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


Scheduled Event
Tuesday 6th September 2022
19:00
Adjournment - Main Chamber
6 Sep 2022, 7 p.m.
Impact of Small Brewers Relief on independent brewers
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Scheduled Event
Friday 16th September 2022
Private Members' Bills - Main Chamber
War Pension Scheme and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (Public Inquiry) Bill: Second Reading
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Scheduled Event
Friday 16th September 2022
Private Members' Bills - Main Chamber
Ministerial Code (Enforcement) Bill: Second Reading
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Scheduled Event
Friday 16th September 2022
Private Members' Bills - Main Chamber
Ministerial Interests (Public Appointments) Bill: Second Reading
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Select Committee Meeting
Monday 19th September 2022
17:00
Division Votes
None available
Speeches
Thursday 14th July 2022
Oral Answers to Questions
I listened with interest to the excellent question from the hon. Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland) and I welcome the …
Written Answers
Tuesday 26th July 2022
Space
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government will develop a set of …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 7th June 2022
Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2022
That this House congratulates the nominees and winners of the Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2022; thanks the organisers at Volunteer Midlothian …
Bills
Tuesday 21st June 2022
War Pension Scheme and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (Public Inquiry) Bill 2022-23
A Bill to establish an independent public inquiry into the administration of the War Pension Scheme and of the Armed …
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
Thursday 14th July 2022
Pat Scott retirement from the Huntly Express
That this House notes Pat Scott is retiring as Chief Reporter with Highland News and Media, having served as Editor …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Owen Thompson has voted in 361 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)
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)
(57 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(17 debate interactions)
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(11 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(47 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(40 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(28 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).

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

11th July 2022
Owen Thompson signed this EDM on Thursday 14th July 2022

Pat Scott retirement from the Huntly Express

Tabled by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)
That this House notes Pat Scott is retiring as Chief Reporter with Highland News and Media, having served as Editor of the Huntly Express; understands that Pat joined the Huntly Express in 1978 and has reported on Huntly and district diligently since that time; notes that Pat has worked for …
13 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Jul 2022)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 11
Labour: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
12th July 2022
Owen Thompson signed this EDM as a sponsor on Wednesday 13th July 2022

Political violence and presidential election in Brazil

Tabled by: Richard Burgon (Labour - Leeds East)
This House expresses its deep concerns about reports of political violence against representatives of the Workers’ Party in Brazil ahead of this October’s Presidential election; notes that the far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his cabinet ministers, nearly half of whom are military generals, have made repeated threats against the …
34 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Jul 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 17
Scottish National Party: 8
Independent: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 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

1 Adjournment Debate led by Owen Thompson

Monday 25th January 2021

6 Bills introduced by Owen Thompson


A Bill to require a Minister to make an oral statement to Parliament if a person is appointed to a paid post by them, in whom, or a company in which, that Minister has a personal, political or financial interest.


Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 21st June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 16th September 2022
Order Paper number: 10
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

A Bill to make provision about the enforcement of the Ministerial Code; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 21st June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 16th September 2022
Order Paper number: 9
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

A Bill to establish an independent public inquiry into the administration of the War Pension Scheme and of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme by Veterans UK; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 21st June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 16th September 2022
Order Paper number: 8
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

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
Wednesday 19th January 2022

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
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


689 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
7th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on providing additional support for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in the context of the cost of living crisis.

The government understands that people across the UK are worried about the rising cost of living and are seeing their disposable incomes decrease as they spend more on the essentials. Although it is impossible for the government to solve every problem, we can and will ease the burden as we help the entire country through the worst of this crisis.

In May, we announced over £15 billion of additional cost of living support, targeted at those with the greatest need. As a result, millions of vulnerable households will receive at least £1,200 of support this financial year, with the vast majority of households receiving at least £550. This package builds on the over £22 billion previously announced, meaning government support for the cost of living now totals over £37 billion this year, equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.

In addition to timely, temporary and targeted support, the government is also committed to tackling the root cause of the cost of living challenge – high inflation. Through independent monetary policy, responsible management of the public finances and supply-side reforms, we will combat high inflation and reduce it over time.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many hon. Members have tested positive for covid-19 (a) in the week commencing 7 March 2022 and (b) since 5 January 2022.

Following the change in Government guidance, individuals are no longer required to inform their workplace should they test positive. The figures below represent the number of positive cases where an individual has shared their result. The figures provided are for all positive cases, as we do not hold the data per pass category.

4 – 10 March: 47
25 February – 3 March: 11
18 – 24 February: 15
11 – 17 February: 18

The numbers below represent the number of validated case numbers, using data held by the UKHSA and the Parliamentary test and trace team.

4 – 10 February: 63
28 January – 3 February: 61
21 – 27 January: 89
14 – 20 January: 68
7 – 13 January: 69
31 December – 6 January: 110

7th Feb 2022
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many hon. Members tested positive for covid-19 (a) in the week commencing 7 February 2022 and (b) since 5 January 2022.

Data is held with respect to the number of positive cases with potential links to the Parliamentary estate but is not broken into passholder groups, such as MPs.

Cases are considered to have potential links to the estate where a person testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (by PCR or LFT), has attended the parliamentary estate for work purposes within the week prior to onset of symptoms (or date of positive test), with onset of symptoms (or date of positive test). This does not mean the case is confirmed as definitely being linked to the estate.

  • A total of 349 positive cases have been reported from 5 January to 11 February 2022.
  • A total of 27 positive cases have been reported from 7–11 February 2022.
15th Dec 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps are being taken to ensure that the Government meets the COP26 goal of developed countries doubling their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing countries by 2025.

Under the UK’s Presidency, 95% of the largest developed country climate finance providers made new, forward-looking commitments, delivering significant progress towards the $100 billion goal, which will be reached by 2023 at the latest.

Record amounts of adaptation finance were pledged at COP26, both to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the doubling of adaptation finance is the first time an adaptation-specific financing goal has ever been agreed globally.

We are working with developed countries and multilateral development banks (MDBs), including through the Champions Group on Adaptation Finance launched at the UN General Assembly in 2021 on the scaling-up of adaptation finance to meet the collective doubling by 2025.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
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, if he will raise in discussions with the President of Chile, during the COP26 visit, the potential environmental effect of the President's financial involvement in the Dominga mining project.

The UK and Chile regularly discuss environmental issues. The UK has been pressing all leaders through a programme of regular engagement and events to commit to ambitious climate action to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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.

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.

24th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the Pregnancy and Maternity (Redundancy Protection) Bill.

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.

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.

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what her Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted, however, not all meetings need to be minuted.

The Cabinet Office expects that the general guidance that departments give to their staff will help officials make judgements as to what meetings need to be minuted, noting their Civil Service Code obligation to ‘keep accurate official records.’ The retention policy of the Attorney General’s Office is that records of all diaries, calendars, gifts/hospitality, Invitations, outgoing correspondence and information on visits and speeches will be held for 5 years.

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers.

8th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs plans to take to improve the Government's statistical knowledge of the (a) number and (b) whereabouts of veterans.

The Veterans' Strategy Action Plan launched in January 2022 sets out over 60 UK Government commitments with a combined value of over £70m to help support veterans and their families between 2022-2024. We are already making good progress with 24% of commitments across the Plan completed at the 6 month point.

One of three ‘Areas of Action’ underpinning this Plan is “Understanding our veteran community: work on data and research to ensure policy across government is rooted in robust evidence”. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will publish a data and research strategy in Autumn 2022, to set out further steps to better understand the UK’s veteran community.

For the first time ever, we included a question on veteran status in the 2021 Census in England and Wales, and the 2022 Census in Scotland. The Office for National Statistics will analyse and publish the Census data on the veteran population in England and Wales and the results will be published in 2023. This will give us data on the demographics of our veteran population which will allow us to better design and target future support.The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency is working with the MOD to gather data on its veterans and the OVA is working with colleagues across the Devolved Administrations to share best practice and co-ordinate on data collection and analysis.

Following the census, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs has commissioned, alongside the Office for National Statistics, a regular veterans survey. This will gather views and opinions on a range of areas, including life satisfaction, using services, and awareness of services. The first survey will be conducted in later 2022.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
8th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to improve the quality of data-gathering on the number of veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Veterans' Strategy Action Plan launched in January 2022 sets out over 60 UK Government commitments with a combined value of over £70m to help support veterans and their families between 2022-2024. We are already making good progress with 24% of commitments already completed at the 6 month point.

