Patricia Gibson Portrait

Patricia Gibson

Scottish National Party - North Ayrshire and Arran

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

(since February 2021)
4 APPG memberships (as of 17 Nov 2021)
Baby Loss, Cats, Consumer Protection, Post Offices
4 Former APPG memberships
Financial Crime and Scamming, Green Deal Misselling, Loneliness, Poverty
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs)
20th Jun 2017 - 1st Feb 2021
Backbench Business Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Procedure Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 14th December 2021
16:00
Backbench Business Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Proposals for backbench debates
14 Dec 2021, 4 p.m.
At 4.15pm: Oral evidence
Members of Parliament - Members of Parliament at House of Commons
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Department Event
Monday 24th January 2022
14:30
Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
Oral questions - Main Chamber
24 Jan 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Wednesday 8th December 2021
Nationality and Borders Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 40 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 234 Noes - 293
Speeches
Monday 29th November 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

The Institute for Public Policy Research has pointed out that the UK shared prosperity funding of £1.5 billion from 2025 …

Written Answers
Monday 6th December 2021
Aviation
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will bring forward proposals to strengthen the powers of the …
Early Day Motions
Monday 6th December 2021
Consequentials for Scotland and the Culture Recovery Fund
That this House welcomes the Government’s £300 million uplift to the Culture Recovery Fund, set up to tackle the crisis …
Bills
Tuesday 29th June 2021
Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to make provision about leave and pay for employees of whom a close family member has died.
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th November 2021
1. Employment and earnings
1 November 2021, received £75. Hours: approx. 25 mins. (Registered 04 November 2021)
EDM signed
Monday 6th December 2021
Barnett Consequentials from the Culture Recovery Fund
That this House notes with concern reports that HM Treasury has only delivered £9 million of an expected £40 million …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 19th July 2017
Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Patricia Gibson has voted in 255 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Patricia Gibson Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(42 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(18 debate interactions)
Nigel Evans (Conservative)
(16 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(50 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(38 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(29 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Patricia Gibson's debates

North Ayrshire and Arran 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

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

We would like the Government to ban all animal testing UK, including for the development of cosmetics, household products and medicines. Alternatives need to be actively funded. Many products that are tested on animals end up not being suitable for humans. Animal testing is outmoded and should end.

The Government must recognise the urgent need to use animal-free science and publish a clear and ambitious action plan with timetables and milestones to drive the phase-out of animal experiments. As well as preventing animal suffering, this will benefit public health and business.

Leading veterinary and welfare bodies are concerned by the alarming rise in ear-cropped dogs in the UK. Ear cropping is illegal in the UK and an unnecessary, painful mutilation with no welfare benefit. The practice involves cutting off part of the ear flap, often without anaesthesia or pain relief.

Plenty of dogs from UK breeders & rescues need homes. Transporting young pups long distances is often stressful, before being sold for ridiculous prices to unsuspecting dog-lovers. Government must adjust current laws, ban this unethical activity on welfare grounds & protect these poor animals ASAP.

Enact legislation to protect retail workers. This legislation must create a specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker. The offence must carry a penalty that acts as a deterrent and makes clear that abuse of retail workers is unacceptable.

Now that we have left the EU, the UK has the ability to finally stop the importation of Shark Fins. They had previously stated that 'Whilst in the EU, it is not possible to unilaterally ban the import of shark fins into the UK.'

Government should support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme

I want the Government to prevent any restrictions being placed on those who refuse to have any potential Covid-19 vaccine. This includes restrictions on travel, social events, such as concerts or sports. No restrictions whatsoever.

12 kids in the UK are diagnosed with cancer daily. 1 in 5 will die within 5 years, often of the deadliest types like DIPG (brainstem cancer) - fatal on diagnosis & other cancers on relapse. Yet there has been little, or no, funding for research into these cancers and little, or no, progress.

Every year more and more people, animals and wildlife get hurt by fireworks. It’s time something was fine to stop this. There are enough organised firework groups around for us to still enjoy fireworks safely so please help me stop the needless sale of them to the public!

If nurseries are shut down in view of Covid-19, the Government should set up an emergency fund to ensure their survival and ensure that parents are not charged the full fee by the nurseries to keep children's places.

I would like the government to review and increase the pay for healthcare workers to recognise the work that they do.

We would like the government to support and regard social care: financially, publicly and systematically on an equal par as NHS. We would like parliament to debate how to support social care during COVID-19 and beyond so that it automatically has the same access to operational and financial support.

The prospect of widespread cancellations of concerts, theatre productions and exhibitions due to COVID-19 threatens to cause huge financial hardship for Britain's creative community. We ask Parliament to provide a package of emergency financial and practical support during this unpredictable time.

To revoke the Immigration Health Surcharge increases for overseas NHS staff. The latest budget shows an increase of £220 a year for an overseas worker to live and work in the UK, at a time when the NHS, and UK economy, relies heavily on them.

The cash grants proposed by Government are only for businesses in receipt of the Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief, or for particular sectors. Many small businesses fall outside these reliefs desperately need cash grants and support now.

For the UK government to provide economic assistance to businesses and staff employed in the events industry, who are suffering unforeseen financial challenges that could have a profound effect on hundreds of thousands of people employed in the sector.

After owning nurseries for 29 years I have never experienced such damaging times for the sector with rising costs not being met by the funding rates available. Business Rates are a large drain on the sector and can mean the difference between nurseries being able to stay open and having to close.

As we pass the COVID-19 Peak, the Government should: State where the Theatres and Arts fit in the Coronavrius recovery Roadmap, Create a tailor made financial support mechanism for the Arts sector & Clarify how Social Distancing will affect arts spaces like Theatres and Concert Venues.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak there are travel bans imposed by many countries, there is a disastrous potential impact on our Aviation Industry. Without the Government’s help there could be an unprecedented crisis, with thousands of jobs under threat.

Give NHS workers who are EU and other Nationals automatic UK citizenship if they stay and risk their own lives looking after the British people during the COVID crisis.

To extend the business rate relief to all dental practices and medical and aesthetics clinics and any small business that’s in healthcare

Zoos, aquariums, and similar organisations across the country carry out all sorts of conservation work, animal rescue, and public education. At the start of the season most rely on visitors (who now won't come) to cover annual costs, yet those costs do not stop while they are closed. They need help.


Latest EDMs signed by Patricia Gibson

6th December 2021
Patricia Gibson signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Monday 6th December 2021

Consequentials for Scotland and the Culture Recovery Fund

Tabled by: Patricia Gibson (Scottish National Party - North Ayrshire and Arran)
That this House welcomes the Government’s £300 million uplift to the Culture Recovery Fund, set up to tackle the crisis facing the culture sector as a result of the covid-19 pandemic; recognises that the Fund was designed to assist a sector devastated by the essential public health measures, and further …
7 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Dec 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 6
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
3rd December 2021
Patricia Gibson signed this EDM on Monday 6th December 2021

Barnett Consequentials from the Culture Recovery Fund

Tabled by: Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party - Glasgow North)
That this House notes with concern reports that HM Treasury has only delivered £9 million of an expected £40 million to the Scottish Government in consequential funding arising from the £300 million increase in the Culture Recovery Fund announced in the March 2021 Budget; notes that while First Minister Nicola …
9 signatures
(Most recent: 7 Dec 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 9
View All Patricia Gibson's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Patricia Gibson, 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.


