. A number of existing suppliers and United Kingdom-based global companies responded positively to the Government’s call to action for a national effort on testing.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Questions 41119, 411120 and 41121 tabled by the hon Member for Midlothian on 28 April 2020.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to Questions 41119, 41120 and 41121 on 3 August.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate the Commission has made of the number of additional House staff that will be required to be physically present on the Parliamentary estate to support the operation of Parliament as a result of the end of hybrid proceedings.

The House of Commons Commission is aware that up to 650 House Service and Parliamentary Digital staff may be required on site from Monday 1 June onwards. In addition to this figure there are additional passholders on the Parliamentary Estate including the Metropolitan Police and increasing numbers of construction contractors.

This increase is due to the end of hybrid proceedings, with the change in government guidance for sectors like construction also contributing to the increase.

The number provided represents staff on site over a 24-hour period.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria his Department uses to assess companies for participation in the national covid-19 antibody testing programme.

Securing the most appropriate antibody assays for our testing programme is vitally important. We have been clear that any antibody test being deployed needs to meet the target product profile published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Target Product Profiles describe the minimum and desirable levels of clinical performance and related characteristics and are regularly refreshed to reflect the emerging science and clinical evidence regarding serology testing. In addition, we will take into account the ability of the company to meet our needs for rapid deployment and scalability across the United Kingdom, along with their willingness to work with the Government to ensure we deliver value for money to the UK taxpayer.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what plans he has to support small and medium sized businesses to manufacture (a) personal protective equipment and (b) hand sanitiser.

There isn't a historic minimum annual amount requirement to be part of the supply chain. The minimum requirements are for volume offered now, not volumes provided historically. Businesses must meet certain minimum financial criteria, must be able to demonstrate that it can supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at volume, and must pass various other checks and controls.

Manufacture of PPE must meet product safety legislation outlined in the guidance and appropriate health and safety technical specifications.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort by British industry to manufacture PPE including hand sanitiser. The Government has contracted with over 175 new suppliers able to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. The combined DIT, FCO and DHSC efforts have resulted in DHSC raising purchase orders for over 27.8 billion items of PPE; direct from new relationships in source countries, as well as through our trusted UK suppliers to the NHS, who themselves are using their global connections to help us. We have rapidly processed over 24,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes. We have so far actively engaged with over 99% of the companies that have offered PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on acquiring personal protective equipment from SMEs.

There isn't a historic minimum annual amount requirement to be part of the supply chain. The minimum requirements are for volume offered now, not volumes provided historically. Businesses must meet certain minimum financial criteria, must be able to demonstrate that it can supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at volume, and must pass various other checks and controls.

Manufacture of PPE must meet product safety legislation outlined in the guidance and appropriate health and safety technical specifications.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort by British industry to manufacture PPE including hand sanitiser. The Government has contracted with over 175 new suppliers able to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. The combined DIT, FCO and DHSC efforts have resulted in DHSC raising purchase orders for over 27.8 billion items of PPE; direct from new relationships in source countries, as well as through our trusted UK suppliers to the NHS, who themselves are using their global connections to help us. We have rapidly processed over 24,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes. We have so far actively engaged with over 99% of the companies that have offered PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what is the minimum quantity of (a) hand sanitiser and (b) personal protective equipment that a private business must produce annually for his Department to include it in a supply chain.

There isn't a historic minimum annual amount requirement to be part of the supply chain. The minimum requirements are for volume offered now, not volumes provided historically. Businesses must meet certain minimum financial criteria, must be able to demonstrate that it can supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at volume, and must pass various other checks and controls.

Manufacture of PPE must meet product safety legislation outlined in the guidance and appropriate health and safety technical specifications.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort by British industry to manufacture PPE including hand sanitiser. The Government has contracted with over 175 new suppliers able to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. The combined DIT, FCO and DHSC efforts have resulted in DHSC raising purchase orders for over 27.8 billion items of PPE; direct from new relationships in source countries, as well as through our trusted UK suppliers to the NHS, who themselves are using their global connections to help us. We have rapidly processed over 24,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes. We have so far actively engaged with over 99% of the companies that have offered PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is planning to take in respect of foreign leaders and officials found guilty of bribery, corruption or tax violations as a result of revelations in the Pandora Papers.

Through the network of overseas Posts, the FCDO is monitoring the consequences of several of the stories associated with the recent Pandora Papers leaks. We understand some investigations are being considered in some countries, but it is too early to say who, if anyone, might ultimately be found guilty of bribery, corruption or tax violations. Irrespective of this, the FCDO remains committed to fighting global corruption and illicit finance. Under our Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions regime established in April this year, the UK has so far imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 27 individuals from 10 countries for their involvement in serious corruption. We continue to fund the vital work of the National Crime Agency's International Corruption Unit, which has restrained, confiscated, or returned over £1.1billion of assets stolen from developing countries since 2006. And we continue to encourage countries everywhere, including through our ongoing Presidency of the G7, to take steps to improve beneficial ownership transparency, so that we can limit the role of anonymous shell companies, as highlighted by the Pandora Papers, in enabling international illicit finance.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when the Government plans to donate 100 million surplus coronavirus vaccine doses to the world within the next year.

The Prime Minister committed the UK to donate 100 million doses by June 2022. To date, we have donated 10.5m doses. At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021 the Prime Minister announced that we will be donating a further 20 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of the year in order to meet our 30 million target. 80% of all our donations will go through COVAX.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with the Premier of the British Virgin Islands on closing potential tax loopholes as a result of revelations in the Pandora Papers.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) regularly share confidential information on beneficial ownership and tax with UK law enforcement and tax authorities. They provided information that made the UK's first Unexplained Wealth Order possible. The BVI have committed to work towards introducing a publicly accessible register of company beneficial ownership, along with the other Overseas Territories.

The BVI participate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Common Reporting Standard, which is an agreement to automatically exchange financial account information with other jurisdictions. This means that they supply information on account holders who are foreign tax residents. This reciprocal, automatic exchange of financial information addresses the secrecy that facilitates offshore tax evasion and provides evidence of tax non-compliance. The BVI are a member of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), signalling their commitment to fighting BEPS risks by implementing the BEPS minimum standards. They have also committed to implementing the OECD's two pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. The UK is providing assistance and support ahead of BVI's evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to ensure that the delivery of 100 million COVAX vaccines overseas by June 2022 is on target following the Government’s donation of 9 million COVAX vaccines in July 2021.

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office is working closely with the Cabinet Office and UK Vaccines Task Force to ensure we meet our commitment to donate 100 million doses by June 2022. To date, we have donated 10.5m doses. At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021 the Prime Minister announced that we will be donating a further 20 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines before the end of the year in order to meet our 30 million target by the end of 2021. 80% of all our donations will go through COVAX.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will raise the matter of allegations of human rights abuses by members of the Chilean security forces since October 2019 with the President of Chile during his visit to Glasgow for COP26.

The Foreign Secretary's meetings during COP26, and the agendas for those meetings, will be finalised in due course. We continue to monitor the situation in Chile since the unrest two years ago. The UK has expressed its concerns about allegations of human rights abuses by members of the security forces in talks with representatives of the Chilean Government. We welcome the acknowledgement by President Piñera and other Ministers that there have been human rights abuses, as well as their commitments that these allegations will be fully investigated, and if appropriate, perpetrators will be prosecuted.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government plans to take to brief (a) NATO, (b) G7 nations and (c) European allies on developments relating to AUKUS.

The UK will continue to engage NATO, G7, European, and other partners on defence and security matters, including the recent Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) agreement, through our regular bilateral and multilateral channels.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what provisions will form part of the AUKUS agreement to ensure that that agreement does not lead to potential future breaches of obligations in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

We take our obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) extremely seriously and remain strongly committed to full implementation of the NPT in all its aspects.

It is too soon to talk about specifics, but Australia has impeccable non-proliferation credentials and does not - and will not - seek nuclear weapons. All three AUKUS parties (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are committed to ensuring progress on this agreement will be consistent with our international obligations, including our respective safeguards obligations, which we will investigate in the 18 month programme of work.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Prime Minister's Oral Statement of 7 September 2021, Official Report, column 31, which states that are not ordinarily classified as friends of the UK the Government plans to engage with on Afghanistan.

The UK Government will engage with all countries, either bilaterally or through the multilateral system, where there is a shared interest in Afghanistan.
Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has raised with (a) his Chilean counterpart and (b) the Chilean Ambassador in the UK the matter of media and press freedom in Chile following findings in the 9 report by the Centre for Investigative Journalism, published on 9 April 2021 alleging that the Chilean army has monitored journalists covering corruption and human rights abuses.

We understand that this issue is under investigation by Chile's judiciary.

On the wider issue of media and press interest in Chile, I refer the Honourable Member to my answer of 27 April to question 187278.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the report by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIPER), published on 9 April 2021 alleging that the Chilean army has monitored journalists covering corruption and human rights abuses, what recent assessment his Department has made of the level of media and press freedom in that country.

Chile's legal and constitutional framework provides for freedom of expression, including for the press. The Chilean media provides a high level of scrutiny of the government and politics, and continues to play an important role in national political life as the country continues its constitutional reform process.

In February, Chile became the 44th member of the Media Freedom Coalition, which the UK helped establish in order to defend and advocate for media freedom, and the safety of journalists where under threat. Members of the Coalition have all signed a written commitment to improving media freedom domestically, and working together internationally.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The majority of the FCDO's communication activity is delivered by our team in the United Kingdom and at Embassies worldwide through low or no-cost activity rather than advertising or marketing.

From August to December 2020 we helped to deliver cross-government Cabinet Office EU Exit Transition and COVID-19 public information communication campaigns, specifically focusing on those likely to travel or UK nationals living overseas. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on COVID-19 and other national campaigns on a rolling monthly basis at www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data as part of routine government transparency arrangements.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the Chinese Government on the persecution of followers and practitioners of Falun Gong.

We remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. We regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation with the Chinese authorities, and will continue to do so.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that low-income countries have access to adequate supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. The UK has committed up to £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), an international initiative that will support global equitable access to vaccines, including the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, in up to 92 low and middle-income countries. The AMC will supply 1 billion doses in 2021, vaccinating up to 500 million people.

COVAX has an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate at non-profit pricing. This is in addition to an existing agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for 200 million doses - with options for up to 900 million doses more - of either the AstraZeneca/Oxford or Novavax vaccines (the latter is yet to complete phase 3 trials). The agreement with SII will see any combination of these vaccines be available at a price no greater than US$3 a dose.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on Government support for programmes to end violence against women.