According to data from the Homelessness Case Level Information Collection, Veterans are not more likely to be homeless than the general population. Research from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows that only 0.6% of households who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2020-21 had served in the Armed Forces.

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs has a strong focus on data and research, so that we can better understand the veteran community and the support they need. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) are looking at the supply of supported housing by the end of 2022 and ensuring data on veteran homelessness is collected consistently. DLUHC are also working with all Local Authorities (LA) to ensure they are recording all veterans approaching LAs who are owed a homelessness duty.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
8th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs will make it his policy to develop a mechanism for following up on the welfare of veterans.

The welfare of this country's veterans is a high priority for this government. We set up the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in 2019 to sit at the heart of government in the Cabinet Office. It coordinates and drives forward work across the UK Government to support veterans.

The Veterans' Strategy Action Plan launched in January 2022 sets out over 60 UK Government commitments with a combined value of over £70m to help support veterans and their families between 2022-2024. We are already making good progress with 24% of commitments already completed at the 6 month point.

Veterans UK provide ongoing welfare support for veterans of any age, and their families through the Veterans Welfare Service. The NHS’ veterans health and wellbeing service, Op COURAGE, provides a bespoke mental health pathway for veterans, as well as supporting links to other organisations which can help with veterans’ wider health and wellbeing needs. The Veterans’ Gateway provides a first point of contact to ensure veterans are directed to the right services via a website and telephone, SMS and live chat advisors. The Government strongly encourages any veterans who need support to engage with it.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the written ministerial statement, entitled, Recording and Reporting Suicides, HCWS299, 22 September 2021, whether his Department will take evidence from the Scottish Government in the process of developing a new method of reporting and recording veterans' suicides.

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs is working with the Office for National Statistics to develop plans for the new method of reporting and recording veteran suicides. The OVA engages regularly with the Scottish Government on our data and research programme, including on the development of this new methodology. The Scottish Government are members of the OVA and MoD led Veterans and Covenant Data Working Group, which brings together analysts from across government to collaborate and share best practice.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) his officials had at the meeting of the Veterans Advisory Board on 24 November 2021 about veteran UK medical assessors.

I recognise the importance of transparency in government and, for that reason, I opt to routinely publish minutes from my expert committee on veterans issues - The Veterans Advisory Board. Once published, minutes may only be amended to correct factual errors.


The Veterans Advisory Board provides valuable insight into issues affecting the veteran community, helping to develop appropriate policy interventions. At the meeting of 24 November, the board offered insight into the perspective of veterans accessing services provided by Veterans UK. A summary of this meeting and all others may be found on GOV.UK.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
9th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish full details of visitors admitted to No. 10 Downing Street on each day of (a) November 2020 and (b) December 2020.

Cabinet Office transparency spending data by month can be found on GOV.UK.

Reflecting the security practices of successive administrations, Downing Street does not publish information on details of visitors admitted to No.10 Downing Street. Details of formal meetings with external organisations are published on GOV.UK.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
9th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish full details of hospitality expenses incurred by No. 10 Downing Street for each day of November 2020.

Cabinet Office transparency spending data by month can be found on GOV.UK.

Reflecting the security practices of successive administrations, Downing Street does not publish information on details of visitors admitted to No.10 Downing Street. Details of formal meetings with external organisations are published on GOV.UK.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish full details of hospitality expenses in Number 10 Downing Street for each day of December 2020.

Cabinet Office transparency spending data by month can be found on GOV.UK.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings with external organisations on government business are routinely accompanied by a Private Secretary or other official. Where a Minister finds themselves discussing official business without an official present, any significant content is passed back to the department as soon as possible, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Civil servants will make a judgment on what formal, structured meetings should be minuted, and what meetings should be recorded as having taken place, in light of the Civil Service Code, more specific best practice such as ‘Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers’, and the Cabinet Office guidance on Ministerial quarterly returns.

I note that there has been Parliamentary scrutiny of this issue in relation to the debate in this House on ‘Randox Covid Contracts’ of 17 November 2021. Following that debate, the Government has committed to publishing before Parliament a range of background papers relating to the Randox procurement.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Civil servants will make a judgment on what formal, structured meetings should be minuted, and what meetings should be recorded as having taken place, in light of the Civil Service Code, more specific best practice such as ‘Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers’, and the Cabinet Office guidance on Ministerial quarterly returns.

I note that there has been Parliamentary scrutiny of this issue in relation to the debate in this House on ‘Randox Covid Contracts’ of 17 November 2021. Following that debate, the Government has committed to publishing before Parliament a range of background papers relating to the Randox procurement.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason civil service nationality rules exclude non-UK nationals with indefinite leave to remain in the UK from working in the civil service.

The Civil Service Nationality Rules reflect a long-standing legislative framework and govern eligibility for employment in the Civil Service on the grounds of nationality. Under the rules, there are routes for Commonwealth or EEA nationals who hold indefinite leave to remain to be eligible to work in non-reserved posts in the Civil Service. Existing routes, such as exemption certificates, are available where a role needs to be filled by someone who would not ordinarily meet the standard eligibility requirements.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential impact on the operation of the civil service of widening civil service nationality rules to include non-UK nationals with indefinite leave to remain.

The Civil Service Nationality Rules reflect a long-standing legislative framework and govern eligibility for employment in the Civil Service on the grounds of nationality. Under the rules, there are routes for Commonwealth or EEA nationals who hold indefinite leave to remain to be eligible to work in non-reserved posts in the Civil Service. Existing routes, such as exemption certificates, are available where a role needs to be filled by someone who would not ordinarily meet the standard eligibility requirements.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what (a) factors, (b) tests and (c) decision-making frameworks will be used by the Cabinet Office in the process of taking decisions over whether or not to alter or replace retained EU legislation.

The exact structures and decision-making frameworks are still being decided. The Cabinet Office lead on the review and are working closely with departments across Whitehall. They will regularly engage with a range of stakeholders and legal experts to review retained EU law, and seek their input into decision-making.

We have already committed to creating a new standing commission to receive ideas from any British citizen on how to repeal or improve regulation. This standing commission will feed into the relevant committees and decision-making fora.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government plans to take steps to mitigate the potential risk of foreign electoral interference as a result of the extension of the franchise to British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years in the Elections Bill, prior to that Bill coming into force.

The extension of the franchise for UK parliamentary elections will enable greater participation in our democracy. Most British citizens who move overseas retain deep ties to the UK. And it is only British citizens who have been registered to vote or resident in the UK who will be eligible, as this denotes a strong degree of connection to the UK.

​​As is currently the case, individuals will register in respect of only one UK address and will have to demonstrate their connection to that address, as well as prove their identity. Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) who suspect fraud, for whatever reason, will not register an individual if they are not satisfied.

Registered overseas electors are eligible to make political donations, as important participants in our democracy; it is only right that they should be able to donate in the same way as other UK citizens registered on the electoral roll. The changes within this Bill will simply scrap the arbitrary 15 year limit on these rights. UK electoral law already sets out a stringent regime of spending and donations controls to ensure that only those with a legitimate interest in UK elections can donate or campaign. Measures in the Elections Bill go even further to stop ineligible foreign spending on electoral campaigning.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
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.

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.

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.

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)
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)
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 Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government will develop a set of space sustainability targets.

The Government has set out its commitment to space sustainability in the National Space Strategy, which commits to ensuring space remains safe, secure and sustainable.

We are already delivering that commitment - on 23 June we announced the first ever Plan for Space Sustainability. This encompasses a range of ambitious measures that show UK leadership to advance the sustainable future of space, including:

- Demonstrating continued regulatory leadership.

- Demonstrating UK global leadership.

- Leadership on meeting sustainability standards through the development of an industry-led standard for space sustainability.

- Continuing to enhance national and global capacity.

Jane Hunt
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the impact of rising temperatures on the capacity of nuclear reactors to maintain adequate levels of cold water.

All UK nuclear reactors take their cooling from the sea, which is largely unaffected by short-term peaks in ambient temperature. Heatwaves will not lead to unexpected reactor outages.

The independent regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (the ONR), requires all of its nuclear site licensees to demonstrate resilience against external hazards like extremes of temperature. This must be updated regularly to reflect the latest evidence and climate projections.

The ONR would not allow a nuclear installation to operate if it judged that it was not safe to do so.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sand batteries in tackling climate change.