Patricia Gibson has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Patricia Gibson has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Patricia Gibson


A Bill to make provision about leave and pay for employees of whom a close family member has died.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 29th June 2021
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 18th March 2022

A Bill to enable the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against company directors for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 relating to unsolicited marketing communications made by a company; and for connected purposes


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 13th September 2016

102 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
4 Other Department Questions
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what estimate his Department has made of the cost to Local Authorities of the increase in employer National Insurance.

This Government intends to compensate public sector employers for the increased cost of the Levy.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what estimate his Department has made of the financial cost relating to the increase in energy prices will be for local authorities in England in financial years (a) 2021-22 and (b) 2022-23.

We have empowered local authorities to make decisions on a range of matters that shape what happens in their area. We believe that, for most local government responsibilities, the most effective way to fund them is through councils' Core Spending Power. Core Spending Power is flexible to ensure local areas can prioritise based on their own understanding of the needs of their local communities. 

On 10 February, the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2021-22 passed in Parliament unopposed. This year, we have made available an increase in councils' Core Spending Power of up to 4.6% in cash terms, from £49.0 billion in 2020-21 to up to £51.3 billion in 2021-22. This in real terms builds on the largest year on year increase in spending power in a decade last year and recognises the resources councils need to meet their pressures and maintain critical services


We are committed to ensuring the sector continues to get the support they need to maintain key services and build back better after the pandemic. The forthcoming Spending Review will be the opportunity to consider local government's future funding needs in the round, and we will seek to provide local authorities with longer-term clarity to enable their forward planning.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what the (a) opening and (b) closing dates are for the second round of Levelling up funding.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. Further detail on how the Fund will operate from 2022-23 onwards will be set out later this year.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when the first round of successful applications for Levelling Up funding will be announced.

I am delighted to say that the first round of the Levelling Up Fund received significant interest. Bids are currently being assessed in line with the published assessment process. Outcomes from the first round of bids for the Levelling Up Fund will be announced and bidding authorities informed in due course.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Government plans to publish the Intelligence and Security Committee report on possible Russian interference or involvement in UK politics.

I refer the Hon. members to the answer given to PQ 40706 on 4 May 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to extend dispute resolution to sectors other than second hand car sales and servicing and home improvement.

The Government considers that a number of factors are relevant in assessing whether to extend mandatory business participation in ADR to new sectors. These include the volume or value of consumer problems, the overall consumer experience, and the structure of the market.

The Government consulted on this matter in its Reforming Consumer and Competition Policy command paper and will set out next steps on dispute resolution in its response.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the Government will enable collective redress in consumer cases in line with competition cases.

The UK has an established regime for addressing collective consumer harm and enabling consumers to gain collective redress when consumer law has been broken. This covers both public collective redress procedures, whereby regulators and the CMA can seek redress on behalf of consumers under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, and, to a certain extent, private collective redress, for example through Group Litigation Orders.

In July 2021, the Department published the Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy consultation. We sought evidence on whether there is a case for strengthening the UK’s collective redress regime, to make it easier to gather many individual claims together into a single lawsuit that can support the cost of litigation. The Department will respond to the consultation in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the Government will bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that online marketplaces take greater responsibility for the safety of consumers using their platforms, including proactive measures to protect consumers from scams, fake reviews and unsafe products.

There is already robust legislation in place that protects consumers when purchasing goods and services online. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancelling and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 set out the rights consumers enjoy while shopping online and in store.

The Department consulted in July of this year 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.

Existing laws also require that all consumer products, including those sold online, are safe before they can be placed on the UK market. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is currently reviewing the UK’s product safety framework, including the impact of changes brought by eCommerce, to ensure that it remains robust and is future proofed. The Government published its response to a recent Call for Evidence on 11 November at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/uk-product-safety-review-call-for-evidence. We intend to publish a consultation outlining proposals for reform in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) adequacy of the (i) structure, (ii) powers and (iii) resources of Trading Standards and (b) ability of that organisation to effectively protect consumers from scams, rogue traders and other potential harms.

Local authorities are responsible for determining their spending priorities, including with respect for trading standards, and are accountable to their local electorate. Funding is not ringfenced, so local authorities make decisions according to their individual needs.

In July 2021, the Department published the Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy consultation. We sought evidence on how national and local enforcement bodies can work better together to ensure consumers are best protected against unscrupulous rogue traders. The Department will respond to the consultation in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent changes her Department has made to regulations on the safe transport of nuclear flasks.

The most recent amendments to the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment 2009 made by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy implemented emergency preparedness and response requirements in Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM.

Nuclear and radiation safety is a top priority for Government and our arrangements are kept under regular review. We have a well-respected regulatory system which reflects international best practice. All operators are answerable to a robust and independent regulator – the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). If the ONR considered that any nuclear site or nuclear transport was not safe or secure it would not be allowed to operate.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Data Communications Company has contracts in place for the provision of communications coverage to enable smart meter technology to be installed on the Isle of Arran.

The Data Communications Company (DCC), the organisation responsible for the national smart metering infrastructure, has contracts in place for the provision of communications coverage to at least 99.5% of premises across its ‘North Region’, which covers Scotland.

The DCC is also required by licence conditions to seek to provide communications services to all premises where it is practicable and cost proportionate and is also required to assess opportunities to increase the overall level of communications coverage.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK Government's single market proposals on the movement of agricultural goods.

The UK Internal Market Bill ensures the UK can operate as a coherent internal market, guaranteeing UK companies can trade unhindered in every part of the UK while maintaining world-leading standards for consumers, workers, food and the environment.

The UK has some of the highest standards in the world on goods and some of the most robust standards on foods, with world-leading food, animal and plant health and animal welfare standards.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of converting loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme into grants for small businesses in the event that the money is used to rehire staff or pay commercial rent.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is part of a broad package of support for SMEs, including rates relief, grants and support for wage packages.

Businesses are not permitted to access more than one of either the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, CBILS, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Covid Corporate Financing Facility Scheme at the same time. However, the eligibility criteria for the CBILS does not require lenders to take into account other forms of government support that SMEs may be benefitting from, e.g. business rate reliefs or grants unrelated to the CBILS.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of converting loans secured via the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans scheme into grants for small businesses.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is part of a broad package of support for SMEs, including rates relief, grants and support for wage packages.

Businesses are not permitted to access more than one of either the BBLS, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Covid Corporate Financing Facility Scheme at the same time. The eligibility criteria for BBLS do not require lenders to take into account the other forms of government support that SMEs may be benefitting from, e.g. business rate reliefs or grants unrelated to the CBILS.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to publish guidelines on how to observe public health and safety in hair salons when they re-open following the covid-19 lockdown.