Due to the severe impact that the pandemic has had on our economy, we are taking the tough decision to spend 0.5 per cent of our national income next year on Official Development Assistance, rather than the usual 0.7 per cent. Despite these fiscal pressures, we remain firmly committed to helping the world's poorest people and we will retain our position as a leader in the global fight against poverty. The Government intends to return to the 0.7 per cent target when the fiscal situation allows. The new strategic framework for our aid announced by the Foreign Secretary will ensure we can deliver UK aid better, even if our budget is smaller, by combining aid with diplomacy and focusing our efforts where the UK can make a world-leading difference.

It is not possible at this stage to go into the specifics of programme cuts. Amended programmes and projects are reflected on?DevTracker and will continue to change in the normal way. Tackling violence against women and girls is a core part of this Government's mission and we remain steadfast in our commitment to this agenda.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.

The Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) remains a top priority for the UK Government. We are the only government in the world to have a Prime Minister's Special Representative as well as a dedicated team and funding focused on tackling conflict-related sexual violence. Our core PSVI objectives are strengthening justice for survivors of sexual violence in conflict and holding the perpetrators to account; supporting all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and tackling the stigma they face; preventing conflict-related sexual violence through engagement with faith, media and other stakeholders. No decisions have been taken on FCDO budget allocations for the financial year 2021/22. PSVI is a policy campaign to raise awareness of and encourage global action on, tackling conflict-related sexual violence through diplomacy, advocacy and convening power. It uses modest but catalytic programme funds, not large-scale programming, to make progress on this agenda.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on Government funding for UN and civil society programmes to end child marriage.

The seismic impact of the pandemic has forced us to take tough decisions, including temporarily reducing our aid budget. We will remain a world-leading aid donor. We will spend more than £10 billion next year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health. We will reform how aid is spent across Government to deliver even better results for the money we spend. Combined with our wider diplomatic work, this will ensure we remain a force for good next year and beyond.

We remain committed to the goal of ending child marriage, including as part of our work to deliver the Prime Minister's commitment to champion 12 years of quality education for all girls. Decisions on UK ODA allocations will be made following a cross-government process led by the Foreign Secretary.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on the level of Government support for nutrition-relevant programmes.

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on ODA. The UK remains firmly committed to helping the world's poorest people. Despite next year's adjustment, latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirm the UK will remain one of the most generous G7 aid donors as a percentage of GNI in 2021.

Preventing and treating malnutrition will remain important for achieving priorities on global health, including ending preventable deaths among mothers, newborns and children. It will also be an important priority for our work on humanitarian response. The Department will begin a rigorous internal prioritisation process and we will update on this in due course including how this relates to the nutrition funding.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on the Government’s support for humanitarian assistance programmes.

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions. We have concluded after extensive consideration, and with regret, that we cannot for the moment meet our target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on ODA. However, the Foreign Secretary has been clear, we will remain a world leading aid donor spending 0.5% of GNI and continue to respond humanitarian crises and protecting those in need. By combining aid with diplomacy and ensuing a coherent approach across Government departments, we will be focusing our efforts where the UK can make a world-leading difference to deliver maximum impact for every pound we spend.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on Government support for programmes supporting people to gain access to clean water or improved sanitation.

The seismic impact of the pandemic has forced us to take tough decisions, including temporarily reducing our aid budget. We will remain a world leading aid donor. We will spend more than £10 billion next year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health. We will reform how aid is spent across Government to deliver even better results for the money we spend. Aid has too often lacked coherence, oversight or appropriate accountability. Combined with our wider diplomatic work, this will ensure we remain a force for good next year and beyond.

The Government is continuing to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) plays a full role in contributing to our commitments. We will do this by supporting global leadership in the sector, strengthening sector systems, and ongoing COVID-19 response activities. Our work on WASH builds on existing progress and the UK Government can confirm that the target of reaching at least 60 million people with improved water or sanitation by December 2020 has been met.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on Government support for programmes supporting people to raise their incomes or maintain or gain a better job or livelihood.

We remain firmly committed to helping the world's poorest people and we will retain our position as a leader in the global fight against poverty. The FCDO is now conducting a rigorous internal prioritisation process that will establish our portfolio in 2021. As outlined in the Foreign Secretary's previous statement to Parliament, promoting trade and job-creating investment will remain one of our core priorities for ODA. Programmes that support people to raise their incomes or maintain or gain a better job or livelihood will be critical to poverty reduction efforts and our role as a force for good in the world.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget (a) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent and (b) as a result of the UK’s decreased GDP on Government support for immunisation programmes for children.

The UK Government remains committed to supporting routine immunisation programmes as part of our manifesto commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children.

The Government has committed £1.65 billion over the next five years to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to immunise 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives.

This commitment is unchanged following the recent reductions to the ODA budget.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessments his Department made of the potential effectiveness of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons for (a) improving the international security and (b) increasing trust and transparency prior to the Government's decision not to ratify that treaty.

The UK is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Government firmly believes that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach that strengthens trust and transparency under the NPT. The UK will not sign or ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as we do not believe that this treaty will bring us closer to a world without such weapons. The TPNW fails to address the security obstacles that must first be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament. It will not improve the international security environment or increase trust and transparency, and risks undermining the NPT.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Spanish counterpart on the disqualification of Quim Torra as President of Catalonia.

This is a matter for Spain and the Spanish courts. The Foreign Secretary has had no discussions with his Spanish counterparts on this matter.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department will publish its planned spending distribution for UK Official Development Assistance.

As usual, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's (FCDO) National Statistics publication - 'Statistics on International Development' will provide a full breakdown of UK Official Development Assistance spend (for the previous calendar year).

The FCDO planned programme spend for 2021/22 will be published in the FCDO annual report in July 2021.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will publish a response to the 10 recommendations set out in UNICEF UK’s September 2020 report entitled A Future at Risk.

I welcome the publication of the UNICEF UK report 'A Future at Risk', it presents a comprehensive set of recommendations and a rich set of resources to highlight the negative impact COVID 19 has had on education and health in developing countries. Many of the recommendations highlighted in the report are closely aligned with FCDO priorities as we build back from COVID-19.

The UK is committed to ensuring children around the world return to school when it is safe to do so. We have adapted our bilateral education programmes in 18 countries in response to the pandemic and have stepped up funding for education including a £5 million uplift to the Education Cannot Wait fund for emergency education in fragile contexts, and over £5m of new funding to UNHCR to enable over 5500 teachers to provide vital education for children in 10 refugee-hosting countries over the crucial next seven months. We are also getting behind UNICEF's Reopening Better Campaign, both globally and in country.

The UK is committed to supporting developing countries' health systems to respond to COVID-19 and to achieving the health-related SDGs. We will do this with a particular focus on ending the preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children by 2030 and also through increasing UK leadership on malaria. The UK remains committed to preventing and treating malnutrition, including work with the Government of Japan to ensure the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit is a success, and advancing and defending comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights. The UK is actively working through the ACT-Accelerator and its partners to realise the aim of ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, once available, are accessible to all who need them.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will maintain existing levels of funding for (a) child, new-born and maternal health interventions and (b) nutrition programmes.

The UK Government remains committed to supporting child,?newborn?and maternal health and nutrition interventions as part of our manifesto commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers,?newborns?and children by 2030.

The UK has pledged £1.65 billion to support Gavi's goal to immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives. The UK has also committed to spending at least £225 million per year on family planning until 2022. Between April 2018 and March 2019 alone, at least 23.5 million women and girls were reached through UK?funding.

Last?week, we announced package of £119 million UK Aid to address COVID-19 and famine, which includes a new partnership with UNICEF to address acute malnutrition more effectively and efficiently. We are also continuing planned support for a number of existing nutrition initiatives, including the Power of Nutrition financing facility, the Access to Nutrition Index and the Scaling Up Nutrition movement. Decisions on future spend will be informed by the outcomes of the Integrated Review and the Spending Review.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to publish an action plan for meeting Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 on ending preventable deaths of children and mothers.

The UK is committed to ending the preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children by 2030 as part of UK leadership in the global response to COVID-19 and prioritising poverty reduction for the 'bottom billion'.

We intend to publish our approach to delivering this commitment in due course.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when the Government plans to publish details of the governance architecture of the new department responsible for the UK’s aid budget.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was formally established on 2 September under the leadership of the Foreign Secretary to meet the objectives of the UK's ambitious international agenda.

On 3 August, Sir Philip Barton was named as the Permanent Under-Secretary for the department, who in consultation with the Foreign Secretary appointed a new team of Directors General. The Permanent Under-Secretary will be the Accounting Officer in the new department.

Further details on governance arrangements and board structures are being carefully considered and will be published in due course.

19th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, when the Government plans to publish its plans for (a) parliamentary and (b) independent scrutiny of the UK’s aid budget.

(a) With the formation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office, the House of Commons may wish to reconfigure the select committee structure. We will reflect carefully on the recommendations of the International Development Committee and the Liaison Committee before bringing forward motions on committee structures for the House to agree later in the year.

b) This Government is committed to transparency and robust scrutiny of Official Development Assistance expenditure. On 29 August, the Foreign Secretary announced that the Independent Commission for Aid Impact will continue its vital role scrutinising UK aid.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, which non-governmental organisations his Department has worked with in order to determine whether the granting of crowd control equipment and ammunition to Chile would result in those exports being used for internal repression per the Consolidated Criteria.

HMG takes its export control responsibilities seriously and continue to monitor developments in Chile closely. We examine every application on a case-by-case basis against strict Criteria, drawing on a range of sources in making assessments, including a range of NGOs and international organisations in addition to our diplomatic posts. All licences are kept under careful and continual review particularly in the light of changed circumstances or new information.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the risk to (a) the legal protection of human rights and (b) the compliance of Chile with international law and bilateral treaties posed by the Chilean Government’s recent (i) Critical Infrastructure Bill, (ii) Anti-looting Bill and (iii) Cooperation with the International Criminal Court Bill.

The UK Government has made clear our concerns about allegations of human rights abuses by members of the Chilean security forces since October 2019. Our Ambassador in Chile has expressed those concerns to the Chilean government. We welcome the Chilean government's acceptance of reports and recommendations by the UN and Human Rights Watch and note their assurances, in public and to our Ambassador, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully. We are aware of the three pieces of legislation referenced and continue to monitor the human rights situation in Chile closely.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he uses the principle of command responsibility when making decisions on whether to introduce sanctions on foreign nationals.

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act) provides the legal framework for the UK to impose sanctions autonomously. The Foreign Secretary can designate a person under a particular sanctions regime when he/she has reasonable grounds to suspect the person meets the listing criteria for that particular sanctions regime and considers that it is appropriate to designate that person.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he is establishing an evidence base with the aim of introducing sanctions on Chinese nationals involved in (a) the human rights abuses committed against Uighur Muslims and (b) actions against democracy in Hong Kong.