BEIS has not made any specific assessment of the effectiveness of sand batteries. However, sand batteries form part of a class of technologies known as thermal storage, all of which play a similar role in supporting the changes to the energy system needed to address climate change. These technologies are in an early stage of development and BEIS fund innovation in thermal storage as part of the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration Programme. A list of projects funded can be found here:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/longer-duration-energy-storage-demonstration-programme-successful-projects/longer-duration-energy-storage-demonstration-programme-stream-2-phase-1-details-of-successful-projects.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make a comparative assessment of the merits of different systems of (a) maternity, (b) paternity and (c) shared parental leave.

In 2019 the Government consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay. This consultation considers the objectives of parental leave and pay entitlements as a whole as well as specific entitlements.

We are currently considering responses to the consultation and will respond in due course.

Jane Hunt
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to require landlords who include tenants' energy costs in their rental charges to pass on the Energy Bills Support Scheme credit to their tenants, and to provide a means of redress for those tenants in case that credit is not passed on to them.

Landlords who have a domestic electricity contract with an electricity supplier and resell the electricity to their tenants based on energy usage may be required to comply with the maximum resale price (MRP) rules. The MRP for electricity is currently set as the same price as that paid by the person reselling it. Under these circumstances, the Government expect landlords to pass on the discount received through tenants.

Landlords with a domestic electricity connection who charge ‘all inclusive’ rent, where a fixed cost for energy costs are included in their rental charges, are strongly encouraged to pass on the discount to their tenants.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to encourage industrial symbiosis.

BEIS is exploring the role that industrial symbiosis can play in reducing emissions from industry and how best to facilitate this. The Department is engaging with stakeholders to learn from regional and international experiences, most recently through interactions with the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group’s event “Industrial Symbiosis: using resource efficiency to achieve net zero goals”.

DEFRA is developing a digital waste tracking system, which will improve understanding of stocks and flows of waste returned to the economy as secondary materials. This improved access to data can unlock further industrial symbiosis opportunities

25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce new regulatory regimes to provide statutory protections for consumers aimed at strengthening protections for policy holders with companies in administration.

The insolvency regime strikes a balance when distributing funds from insolvent estates to ensure that all creditors in an insolvency are treated fairly. Changing that balance, by giving a higher priority to certain customers, will have a detrimental impact on other unsecured creditors, as well as having wider implications (for example, on lending, credit terms, and other trade activity). Protection of policy holders is a matter for regulators in the sectors in which they operate rather than in the insolvency framework.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact on the taxi industry of current levels of supply of diesel.

The Department monitors the fuel supply market to remain aware of current supply levels, and publishes weekly national average forecourt stock levels.

Taxi drivers are able to purchase fuel from forecourts as for other drivers. There is no shortage of diesel availability at UK forecourts.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the current (a) availability and (b) stability of diesel supplies.

The UK remains well-supplied for diesel from a diverse range of sources. UK demand for diesel is met by a combination of domestic production and imports. In 2021 UK production could have met over half of our demand for diesel. Imports in the same year came from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia including the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

The Department monitors the fuel supply market to remain aware of current supply levels and publishes weekly national average forecourt stock levels. There is no shortage of diesel in the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure security of supply for diesel.

The Department has established an Oil Taskforce to work with the sector and support oil companies to identify additional sources of supplies of oil and oil products and manage the transition away from Russian oil products by the end of 2022.

The UK remains well-supplied for diesel from a diverse range of sources. UK demand for diesel is met by a combination of domestic production and imports. In 2021 UK production could have met over half of our demand for diesel. Imports in the same year came from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia including the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce new protections for policy holders with companies in administration, to ensure that they are reimbursed the full amount of their policy is worth if that policy becomes invalidated through no fault of their own.

Consumers who hold a policy with an insolvent company are usually classed as unsecured creditors. Other unsecured creditors might include employees and trade suppliers. Changing the order of ranking for policy holders would have a detrimental effect on these other unsecured creditors as well as having wider implications for the economy, including on the cost of borrowing for firms.

The Government continually reviews the insolvency framework and will make changes where it is necessary to do so. Insurance and other related policies, however, are often protected by other methods, including regulatory regimes which provide statutory protections for consumers.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a four day working week.

The Government does not believe there can be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to work arrangements. That is why we put individual agency and choice at the heart of our consultation on “making flexible working the default”, which closed on 1st December 2021. We are currently reviewing the responses and will respond in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will introduce standardised tests for people seeking exemption from the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill under clause 18(1)(b) to prove their suitability for that exemption.

The circumstances under which an overseas entity might be exempted from giving notices in accordance with the requirements of clause 12 of the Bill have been carefully considered to provide an appropriate balance between clarity and flexibility. Given the key objectives of the register of overseas entities are to improve transparency and combat money laundering, these exemptions will be used very carefully, and only for evidenced and legitimate reasons.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the evidential basis is for the inclusion of clause 18(b) in the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill.

The circumstances under which an overseas entity might be exempted from giving notices in accordance with the requirements of clause 12 of the Bill have been carefully considered to provide an appropriate balance between clarity and flexibility. Given the key objectives of the register of overseas entities are to improve transparency and combat money laundering, these exemptions will be used very carefully, and only for evidenced and legitimate reasons.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has held discussions with OneWeb on the further suspension of future rocket launches from Russia.

The OneWeb Board voted to suspend all the remaining launches of its first generation of satellites, which were scheduled from Baikonur. The Government is reviewing our participation in all further projects involving Russian collaboration extremely carefully in light of the current situation.

9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what measures in the Government's National Space Strategy will take account of the increased prevalence of coronal mass ejections.

Alongside the National Space Strategy, the government published the Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy.

A key commitment within the Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy is to enhance our understanding of severe space weather, its impacts, and our ability to forecast events such as coronal mass ejections.

An increase in coronal mass ejections has been anticipated within the context of the Strategy, which will inform effective mitigation processes and resilience planning against the impacts of space weather to the UK.

18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which aspects of the National Space Strategy his department is responsible for.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is the Department responsible for co-ordinating civil space policy and strategy across government and co-authored the National Space Strategy with the Ministry of Defence. It is also the sponsoring department of the UK Space Agency and UK Research and Innovation, which are key agencies for the delivery of the National Space Strategy.

BEIS jointly co-chairs the newly established Director-level National Space Board with the Ministry of Defence to oversee and drive delivery of the National Space Strategy’s ambitions and commitments across government. The strategy will be delivered jointly by several government departments and with the support of our thriving space sector: businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, and space scientists.

6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent progress he has made on delivering the commitments of the UK hydrogen strategy.

Good progress is being made since the Hydrogen Strategy was published in August 2021. In November, the Government’s Net Zero Strategy announced the Industrial Decarbonisation Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme, worth £100 million and in December, the Government published a call for evidence on ‘hydrogen-ready’ industrial boiler equipment which will remain open until 14 March. Later this month the Regulators’ Forum will have its first meeting to advise on the identification and prioritisation of regulatory roles, barriers and standards in the H2 value chain.

The Government has also published consultations on the proposed design of the £240m Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, a hydrogen business model and a UK standard for low carbon hydrogen. The Government will respond to these consultations, which closed in late October 2021, in the first quarter of this year alongside indicative Heads of Terms for the business model. The Government will then launch the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund and Standard.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of projects to create district heating networks using geothermal energy from abandoned coal mines that are underway or being considered throughout the UK.

The Heat Networks Investment Project has made two awards totalling £9.7 million for the construction of projects which use geothermal heat from minewater. The first of these is the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which was awarded a grant of £5.9m for the expansion of the Gateshead District Energy Scheme and will deliver significant decarbonisation through the installation of a 6MW mine water source heat pump. The second is the Seaham Garden Village district heat network, which was awarded a grant of £3.8m to supply low-carbon geothermal heat from former coalmines to the new garden village in south Seaham.

The Coal Authority has an ongoing programme to review opportunities for the use of geothermal energy from abandoned coal mines with both Local Authorities and private entities across the former coalfields. At present, there are 15 schemes being assessed.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on government business are routinely accompanied by a private secretary or other official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Any information concerning the core business of the Department or which has a continuing value should be retained as a record. Typically records will be submissions, contract documents, minutes and agendas of important meetings, letters, emails, working papers, discussion documents and reports that contribute to decision making and activity in pursuit of the Department’s business objectives. It is the responsibility of anyone that creates such information to ensure it is retained as part of the official record, by saving it in our shared system.