As stated in the Roadmap for Recovery, the Government anticipates that hair salons will be opened as part of Phase 3 in July, should the science confirm that it is safe to do so.

Hairdressers and other beauty businesses still remain closed in the current phase because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher due to the indoor environment and closer physical contact. This applies also to mobile hairdressers.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy leads the non-essential Retail Taskforce. Part of this taskforce is focussed on salons and non-clinical therapy. We are working with the sector to develop guidance on safe ways for them to open at the earliest point at which it is safe to do so. The guidance will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending maternity leave by three months to allow time for bonding and socially engaging with other parents and babies and wider family members for mothers of babies born during the covid-19 outbreak.

We understand the impacts that the pandemic and social distancing have on new parents, such as not being able to introduce their new baby to family and friends or attend parent and baby groups. While this is of course extremely difficult for all those affected, we believe these measures are necessary to protect lives.

During this difficult time mothers retain their generous entitlement to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave, allowing them to bond and care for their new child and to recover from birth. We have no plans to extend Maternity Leave at this stage.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support consumers who are unlawfully refused refunds from travel companies.

Package travel agencies are required to comply with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, which protect consumers who have bought package holidays. Consumers are entitled to a refund?if forced to cancel a package holiday due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, which should be issued?within 14 days, depending on the nature of the contract in place. BEIS officials have held regular discussions with travel and tourism sector representatives, travel businesses and consumer advocacy bodies to assess the impact of cancellations made in light of the covid-19 outbreak. Further information on the rights and responsibilities of consumers and businesses was published on 30 April by the Competition and Markets Authority who have also set up a covid-19 taskforce for consumers to register complaints.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department is having with travel companies which are unlawfully refusing to refund the cost of holidays to consumers.

Package travel agencies are required to comply with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, which protect consumers who have bought package holidays. Consumers are entitled to a refund?if forced to cancel a package holiday due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, which should be issued?within 14 days, depending on the nature of the contract in place. Businesses are undoubtedly facing a significant and complex operational task in engaging with all their customers on refunds. The Government is working to find a balanced and a coordinated solution to the difficulties that have arisen as a result of covid-19 that supports the sector while protecting consumer rights.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans does he have to launch an independent public inquiry into the collapse of Football Index.

The government is taking the collapse of Football Index and the concerns of those affected by it very seriously, and the Secretary of State and I have met the Gambling Commission to receive urgent updates. We are particularly keen to understand both how this situation came about and what lessons we can learn from these events. Further details will be provided in due course.

DCMS officials were made aware of the challenges facing Football Index in March 2021 shortly before the Gambling Commission suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operator of Football Index. The Gambling Commission’s regulatory investigation is ongoing. While we have been in close contact with the Commission as it continues its investigation, its role as set out in the Gambling Act is to conduct investigations fully independent of Government. It is not for the government to direct independent regulatory bodies on individual cases.

Our Review of the Gambling Act 2005 is considering a range of questions around the regulation of gambling, including the powers and resources of the Commission and whether any changes to the legislation are required to make it fit for the digital age. The review will also consider whether an alternative system of consumer redress, such as an ombudsman, is needed. Our call for evidence closed on 31 March and we are carefully considering the responses received.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking in response to the suspension of Football Index's licence; what assessment he has made of the adequacy of regulation of the gambling industry in relation to Football Index; and what protection is available to people who have funds deposited with that company.

The government recognises the concerns of Football Index customers and is monitoring the situation closely. The Gambling Commission has suspended the operator’s licence while it carries out an investigation and has made clear it expects the operator to focus on treating customers fairly. Further information is available at: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/News/information-notice-suspension-of-licence-betindex-limited

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department has made on reducing the use of plastics.

Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste over the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan, and we have already made good progress. We have introduced one of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, reduced sales of single-use carrier bags by over 95% in the main retailers through the 5p charge, and, since 1 October this year, have banned the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds, and stirrers, with exemptions. And we will not stop there. Next year we will extend the carrier bag charge to all retailers and increase the minimum charge to 10p, consult again on the introduction of a deposit-return scheme for drinks containers, and, from 2022, will introduce a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content.

Our landmark Environment Bill includes a number of measures that will enable us to further tackle plastic waste. These include measures to impose charges on single-use plastic items and make producers cover the costs of collecting and managing plastic packaging waste.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure that the new online system for Export Health Certificates for meat products dispatched from the UK is able to meet demand; and what steps his Department has taken to ensure that that system is operational by the end of 2020.

The Export Health Certificates (EHC) Online service has been available for trade with third countries since June 2020. It replaces the current manual process for applying for EHCs.

The 150 most frequently used third country EHCs (representing 80% of current throughput) are available via the EHC Online service. There will be further releases of third country EHCs on the online service before the end of 2020.

APHA plan to make EHCs for EU trade available via EHC Online from mid-October. This will offer traders visibility of the documentation they will be required to use at the end of the transition period.

The EHC Online service has been developed with the capability to meet future demand in export trade. Defra estimate that up to an additional 300,000 Export Health Certificates may be required annually to facilitate EU trade. The EHC Online system has been designed and stress tested to process transactions in excess of this.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that there will be sufficient numbers of qualified vets to inspect and sign off consignments of meat to be dispatched from the UK so that they can be issued an export health certificate after the end of the transition period.

The Government has increased the number of Official Veterinarians (OVs) holding the relevant qualification to certify exports of products of animal origin, including meat products, in Great Britain from approximately 600 in February 2019 to more than 1200 today. On 1 October 2020, we launched a new £200,000 funded training scheme to enhance OV capacity further. In parallel, we launched a £100,000 scheme to train Certification Support Officers (CSOs). CSOs can handle several preliminary and administrative tasks to prepare consignments for certification. This reduces the burden on OVs and Local Authority Certifying Officers. More than 100 CSOs have been authorised in GB to date.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to ensure that the Government's new health mark scheme allows groupage of exports from the UK to the EU; and when he plans to inform businesses who sell fresh and frozen meat to EU countries of the details of that scheme.

To help traders prepare for changes to export arrangements for animals and products of animal origin (POAO) from 1 January 2021, we are hosting a series of webinars from mid-October. Specimen Export Health Certificates and accompanying guidance notes for trade between Great Britain and the EU have been made available on the GOV.UK website, to enable exporters and certifiers to familiarise themselves with the detailed requirements.

A Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme was developed in consultation with industry to help facilitate the export of certain commodities with complex but stable supply chains, including composite products, meat products and meat preparations, for use from 1 January 2021.

The Food Standards Agency is finalising its new guidance to the food industry covering which health and identification marks should be used on POAO after the end of the Transition Period. We anticipate that this will be published shortly.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 18 October to Question 52516 on Human Rights: India, what representations her Department has made to the Government of India on ensuring that freedom of religion or belief protections are enshrined in any future trade agreement.

The United Kingdom is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all, and promoting respect between different communities.  Promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief is one of the United Kingdom’s longstanding overseas priorities.