On 6 July, the Government established the Global Human Rights sanctions regime by laying regulations in Parliament. The Foreign Secretary has been clear that it is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated in the future, as this could reduce the impact of the designations. We will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to assess whether export licenses of (a) crowd control equipment and (b) ammunition to Chile have resulted in a clear risk that the export might be being used for internal repression.

We continue to monitor developments in Chile closely. The UK Government considers all our export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard. We rigorously examine each export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Risks around human rights violations or abuses are a key part of our assessment. The UK Government does not approve export licences for equipment and technology where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government has taken steps to review whether past export licenses of (a) crowd control equipment and (b) ammunition to Chile are consistent with criterion 2 of the Consolidated Criteria.

We continue to monitor developments in Chile closely. The UK Government considers all our export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard. We rigorously examine each export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Risks around human rights violations or abuses are a key part of our assessment. The UK Government does not approve export licences for equipment and technology where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if the Government will issue a response to Article 38 of China's new National Security Law's statement that the law applies to persons who do not have permanent resident status in Hong Kong and commit crimes under this law outside Hong Kong.

We are deeply concerned that China has imposed national security legislation on Hong Kong. As the Foreign Secretary said in Parliament on 1 July, the enactment of this legislation, imposed by the authorities in Beijing on the people of Hong Kong, constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Joint Declaration. The Foreign Secretary expressed concern about Article 38 of the legislation, noting that it is not entirely clear how the provision will be applied. He further noted that this is something that tourists and visitors from all around the world would be concerned about.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his (a) Israeli and (b) US counterpart on Israel's potential annexation of the West Bank.

The Prime Minister has conveyed the UK's opposition to unilateral annexation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on multiple occasions, including in a phone call on 6 July and a letter in June. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this message in his introductory calls with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Gantz on 20 May and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi on 2 June. The Foreign Secretary has also made clear our opposition to annexation to the US. We continue to work closely with international partners strongly advocating a two-state solution and encouraging a return to meaningful negotiations. The Foreign Secretary did so most recently in a meeting with French and German Foreign Ministers on 19 June, Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry on 21 May and Jordanian Foreign Minister Safadi on 28 May. The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law. We continue to urge Israel not to take these steps.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans he has to respond to the Israeli annexation of the West Bank since his statement on 31 January 2020.

As the Prime Minister made clear in the House of Commons on 16 June, we are concerned by reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank. I reiterated this as our position in a statement to the UN Security Council on 24 June. Any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law. The United Kingdom will not recognise any unilateral attempt to change the border. Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN Charter. We urge Israel to reconsider. The Prime Minister did so in an article in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on 1 July.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential risks to human rights of sales of ammunition to countries with no existing military conflicts.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. A careful assessment of potential end use and end user is central to the decision making process. Risks around human rights violations or abuses are a key part of our assessment. We do not approve export licences for equipment and technology where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to recent UN reports of human rights violations by Chilean state agents, if he will make an assessment of the correlation between UK training of Chilean police and trends in the level of human rights violations by state agents in that country.

The UK Government shares the concerns of the UN about events that have occurred in Chile. Our Ambassador in Chile has talked with representatives of the Chilean Government to express our concerns about the violence witnessed during protests and about reports of human rights abuses by state agents. We welcome the Chilean Government's acceptance of the report and its recommendations and the Chilean Government's assurances, in public and to our Ambassador, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully and that, if appropriate, perpetrators will be prosecuted. In this context, the UK is considering what assistance it might be able to offer to help the Chilean Police improve compliance with international human rights standards following recommendations by the UN and others.

The British Government undertakes extensive risk assessments when designing projects in Chile and other countries, including of any potential negative impact on human rights. This includes the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) process, which is intended give assurance that UK funded OSJA work meets our human rights obligations and accords with our values. We regularly monitor the effects of our programme work in consultation with colleagues working in Chile, making a thorough assessment of the impact of all of our projects. Our Embassy in Santiago remains in contact with the Chilean authorities and will continue to monitor the situation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Chilean counterpart on UN reports of (a) torture and (b) other human rights violations by Chilean state agents.

The UK Government shares the concerns of the UN about events that have occurred in Chile. Our Ambassador in Chile has talked with representatives of the Chilean Government to express our concerns about the violence witnessed during protests and about reports of human rights abuses by state agents. We welcome the Chilean Government's acceptance of the report and its recommendations and the Chilean Government's assurances, in public and to our Ambassador, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully, and that, if appropriate, perpetrators will be prosecuted. Our Embassy in Santiago remains in close contact with the Chilean authorities and will continue to monitor the situation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has made a recent assessment of the main cashflow challenges affecting businesses.

The Covid-19 pandemic left many businesses in the UK and elsewhere facing sharp revenue falls in the absence of support. Due to the unprecedented support package put in place by HM Government, UK businesses have made it through the pandemic, often with higher levels of cash reserves than they started. And they are rebounding strongly, with recent figures for August showing that hospitality GVA returned to pre-Covid levels.

However, as the UK and other economies recover from the pandemic, a number of pandemic-related and global factors have led to rising commodity prices, particularly for energy. These and other disruptions in global supply chains, are driving up expenses for UK businesses such as the cost of labour, raw materials and logistics.

We will continue to work closely with other departments to actively monitor these disruptions and their effects on business cashflow, which are being experienced by economies across the globe.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to encourage conversations between Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme lenders and borrowers seeking to restructure or refinance their debt.

Any business concerned about repayments should get in touch with their lender who will be able to provide support and talk them through their options.

In order to give businesses who have borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme further support in making their repayments, the Government announced “Pay as You Grow” (PAYG) options. PAYG will give businesses the option to repay their Bounce Back Loan over ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. Businesses will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times). They can also pause their repayments entirely for up to six months. If borrowers want to take advantage of these options, they should notify their lender when they are contacted about their repayments.

For those who borrowed under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Government has taken action to allow lenders to provide borrowers with more time to make their repayments where they assess that borrowers are in difficulty and will benefit from the extension. Given loans under CBILS are more varied than the standardised BBLS and resemble more traditional commercial lending, CBILS borrowers are likely to benefit from engagement with their lender if they have concerns about repayments. Lenders have an ongoing relationship with CBILS borrowers and will be best placed to provide support tailored to an individual business’s circumstance.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assurances he has sought from lenders of the (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme that they are being flexible in assisting borrowers in restructuring and refinancing their debt to avoid default.

Any business concerned about repayments should get in touch with their lender who will be able to provide support and talk them through their options.

In order to give businesses who have borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme further support in making their repayments, the Government announced “Pay as You Grow” (PAYG) options. PAYG will give businesses the option to repay their Bounce Back Loan over ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. Businesses will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times). They can also pause their repayments entirely for up to six months. If borrowers want to take advantage of these options, they should notify their lender when they are contacted about their repayments.

For those who borrowed under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Government has taken action to allow lenders to provide borrowers with more time to make their repayments where they assess that borrowers are in difficulty and will benefit from the extension. Given loans under CBILS are more varied than the standardised BBLS and resemble more traditional commercial lending, CBILS borrowers are likely to benefit from engagement with their lender if they have concerns about repayments. Lenders have an ongoing relationship with CBILS borrowers and will be best placed to provide support tailored to an individual business’s circumstance.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will reconsider the no right to appeal rule for those who are denied Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants from HMRC.

The Government has provided generous support to the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The SEISS has helped nearly 3 million self-employed individuals with claims totalling over £27 billion.

Customers can ask HMRC to review their SEISS claim. However, HMRC have limited discretion in operating the SEISS and this discretion can only be used in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances could include situations where HMRC have made an error that has affected an individual’s eligibility for, or amount of, a SEISS grant.

There is no legal right of appeal against decisions made in relation to the SEISS, and there is also no legal provision for ‘reasonable excuse’ within the legal framework for the SEISS.

The fifth and final SEISS grant closed on 30th September 2021.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to review the planned increase to National Insurance in response to the increase in inflation to 3.2 per cent.

The government currently has no plans to review the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of the current financial status of the Chinese property group Evergrande on (a) the world economy and (b) the United Kingdom economy.

The Government recognises that Evergrande’s financial situation, given the size of its outstanding debt, raises a number of global and domestic concerns. That is why we, alongside the UK’s independent financial authorities – the FCA, PRA and Bank of England are closely monitoring the situation.

Since 2008 there has been a concerted international effort to strengthen the global financial system. In the UK, banks now hold over three times more capital than they did at the time of the financial crisis. The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee judges that the UK banking sector is resilient to a wide range of economic scenarios, including a contraction in both China and Hong Kong's economic activity. This judgement of the UK banking sector is supported by the interim results of the 2021 solvency stress test.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of receipt of (a) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme furlough payments and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme payments on the recipients' credit ratings.

The CJRS supports businesses to preserve employer-employee matches by providing a mechanism to pay the wages of furloughed employees. Through easing the financial burden, the CJRS supports jobs, reduces the risk of permanent business closures and reduces the risk of large losses in incomes, through wage support to furloughed employees.

By maintaining employer-employee matches, the CJRS therefore seeks to reduce the risk of long-term labour market scarring. As of 14 June 2021, there have been 11.6 million unique jobs supported by the CJRS since its inception. A total of 1.3 million employers have made a claim through the CJRS since it started in March 2020, totalling £65.9 billion in claims.

The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) on 4 May 2020 to ensure that the smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000, capped at 25% of businesses’ turnover in a matter of just days.

It is important to note that businesses are responsible for repaying any facility they take out and failure to keep up with their repayments may impact a borrower’s credit rating.

In order to give businesses further support and flexibility in making their BBLS repayments, the Chancellor has announced “Pay as You Grow” (PAYG) options. PAYG will give businesses the option to repay their BBLS facility over ten years, the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times), or to pause their repayments entirely for up to six months.

Please be reassured, borrowers who make use of these PAYG options will not be penalised through their credit rating for doing so.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that umbrella companies do not unlawfully deduct employers' taxes from contractors' pay.

Like all employers, umbrella companies are responsible for paying employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) where they are due. Employers cannot, by law, deduct employer NICs from an employee's gross pay. The payment of employer NICs out of the umbrella company’s fee may be shown on the same payslip as deductions, such as Income Tax, from the employee’s gross pay, meaning that it can look as if an individual is paying the employer NICs, when this is not actually the case.

The Government improved transparency for agency workers by introducing the Key Information Document from 6 April 2020. This sets out a range of pay-related facts, including the minimum rate of pay an agency worker can expect, who pays them, how often they are paid, and if there are any deductions or fees taken from their pay. Any differences between the rate of pay given to the umbrella company by the employment business and the sum given to the agency worker (after fees and deductions) must be accounted for and explained.