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the public purse in the event that (a) 10 to 25 per cent of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) 35 to 60 per cent of Bounce Back Loan Scheme borrowers default, in line with his Department's estimates.

The information requested is currently being updated as part of the Department’s 2020-21 Annual Report and Accounts, which will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what methodology his Department used to calculate the default estimates for the (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

The BEIS 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts published on 30 September 2020 contained initial estimates of expected credit losses across the Covid-19 loan schemes. These initial indicative loss ranges were based on historic losses observed in prior programmes which most closely resemble the current Covid-19 interventions.

Since these estimates were reported, the Department has been working with the British Business Bank to develop analytical and forward-looking expected credit loss models that are compliant with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS 9) and will provide a more sophisticated approach to forecasting future expected credit losses.

Revised estimates of expected credit losses will be included in the Department’s 2020-21 Annual Report and Accounts, to be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how the Government plans to account for future potential losses from Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme defaults according to his Department's default estimates for those schemes.

Accounting provision for losses and potential future losses for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be made in the Department’s 2020-21 Accounts, which will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an estimate of the cost of converting (a) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (b) Bounce Back Loan Scheme repayments into a student loan style repayment scheme.

The Government recognises that a diverse range of businesses took out loans under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and some of those will benefit from more flexibility in making their repayments. That is why the Government introduced the “Pay as You Grow” (PAYG) measures, which allow borrowers to tailor their repayments to their individual circumstances. PAYG provides borrowers with the option to:

  • Extend the length of their loan from six years ten
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan
  • Pause repayments entirely for up to six months

Borrowers can use these options either individually or in combination with each other. 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 extend the term of CBILS loans up to a maximum of ten years 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 the circumstances of each individual business.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to introduce an equivalent level of consumer protection to online purchases.

There is already robust legislation in place that protects consumers when purchasing goods and services online. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out the rights consumers enjoy while shopping online and instore.

The Department recently consulted on advancing online consumer rights in its “Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy” consultation. A copy of the consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reforming-competition-and-consumer-policy. The consultation closed on 1 October and the department will publish a response in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government is taking steps to support Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders to provide borrowers with more time to make their repayments where they assess that borrowers (a) are in difficulty and (b) would benefit from such an extension.

The Government has taken action to allow lenders to extend the term of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities up to a maximum of ten years where they assess that borrowers are in difficulty and will benefit from the extension.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when his Department plans to publish its annual reports and accounts for 2020-21.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, plans to publish its annual report and accounts for 2020-21 in due course.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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, how many projects to deliver geothermal heat from minewater are in receipt of Government support as at 18 October 2021.

The Heat Networks Investment Project has made 2 awards totalling £9.7 million for the construction of projects which use geothermal heat from minewater.

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.

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.

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.

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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
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
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the games industry on tackling harms from loot boxes.

The Government undertook a call for evidence from September to November 2020 to examine concerns around loot boxes in video games. We are continuing to consider the evidence from more than 30,000 responses that we received, along with an independent Rapid Evidence Assessment commissioned from the InGAME research and innovation centre.

We have continued a dialogue with the games industry to address issues identified from the loot box call for evidence. We will publish the government’s response to the call for evidence in the coming months.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when her Department plans to publish its response to the Loot Boxes in Video Games consultation.

The Government undertook a call for evidence from September to November 2020 to examine concerns around loot boxes in video games. We are continuing to consider the evidence from more than 30,000 responses that we received, along with an independent Rapid Evidence Assessment commissioned from the InGAME research and innovation centre.

We have continued a dialogue with the games industry to address issues identified from the loot box call for evidence. We will publish the government’s response to the call for evidence in the coming months.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if her Department will undertake an impact assessment of postponing the Gambling Review White Paper.

The Gambling Act Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. The objective of the Review is to get the appropriate balance between respecting consumer freedom and preventing harm, with effective and proportionate protections. We will publish a white paper setting out our vision for the sector and next steps in the coming months.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department plans to publish the Gambling Review White Paper before summer recess 2022.

The Gambling Act Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. The objective of the Review is to get the appropriate balance between respecting consumer freedom and preventing harm, with effective and proportionate protections. We will publish a white paper setting out our vision for the sector and next steps in the coming months.

26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to her announcement on 17 January 2022 that BBC funding will be frozen for the next two years, whether she will take steps to protect funding for programming in the UK's minority languages.

The UK Government has a strong record of demonstrating its commitment to minority language broadcasting to ensure that our broadcasting sector services all audiences of the UK nations and regions.

The BBC’s Royal Charter is an important way of delivering on this. One of the BBC's Public Purposes is to "reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the United Kingdom’s nations and regions and, in doing so, support the creative economy across the United Kingdom". The BBC also has a general duty under Diversity to "support the regional and minority languages of the United Kingdom through its output and services and through partnerships with other organisations".

I recognise the incredibly valuable contribution that our minority language broadcasters make, and the licence fee settlement will continue to support these contributions by providing the BBC with billions in annual public funding, allowing it to deliver its mission and public purposes and to continue doing what it does best.

6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme at covering live events from the risk of cancellation due to covid-19.

The Government recognises the important contribution the live events sector makes to the UK’s culture and economy, and the significant challenges the sector has faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme provides live events across the country with the confidence to plan ahead, and as such will support the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.

Since the Scheme’s launch in September 2021, a wide variety of events, including business events, concerts and theatre performances, have purchased cover. The Scheme will be reviewed in the Spring to assess its effectiveness, including the extent to which it has benefitted the live events sector while also delivering value for money for UK taxpayers.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department takes to ensure that at least one official from her Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

All Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on government business are routinely accompanied by a private secretary, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code. If a private secretary is not available, another official will accompany this Minister. All meetings to discuss official government business are arranged through the department to ensure an official can be present. If any discussion of government business takes place unexpectedly without an official present e.g. at a social event, the content of the discussion is fed back to the department promptly and recorded.

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what her Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted, however, not all meetings need to be minuted. For example all DCMS internal decision making Board and Committee meetings, within its formal governance framework, are minuted. In regards to other meetings, the general guidance that DCMS provides officials within the department supports them to make judgements as to what meetings need to be minuted, noting their Civil Service Code obligation to ‘keep accurate official records’.

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers.

Minutes are stored electronically within the department’s storage solution, with access granted to appropriate officials as this is required.

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if the Government will make platforms responsible for fraudulent and scam content hosted on their sites.

The government is working tirelessly with industry, regulators and consumer groups to tackle fraud. We are also considering additional legislative and non-legislative solutions to effectively address the harms posed by all elements of online fraud in a cohesive and robust way.

My Department is considering how online advertising is regulated through its Online Advertising Programme. This work will look at ensuring that standards about the placement and content of advertising are effectively applied and enforced online to reduce consumers’ exposure to harmful or misleading advertising. This work will look at the role advertising can play in enabling online fraud and help inform our future efforts to tackle it. We will be consulting on this issue later this year.

Although paid-for advertising is exempt in the current draft of the Online Safety Bill, some types of advertising will be in scope. This includes posts by influencers and posts by companies on their social media feeds. Companies will therefore need to ensure that these posts do not host illegal content. The Bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny and we will consider all recommendations from the Joint Committee when they report.

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what provisions the Government (a) has and (b) plans to make an assessment of the potential merits of taking forward in (i) the Online Safety Bill and (ii) other legislative proposals to tackle scam advertisements.

The government is working tirelessly with industry, regulators and consumer groups to tackle fraud. We are also considering additional legislative and non-legislative solutions to effectively address the harms posed by all elements of online fraud in a cohesive and robust way.

My Department is considering how online advertising is regulated through its Online Advertising Programme. This work will look at ensuring that standards about the placement and content of advertising are effectively applied and enforced online to reduce consumers’ exposure to harmful or misleading advertising. This work will look at the role advertising can play in enabling online fraud and help inform our future efforts to tackle it. We will be consulting on this issue later this year.

Although paid-for advertising is exempt in the current draft of the Online Safety Bill, some types of advertising will be in scope. This includes posts by influencers and posts by companies on their social media feeds. Companies will therefore need to ensure that these posts do not host illegal content. The Bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny and we will consider all recommendations from the Joint Committee when they report.

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.

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.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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.