We believe that trade is vital for our economy and future prosperity, but it need not come at the expense of our values. We engage with India on a range of matters, independent of a Free Trade Agreement, as part of our ongoing bilateral relationship. This involves working with Union and State Governments, and with non-governmental organisations, to build capacity and share expertise.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to seek the removal of US tariffs on Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Whisky liqueurs.

The Government takes the negative impact of US tariffs on Single-malt Scotch Whisky and Whisky liqueurs, resulting from the Airbus dispute, very seriously. These tariffs are unnecessary, unhelpful and harm industry and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.

From the beginning, the UK has pressed the US for a fair and balanced settlement to the Airbus and Boeing disputes. Most recently, in early August, the Secretary of State for International Trade visited the US and raised this issue with US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, and pressed for the removal of all tariffs as soon as possible.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will bring forward proposals for a mandatory dispute resolution scheme for the airline industry.

The Government remains absolutely committed to ensuring consumers are protected when travelling by air. As announced in both the Global Travel Taskforce report in April, and the announcement by Lord Frost on Regulatory Reforms, we will be consulting on additional, flexible and modern tools to enforce consumer rights, including consumer rights enforcement powers for the Civil Aviation Authority.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will bring forward proposals to strengthen the powers of the Civil Aviation Authority in order that it can effectively and efficiently protect consumer rights in that sector.

The Government remains absolutely committed to ensuring consumers are protected when travelling by air. As announced in both the Global Travel Taskforce report in April, and the announcement by Lord Frost on Regulatory Reforms, we will be consulting on additional, flexible and modern tools to enforce consumer rights, including consumer rights enforcement powers for the Civil Aviation Authority.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if the Government will introduce mandatory alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to help consumers resolve disputes in respect of the airline sector in the context of most other regulated sectors having mandatory ADR schemes.

The Government remains absolutely committed to ensuring consumers are protected when travelling by air. As announced in both the Global Travel Taskforce report in April, and the recent announcement on Regulatory reforms, we will consult on additional, flexible and modern tools to enforce consumer rights.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to help tackle the backlog of applications awaiting a decision at the DVLA; and what recent progress the DVLA has made in reducing those backlogs.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to make an application. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days. However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper applications can be found here.

The DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham to help reduce waiting times while providing future resilience and business continuity.

Work is ongoing to reduce the backlog of paper applications. There has been a particular focus on vocational driving licence applications to support the HGV driver shortage. This has been successful with vocational applications now back to normal turnaround times.

The DVLA understands the impact that delays can have on people’s everyday lives and continues to work as quickly as possible to process paper applications and return people’s documentation to them.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of Smart Motorways on the number of fatalities caused by a collision.

One year on from the publication of the Smart Motorway Safety Evidence Stocktake and Action Plan, National Highways (formerly Highways England) published a report which shows that in terms of fatality rates, smart motorways are the safest roads in the country. Per mile travelled, fatal casualty rates are a third higher on conventional motorways (0.16 per hundred million vehicle miles, hmvm) than on All Lane Running (ALR) motorways (0.12 per hmvm). Per mile travelled, fatal casualty rates on strategic road network A-roads (0.44 per hmvm) are more than three and a half times the rate on ALR motorways.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans DVSA has in place to deal with the backlog of driving tests due to covid-19 restrictions.

During the current lockdown, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is offering a limited theory test and practical test service in England and Wales to NHS health and social care workers, emergency services and local council workers who need to both drive as part of their job and respond to 'threats to life' as part of their job. Mobile emergency workers who have a valid compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate and wish to apply for a motorcycle licence would also be eligible.

Mobile emergency worker tests cannot be currently offered in Scotland due to Covid restrictions set by the Scottish Government.

The DVSA will continue to offer mobile emergency worker tests once the current lockdown restrictions have been lifted, and will keep that service under review.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has measures in place to increase practical driving tests when it is safe for testing to resume. These include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays).

In addition, the DVSA has started a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners to increase testing capacity and reduce the backlog as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining a COVID-secure service for customers and examiners.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the DVSA has plans to prioritise driving tests for critical workers in (a) Scotland and (b) the rest of the UK as covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

During the current lockdown, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is offering a limited theory test and practical test service in England and Wales to NHS health and social care workers, emergency services and local council workers who need to both drive as part of their job and respond to 'threats to life' as part of their job. Mobile emergency workers who have a valid compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate and wish to apply for a motorcycle licence would also be eligible.

Mobile emergency worker tests cannot be currently offered in Scotland due to Covid restrictions set by the Scottish Government.

The DVSA will continue to offer mobile emergency worker tests once the current lockdown restrictions have been lifted, and will keep that service under review.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has measures in place to increase practical driving tests when it is safe for testing to resume. These include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays).

In addition, the DVSA has started a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners to increase testing capacity and reduce the backlog as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining a COVID-secure service for customers and examiners.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what arrangements are in place to ensure that theory driving tests for critical workers can take place during covid-19 restrictions.

In Scotland, The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 require the suspension of all driving tests and lessons in areas under protection level 4. Currently this includes all of mainland Scotland and the Western Isles. Therefore, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is not able to offer key worker tests in Scotland.

The DVSA is working with its theory test contract provider, Pearson VUE, to respond to requests for theory tests in England and Wales from organisations such as Ambulance Authorities on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role.

The DVSA is in the process of planning for the resumption of services and increasing test capacity when it is safe to do so. Arrangements will be announced in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to extend Driving Theory Test certificates, in view of the fact that many learner drivers find their certificates will expire before the current period of lockdown is likely to end.

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place for road safety reasons; to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.

It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that they drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.

Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the role of hydrogen in the strategy to decarbonise transport.

Government is committed to tackling climate change and delivering our net zero commitment and Ministers regularly discuss this with Cabinet colleagues.

Last week we announced that Tees Valley will be the UK’s first Hydrogen Transport Hub, bringing together industry, academia and government to accelerate UK’s take up of green hydrogen. This aligns with wider plans to driver forward progress by funding 19 new hydrogen powered refuse trucks in Glasgow and starting trials for Britain’s first hydrogen powered train. We are committed to exploring all the options for green hydrogen across freight, buses, trains, maritime and aviation and ensuring the UK can leads the world in its deployment and use in transport applications.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he will take to (a) improve response rates to calls to the DVLA and (b) ensure that key workers are able to book a driving test.

(a) The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has reconfigured one of its buildings to create additional space for contact centre staff and installed screens to maximise the number of staff answering calls. The contact centre’s opening hours have increased at weekends and will shortly be increasing during the working week.

(b) The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for driving tests. It has added extra call taking capacity to improve response rates. The practical driving test service is now open to all driving test candidates including key workers.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will include the safety of motorcyclists in the review of the Highway Code.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review Call for Evidence, published in March 2018, gathered information on how to tackle the safety issues that cyclists and pedestrians face, or perceive, when travelling on our roads, to support the Government’s aim of increasing cycling and walking.