When set up and operated correctly, umbrella companies comply with tax and NICs legislation. Umbrella company employees who believe that an umbrella company is not complying with its tax or NICs obligations can report it to HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.

Commercial and loyalty incentive schemes may be a legitimate business-to-business interaction, between an agency and umbrella company, and they are not within the scope of the agency regulations enforced by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate.

Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights through robust regulation, including for those employed by umbrella companies is a priority for the Government. The Government’s plans for a new single enforcement body will include umbrella companies in its remit, and will have new powers to tackle non-compliance.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to prohibit the practice of recruitment agencies asking for incentives to recommend contractors to an umbrella company.

Like all employers, umbrella companies are responsible for paying employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) where they are due. Employers cannot, by law, deduct employer NICs from an employee's gross pay. The payment of employer NICs out of the umbrella company’s fee may be shown on the same payslip as deductions, such as Income Tax, from the employee’s gross pay, meaning that it can look as if an individual is paying the employer NICs, when this is not actually the case.

The Government improved transparency for agency workers by introducing the Key Information Document from 6 April 2020. This sets out a range of pay-related facts, including the minimum rate of pay an agency worker can expect, who pays them, how often they are paid, and if there are any deductions or fees taken from their pay. Any differences between the rate of pay given to the umbrella company by the employment business and the sum given to the agency worker (after fees and deductions) must be accounted for and explained.

When set up and operated correctly, umbrella companies comply with tax and NICs legislation. Umbrella company employees who believe that an umbrella company is not complying with its tax or NICs obligations can report it to HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.

Commercial and loyalty incentive schemes may be a legitimate business-to-business interaction, between an agency and umbrella company, and they are not within the scope of the agency regulations enforced by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate.

Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights through robust regulation, including for those employed by umbrella companies is a priority for the Government. The Government’s plans for a new single enforcement body will include umbrella companies in its remit, and will have new powers to tackle non-compliance.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions officials of his Department have had with the representatives of the Scottish Government on the distribution of the Investment Reserve arising from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.

Responsibility for policy and engagement relating to the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme rests with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and therefore there have been no meetings by HM Treasury officials on this matter.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to ensure that HMRC does not enforce payment of the Charge or settlement sums by people facing bankruptcy as a result of the Loan Charge.

There are many reasons why someone might be facing bankruptcy, including as a result of a non-HMRC debt. Some individuals may choose to enter insolvency themselves based on their overall financial position. HMRC are therefore unable to determine if an individual is facing bankruptcy as a result of the Loan Charge specifically. However, HMRC only ever consider enforcement action as a last resort and will always attempt to engage in discussion with a taxpayer regarding payment, and where appropriate, agree a manageable payment arrangement based on individual circumstances. In addition, HMRC will only ever consider pursuing bankruptcy as a last resort, for example where the taxpayer is refusing to pay but has the ability to do so.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent estimate he has made of the number of people who will declare bankruptcy as a result of the Loan Charge in 2021.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 23 June 2021 to UIN 16066.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to not freeze the threshold for payment of the basic rate of income tax in the financial year 2021-22 to avoid penalising low earners.

As confirmed at Budget, the Government will fulfil its promise to increase the income tax Personal Allowance to £12,570 in financial year 2021-22.

The Government has almost doubled the Personal Allowance since 2010 and it is now the highest basic personal tax allowance of all countries in the G20.

The decision to maintain the Personal Allowance at this higher level will not come into effect until April 2022, when the economy will be on a stronger footing.

4th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what consultation will be undertaken with (a) the Scottish Government and (b) local Members of the Scottish Parliament when considering applications to the Levelling Up Fund.

We look forward to engaging the Devolved Administrations on the Levelling Up Fund. MHCLG and DfT will seek advice, where appropriate, from the relevant Devolved Administrations at the shortlisting stage on projects that will be delivered in their geographical areas – including on deliverability and alignment with existing provision. Further details on the Levelling Up Fund application process are set out in the prospectus.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 2 February 20221 to Question 145080 on CITB and CITB Northern Ireland: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, when HMRC's guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that organisations can use the scheme if they are not fully funded by public grants and they should contact their sponsor department or respective administration for further guidance, came into force.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) guidance on employers of the public sector was updated on 12 June 2020 as follows:

If you have staff costs that are publicly funded (even if you’re not in the public sector), you should use that money to continue paying your staff, and not furlough your staff.

Organisations can use the scheme if they are not fully funded by public grants and they should contact their sponsor department or respective administration for further guidance.

Prior to that date, the guidance that stated:

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.

Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff.

In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much his Department spent on (a) communications, (b) advertising and (c) marketing in (i) the UK, (ii) England, (iii) Northern Ireland, (iv) Scotland and (v) Wales in each month from August 2020 to December 2020.

The table below shows the costs spent across the three Spending Categories in the period 1st August 2020 to 31st December 2020. The figure for (a) communications is the costs of the Communications Team in HM Treasury. For (b) most of the spend is on advertising recruitment opportunities across a variety of platforms. For (c) no marketing spend was incurred in this period and the Department very rarely incurs such costs.

Category

Aug-20

Sep-20

Oct-20

Nov-20

Dec-20

Total

(a) comms

£209,806

£216,615

£207,735

£220,642

£207,065

£1,061,863

(b) advertising

£0

£6,331

£1,575

£11,818

£7,227

£26,951

Grand Total

£209,806

£222,946

£209,309

£232,460

£214,292

£1,088,814

It is not appropriate to split this across the countries requested as all spend incurred is relevant across the UK and is not targeted to specific nations.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to extend financial support to people who have previously been ineligible for Government financial support in previous covid-19 lockdowns.

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s priority has been to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods. Since the start of the pandemic we have committed over £280 billion to supporting the economy, including supporting 9.9 million jobs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and around 2.7 million self-employed individuals via the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The Government has continued to review its support and brought in ineligible groups where possible. For example, the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is available to those directors who paid themselves a salary between 19 March and 30 October 2020, and to new starters who were employed and on their employer’s PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. Both the CJRS and SEISS have also been updated to provide support to those on maternity leave and to reservists. The Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to explore how we can best support different groups.

Those who are ineligible for the CJRS and SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the COVID-19 support available. This comprehensive package of support includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support and other business support grants. The Government has also temporarily increased the Universal Credit standard allowance for 2020-21 by £20 per week and relaxed the Minimum Income Floor, meaning that where claimants' earnings have significantly fallen, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond April 2021.

As the Chancellor set out to the House on 17 December, in order to provide certainty to businesses and employees so that they can plan for the remainder of the winter, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 and the Government will provide a further update on COVID-19 economic support at the Budget.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the Government plans to publish detailed arrangements for equivalence decisions on access to EU markets for the financial services sector.

On 9 November 2020 the Chancellor announced a package of equivalence decisions for the EU and EEA member states in favour of openness and certainty for industry. The Government is not ruling out further equivalence decisions for the EU and EEA Member States in the future and remains open to further dialogue with the EU about their intentions with regard to equivalence decisions for the UK. Details covering the Government’s equivalence decisions were published on GOV.UK in November and are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hm-treasury-equivalence-decisions-for-the-eea-states-9-november-2020/hm-treasury-equivalence-decisions-for-the-eea-states-9-november-2020

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing a director's income support scheme, in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has recognised taxpayers have faced immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has prioritised delivering support to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible while guarding against the risk of fraud or abuse.

The Government always welcomes constructive proposals from stakeholders to improve the design of its COVID-19 business support schemes, including the suggestion for a Directors Income Support Scheme (DISS). This proposal aims to provide a new system for company directors, based on reported profits. The Government has consulted key stakeholders and is currently scrutinising the proposal in detail.

In the meantime, let me highlight that company owner managers could be eligible for existing support schemes including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the income taken by company owner managers via PAYE, Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of data published by (a) HMRC, (b) Office of National Statistics, (c) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Business Population Estimates and (d) the National Audit Office on the number of people not eligible for financial support during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided a comprehensive economic response that is one of the most generous in the world, taking unprecedented steps to support families, businesses and the most vulnerable. As well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Support Scheme (SEISS), the package includes a suite of Government-backed loans and grants to businesses, tax deferrals and mortgage and consumer credit holidays. This package also includes extra funding for the welfare safety net, to help those unable to obtain other forms of support. The temporary welfare measures include increases to Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Local Housing Allowance, a relaxation of the Universal Credit minimum income floor and measures to make Statutory Sick Pay and new style Employment and Support Allowance easier to access.

The Government prioritised delivering support to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible while guarding against the risk of fraud or abuse. The Government takes an evidence-based approach when developing policy, and this has meant making difficult decisions; the Chancellor has acknowledged that it has not been possible to support everyone as they would want. However, as the National Audit Office report acknowledges, the support schemes have been successful in supporting millions of people and protecting large scale job losses.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how money has been allocated that was not spent from the (a) Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund and (b) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Local authorities spent the vast majority of the funding which they were allocated for the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund, which closed to new applicants at the end of August. The c. £18 million of underspends from the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund have been used to help pay for the costs of other COVID-19 business support schemes.

We have since allocated an additional £1.1 billion to local authorities for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), a new discretionary business support scheme. The ARG is intended to complement the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes, which provide per-month grant amounts to businesses facing restrictions in Tier 2 and 3 areas.

The first two Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants received claims from 2.7 million individuals totalling £13.7bn. HMRC and HMT are working closely together to track the cost of the scheme and ensure HMRC receives appropriate levels of funding to deliver each grant, including the two further SEISS grants announced by the Chancellor.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether has met with representatives of (a) ExcludedUK, (b) ForgottenLtd, (c) ForgottenPAYE and (d) APPG Gaps in Support.

Treasury ministers and officials have had meetings with a wide variety of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors, including MPs, businesses, professional representative bodies, and the unions, throughout the development of the COVID-19 support package including both the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This proactive engagement has been widely praised, and the Institute for Government has said: “The Government’s approach to consultation compensated for some of the difficulties of accelerated policy development, because it gave it fast access to information, and an early sense of whether the measures would work and how they would be received by businesses and workers. This contributed to both positive reception on announcement and successful roll-out.”

Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of local authorities distributing discretionary grants based on a business’ number of employees rather than its non-domestic rates.

COVID-19 business grant funding is a fully devolved matter.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) and the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) have been tied to the business rates system because these schemes are intended to support businesses which face high fixed property-related costs, such as rent. Rateable values are a proxy for annual rent.

The LRSG (Closed) grants, which are available to businesses in England which are legally required to close, cover in full the assumed monthly rents of nearly 90% of all small and medium retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England. Businesses can receive up to £3,000 per month from this scheme, depending on their rateable value.