12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to introduce Government-backed covid-19 cancellation insurance for the live events sector.

This Government recognises the importance of the UK’s live events sector and has provided significant financial support including an additional £300M to the Culture Recovery Fund. The Culture Recovery Fund as a whole also included £188 million for the devolved administrations via the Barnett formula including £97 million for Scotland.

We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and we continue to assess all available options to provide further support to the sector within the public health context. We also need to be confident that any investment or intervention would lead to an increase in activity: for instance we understand the constraints imposed by social distancing remain a further barrier for many live events restarting.

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)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Turing Scheme will commit the same proportion of investment to industrial symbiosis as the Erasmus scheme did previously.

The Turing Scheme is demand-led, and as such, the scheme does not commit to specific levels of funding for single areas or industries, including industrial symbiosis.

Universities are independent, autonomous bodies, and consequently, responsible for forging their own partnerships, including those with industries.

8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will introduce funding for staff exchange opportunities as part of the Turing Scheme.

The UK’s international mobility programme, the Turing Scheme, is funded by a budget of £110 million for the 2021/22 academic year. Education providers successfully applied for funding for over 41,000 individual placements for their students to study and work around the world. The government has also confirmed funding for the continuation of the Turing Scheme for the next 3 years, including £110 million for the 2022/23 academic year.

The UK is not participating in the 2021 to 2027 Erasmus+ programme. A direct comparison with overall funding for the Turing Scheme and the 2014 to 2020 Erasmus+ programme cannot be made as both programmes cover different activities and types of mobilities.

However, in terms of grant funding the Turing Scheme provides rates for providers and students that are broadly consistent with what would have been received under the 2014 to 2020 Erasmus+ Programme. To support levelling up, the Turing Scheme also goes further in some areas to provide additional support for disadvantaged students and students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Unlike Erasmus+, which was mainly EU focused, the Turing Scheme is also a truly global programme with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK education settings subject to government travel advice. For the 2021/22 academic year, providers successfully applied for mobilities to over 150 destinations worldwide.

In considering what elements to include under the Turing Scheme, the department prioritised pupils, students, and learners over staff placements to ensure that as many students as possible can benefit. This includes a focus on widening access for disadvantaged students.

8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to bring funding levels in the Turing Scheme to an equivalent level with Erasmus+.

The UK’s international mobility programme, the Turing Scheme, is funded by a budget of £110 million for the 2021/22 academic year. Education providers successfully applied for funding for over 41,000 individual placements for their students to study and work around the world. The government has also confirmed funding for the continuation of the Turing Scheme for the next 3 years, including £110 million for the 2022/23 academic year.

The UK is not participating in the 2021 to 2027 Erasmus+ programme. A direct comparison with overall funding for the Turing Scheme and the 2014 to 2020 Erasmus+ programme cannot be made as both programmes cover different activities and types of mobilities.

However, in terms of grant funding the Turing Scheme provides rates for providers and students that are broadly consistent with what would have been received under the 2014 to 2020 Erasmus+ Programme. To support levelling up, the Turing Scheme also goes further in some areas to provide additional support for disadvantaged students and students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Unlike Erasmus+, which was mainly EU focused, the Turing Scheme is also a truly global programme with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK education settings subject to government travel advice. For the 2021/22 academic year, providers successfully applied for mobilities to over 150 destinations worldwide.

In considering what elements to include under the Turing Scheme, the department prioritised pupils, students, and learners over staff placements to ensure that as many students as possible can benefit. This includes a focus on widening access for disadvantaged students.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers are bound by the Ministerial Code, which states in paragraph 8.14:

“Ministers meet many people and organisations and consider a wide range of views as part of the formulation of Government policy. Meetings on official business should normally be arranged through Ministers’ departments. A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to Government business. If a Minister meets an external organisation or individual and finds themselves discussing official business without an official present – for example at a social occasion or on holiday – any significant content should be passed back to the department as soon as possible after the event. Departments will publish quarterly, details of Ministers’ external meetings. Meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, editors and senior executives will be published on a quarterly basis regardless of the purpose of the meeting.”

Every effort is made to accompany Ministers to planned meetings. Where Ministers are unexpectedly asked about government business without officials, they feed this information back to their private office, who make a note.

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

In the Department for Education formal structured meetings are usually minuted, however, not all meetings need to be minuted.

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the 'Guidance on the Management of Private Office Papers', available here: https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/popapersguidance2009.pdf.

In instances where minutes are taken, and to adhere to the obligation in the Civil Service Code to keep accurate official records, the department has in place a retention schedule that advises that minutes of internal operational meetings should be retained for 5 years.

There is a further option to retain minutes, such as those involving external stakeholders and policy development, for up to 20 years, at which point they may be selected for transfer to The National Archives.

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.​

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether cost efficiency is the primary factor driving decision-making on the design of the Turing Scheme.

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.​

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.

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals enabling the use of insect protein in pelleted chicken and pig feed in the UK, as approved by the EU in 2020.

In 2021 the EU amended their Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) legislation to allow the use of insect protein in pig and poultry feed.

The EU had been working on these changes since the publication of their TSE Roadmap 2 in 2010. The European Food Safety Authority completed multiple risk assessments on behalf of the EU to inform the changes to their feed controls.

Following EU exit, Defra has been working with devolved administrations and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on a review of our domestic controls of livestock feed. Risk assessments were commissioned from the Animal Plant and Health Agency in summer 2021, to assess the animal health risk of the changes. These risk assessments are being finalised and public health considerations assessed by the FSA.

The conclusions of these risk assessments will inform decisions on whether to revise our existing feed controls.

Defra has also recently commissioned a scientific review on the use of insects as animal feed, including examining the evidence around nutritional, socio-economic and environmental considerations.

An enhanced evidence base will help us to better understand how insect farming could contribute to sustainable poultry and pig feed production.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of insect farming as a potentially sustainable source of protein for use in pig and poultry feed in the UK.

In 2021 the EU amended their Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) legislation to allow the use of insect protein in pig and poultry feed.

The EU had been working on these changes since the publication of their TSE Roadmap 2 in 2010. The European Food Safety Authority completed multiple risk assessments on behalf of the EU to inform the changes to their feed controls.

Following EU exit, Defra has been working with devolved administrations and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on a review of our domestic controls of livestock feed. Risk assessments were commissioned from the Animal Plant and Health Agency in summer 2021, to assess the animal health risk of the changes. These risk assessments are being finalised and public health considerations assessed by the FSA.

The conclusions of these risk assessments will inform decisions on whether to revise our existing feed controls.

Defra has also recently commissioned a scientific review on the use of insects as animal feed, including examining the evidence around nutritional, socio-economic and environmental considerations.

An enhanced evidence base will help us to better understand how insect farming could contribute to sustainable poultry and pig feed production.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact on biodiversity and deforestation of soya cultivated globally for use in animal feed in the UK.

In 2020, the UK imported approximately 2.7 million tonnes of soybean meal equivalents directly as beans, meal, and oil.1 This is in turn equivalent to a total of approximately 3.7 million tonnes of soybean. Of the 2.7 million tonnes of soymeal equivalents imported in 2020, the majority (2.3 million tonnes or 85%) can be attributed to use in animal feed.

The UK Government is committed to tackling forest and biodiversity loss associated with all domestic uses of soya, and as such, does not specifically assess the impact on biodiversity and deforestation of soya cultivated for use in animal feed in the UK. In 2018, the Government convened the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya for industry actors to work together towards the common goal of legal and sustainable soya. The Roundtable’s 2021 Annual Progress Report shows that 62% of the UK’s soya consumption is either covered by a certification standard, has been produced in compliance with the Amazon Soy Moratorium contract, or has been sourced from an area where there is a low risk of deforestation linked to production.

The Government recognises that voluntary commitments by businesses have not been sufficient to tackle deforestation and is committed to ensuring there is no place for illegally produced commodities on our supermarket shelves or in our supply chains. That is why we have introduced a world-leading due diligence law through the Environment Act. The law will prohibit larger businesses from using commodities produced on land occupied or used illegally and make it mandatory for businesses to conduct due diligence on their supply chains. Once operational, it will help to eradicate illegal deforestation from our supply chains.

1 UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya: Annual Progress Report 2021

(www.efeca.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/UK-RTSS-APR-2021.pdf)

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the estimated amount of soya cultivated each year for use in animal feed in the UK.