The subsequent Government response set out a two-year plan of action which identified reviewing the guidance in The Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians as a top priority. The review of The Highway Code is therefore a direct response to that action.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps is he taking to support commercial seafarers that are stranded on board ships and unable to disembark in the United Arab Emirates.

You may be aware that the UK has not placed restrictions on the transit and transfer of seafarers and I have written to the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation on 23 March 2020, confirming that the UK will continue to meet its international obligations related to the transit and transfer of seafarers and highlighted that the UK is fully committed to the welfare of all seafarers regardless of their nationality, asking other States to follow this example.

I appreciate that restrictions remain in place, making it difficult for seafarers to reach their destination for crew change. I assure you that we are doing what we can to address those issues, working in partnership with industry, other Government Departments and overseas administrations to enable the freedom of movement needed to keep the industry operating.

I welcomed the framework recently developed by the International Chamber of Shipping and other organisations, which has been supported and circulated by the International Maritime Organisation and fully understands the need for safe crew changes around the world.

I am keen to see a resolution to this issue and understand that it is not possible to keep extending seafarers contracts, as this could have a detrimental impact on their health and well-being and potentially puts the flow of goods at risk. Whilst the safety and security of seafarers is the responsibility of the vessel’s operators, the Government is continuing to monitor the welfare of all UK seafarers and is working to support employers in their repatriation efforts for all non-essential staff.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to (a) raise awareness of Pension Credit and (b) make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the time period for claiming backdated Pension Credit from three months.

Around 1.4 million eligible pensioners across Great Britain receive some £5 billion in Pension Credit which tops up their retirement income and is a passport to other financial help such as support with housing costs, council tax, heating bills and a free TV licence for those over 75.

We continue to use every opportunity to encourage pensioners to check their eligibility and make a claim. For example, on 16 June as part of a media day of action on Pension Credit, DWP joined forces with Age UK as well as the BBC to help reach, via national and local media, older people who may be reticent about claiming it. More recently, on 7 September, I met the BBC Director General to discuss other opportunities to work together to get information about Pension Credit to pensioners and their family members. We have also set up a working group including organisations such as Age UK, Independent Age, the BBC and British Telecom to explore innovative ways to reach eligible pensioners. The most recent meeting of the working group took place on 19 October.

Earlier this year, over 11 million pensioners in Great Britain received information about Pension Credit in the leaflet accompanying their annual State Pension up-rating letter. They will do so again next year.

There are no plans to review the existing Pension Credit backdating rules.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional steps she will take to improve response times to pensions inquires from hon. Members.

Retirement Services are currently experiencing a very high volume of enquiries, and it is taking us longer than usual to reply as we recover from the challenges of the pandemic.

DWP now triage enquiries giving priority to vulnerable claimants who may be at risk, and those with benefit payment issues.

We are reviewing the effectiveness of the approach we have taken throughout the pandemic and to improve our level of service we have introduced a bespoke Retirement Services mailbox for MP enquiries, improved our MP engagement at local level and are reviewing resourcing levels.

We are in the process of designing the future operating model for DWP complaints and correspondence. As part of this we will be looking for further opportunities to drive efficiency in the process whilst ensuring that vulnerable customers are prioritised.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress the Government has made on ensuring that cohabiting couples are treated equitably for Bereavement Support Allowance.

On 15th July 2021, we laid the draft proposal for a Bereavement Benefits (2021) Remedial Order before Parliament. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bereavement-benefits-proposal-for-implementation-of-the-mclaughlin-2018-and-jackson-2020-judgments

This proposes to extend eligibility for Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment to surviving cohabitees with dependent children.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to rulings of the (a) Supreme Court in 2018 and (b) High Court in 2020, what plans the Government has to ensure that cohabiting couples are recognised as being entitled to bereavement support payments.

On 15th July 2021, we laid the draft proposal for a Bereavement Benefits (2021) Remedial Order before Parliament. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bereavement-benefits-proposal-for-implementation-of-the-mclaughlin-2018-and-jackson-2020-judgments

This proposes to extend eligibility for Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment to surviving cohabitees with dependent children.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to deploy additional staff to her Department’s Retirement Services Centre to help improve response times to pensions enquires.

Between 5 July and 9 August 2021, DWP Retirement Services are recruiting 183 new members of staff to enhance our resources to work on our State Pension teams. This will enable us to continue to deliver the very best level of service to our customers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of introducing a £20 a week supplement to carers with an entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave on the 24th February 2021 to question number 155395.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on the effect of her Department's frozen overseas pension policy on members of the Windrush generation.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, including the Home Secretary, on a range of issues.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2021
What steps his Department is taking to control the covid-19 outbreak during winter 2021-22.

On 14 September, we set out our plan to sustain the progress made in combatting the virus and prepare the country for future challenges.

The high level of vaccine protection has allowed us to live with COVID-19 without stringent restrictions. However, If the data suggests the National Health Service is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B.

The NHS is working to ensure appropriate operational plans are in place, including to meet potential increases in demand for emergency care.

Sajid Javid
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to increase funding for research on mental health.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the largest funder of mental health research in the United Kingdom, through the Department. The NIHR spent £93.4 million on mental health research in 2019/20. While it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions, the NIHR’s funding is available through open competition and it encourages researchers to submit applications, including for mental health research.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that companies contracted to provide managed quarantine packages to passengers arriving in England from red list countries are fulfilling their obligations to provide transport both to and from quarantine hotels, given that many such passengers are travelling on to other parts of the UK once their quarantine has been completed and need to check back into their arrival airport, often at unsociable hours.

The managed quarantine package includes travel to and from the quarantine facility. We expect that passengers are transported back to the airport they were collected from when they arrived in England. Onward travel to other parts of the United Kingdom is not included within the quarantine package. The Department has on-site liaison officers within all facilities to ensure that any issues with transportation can be effectively dealt with.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the financial cost of increases in energy prices will be for NHS England in financial years (a) 2021-22 and (b) 2022-23.

Whilst NHS England and NHS Improvement have made no formal estimate, National Health Service organisations are responsible for their energy strategy, including responding to energy price changes. Where this occurs, organisations can reconsider their purchasing strategies by entering into longer term contracts for greater certainty of costs and reduce demand by upgrading existing inefficient systems. In addition, NHS organisations can increase their longer-term resilience by installing on-site renewable energy.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the financial cost of increases in employers' National Insurance contributions relating to NHS England in financial years (a) 2022-23 and (b) 2023-24.

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

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) risk assessment has been carried out on and (b) regulations govern the use of mesh as a treatment for hernias; and what progress has been made on establishing the UK-wide Medical Device Information System.

The benefits and risks of using mesh for hernia repair have been considered in detail by clinicians and the professional bodies who represent them and there remains a clinical need for these devices.

The requirements of the medical device regulations are such that the manufacturer of the medical device must hold all relevant scientific and clinical evidence to demonstrate the safety and performance of their device before they can place the product on the market. For these types of devices, they must then obtain certification from an independent third-party conformity assessment body who will undertake a full review of all the manufacturers data and how it supports the claims being made. Once they are satisfied that the device is safe and performs as expected they will issue a certificate to the manufacturer confirming that they device complies with the regulations.