The LRSG (Open) grants, operating in England, are worth 70% of the value of the LRSG (Closed) grants, in recognition of the fact that hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses which are able to remain open but which are located in areas subject to restrictions on socialising (in particular a ban on household mixing), are likely to suffer a significant reduction in demand. Local authorities which were subject to these restrictions between 1 August and 5 November received additional funding to make backdated grants to hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses, in recognition of the severe reduction in demand which they likely faced over that period.

Through the Additional Restrictions Grant, English local authorities have received additional funding for business support worth £20 per head of population, a total of £1.1 billion across England. This funding is intended to complement the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes. It will be up to local authorities to distribute the ARG funding, and they have the discretion to make grants to businesses outside of the business rates system.

Eligible businesses across the UK can claim for the CJRS for their furloughed employees – including in Scotland – enabling them to support employees during this difficult time. This complements the grant funding in England which is intended to help with fixed costs.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will launch an investigation into the estimated £3.5 billion fraudulent claims to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme forms part of a collective national effort to protect people’s jobs. Fraudulent claims put at risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods. This could include employers claiming on an employee’s behalf and not then paying them what they are entitled to, asking employees to do work while on furlough, or making a backdated claim that includes times when workers were working.

Compliance investigations are now under way. HMRC estimated that CJRS error and fraud could be between 5-10%. The evidence needed to be sure of the actual levels will not be available until HMRC have conducted a sufficient number of compliance investigations. These investigations could carry on for the next two years, so a full and robust error and fraud estimate will not be available until 2022.

Employees can play a vital role by reporting fraudulent claims to HMRC, via their online fraud reporting tool: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/customs-excise-and-vat-fraud-reporting. HMRC are checking claims made through this scheme. Payments may be withheld or need to be repaid in full to HMRC if the claim is based on dishonest or inaccurate information or found to be fraudulent.

HMRC have made clear that they will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse and the first arrest made in relation to CJRS fraud was on 8 July.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many contractors have worked for HMRC whilst using disguised remuneration schemes.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are aware of 15 contractors who have used disguised remuneration (DR) schemes while engaged either by the department or by Revenue & Customs Digital Technology Services (RCDTS). In each of the cases, the contractors were engaged via an agency or a company providing a service.

HMRC do not engage in, or enter into, disguised remuneration schemes. It is possible for a contractor providing services to HMRC to use a disguised remuneration scheme without the department’s knowledge or participation. Where HMRC become aware of a contractor who is using a disguised remuneration scheme, they take robust compliance action, including the immediate termination of the engagement. Any contractor identified in the course of HMRC’s compliance work as a scheme user would be investigated in the same way as any other contractor.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken in Q4 2020 against promoters and operators of schemes that are now subject to the Loan Charge.

The Government and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are determined to continue to tackle promoters and operators of tax avoidance schemes. This includes challenging the entities and individuals who promote disguised remuneration loan schemes.

On 19 March 2020, HMRC published their strategy for tackling promoters of tax avoidance schemes. The strategy sets out HMRC’s work to date and outlines how HMRC will continue to take robust actions against promoters of tax avoidance. The Promoter Strategy is available on GOV.UK. HMRC consulted on a package of measures to tackle promoters of tax avoidance schemes over Summer 2020. On 12 November 2020, the Government announced further proposals to tackle promoters, on which it will consult in Spring.

On 26 November 2020 HMRC and the Advertising Standards Authority issued a joint Notice, setting out what promoters must and must not include on their websites to ensure their advertising is not misleading.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent estimate he has made of the number of people who will declare bankruptcy as a result of the Loan Charge.

HMRC do not want to make anybody bankrupt, and insolvency is only ever considered as a last resort. HMRC will work with individuals to reach sustainable and manageable payment plans wherever possible. In line with current practice, HMRC will pause recovery action where a taxpayer has no ability to pay, until there is a significant change of circumstance.

HMRC are not always the only creditor and some individuals may choose to enter insolvency themselves based on their overall financial position.

Anyone who is worried about being able to pay what they owe is encouraged to get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible on 03000 599110.

24th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will (a) cancel or (b) reduce the amount of national insurance and pensions contributions that employers are required to pay for employees using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Some businesses will be affected by coronavirus more deeply and for longer than others, and the Government will seek to support these firms appropriately. This is why on 31 October the Government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would be extended until the end of March 2021, with eligible employees receiving 80% of their reference salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Businesses will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time and shift pattern, including furloughing them full-time.

There will be no employer contribution to wages for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and Employer pension contributions for hours not worked. For an average claim, this accounts for just 5% of total employment costs or £70 per employee per month.

Helping people save for their futures remains a key priority for the Government, and employers are still required to comply with obligations under automatic enrolment to enrol employees into workplace pensions and then make contributions. About 40% of employees using the CJRS are below the National Insurance Contribution and Pensions threshold, and therefore will have no employer costs in the CJRS. Furthermore, many small employers can benefit from the Employment Allowance for support with their National Insurance Contribution bill.

The Chancellor has always been clear that the Government would keep the situation under review, adapting its approach as the context evolved. In January, the Government will review the CJRS policy, taking into account economic circumstances across the UK.

20th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment he has made of the effect on breweries that produce 2,100hl of (a) the Government's proposed changes to small brewers' relief and (b) comparable small producers schemes provided by EU member states.

Further information will be published alongside the technical consultation on Small Brewers Relief later this Autumn.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will revise the definition of cigarillos so that they are in the same tax bracket as factory-made cigarettes after the end of transition period.

While all taxes are kept under review, the Government has no current plans to redefine the classification of cigarillos or increase the duty to the same level as cigarettes.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the tobacco duty escalator on reducing the prevalence of smoking.

No specific assessment has been made. According to the latest ONS data 14% of adults in the UK are smokers, the lowest on record. To ensure that this downward trend continues the Government is committed to maintaining the tobacco duty escalator until the end of the Parliament.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to increase the level of the tobacco duty escalator on hand-rolling tobacco.

All taxes are kept under review and decisions on tobacco duty rates are made by the Chancellor as part of the annual Budget process.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will adjust the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme to ensure wider access (a) for small community organisations and (b) throughout the voluntary sector.

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme is already available to all charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs. The eligibility rules for the scheme were significantly relaxed in 2017 to simplify and increase access to the scheme, particularly for smaller and newer charities.

In response to the proposal to increase Gift Aid to 25 per cent I refer the Hon Member to the answer that I gave on 4 September to the Hon Member for Lewisham East (UIN 82365).

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to raise Gift Aid to 25 per cent over two complete tax years.

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme is already available to all charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs. The eligibility rules for the scheme were significantly relaxed in 2017 to simplify and increase access to the scheme, particularly for smaller and newer charities.

In response to the proposal to increase Gift Aid to 25 per cent I refer the Hon Member to the answer that I gave on 4 September to the Hon Member for Lewisham East (UIN 82365).

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on tax revenues of his plans for duty-free and tax-free goods at airports announced on 11 September 2020.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage to or from Great Britain. The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales of non-excise goods and the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU, and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free before.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will (a) conduct and (b) publish an economic impact assessment of the Government's plans for duty-free and tax-free goods to airports announced in September 2020 on Scottish destinations for tourist shopping.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage to or from Great Britain. The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales of non-excise goods and the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU, and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free before.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what information his Department holds on the number of small breweries at each level of production in hectolitres (a) 0-1000, (b) 1001-2000, (c) 2001-3000, (d) 3001-4000, (e) 4001-5000, (f) 5001-6000, (g) 6001-7000, (h) 7001-8000, (i) 8001-9000, (j) 9001-10,000 and (k) above 10,000.

Further information about small breweries will be published with the technical consultation on Small Brewers Relief this Autumn.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the production costs of small brewers in the UK at each level of production in hectolitres (a) 0-1000, (b) 1001-2000, (c) 2001-3000, (d) 3001-4000, (e) 4001-5000, (f) 5001-6000, (g) 6001-7000, (h) 7001-8000, (i) 8001-9000, (j) 9001-10,000 and (k) above 10,000.

Further information about small breweries will be published with the technical consultation on Small Brewers Relief this Autumn.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Loan Charge, what steps the Government plans to take to ensure that people unable to (a) file their tax return, (b) pay tax due and (c) agree a time to pay arrangement by 30 September 2020 as a result of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak do not face any penalty.

The Government and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are acutely aware of the current economic challenges facing taxpayers as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

HMRC announced in December 2019 that they would extend the deadline from 31 January 2020 to 30 September 2020, for individuals due to pay the Loan Charge, to submit their 2018/19 Self Assessment returns and pay the tax due or agree a time to pay arrangement.

This deadline has long been established and the extension has given taxpayers an additional eight months to file their returns and decide whether to make an election to spread their loan charge liability over three years. HMRC expect the majority of Loan Charge taxpayers to be able to file a full and accurate 2018/19 Self Assessment return by the 30 September 2020 deadline.

HMRC will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to anyone who is unable to file their tax returns and pay the tax due or agree a time to pay arrangement by the 30 September 2020 deadline as a direct result of COVID-19.

16th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to employees of sectors that are not able to fully reopen.

It would be challenging to target the CJRS to specific sectors in a fair and deliverable way, and it may not be the case that this is the most effective or sensible way to provide longer-term support for those sectors most affected by coronavirus. It would also be difficult to target the CJRS at specific sectors without creating distortion, particularly as some firms work across multiple sectors. Specific firms may benefit from other measures including the Small Business Grant Fund and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It is the case that some firms will be affected by coronavirus for longer than others and the Government will continue to keep the situation under review.

This week the Government published its Winter Economy Plan, a targeted package of measures to support jobs and business through the winter months. As part of that Plan, the Job Support Scheme will support viable businesses who are facing lower demand due to COVID-19 to keep their employees in work and attached to the workforce.

8th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to enable individuals who were unwittingly taken advantage of by loan charge promoters to enter into a settlement with HMRC over loan schemes without having to declare wrongdoing and state that they knew they had avoided tax.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have provided several formal opportunities for taxpayers to settle their use of disguised remuneration (DR) schemes, both prior and subsequent to the announcement of the introduction of the loan charge.

Whenever a settlement agreement is agreed with HMRC, there must be a legally binding contract. HMRC do not require individuals settling their DR use to admit to wrongdoing, or to declare that they knew they had avoided tax, when agreeing these contracts.

Individuals who wish to use the 5 or 7 year payment instalment arrangements available under the current settlement terms do have to confirm that they are no longer engaged with tax avoidance (as required under the published terms), and this is acknowledged within the settlement contract. Agreeing to this term does not require the taxpayer to declare that they were knowingly engaged in tax avoidance in the past.