In 2020, the UK imported approximately 2.7 million tonnes of soybean meal equivalents directly as beans, meal, and oil.1 This is in turn equivalent to a total of approximately 3.7 million tonnes of soybean. Of the 2.7 million tonnes of soymeal equivalents imported in 2020, the majority (2.3 million tonnes or 85%) can be attributed to use in animal feed.

The UK Government is committed to tackling forest and biodiversity loss associated with all domestic uses of soya, and as such, does not specifically assess the impact on biodiversity and deforestation of soya cultivated for use in animal feed in the UK. In 2018, the Government convened the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya for industry actors to work together towards the common goal of legal and sustainable soya. The Roundtable’s 2021 Annual Progress Report shows that 62% of the UK’s soya consumption is either covered by a certification standard, has been produced in compliance with the Amazon Soy Moratorium contract, or has been sourced from an area where there is a low risk of deforestation linked to production.

The Government recognises that voluntary commitments by businesses have not been sufficient to tackle deforestation and is committed to ensuring there is no place for illegally produced commodities on our supermarket shelves or in our supply chains. That is why we have introduced a world-leading due diligence law through the Environment Act. The law will prohibit larger businesses from using commodities produced on land occupied or used illegally and make it mandatory for businesses to conduct due diligence on their supply chains. Once operational, it will help to eradicate illegal deforestation from our supply chains.

1 UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya: Annual Progress Report 2021

(www.efeca.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/UK-RTSS-APR-2021.pdf)

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) increase the speed and (b) reduce the administrative costs of border checks to enable the UK's insect breeding industry to sell their products in the EU market.

Exports to the EU are subject to the EU’s import controls. All border checks at EU Border Control Posts are managed by the EU and associated costs are set out in EU law.

Exports of live insects for human consumption require the relevant Export Health Certificate (EHC), which are available via EHC Online. Exports of live insects not-for human consumption are subject to National Rules, meaning individual Member States can set their own import requirements.

There is no fee for the EHC itself when issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency; however, an EHC needs to be certified by a suitably qualified certifying officer who will likely charge for their time. Official Veterinarians (OV) operate in a private market and will charge accordingly. Local authorities can charge on a cost recovery basis for the time of their Food Competent Certifying Officers. The number of OVs qualified to certify products of animal origin has increased from around 600 in 2019 to over 2,000 to date.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to reduce the cumulative costs of vet health checks and employing export and import agents for companies selling live insect eggs to the EU.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency does not charge exporters for Export Health Certificates. Official Veterinarians operate in a private market and will charge exporters for certification. Decisions on the use of import and export agencies remain commercial matters for traders.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help remove trade barriers for UK-based companies exporting live insect eggs to EU countries.

The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement puts in place a framework that allows the UK and the EU to take informed decisions to reduce their respective SPS controls, with a commitment to avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. It is in both the UK’s and the EU’s interests to use this framework to reduce or streamline SPS checks where possible, ensuring that they are proportionate to the biosecurity risks.

The trade in live insects where they are not for human consumption is subject to national rules, meaning the individual importing country sets the requirements in an SPS context. If they are for human consumption, then this is an EU harmonised area and is subject to the EU’s harmonised import controls. The UK has secured listing from the EU to export insects for human consumption and the relevant Export Health Certificate is available via EHC Online.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on Government business are routinely accompanied by a private secretary or other official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information his Department holds on the value of contracts given by (a) his Department and (b) the Food Standards Agency to Randox since 2010.

Records of Government contracts above £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector are published on Contracts Finder:

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted. However, not all meetings need to be minuted. It is expected that the general guidance that departments give to their staff will help officials make judgements as to what meetings need to be minuted, noting their Civil Service Code obligation to ‘keep accurate official records.’

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving Ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
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.

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.

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.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department takes to ensure that at least one official from her Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on government business are routinely accompanied by a private secretary or other official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what her Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted. It is expected that the general guidance that departments give to their staff will help officials make judgements as to what meetings need to be minuted, noting their Civil Service Code obligation to ‘keep accurate official records.’

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
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 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, whether the Government plans to publish the review upon which it based its decision to resume arms exports to Saudi Arabia in July 2020.

The review contains confidential and sensitive information so, for national security reasons, HM Government has no plans to publish it.

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.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has taken recent steps to increase the incentives for consumers to make claims under the EU Regulation EC 261 compensation structure for domestic flight delays and cancellations.

The Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation sought views on a range of consumer issues, including additional enforcement powers for the CAA, mandatory alternative dispute resolution for all airlines operating to, from and within the UK, and consideration of amendments to the compensation available for delayed domestic UK flights.

The delay compensation proposal sought views on whether compensation should be linked to the ticket price of a flight, and to make compensation available for shorter delays. An impact assessment was published alongside this proposal.

Responses to the consultation are being analysed and we will publish a response setting out next steps in due course.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of whether his Department's proposed changes to compensation rules for flight delays and cancellations will entitle consumers to higher compensation.

The Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation sought views on a range of consumer issues, including additional enforcement powers for the CAA, mandatory alternative dispute resolution for all airlines operating to, from and within the UK, and consideration of amendments to the compensation available for delayed domestic UK flights.

The delay compensation proposal sought views on whether compensation should be linked to the ticket price of a flight, and to make compensation available for shorter delays. An impact assessment was published alongside this proposal.

Responses to the consultation are being analysed and we will publish a response setting out next steps in due course.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that potential reforms to flight compensation regulations do not result in a lower level of compensation for customers.

The Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation explored a range or reforms to protect consumers whilst ensuring fairness for both consumers and businesses. It included proposals for new and extended compensation for customers, such as for mobility aid damage and for delays to domestic flights of less than 3 hours. The consultation has now closed, and we have received responses from across industry, consumer groups and the general public. We are now conducting a comprehensive review and analysis of the responses and will set out next steps in due course.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of re-classifying e-scooters from motorised transport under section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 on (a) road safety and (b) net zero emissions targets.

The Department for Transport is considering options for how best to regulate e-scooters. This includes assessing whether they should continue to be classified as a type of motor vehicle or if a new legislative framework is needed. Evidence to inform this assessment is being gathered through trials of rental e-scooters and wider data sources. Findings from the national evaluation of trials will be included in a final report due later this year.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which aspects of the National Space Strategy his Department is responsible for.

The Department for Transport is responsible for ensuring the Space Industry Act and Space Industry Regulations continue to provide a modern legal framework that is internationally competitive and will support innovation and growth in the UK space sector. It will ensure that new spaceflight activities regulated under these provisions by the Civil Aviation Authority are safe and provide the right opportunities for industry. In addition, the Department for Transport is responsible for co-ordinating work to use space technology to modernise and transform the UK’s transport system under the Strategy’s Ten Point Plan.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

DfT’s Information Management Policy sets out the responsibilities of DfT staff for keeping records of government business. The policy clearly states that meeting minutes and agendas are considered to be information of corporate value and should be saved to DfT’s designated system for information management. Staff must ensure that they manage information in accordance with the Information Management Policy at all times.

The Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) team at DfT provides guidance and training to staff on how to manage their information and records and are supported in this work by a network of Local Information Managers based in business areas.

Compliance with the Information Management Policy is monitored via the annual Management Assurance exercise and Information Management Health Check.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
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
Minister of State (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
Minister of State (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.

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.

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
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that bicycle lights fitted to bicycles at the manufacturing stage which are integral to the bicycle itself comply with the standards in the Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989.

The Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010 protects consumers by regulating the supply of bicycles. It requires a retro reflector or lamp to be fitted to the front, and a retro reflector to the rear.

All lamps fitted to bicycles are also covered by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, and the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence to fit a part which would contravene those regulations.

Enforcement of consumer protection requirements for products being placed on the market is generally the responsibility of local authority trading standards officers and enforcement of road traffic law for cyclists is a matter for the Police.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
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
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
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.

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.

Kelly Tolhurst
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
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.

Kelly Tolhurst
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
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.

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.

19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her Department's Debt Management's policy to include full details of relevant debt in (a) email and (b) other written correspondence advising individuals of the debt.

All benefit overpayments are notified to claimants. The notification sets out why the overpayment occurred, the amount overpaid and the period of overpayment, along with the debtor’s appeal rights. For other claimant liabilities, such as advances and loans, the amount to be paid and repayment terms are agreed in advance.