A UK-wide Medical Device Information System (MDIS) is being developed. We intend to begin a formal public consultation on the MDIS regulations later this year with the aim of laying the regulations in due course, subject to parliamentary time.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of making sunscreen exempt from VAT to improve affordability for consumers and help reduce incidences of skin cancer.

No such discussions have taken place or are planned to be held in the near future.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Government's proposed health marks for meat are finalised and in use by the end of the transition period.

Competent Authorities responsible for the application of the health mark, are aware of the new form of the mark to be applied after the 31 December 2020 and have already taken steps to ensure new health marks are available to officials working in United Kingdom approved slaughterhouses.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress he has made in ensuring that (a) very ill children and (b) other patients who benefit from prescription cannabis are able to access it.

The latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends two prescription medicines - Sativex – for the treatment of spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis patients, and Epidyolex – for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy. These are licensed cannabis-based products, which may be prescribed by specialist doctors, in cases where it is clinically appropriate and funded on the National Health Service in England. NICE is clear that there is a need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions for unlicensed cannabis-based products on the NHS.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that NHS (a) apps and (b) other digital NHS platforms being used throughout the UK provide people with covid-19 information and advice that is relevant to the rate at which the lockdown is being eased in (i) England and (ii) the rest of the UK.

The National Health Service app and NHS website are being updated with relevant COVID-19 information throughout this pandemic, drawing on central guidance from the Cabinet Office, which has a cross-Government Guidance Coordination Team to ensure the most up-to-date and relevant information is made available, representing the latest scientific advice. All health and care content is driven through that process to our national products / platforms. In addition, the NHS website team continuously reviews content, both new and existing to reflect any changes in guidance or where required, to reflect ways the public can access health and care services during this crisis and take steps to limit the spread of infection.

The NHSX COVID-19 contact tracing app will assist with a well-established technique of contact tracing and works alongside the wider Test and Trace programme, which will help ease the lockdown in England and the rest of the United Kingdom. The NHS COVID-19 app provides proximity data for contact tracing - with the goal of slowing the spread of the virus by alerting people who may have been exposed to infection so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS. We believe this could be important in helping the country return to normality, as we start to look to easing lockdown measures.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason UK citizens returning from overseas are not being quarantined.

On 12 March 2020 the Prime Minister announced that the COVID-19 response was moving from the contain to delay phase. This phase has been initiated as there is now community transmission of the virus in the United Kingdom, i.e. transmission not directly related to travel; this has made interventions in ports of less relative importance. With the shift to the delay phase and commensurate policy changes the Public Health England port health approach has changed to a ‘warn and inform focus’.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons figures have not been published on the number of people who are recovering from covid-19 in the UK.

It is difficult to estimate the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, since the majority of testing has been for those with medical need, for example for people who are unwell in hospital. The Government does not collect data on people who have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 at home.

The latest available data on the number of COVID-19 cases can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Cumulative case counts include patients who are currently unwell, those that have recovered and those that have died.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department plans to take to work with global social media companies on ensuring that those companies are taking effective steps to mitigate the harmful spread of disinformation in countries where religious or belief minorities suffer persecution and discrimination.

The UK Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. We are working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and take action to mitigate the harmful spread of disinformation and misinformation online. In addition, we actively support NGOs and other organisations in research to inform technology companies, partner governments and others about the misuse of online platforms for disinformation purposes, and to disrupt advertising revenues from websites.

We do not target our counter-disinformation work specifically related to countries where freedom of religion or belief is threatened.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government plans to take in response to the reports of unrest and human rights abuses in Colombia.

The UK Government remains concerned about reports of human rights violations in Colombia. We have raised our concerns with the relevant state actors over the past two weeks, and will continue to do so. Most recently, I spoke with acting Foreign Minister Adriana Mejía on 14 May to welcome Colombia's commitment to transparent investigations into allegations of abuse. We will continue to work closely with the UN Office of the High Representative for Human Rights in Colombia, and the wider international community to reduce tensions.

Colombia is a UK Government 'Human Rights Priority Country,' and we look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully any excessive use of force, and take appropriate action against those responsible. The fundamental human right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps the Government plans to take in response to reports that human rights violations against the people of Colombia are increasing.

The UK Government remains concerned about reports of human rights violations in Colombia. We have raised our concerns with the relevant state actors over the past two weeks, and will continue to do so. Most recently, I spoke with acting Foreign Minister Adriana Mejía on 14 May to welcome Colombia's commitment to transparent investigations into allegations of abuse. We will continue to work closely with the UN Office of the High Representative for Human Rights in Colombia, and the wider international community to reduce tensions.

Colombia is a UK Government 'Human Rights Priority Country,' and we look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully any excessive use of force, and take appropriate action against those responsible. The fundamental human right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress the Government has made on discussions to secure the expansion of visa-free travel between the UK and EU.

The Government has discussed mobility arrangements across a number of areas as part of negotiations on our future relationship with the EU.

The EU has already legislated such that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This will apply from the end of the transition period to all UK nationals travelling to and within the Schengen area for purposes such as tourism.

This is the standard length of stay that the EU provides to the nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel access for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

As things stand, stays beyond the EU's 90/180 day visa-free allocation from 1 January 2021 onwards will be for individual Member States to decide and implement through domestic entry rules and visa arrangements for non-EU citizens. UK nationals will need to discuss the specifics of their situation with the relevant Member State authorities and should be prepared to provide any extra documentation that may be required.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Bahrain Government on the death sentences of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husian Moos; and if the Government will cease to provide financial support to Bahrain in response to that country's breaches of human rights.

We are deeply concerned that the death penalty verdicts imposed on Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa by Bahrain's Court of Cassation have been upheld. Lord Ahmad, who is the Minister of State responsible for human rights, reinforced this position in his tweet of 14 July. We have raised both cases at senior levels with the Government of Bahrain. The Bahraini Government is fully aware that the UK opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.

Our assistance is designed to support Bahrain-led reform in areas including human rights. It is provided in line with international standards and fully complies with our human rights obligations and the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to raise the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) threshold; and what recent assessment she has made of the impact of that threshold on families with one working parent on a low to average income.

The Government is committed to managing the public finances in a disciplined and responsible way by targeting support where it is most needed.

The adjusted net income threshold of £50,000 only affects a minority of individuals, with comparatively high incomes. Individuals claiming Child Benefit with average and low incomes are not liable to pay HICBC. If a claimant lives with a partner earning above £50,000, their partner will be liable to pay the charge.

The Government therefore believes that the current threshold for HICBC remains the best option at present. As with all elements of tax policy, the Government keeps this under review.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the reduced rate of VAT on hospitality goods and services.

In order to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and to protect over 2.4 million jobs, the Government has applied a temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will now end on 30 September 2021. On 1 October 2021, a new reduced rate of 12.5 per cent will be introduced for these goods and services to help affected businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate. The new rate will end on 31 March 2022.