7th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the Loan Charge declaration deadline from the end of September 2020 to the end of January 2021 to provide time for delays due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced in December 2019 that they would extend the deadline from 31 January 2020 to 30 September 2020, for individuals due to pay the Loan Charge to submit their 2018/19 Self Assessment returns and pay the tax due or agree a time to pay arrangement.

This deadline has long been established and the extension has given taxpayers an additional eight months to file their returns and decide whether to make an election to spread their Loan Charge liability over three years. Loan Charge taxpayers are able to file a full and accurate 2018/19 Self Assessment return by the 30 September 2020 deadline.

The Government has no plans to extend the deadline beyond 30 September 2020. HMRC will keep the situation under review and will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to anyone who is unable to file their tax return and pay the tax due or agree a time to pay arrangement by the 30 September 2020 deadline as a direct result of COVID-19.

1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the potential effect of changes to Small Breweries' Relief on small breweries in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has not sought at either Ministerial or official level to meet to discuss Small Brewers Relief with HM Treasury in the last year.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of small breweries that will pay a higher rate of duty under the proposed changes to Small Breweries' Relief.

The Treasury has been reviewing Small Brewers Relief since 2018. As announced to Parliament in July, the Treasury has concluded the first stage of the review and set out its findings.

The Treasury will consult later this year on further aspects of reforming the relief, including the shape of the new taper. The results of this consultation will help determine what rate of duty breweries will face as they grow.

In order to provide time for brewers to adapt, final changes will not come into effect until at least 1 January 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish the rate of duty relief for small breweries under his proposed changes to Small Breweries' Relief for breweries producing (a) 2,100hl-3,000hl, (b) 3,001hl-4,000hl and (c) 4,001hl-5000hl.

The Treasury has been reviewing Small Brewers Relief since 2018. As announced to Parliament in July, the Treasury has concluded the first stage of the review and set out its findings.

The Treasury will consult later this year on further aspects of reforming the relief, including the shape of the new taper. The results of this consultation will help determine what rate of duty breweries will face as they grow.

In order to provide time for brewers to adapt, final changes will not come into effect until at least 1 January 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what rate of duty relief small breweries between 5,000hl and 10,000hl will receive under his proposed changes to Small Breweries' Relief.

The Treasury has been reviewing Small Brewers Relief since 2018. As announced to Parliament in July, the Treasury has concluded the first stage of the review and set out its findings.

The Treasury will consult later this year on further aspects of reforming the relief, including the shape of the new taper. The results of this consultation will help determine what rate of duty breweries will face as they grow.

In order to provide time for brewers to adapt, final changes will not come into effect until at least 1 January 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of delaying changes to Small Breweries' Relief due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Treasury has been reviewing Small Brewers Relief since 2018. As announced to Parliament in July, the Treasury has concluded the first stage of the review and set out its findings.

The Treasury will consult later this year on further aspects of reforming the relief, including the shape of the new taper. The results of this consultation will help determine what rate of duty breweries will face as they grow.

In order to provide time for brewers to adapt, final changes will not come into effect until at least 1 January 2022.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend eligibility criteria for business grants unallocated by local authorities to include business owners who have until now been ineligible for covid-19 related Government support.

COVID-19 business support measures, including the business grant funds, are a fully devolved matter.

The business grant funds were intended to support small businesses which faced high fixed property-related costs during the strict ‘lockdown’ period, when consumer footfall was dramatically reduced. As most businesses are now able to reopen, it is right that we wind up these schemes, which in England closed to new applicants on 28 August. We have asked Local Authorities in England to return any unallocated funds to the Exchequer.

The Government continues to review the economic situation and consider what support businesses need. However, there are currently no plans to re-open the business grants to new applications or to extend the eligibility criteria.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to enable the provision of financial support equivalent to dividends income for (a) sole directors and (b) sole employees of Limited Companies.

I refer the Honourable Member to the written answer to Parliamentary Question 54215 on 9 June 2020: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-06-03/54215/

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 19 May 2020 to Question 45271 on Self-employment Income Support Scheme, what steps he has taken to review his policy on calculation of average self-employed earnings in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to take into account periods of maternity leave.

As announced on 17 June, the Government has amended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) eligibility conditions to support self-employed new parents.

This means self-employed parents will be able to claim grants if they were taking time out of their trade to care for their new-born or newly adopted child and, as a result, did not submit a Self-Assessment tax return for 2018-19 or their trading profits in 2018-19 were less than their non-trading income.

Further details of the change for self-employed parents is available on GOV.UK.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when his Department's response to the consultation on the review of Small Brewers' Relief, which closed on 17 March 2019, will be published.

The conclusions of the Treasury review of Small Brewers Relief will be published by the Autumn.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on implementing a basic income to support the UK economy’s recovery as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government is committed to helping families get through this crisis. The Government has announced a significant package of welfare measures to support those who need it most, including a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance.

The Government’s approach to welfare is to recognise the value and importance of work, while protecting the most vulnerable in society. The Government considers that there are fundamental problems with the realities of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and does not see it as an effective method of advancing social equality.

This is because a flat rate UBI does not take into account the additional needs and costs faced by some individuals. It therefore has the potential to increase inequality markedly. Any practical implementation would also be expensive, and would require a significant increase in taxation.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what further steps he plans to take to support businesses experiencing significant cashflow problems to pay their staff after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. Businesses continue to have access to the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including the four government-backed loan schemes for firms of all sizes to support their cashflow needs. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply - https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

As we now begin to re-open the economy, it is right that state support is slowly reduced and the focus shifts to getting furloughed employees back to work. The changes made ensure we are doing this in a measured way to support both firms and employees through the transition.

The Government will continue to closely monitor the impacts of the support packages and continue to engage with businesses and representative groups. Any announcements on the next stage of our economic response will be made at the appropriate time.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to reform Small Brewer relief in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Treasury is currently reviewing Small Brewers Relief, and the conclusions of that review will be published in due course.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the period in which brewers are able to pay beer duty as a result of the reduction in beer production levels during the covid-19 outbreak.

Brewers are currently required to pay their monthly beer duty bills by the twenty-fifth day of the following month.

However, if they require more flexibility regarding paying their beer duty bills, they can access HMRC’s Time To Pay service. This allows brewers to defer their beer duty bills or pay over a longer period of time, if they need it.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reducing beer duty bills for all British-owned independent brewers to the rate paid in 2019-20 for the rest of the 2020-21 financial year.

The Treasury froze beer duty at the recent Budget. This means that the beer duty rate is the same in 2020-21 as in 2019-20. Thanks to decisions by this Government, the beer duty rate has been unchanged since 2017.

The Treasury keeps all taxes, including beer duty, under review.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representatives of the independent small breweries sector he has had discussions with on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on that sector.

Due to the exceptional circumstances of the covid-19 outbreak, it has not been possible for Ministers to meet directly with representatives of every business sector during this pressured time. However, Treasury officials have been in regular contact with the Society of Independent Brewers and other organisations representing small brewers throughout this period.

Full details of all Ministerial meetings are published regularly on the GOV.UK website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to suspend interest on outstanding corporation tax bills for those who have had to defer payment due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses and individuals during the Covid-19 outbreak.

This includes the deferral of certain VAT and Self-Assessment payments in 2020-21, and the waiving of associated interest and penalties.

HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay (TTP) service, where individual and business taxpayers can agree tailored plans to defer certain tax payments due and repay them over an agreed period of time. These arrangements can include any tax or duty administered by HMRC, including Corporation Tax (CT). Interest will continue to accrue on TTP arrangements including those for CT, in the usual way, to cover the costs to Government of late payment.

Incorporated businesses may have access to a wide range of Government support to help with finances and cashflow, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Small Business Grant Scheme.

15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the outcomes were of his discussions with the leaders of the Bar and the Bar Council on extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to members of the Bar.

The Government recognises the importance of the work of the legal professions in enabling access to justice across the country, and HM Treasury has worked closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Agency to understand and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19 and is one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS. However, other support is available and the SEISS continues to be one element of a comprehensive package of Government support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to members of the Bar who require payments to maintain practice but who are excluded from the support by the three year average earnings rule.

The Government recognises the importance of the work of the legal professions in enabling access to justice across the country, and HM Treasury has worked closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Agency to understand and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19 and is one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS. However, other support is available and the SEISS continues to be one element of a comprehensive package of Government support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will enable (a) veterinary and (b) other businesses under the covid-19 furlough scheme to retain sufficient staff on reduced hours to cover emergency provision while following Government advice on maintaining public health.

The Chancellor has announced that from 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.

There will not be a minimum furlough period, but employers will need to agree any flexible furlough arrangements with employees, and when claiming the CJRS grant employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to the letters to him of 4 May 2020 and 5 May 2020 from the hon Member for Midlothian.

The Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. All Member’s correspondence is currently receiving attention and will be responded to as soon as possible.

I apologise for the delay. I would like to reassure the Member that his letters are receiving attention and will be responded to shortly. In 2019, the Treasury replied to 90% of MPs’ correspondence within 15 working days.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to provide financial support to self-employed people that are without work after the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme ends on 31 May 2020.

On 29 May, the Chancellor announced that eligible individuals will be able to claim a second and final taxable grant when the SEISS reopens for applications in August. Individuals will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in another single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

12th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) freezing and (b) deferring beer duty for the independent brewery sector during the covid-19 outbreak.

To support brewers and drinkers, at the Budget the Government froze beer duty for the third consecutive Budget.

The Government appreciates that brewers, particularly small or craft ones, are facing a challenging trading period due to COVID-19. However, they can benefit from the unprecedented package of business support offered by the Government.

In addition, if brewers need more help, they can use HMRC’s Time To Pay service to seek deferrals of any of their taxes, including beer duty. HMRC will waive late payment penalties and interest where a brewer cannot pay taxes due to COVID-19.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the director of a limited company in which all employees are furloughed is permitted under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to undertake work that is not revenue generating and is to pursue future sales.

As noted in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance, company directors are bound by the Companies Act 2006 to fulfil their statutory duties. The Government aims to ensure that salaried directors can be furloughed and supported through this scheme, and that they are still able to meet their statutory duties. The guidance is clear that directors should do no more work than would reasonably be judged necessary to meet their statutory requirements, and that they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue, or provide services to or on behalf of their company.

This scheme supplements the other significant support announced for UK businesses, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will review his decision to count neither profit invested back into the development of self-employed businesses nor paid as dividends to directors of small limited companies as income for the purposes of the Coronavirus Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is intended to support individuals who rely primarily on their trading profits from self-employment as their main source of income, and whose income has?been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages, and is not eligible for support. Under current reporting mechanisms it is not possible for HM Revenue and Customs to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity. Expanding the scope would require HMRC to collect and verify new information. This would take longer to deliver and put at risk the other schemes which the Government is committed to delivering as quickly as possible.