Once any debts or other liabilities are transferred to Debt Management for recovery, any notifications will typically show the current overall balance outstanding for all debts and liabilities, rather than listing individual debts.

We are currently developing an on-line service whereby individuals are able to go and view their outstanding balances. A number of claimants are already accessing this service.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing Statutory (a) Maternity and (b) Paternity Pay to the level of the real living wage as determined by the Living Wage Foundation.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) are not, and have never been, intended to replace earnings completely. Both are reviewed annually, alongside state benefits, and are generally increased in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). From April 2022 the standard rate of SMP and SPP increased to £156.66, in line with the September 2021 CPI rate of 3.1%.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support vulnerable people to make claims for Universal Credit as part of the process of managed migration from legacy benefits.

We are committed to fully complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty as we proceed with managed migration and will be regularly reviewing and updating our equality analysis as we progress through the discovery phase and iterate our approach.

We are currently reviewing our explicit consent process to make it easier for those who need the support but do not have or need an appointee to have someone to act on their behalf.

A variety of support is in place for those issued with migration notices, including for individuals with health conditions and disabilities. As we progress through the discovery phase, we are keen to understand what additional support is required for people to make their claim to UC.

Our current support consists of:

• A dedicated phoneline

• Further guidance on Gov.uk

• Specially trained staff in JCP’s and service centres who can identify local tailored support

• Support through Help to Claim

Our aim throughout remains to bring each legacy claimant across to Universal Credit.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has she made of the mental health impact on individuals of managed migration from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.

The Government is committed to ensuring the final phase of Universal Credit is rolled out safely and is responsibly delivered by the end of 2024. We have considered additional needs for those with heath conditions including those with mental health conditions the current support consists of:

  • A dedicated DWP phoneline for those receiving a migration notice
  • Comprehensive guidance on Gov.uk
  • Specially trained staff in JCP’s and service centres who can identify and signpost to local tailored support
  • Support through Help to Claim
  • And reminding claimants that 1.4m households will gain financially from move to Universal Credit.

During our Discovery phase, we will continue to learn how best to support claimants successfully move to Universal Credit and adapt our approach as we learn.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department takes to ensure that at least one official from her Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on government business are routinely accompanied by a Private Secretary or other official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
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)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government plans to take in response to Trussell Trust’s findings on the use of food banks by people who (a) met the Trussell Trust's definition of being destitute and (b) are disabled in its report entitled State of Hunger, published in May 2021.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling poverty. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to support the most vulnerable including through spending an additional £7.4 billion to strengthen the welfare system, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £111 billion in 2020/21.

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

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

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
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
Minister of State (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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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
Minister of State (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.

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.

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
Minister of State (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.

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
Minister of State (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
Minister of State (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
Minister of State (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.

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.

8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to respond to Question 78453 tabled on 19 November 2021 by the hon. Member for Midlothian.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer to Question 78453.

8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department’s Information Risk Management and Assurance Directorate take steps to internally distribute and publicise guidance on (a) minute taking during Ministerial meetings and (b) requirements for officials to be present during Ministerial meetings.

The creation and distribution of guidance on minute taking and the requirement for officials to be present is not within the remit of the Information Risk Management and Assurance Directorate.

2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether there is a body within his Department responsible for providing guidance and training to staff on how to manage their information and records equivalent to the Knowledge and Information Management team at the Department for Transport.

The Department’s Information Risk Management and Assurance Directorate sets policy for information and records management, including the provision of advice and guidance.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

The Department operates in line with the Ministerial Code which states at 8.14 that “a private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to Government business. If a Minister meets an external organisation or individual and finds themselves discussing official business without an official present… any significant content should be fed back to the department as soon as possible”.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department's process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of phone calls relating to Government business made by Government ministers and officials.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted. Guidance is available to help officials meet their obligation under the Civil Service Code to ‘keep accurate official records’, which includes making records of decisions and actions that take place in meetings.

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers in ‘Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers’, which is available at the following link:

https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/popapersguidance2009.pdf

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted. Guidance is available to help officials meet their obligation under the Civil Service Code to ‘keep accurate official records’, which includes making records of decisions and actions that take place in meetings.

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers in ‘Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers’, which is available at the following link:

https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/popapersguidance2009.pdf

1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the cost of publishing the names of companies in the fast-track PPE procurement lane.

We have not made this estimate.

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 continues to engage closely with the sector to assess the impact of logistics and supply disruptions on the continued supply of medical products, including the impact of HGV driver shortages. Whilst we were made aware of some localised concerns, there have not been any significant impacts on medical supply chains that have impacted on patients.

The Department has contingency plans in place to help ensure continuity of supply of medical products, including the following;

  • standing up the National Supply Disruption Response to 24 hours, seven days a week to provide a single point of contact for suppliers and providers seeking urgent assistance with a critical supply disruption anywhere in the United Kingdom;
  • mobilising our in-house expert logistics service, the international Express Freight Service, to provide end to end, emergency, international freight solutions for any medical product across the world in the event of acute disruption.

These plans, alongside other mitigations, enable us to help ensure continued supply during periods of national disruption, including for diabetic equipment and medicine in pharmacies. Pharmacists should continue to place orders in the normal way. If pharmacists have any concerns regarding supply, they should continue to report them via the normal route.

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 continues to engage closely with the sector to assess the impact of logistics and supply disruptions on the continued supply of medical products, including the impact of HGV driver shortages. Whilst we were made aware of some localised concerns, there have not been any significant impacts on medical supply chains that have impacted on patients.

The Department has contingency plans in place to help ensure continuity of supply of medical products, including the following;

  • standing up the National Supply Disruption Response to 24 hours, seven days a week to provide a single point of contact for suppliers and providers seeking urgent assistance with a critical supply disruption anywhere in the United Kingdom;
  • mobilising our in-house expert logistics service, the international Express Freight Service, to provide end to end, emergency, international freight solutions for any medical product across the world in the event of acute disruption.

These plans, alongside other mitigations, enable us to help ensure continued supply during periods of national disruption, including for diabetic equipment and medicine in pharmacies. Pharmacists should continue to place orders in the normal way. If pharmacists have any concerns regarding supply, they should continue to report them via the normal route.

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.

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.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether any research has been carried out on the effect of passive exposure to exhaled e-cigarette vapour or cigarette smoke on the transmission of covid-19.

The Department has not carried out any research in this area and is not aware of any external research at present. Being in close proximity to anyone with COVID-19 infection would carry a risk of passing on that infection regardless of whether they are smoking or vaping. Public Health England has published COVID-19 advice for smokers and vapers which recommends that vapers avoid exhaling clouds of vapour in the presence of others. This advice is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-advice-for-smokers-and-vapers/covid-19-advice-for-smokers-and-vapers

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

6th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she is taking steps to help prevent the risk of violent conflict between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In recent weeks we have raised the unacceptable increase in violence, hate speech and increased movement of armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the Governments of DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, as well as the leadership of the UN Peacekeeping Mission, MONUSCO. The Prime Minister discussed these issues with Rwandan President Kagame during CHOGM. Minister Ford recently spoke with the Rwandan Foreign Minister on 16 June and the DRC Minister for Planning on 24 June to re-iterate the need for all sides to continue to work together to deliver de-escalation on the ground and an end to hate speech. We welcome the meeting of regional Heads of State in Nairobi and the recent agreement reached by President Kagame and President Tshisekedi in Angola. It is vital that all parties now to implement the Roadm ap to secure a real de-escalation on the ground in Eastern DRC. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support the Government is providing to Ukraine for dismantling and countering the effect of Russian disinformation bot facilities.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office works closely with the Government of Ukraine to counter Russian disinformation, and co-ordinates activity with the Counter Disinformation Unit, led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Government Information Cell.

The FCDO's Counter Disinformation and Media Development Programme has developed a number of projects involved in identifying disinformation. These projects continue to be successful in exposing Russia-linked information operations and disinformation methodologies. Where appropriate, information is shared with international partners including the Government of Ukraine.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
4th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has had recent discussions China on withdrawing that country's (a) current and (b) future economic support for Russia.

The Foreign Secretary spoke with her Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi, on Friday 25 February. In the call, the Foreign Secretary underlined that the UK expects China to stand up for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urged China to uphold its commitment to the UN Charter. The world is watching to see whether China's actions contribute to peace and stability, or to fuelling aggression.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
25th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she plans to take to support UK-based businesses with operations in Ukraine that are affected by the Russian invasion of that country.