The Government has been clear that the reduced rate of VAT is a temporary measure. It is right that, as restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in the tourism and hospitality sectors increases, this relief is reduced and eventually removed in order to rebuild and strengthen the public finances. This policy will cost the Exchequer over £7 billion and, while the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to make the reduced rate of VAT permanent.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment his Department has undertaken on the potential effect on electric car take-up of imposing a VAT levy on the charging of electric vehicles for private use.

In order to keep costs down for families, the supply of electricity for domestic use, including charging electric vehicles at home, attracts the reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent).

Electricity supplied at EV charging points in public places is subject to the standard rate of VAT (20 per cent). There has been no change to this policy and the Government has no plans to review these provisions.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of HMRC on the classification of long-term and short-term vessels under the capital allowance scheme for commercial maritime vessels.

Treasury officials are in regular contact with HMRC colleagues. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed.

HMRC do not classify which assets should be written down at the main or special rate of writing down allowances. Instead, businesses should identify whether an asset they have acquired has a useful economic life (UEL) of more or less than 25 years when new. This UEL test for plant and machinery should be applied on the asset as a whole, rather than individual components; since for tax purposes the asset is depreciated as a single unit.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions officials in his Department have had with relevant stakeholders on HMRC’s enforcement of classification of long-term and short-term assets for commercial maritime vessels.

Treasury officials are in regular contact with HMRC colleagues. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed.

HMRC do not classify which assets should be written down at the main or special rate of writing down allowances. Instead, businesses should identify whether an asset they have acquired has a useful economic life (UEL) of more or less than 25 years when new. This UEL test for plant and machinery should be applied on the asset as a whole, rather than individual components; since for tax purposes the asset is depreciated as a single unit.

1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Which?’s recent research showing a nationwide reduction in free-to-use cashpoints; and if he will publish the Government's timeframe for bringing forward legislative proposals to protect access to cash.

The Government has committed to legislate to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term. To progress this work, the Government published a Call for Evidence on Access to Cash in October 2020. The Call for Evidence sought views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. The Government is considering responses to the Call for Evidence and will set out next steps in due course.

The Government created the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group in 2019, which has provided a forum for the public bodies to formally co-ordinate respective approaches to access to cash. This is chaired by HM Treasury and attended by the Bank of England, Payment Systems Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority. The members published an update on the actions of its members in July 2020. This included work led by the PSR and FCA to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasury has been working closely with regulators and industry to ensure customers continue to have access to essential banking services, including cash, while also protecting the safety of staff and customers. This has meant the vast majority of people have been able to access cash through the pandemic.

With regards to ATMs, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network) has existing arrangements in place to protect free-to-use ATMs that do not have another free-to-use ATM or Post Office within one kilometre. LINK’s members have also made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash. The Payment Systems Regulator has powers to regulate LINK and is holding it to account over its commitment to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals on protecting access to cash; if he will publish the Government's timeframe for bringing forward those proposals; and what plans the Government has to ensure that cash remains a viable payment method for people who are reliant on it.

The Government has committed to legislate to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term. To progress this work, the Government published a Call for Evidence on Access to Cash in October 2020. The Call for Evidence sought views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. The Government is considering responses to the Call for Evidence and will set out next steps in due course.

The Government created the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group in 2019, which has provided a forum for the public bodies to formally co-ordinate respective approaches to access to cash. This is chaired by HM Treasury and attended by the Bank of England, Payment Systems Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority. The members published an update on the actions of its members in July 2020. This included work led by the PSR and FCA to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasury has been working closely with regulators and industry to ensure customers continue to have access to essential banking services, including cash, while also protecting the safety of staff and customers. This has meant the vast majority of people have been able to access cash through the pandemic.

With regards to ATMs, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network) has existing arrangements in place to protect free-to-use ATMs that do not have another free-to-use ATM or Post Office within one kilometre. LINK’s members have also made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash. The Payment Systems Regulator has powers to regulate LINK and is holding it to account over its commitment to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of aligning the retail price index with the consumer prices index on pensions for (a) women and (b) people on defined benefit pension schemes.

On 25 November 2020, the Government and UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) published their response to the consultation on the timing of reform to the Retail Prices Index (RPI). Owing to shortcomings in its calculation, UKSA intends to bring the methods and data sources of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) into RPI.

The Government and UKSA are mindful of the widespread use of RPI in the economy, and, as such, sought views in the consultation on the broader impacts of reform. The Government and UKSA received approximately 550 responses from members of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes whose benefits are linked to RPI.

It is apparent that some DB pension scheme members will be affected by UKSA’s reform. The effect of reform on the members of such schemes will depend on whether their benefits are linked to RPI under the trust deed and rules of the scheme. As noted in the consultation response document, the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) estimates that the average reduction in lifetime income from an individual’s RPI-linked pension post-retirement could be 4 per cent for a woman and 5 per cent for a man. However, the PPI estimates that women will generally experience a greater lifetime reduction in overall pension benefit, as they live longer than men on average.

The announcement in the response by the Chancellor and UKSA Chair means that reform will not be implemented before 2030. The Government keeps the occupational pensions system under review and will continue to do so.

In making its decision (with regard to the timing of reform) the Government has had due regard to and complied with the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty as laid out in the Equality Act 2010

For further information please see the consultation response at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-the-reform-to-retail-prices-index-rpi-methodology.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with his Cabinet colleagues on extending the hospitality sector's temporary reduction of VAT from 20 to 5 per cent to the service sector.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and will run until 31 March 2021.

This policy will cost over £2 billion. The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any future decisions on tax policy will be made at Budget.

30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to review the recent reduction of Private Residence Relief to take into account (a) regional variations in the length of time it can take to sell a residence and (b) the complexity of divorce and separation in respect of selling a residence.

Within the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) system, private residence relief (PRR) exempts from CGT the gain a person may make when they sell a residential property that they have lived in as their main home.

In April, changes were made to reduce the final period exemption, in which a previous main residence always qualifies for CGT PRR, from 18 months to 9 months. The final period exemption is an ancillary relief intended to allow individuals who own another residence time to sell their property after they are no longer using their old main residence. This change was to target the relief better at owner occupiers and reduce the instances where people can accrue relief on two properties simultaneously.

The Government has no plans to change the length of the CGT Private Residence Relief (PRR) final period exemption.

30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to review the recent reduction of Private Residence Relief to take into account the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) home viewings and sales and (b) the time taken for the conveyancing process.

Within the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) system, private residence relief (PRR) exempts from CGT the gain a person may make when they sell a residential property that they have lived in as their main home.

In April, changes were made to reduce the final period exemption, in which a previous main residence always qualifies for CGT PRR, from 18 months to 9 months. This change was to better target the relief at owner occupiers and reduce the instances where people can accrue relief on two properties simultaneously.

The Government has no plans to change the length of the CGT Private Residence Relief (PRR) final period exemption.