Individuals who are not eligible for the SEISS may have access to other support Government is providing, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at:?www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

28th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that businesses facing financial difficulties during the covid-19 outbreak are able to obtain the overdrafts they need from banks.

The Government recognises that the outbreak of COVID-19 may lead to businesses facing financial difficulty and uncertainty.

The Government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

Under CBILS, borrowers can apply for finance facilities, including overdrafts, of £50,001 to £5 million for up to 6 years. The Government will cover the first 12 months’ interest payments and any fees on these facilities.

Under CLBILS, borrowers can apply for finance facilities, including overdrafts, of up to £25 million for businesses with a turnover between £45 million and £250 million, and up to £50 million to businesses with a turnover of over £250 million.

Under BBLS, businesses can apply for a loan between £2,000 and £50,000, subject to a maximum of 25% of turnover, for a fixed 6-year term. The Government will cover the first 12 months’ interest payments and any fees, and no repayments are due for the first year. After this period the interest rate on these loans will be 2.5%, and there are no early repayment fees.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether a sole director and employee of a limited company is eligible for salary assistance as an employee under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

In March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep millions of people in employment. The scheme is open to any individual who was on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and for whom HMRC received an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before the 19 March 2020. Full guidance for employers and employees can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to the (a) income and (b) director dividend of a person that is a sole director and sole employee of a limited company.

In March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep millions of people in employment. Incorporated individuals will benefit from the job retention scheme on their salary paid through PAYE. Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages, and is not eligible for support. Guidance on how to calculate 80% of wages can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether a sole employee of a limited company that is furloughed is able to undertake work required to sustain the long-term viability of that company during the covid-19 pandemic.

In March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep millions of people in employment. Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, and they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provide services to or on behalf of their company. Full guidance for employers and employees can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) short-term and (b) long-term effect of job losses as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on the economy.

HM Treasury does not produce economic forecasts. The government is actively monitoring the Covid-19 outbreak and, in addition to taking the necessary steps to protect lives, is working urgently to protect our people and businesses and to minimise economic disruption as a result of coronavirus. For example, the recently announced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will help firms continue to keep people in employment. The government will continue to monitor the situation and act as needed to protect jobs and the economy.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to cover staff wages for small and medium-sized businesses as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis. Businesses, including SMEs, will benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick Pay refunds and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme alongside tax cuts and direct grants.

Further detail of the business support package can be found at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk.

More information on claiming for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to take steps to encourage employers not to make their staff as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis. Businesses, including SMEs, will benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick Pay refunds and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme alongside tax cuts and direct grants.

Further detail of the business support package can be found at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk.

More information on claiming for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to issue guidance to businesses on the process for applying for the grants and loans announced by his Department to help businesses with the economic effects of covid-19.

The government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis. Businesses, including SMEs, will benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick Pay refunds and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme alongside tax cuts and direct grants.

Further detail of the business support package can be found at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk.

More information on claiming for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether financial support will be made available to businesses that do not take on a coronavirus business interruption loan due to concerns over the potential long-term economic effects of repayment of that loan.

The government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis. Businesses, including SMEs, will benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick Pay refunds and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme alongside tax cuts and direct grants.

Further detail of the business support package can be found at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk.

More information on claiming for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what criteria his Department uses to classify a community radio station as a public interest body in relation to VAT exemption.

A public interest body is a non-profit making body which has objects that are in the public domain and are of a political, religious, patriotic, philosophical, philanthropic or civic nature. Examples include: trade unions, professional associations and learned societies. Supplies from such bodies to their members are VAT exempt when no payment, other than a subscription fee, are payable for them providing that they are referable to the aims of the organisation.

VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption, and the standard rate of 20 per cent applies to most goods and services. While there are exceptions to the standard rate, these are strictly limited by domestic law as well as by fiscal considerations.

At present, there is no specific VAT exemption for the community radio sector or relief available for radio broadcasting more generally, and there are no plans to review this at this time.

The Government recognises the social and cultural contribution that community radio stations make to the wider community. It therefore committed £430,448 to fund grants to help further the financial stability and future sustainability of community radio stations in 2019/20. Further information on the Community Radio Fund scheme and application process is available on the website of Ofcom.

12th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether a radio station registered as a private limited company by guarantee without the share capital classification of limited is entitled to VAT exemptions.

A public interest body is a non-profit making body which has objects that are in the public domain and are of a political, religious, patriotic, philosophical, philanthropic or civic nature. Examples include: trade unions, professional associations and learned societies. Supplies from such bodies to their members are VAT exempt when no payment, other than a subscription fee, are payable for them providing that they are referable to the aims of the organisation.

VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption, and the standard rate of 20 per cent applies to most goods and services. While there are exceptions to the standard rate, these are strictly limited by domestic law as well as by fiscal considerations.

At present, there is no specific VAT exemption for the community radio sector or relief available for radio broadcasting more generally, and there are no plans to review this at this time.

The Government recognises the social and cultural contribution that community radio stations make to the wider community. It therefore committed £430,448 to fund grants to help further the financial stability and future sustainability of community radio stations in 2019/20. Further information on the Community Radio Fund scheme and application process is available on the website of Ofcom.

12th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether VAT exemptions apply to funding allocated by charity trusts to community groups.

There is no VAT due on the gift or donation of money that is freely given. VAT is due on funding given in return for goods or services received from a community group.

12th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the provisions of (a) amendment to the promoters of tax avoidance schemes and (b) schedule 16 to the Finance (No.2) Act 2017 are used to secure penalties for promoters of loan charge schemes.

The Government and HMRC are determined to continue to tackle promoters of tax avoidance schemes. This includes using the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) and Enablers penalty regimes to change behaviours of those promoting or enabling the sale and use of avoidance schemes.

At the Budget, the Government announced that it will legislate in Finance Bill 2020-21 to strengthen the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) and the Enablers penalty regimes. This includes measures, which are designed to ensure that: HMRC are better able to issue stop notices to promoters of schemes that do not work; POTAS obligations are fulfilled by promoters including where they have tried to abuse corporate structures; and HMRC can obtain information about the enabling of abusive schemes as soon as they are identified.

On 19 March HMRC published a new strategy for tackling promoters of tax avoidance schemes. This strategy outlines the range of policy, operational and communications interventions that are under way and being developed to drive those who promote tax avoidance schemes out of the market.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many promoters of loan charge schemes have been (a) charged and (b) fined in relation to their activities.

A key part of HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) strategy in tackling promoters of disguised remuneration and other tax avoidance schemes is to change their behaviour so that they stop this activity altogether.

HMRC have a range of legislative powers to tackle promoters, under three main regimes: Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS), Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS), and the Enablers penalty. Penalties can be charged for various failures to comply with the requirements of these regimes. HMRC’s Counter-Avoidance directorate, created in 2013, is responsible for applying these penalties in cases of marketed tax avoidance.

Fewer than five penalties have been charged under DOTAS by the Counter-Avoidance team since 2013. Before then a further 11 penalties were charged for more historic DOTAS failings.

In addition, there are four litigation decisions received since 2017, all in relation to disguised remuneration (DR) avoidance arrangements, which confirmed HMRC’s view that the schemes are notifiable under the DOTAS regime. Penalty action is being considered in each case.

No penalties have to date been issued under the POTAS or Enablers legislation. These regimes have had a positive impact in changing the behaviour of some promoters. As a result of HMRC’s concerted action under these regimes, a number of major promoters have now cooperated with HMRC and have either stopped selling schemes or ceased business altogether.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps the Government has taken to support the private sector for the roll-out of the IR35 rules.

The Government is committed to working with organisations to ensure changes to the rules are implemented correctly. HMRC is undertaking an extensive programme of education and support to help organisations prepare for the reform. This includes:

  • Offering one-to-one support to more than 2,000 of the UK’s biggest employers, and writing directly to 43,000 medium sized businesses and other organisations.
  • Providing large and medium sized businesses, public bodies, and charities with factsheets to share with their contractors, and publishing this factsheet on gov.uk.
  • Holding workshops with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, and public bodies.
  • Holding webinars at least weekly, with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, public bodies and contractors.
  • Publishing an enhanced version of the Check Employment Status for Tax online tool in November 2019 to help individuals and organisations make the right status determinations and apply the off-payroll rules correctly.
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure the proportionality of his Department's policy on (a) promoters and enablers of loan charge schemes and (b) people who have been mis-sold a financial arrangement.

The Government is determined to continue to tackle promoters of tax avoidance schemes.

The Government announced measures to reduce the scope for promoters to market tax avoidance schemes in its response to the independent Loan Charge Review. Further detail of the measures will be set out at Budget, and new legislation will be scrutinised by Parliament during the passage of the 2020/21 Finance Bill.

In 2019/20 HMRC are doubling their resource involved in tackling promoters and have committed to publish a revised strategy for tackling promoters of tax avoidance schemes by the end of March 2020.

While the Government empathises with anyone who believes they were misled into using a disguised remuneration scheme, it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy of their tax return and to understand the consequences of their decisions. It remains right that the Government takes action to tackle tax avoidance, which is unfair to the vast majority of taxpayers who pay the correct tax.

The Government does recognise the importance of taxpayers being able to get reliable tax advice and announced, in response to the Review, a call for evidence on what steps the Government can take to raise standards in the tax advice market to give taxpayers more assurance that the advice they are receiving is reliable.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what independent research his Department has commissioned on the administrative costs for SMEs of the roll-out of the off payroll working rules.

The reform of the off-payroll working rules in April 2020 will apply only to medium and large-sized businesses, minimising administrative burdens for the vast majority of engagers. The existing rules will continue to apply to the smallest 1.5m businesses.

The Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) published in July 2019 sets out HMRC’s assessment that the reform to the off-payroll working rules is expected to affect 170,000 individuals. The TIIN can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if the Government will undertake a review of the tax system to improve support for contingent workers.

The Government keeps all elements of the tax system under review and aims for the tax system to support all sections of the workforce effectively.

Specifically, the Government has announced that it will review how it can better support the self-employed, including by making the tax system easier to navigate as well as improving access to finance and credit.

21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to provide access to free support for vulnerable individuals with pre-settled status to assist them in switching to settled status.

Since April 2019 we have awarded £17 million in grant funding to a network of 72 organisations, who provide a wide range of invaluable support across the UK, ensuring those vulnerable and most at-risk continue to get the help they need.

We committed a further £4.5 million of grant funding for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021 to fund the current network of 72 organisations to continue to provide a range of support across the UK well beyond the 30 June deadline. We are committed to making sure everybody eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) can apply for the status they deserve, including those who are vulnerable or need extra support. This support is also available to those with Pre-Settled Status applying for Settled Status.