UK businesses which trade with Ukraine can access help and support by using the Department for International Trade's Export Support Service (ESS).

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment has she made of the potential merits of removing Russia from the SWIFT international banking system.

The Foreign Secretary announced the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions for Russia.

The UK and others have committed to removing selected Russian banks from SWIFT and alongside the US and EU the UK is targeting Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) to prevent it from using its international reserves to undermine the impact of our sanctions.

On 1 March, new legislation will be laid in parliament on financial measures including sovereign debt, clearing and securities measures and trade measures including export controls on dual use high-tech products.

The financial measures will prevent Russian banks from clearing payments in sterling and will apply to Russia's largest bank - Sberbank. They will also prevent the Russian state from raising debt in the UK and will isolate all Russian companies - of which there are over three million - from access to UK capital markets.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment her Department has made of the impact of any potential Russian invasion of Ukraine on security and political stability in the Balkan region.

We are observing a concerning pattern of Russian behaviour that threatens the rules-based international system and aims to hamper the Euro-Atlantic integration of the countries of the Western Balkans and elsewhere. As set out in the Integrated Review, the UK takes the threat from the Russian State extremely seriously and we will continue to call out Russian aggression. The Prime Minister has appointed Sir Stuart Peach as Special Envoy to the Western Balkans. He has long experience in the region, as former UK Chief of the Defence Staff and Chair of NATO's military committee. Sir Stuart is undertaking extensive travel across the region and working closely with international partners to promote regional stability, security and reconciliation. In addition, we are using our diplomatic heft, and our Conflict, Stability and Security Fund programmes to strengthen regional stability, increase resilience against hostile state activity and cyber-attacks.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment has she made of the (a) security and (b) political stability in West Africa following recent coups d'etat in that region.

The UK Government routinely monitors and assesses security and political dynamics across West Africa. We are concerned by the deteriorating situation across the Sahel, and the tangible impact this has on security across the West Africa region. We have joined the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and international partners to condemn recent coups, including in Burkina Faso this month, in Guinea in September 2021, and in Mali in May 2021. We support regional mediation efforts and call for the return to democratic, civilian and constitutional rule without delay.

In a call with President Brou on 19 November 2021 I was able to set out the UK's continued support for ECOWAS' efforts. It is vital that across the region all parties engage in peaceful dialogue to ease tensions, prevent any further violence, respect human rights, and uphold democratic principles including the rule of law. We continue to work with our international partners to address the implications of these coups and to monitor each situation closely.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the security and political stability of Burkina Faso following the recent coup in that country.

The UK is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security and political situation in Burkina Faso. As I [Minister Ford] set out in my statement on 25 January 2022, the UK condemns the coup d'etat by military forces in Burkina Faso, and calls for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all members of the civilian government who have been detained, including the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. It is vital that all parties remain calm and respect human rights, and for Burkina Faso to return to democratic civilian and constitutional rule without delay. We are monitoring the political and security situation closely, and working with partners to encourage a swift, peaceful and constructive resolution to events. Dialogue between all parties is required to tackle insecurity across Burkina Faso, and respond to the needs of the Burkinabe people.

Through our deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), our deployment of Chinook helicopters to the French counter-terrorism mission Barkhane, and our programmatic support for stabilisation and conflict resolution, the UK is working to build long-term peace and stability in the Sahel. We also provide humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable in the region, including in Burkina Faso.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to monitor the political and military situations in Transnistria with regards to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Our Embassy in Chisinau closely monitors political and military developments in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, including through regular dialogue with the Government of Moldova, the OSCE Mission to Moldova, and international partners. Members of the Embassy regularly visit the Transnistrian region in order to assess the situation at first hand and to discuss developments with a variety of contacts there, including the de facto leadership.

We have repeatedly made clear that any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be met with strength, including massive economic consequences through coordinated sanctions by allies and partners targeting Russian financial transactions, assets, and individuals.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions the Government has had with the (a) African Union peace envoy and (b) US peace envoy on the conflict between the Ethiopian Government and Tigray.

We are extremely concerned by the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia and the implications it has for the country as a whole. The UK is working to bring an end to the violence. I discussed Ethiopia on my visit to Kenya 17 to 18 January and met Prime Minister Abiy in Addis Ababa on 20 January when we discussed the conflict. Whilst in Addis, I also met new US envoy Satterfield. I have called on all parties to urgently agree a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid through. I have continued to emphasise the need for a ceasefire through calls with my African counterparts, including from Kenya and the African Union (AU). We have spoken with a variety of international partners about the situation in Ethiopia, and have urged them to support a ceasefire and support the efforts of AU High Representative Obasanjo to bring an end to the violence. I have also spoken to HR Obasanjo. The British Ambassador in Addis Ababa remains in touch with HR Obasanjo.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to support the UN Human Rights Council inquiry into atrocities in Ethiopia.

We are extremely concerned by reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia committed by all sides to the conflict. All those responsible for human rights violations and abuses should be held to account.

The Foreign Secretary, as Chair of the G7 Foreign and Development Minister's meeting, made a statement on 12 December 2021 that called for an additional independent investigation on human rights violations as recommended by the Joint Investigation report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. The UK supported the Human Rights Council resolution of 17 December 2021 that mandates an independent and transparent mechanism for investigation and redress of human rights violations. The UK will continue to support the UN in the need for independent, transparent and impartial investigations and will work to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities are held to account.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking towards the normalisation of relations between the Ethiopian Government and Tigray.

We are extremely concerned by the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia and the implications it has for the country as a whole. On my recent visit to Ethiopia, I met Prime Minister Abiy on 20 January and discussed the UK's concern over conflict in the north but hope for lasting peace in Ethiopia. I also met Ethiopian State Minister Redwan and reiterated my message for peace.

The UK is working to bring an end to the violence. I have called on all parties to urgently agree a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid through. I have continued to emphasise the need for a ceasefire through calls with my African counterparts, including from Kenya and the African Union (AU). We have spoken with a variety of international partners about the situation in Ethiopia, and have urged them to support a ceasefire and support the efforts of AU High Representative Obasanjo to bring an end to the violence.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if her Department will investigate the potential use of British components in the construction of drones used in aerial attacks on civilians in Tigray.

There are no extant Standard Individual or Open Individual Export Licences for controlled items for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) components for Ethiopia directly or indirectly. The Government takes its strategic export control responsibilities very seriously. We examine every application on a case-by-case basis against strict criteria. Risks around human rights violations are a key part of our assessment. The Government will not grant a licence for items where we determine there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate internal repression, or where we determine there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law. We can and do respond quickly and flexibly to changing or fluid international situations. All licences are kept under careful and continual review as standard.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will take steps to empower Counter Terrorism Command SO15 to investigate suspects of crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 who are neither British residents nor nationals.

The United Kingdom is committed to upholding international law and holding those who commit the most serious crimes accountable for their actions. Under the International Criminal Court Act , crimes against humanity are an offence against the law of England and Wales if committed in England or Wales or outside the United Kingdom by a United Kingdom national or resident or a person subject to UK service jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the courts in the UK to try crimes is premised on a presumption of territoriality, unless there is express statutory provision to the contrary. It is UK Government policy that the United Kingdom should not provide a safe haven for war criminals or those who commit other serious violations of international law. The UK is committed to helping other countries to prosecute offences that take place within their territory or within their jurisdiction.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department takes to ensure that at least one official from her Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

It is standard practice for FCDO Ministers holding meetings or telephone calls on government business to be routinely accompanied by their private secretary or another official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what the total value of contracts awarded by the former Department for International Development to Randox has been in each year since 2010.

The former Department for International Development have issued no contracts to Randox in the period 2010 to present.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what her Department’s process is for (a) recording and (b) keeping minutes of all meetings relating to Government business.

Formal, structured meetings are usually minuted, however, not all meetings need to be minuted. It is expected that the general guidance that departments give to their staff will help officials make judgements as to what meetings need to be minuted, noting their Civil Service Code obligation to 'keep accurate official records.'

Specific procedures are in place for external meetings involving ministers. These are publicly available and can be found in the Guidance on the management of Private Office Papers at: https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/popapersguidance2009.pdf

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 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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she plans to have 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.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Secretary of State for Education
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
Secretary of State for Education
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Secretary of State for Education
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Secretary of State for Education
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
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Secretary of State for Education