We are currently in consultation with the Grant-funded Network (GFN) to continue this support from 01 October 2021 – 31 March 2022.

We intend to issue reminders to people granted pre-settled status to apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires if they have not already done so. We will set out the arrangements for this in due course.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department plans to take to remind people with pre-settled status to switch to settled status when necessary to do so.

Since the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) opened in March 2019, the Home Office has undertaken a broad range of communications and stakeholder engagement activity to encourage EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members to apply for status under the EUSS. Extensive, and regularly updated information, factsheets and leaflets on the EUSS (including pre-settled to settled status conversion) have also been made available on GOV.UK. Stakeholders, including the Grant Funded Network of 72 organisations, have also been provided with regular updates, including on considerations for pre-settled status holders.

As of 30 June 2021, the Home Office had granted 206,490 applications for settled status from pre-settled status holders.

The Home Office also continues to communicate with EUSS status holders with information relevant to their status, including pre-settled to settled status applications. This currently includes an email exercise to all EUSS status holders, being sent throughout late September to October 2021 with reminders on key information, including pre-settled to settled status conversion.

When a person is granted pre-settled status, they also receive notification of what pre-settled status means, including the option to apply for settled status as soon as they qualify for it. This will generally be once they have completed five years’ continuous residence in the UK. Pre-settled status holders’ online UK Visas and Immigration account also provides key information on what a status holder can do in the UK, explains they can apply for settled status once they have lived continuously in the UK for five years and provides a link to GOV.UK with further information on how to do so.

The Home Office intends to provide individual pre-settled status holders with a timely reminder to apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires. We will set out the arrangements for this in due course.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of applications to the EU Settlement Scheme have been successful; and how many and what proportion of those submitted before the June deadline have received their Certificate of Application to date.

The Home Office publishes data on the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) in the ‘EU Settlement Scheme statistics’.

The latest published information on EUSS applications concluded to 31 August 2021, by outcome type, can be found in the table on the EU Settlement Scheme statistics collection page on GOV.UK.

The data requested on Certificates of Application is not available. Where a person who applied to the EUSS by the 30 June 2021 deadline has not yet received a Certificate of Application, they can rely on the Home Office letter or email acknowledging their application to confirm they have made an in-time application.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to simplify the process of family reunion across national boundaries for Afghan refugees.

The Government’s family reunion policy allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country. For Afghan refugees in the UK, we already have rules in place for their close family members to apply to join them in the UK and these can be found at https://www.gov.uk/settlement-refugee-or-humanitarian-protection/family-reunion

The UK is working with international partners to secure safe routes out of Afghanistan as soon as they become available. However, while the security situation remains extremely volatile, we recommend people still in Afghanistan do not make applications and pay application fees at this time as they will not be considered until biometrics are provided. The British Embassy in Kabul has currently suspended in-country operations and all UK diplomatic and consular staff have been temporarily withdrawn.

Those Afghans who are outside of Afghanistan and able to get to a Visa Application Centre to provide their biometrics can make an application in the usual way.

A policy statement on Afghanistan resettlement has been published on gov.uk www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what options are available to EU nationals who seek to apply for settled status and who do not own bio-chipped documents.

Any EU nationals who wish to apply to the European Union Settlement Scheme who do not own a bio-chipped document can still apply through the postal route.

A step by step guide on how to apply can be found on gov.uk at www.gov.uk/eusettledstatus

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 14 January 2021 to Question 136007, if she will publish data on the number of medical assessments that have taken place for asylum seekers who are housed in barracks.

We take the welfare of those in our care very seriously. We provide asylum seekers in supported accommodation with safe, Covid-compliant accommodation along with free nutritious meals, all paid for by the taxpayer.

This includes providing asylum seekers with privacy and confidentiality as would be expected by those seeking sanctuary in the UK where it would be damaging for their identities to be revealed.

The Home Office therefore do not publish data on medical assessments relating to service users.

Procurement of accommodation was on hold due to constraints, availability and Local Authority pressures in relation to Covid 19.

We have established the Local Government Chief Executive Group (HOLGCEX) group to bring together senior representatives from Home Office, Local Government Association and local authorities with the aim of working in partnership to improve the asylum dispersal process for the people who use this service and the communities in which they reside.

We are trying to implement national structures across 150 LAs who will have a localised view and their own processes and practice. To allow us to better engage, we fund SMPs by region to enhance engagement. Furthermore, when procuring dispersed property there is a process to follow which includes consultation with LAs and statutory bodies.

We will continue our work through Home Office and Local Governments Chief Executives (HOLGCEX) group, and the Director and Deputy Director have been having 1 to 1 engagement with Chief Executives to discuss latest plans. We have also stood up a programme team to increase procurement across the UK, but we can only do so where Local Authorities agree we can procure in their area.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 14 January 2021 to question 136008, how much new community-based dispersal accommodation has been procured since the covid-19 lockdown announced in March 2020.

We take the welfare of those in our care very seriously. We provide asylum seekers in supported accommodation with safe, Covid-compliant accommodation along with free nutritious meals, all paid for by the taxpayer.

This includes providing asylum seekers with privacy and confidentiality as would be expected by those seeking sanctuary in the UK where it would be damaging for their identities to be revealed.

The Home Office therefore do not publish data on medical assessments relating to service users.

Procurement of accommodation was on hold due to constraints, availability and Local Authority pressures in relation to Covid 19.

We have established the Local Government Chief Executive Group (HOLGCEX) group to bring together senior representatives from Home Office, Local Government Association and local authorities with the aim of working in partnership to improve the asylum dispersal process for the people who use this service and the communities in which they reside.

We are trying to implement national structures across 150 LAs who will have a localised view and their own processes and practice. To allow us to better engage, we fund SMPs by region to enhance engagement. Furthermore, when procuring dispersed property there is a process to follow which includes consultation with LAs and statutory bodies.

We will continue our work through Home Office and Local Governments Chief Executives (HOLGCEX) group, and the Director and Deputy Director have been having 1 to 1 engagement with Chief Executives to discuss latest plans. We have also stood up a programme team to increase procurement across the UK, but we can only do so where Local Authorities agree we can procure in their area.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make it her policy to extend the Government’s Country Policy and Information Note on Falun Gong in China to include Hong Kong if the new National Security Law results in following Falun Gong being outlawed in Hong Kong.

All asylum and human rights claims from Chinese nationals are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations. Each individual assessment is made against the background of the latest available country of origin information and any relevant caselaw.

Our assessment of the situation for those who practise Falun Gong in China, including the situation for those in Hong Kong, is set out in the relevant country policy and information note, which is available on the Gov.uk website.

We regularly monitor and review the situation in countries of origin, working closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Where there is a change to the country situation, we will look to address this in an update to the country policy and information note.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what criteria her Department uses to assess the suitability of (a) existing and (b) potential accommodation for asylum seekers in relation to (i) physical health, (ii) mental health and (iii) safety from harm.

All asylum seekers in initial and temporary accommodation have access to an initial health screening and health care through in house health care teams and/or provider welfare staff who will arrange health care and signpost to the appropriate health services

Additionally, all asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help where they can escalate any concerns regarding accommodation or support services, and they can get information about how to obtain further support including legal advice where appropriate. AIRE asylum services provide free independent advice, guidance and information on the asylum process, accommodation, financial support, finding legal representation and any other asylum related matters. AIRE run a national helpline that is free and accessible to all asylum seekers in the UK.

All sites have security staff and our accommodation providers work with local police forces to ensure the safety and security of asylum seeker accommodation.

We expect the highest standards from our providers and monitor performance and the effectiveness of the contracts, including the safeguarding of our service users through the monthly Contract Management Groups and quarterly Strategic Review Management Boards. We also hold daily calls with our service providers to monitor and resolve issues during the current pandemic.

Those accommodated in longer term, dispersed accommodation have the same access to health care as the rest of the general population.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of (a) the spread of communicable diseases, (b) mental health problems, (c) physical health problems, (d) hate crime and (e) assault in (i) barracks housing asylum seekers and (ii) other Government housing for asylum seekers in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Accommodation Providers are implementing advice and guidance to meet Public Health England & Wales guidance. Our accommodation has been configured where possible to meet local and national health guidance and allow for social distancing and self isolation when required. People accommodated in hostel-based accommodation receive translated guidance in relation to social distancing, potential symptoms, self-isolating and hygiene requirements, for example, hand washing. Onsite assistance and guidance are provided by support staff.

All asylum seekers in initial and temporary accommodation, including Ministry of Defence sites have access to health care through in house health care teams and/or provider welfare staff who will arrange health care and signpost asylum seekers to appropriate services.

Additionally, all asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help where they can escalate any concerns regarding accommodation or support services, and they can get information about how to obtain further support including legal advice where appropriate. AIRE asylum services provide free independent advice, guidance and information on the asylum process, accommodation, financial support, finding legal representation and any other asylum related matters. AIRE run a national helpline that is free and accessible to all asylum seekers in the UK.

All sites have security staff and our accommodation providers work with local police forces to ensure the safety and security of asylum seeker accommodation.

With regards to hate crime we are monitoring the situation and working closely with the police, as well as our providers, to ensure the safeguarding of the supported population, particularly those currently accommodated in hotels and MoD sites. The welfare of our service users is of the upmost importance.

We hold daily calls with our service providers to monitor and resolve issues during the current pandemic.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to stop housing asylum seekers in (a) barracks and (b) other forms of institutional housing and use community-based housing for asylum seekers.

Increased asylum intake, alongside measures taken to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, has meant that the Home Office has had to deal with growing demand for asylum support and accommodation services. In recent months we have faced additional challenges which have required us in some instances to use contingency accommodation, including hotels, to fulfil or statutory obligations to house destitute asylum seekers whilst their claims are examined.

In order to reduce the use of such contingency accommodation we have been working closely with local authorities and devolved administrations to identify opportunities to increase the amount of dispersal accommodation available and to assist those that are no longer eligible for asylum support to ‘move-on’ from asylum accommodation. This has been handled through a calm, considered and phased approach and in line with current health guidance.

Should any Local Authority agree to become an asylum dispersal area we are committed to work with them immediately to source community based accommodation in their areas, increasing the number of properties available to our providers and our ability to move people from contingency accommodation.

It remains our intention to move all individuals in contingency accommodation into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical, however our immediate priority is to ensure that we continue to meet our legal duty to house destitute asylum seekers and ensure their safety and wellbeing

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she has taken to ensure that people in Colnbrook immigration removal centre are able to access (a) legal representatives, (b) their families and (c) other forms of support.