27th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to provide financial support or compensation to homeowners who are mortgage prisoners with Northern Rock Asset Management.

We remain committed to supporting as many borrowers as possible with inactive lenders move to a cheaper deal. The government has worked with the FCA to implement rule changes to its mortgage lending rules, removing the regulatory barrier that prevented some customers, who otherwise may have been able to switch, from accessing new products. Inactive lenders have now started contacting borrowers who have been struggling to switch, setting out that options may be available for them on the active market. I will monitor the situation and hope to see even more options available over the coming months.

The FCA recently confirmed additional options to support borrowers, including making intragroup switching easier and extending the window in which interest-only borrowers coming to the end of their term can continue making interest payments, without paying down the capital. These modified rules came into force on 23 October 2020. More information can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-confirms-measures-support-closed-book-and-interest-only-part-and-part-mortgage-borrowers.

UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) – the owner of the Northern Rock Asset Management mortgage portfolio - has worked to help customers looking for a better deal with another lender by;

  • waiving all early redemption charges;
  • providing an online ‘Deal Finder’ tool which allows customers to search the market to find and compare mortgages from other lenders;
  • partnering with Mortgage Force who have a panel of brokers who can give impartial, whole of market mortgage advice; and
  • referring customers to specialist brokers, such as HUB Financial Solutions, where advice fees are waived.

It is also worth noting that Norther Rock Asset Management’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) has always been set in line with the SVRs of active lenders.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to reclassify sunscreen as an essential healthcare item which would be exempt from VAT to help reduce the incidence of skin cancer.

Under the current VAT rules, sun protection products are subject to the standard rate of VAT. High-factor sunscreen is on the NHS prescription list for certain conditions and is provided VAT free when dispensed by a pharmacist.

Expanding the scope of the current VAT relief would come at a cost to the Exchequer. While all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to reduce VAT on sunscreen products.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with cabinet colleagues on exempting household cleaning products from VAT during the covid19 outbreak.

Cleaning products are subject to the standard rate of VAT. Providing an exemption for these products would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer and is not possible under the current legal framework. Although the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no current plans to change the VAT treatment of these products.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason (a) tax free shopping for all passengers travelling from the UK and (b) the VAT refund scheme for foreign tourists are being withdrawn.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom (UK) will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the UK, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES) in Great Britain will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The detailed rationale for these changes are included in the written ministerial statement and summary of responses to the recent consultation: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-09-11/hcws448 and https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-duty-free-and-tax-free-goods-carried-by-passengers.

In 2019 HMRC estimate that VAT RES refunds cost around £0.5billion in VAT for around 1.2million non-EU visitors. In 2019 the ONS estimate there were substantially more EU visitors (24.8 million) than non-EU passengers (16.0 million) to the UK. This implies an extension to EU residents would significantly increase the cost by up to an estimated £0.9billion. This would result in a large amount of deadweight loss by subsidising spending from EU visitors which already happens without a refund mechanism in place, potentially taking the total cost up to around £1.4billion per annum.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free to the EU before.

HMRC estimate that around £150 million of VAT is not charged as a result of tax-free airside sales. As with the VAT RES, extending the relief to the EU would significantly increase the cost of the scheme and result in a large amount of deadweight loss by subsidising spending from EU-bound passengers which already happens.

The final costings will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the withdrawal of tax free shopping on the competitiveness of UK airports.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom (UK) will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the UK, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES) in Great Britain will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The detailed rationale for these changes are included in the written ministerial statement and summary of responses to the recent consultation: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-09-11/hcws448 and https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-duty-free-and-tax-free-goods-carried-by-passengers.

In 2019 HMRC estimate that VAT RES refunds cost around £0.5billion in VAT for around 1.2million non-EU visitors. In 2019 the ONS estimate there were substantially more EU visitors (24.8 million) than non-EU passengers (16.0 million) to the UK. This implies an extension to EU residents would significantly increase the cost by up to an estimated £0.9billion. This would result in a large amount of deadweight loss by subsidising spending from EU visitors which already happens without a refund mechanism in place, potentially taking the total cost up to around £1.4billion per annum.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free to the EU before.

HMRC estimate that around £150 million of VAT is not charged as a result of tax-free airside sales. As with the VAT RES, extending the relief to the EU would significantly increase the cost of the scheme and result in a large amount of deadweight loss by subsidising spending from EU-bound passengers which already happens.

The final costings will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment his Department made on the decision to withdraw tax free shopping for all passengers travelling from the UK.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme in Great Britain will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free to the EU before.

The final costings will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of (a) withdrawing tax free shopping for all passengers travelling from the UK and (b) the VAT refund scheme for foreign tourists on wider international tourism spending.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme in Great Britain will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free to the EU before.

The final costings will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the decision to (a) withdraw tax free shopping for all passengers travelling from the UK and (b) the VAT refund scheme for foreign tourists on the Government's policy to promote a Global Britain.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme in Great Britain will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU and will be withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also continued to meet and discuss with key stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales currently affects airports that fly to non-EU destinations. The extension of duty-free sales to EU bound passengers will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales, including Edinburgh and Glasgow and smaller regional airports which have not been able to offer duty-free to the EU before.

The final costings will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government also recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to enable people facing financial difficulties during the covid-19 outbreak to draw down more than one quarter of their pension early without incurring 40 per cent tax.

The Government wishes to encourage pension saving, to help ensure that people have an income, or funds on which they can draw, throughout retirement. This makes pensions tax relief one of the most expensive reliefs in the personal tax system. In 2017/18 income tax and employer National Insurance Contributions relief cost £54 billion.

The Government therefore imposes a charge on early withdrawals, which can be from 40% to 55% depending on the circumstances, both to recoup its investment through tax relief and to provide individuals with a strong incentive to save through their pension for the long-term.

It is for these reasons that the Government does not have any plans to remove tax on pension payments in response to this outbreak. As with all tax policy, this will be kept under review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps small business owners should take whose insurers are deducting the £10,000 Coronavirus Small Business Grant from insurance payouts indicating that businesses have already been compensated by the Government.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector regarding their contribution to the handling of this unprecedented situation. The Government is also working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to ensure that the rules are being upheld during this crisis.

The FCA rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly; provide reasonable guidance to help a policyholder make a claim; not reject a claim unreasonably; and settle claims promptly once settlement terms are agreed. In addition, the FCA has said that, in light of COVID-19, insurers must consider very carefully the needs of their customers and show flexibility in their treatment of them.

Customers who feel that they have not been treated fairly should first make a formal complaint to their insurer. If they then feel that their complaint has not been dealt with satisfactorily, they are able to refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), an independent body set up to provide arbitration in such cases. The FOS can help micro-enterprises with annual turnover sheets that do not exceed €2 million, and small businesses with turnover that does not exceed £6.5 million. The decision of the FOS is binding on insurers up to £350,000.

If customers would like to make a general complaint about the practice of deducting small business grants from the value of insurance settlements, the FCA would be happy to hear from them through their consumer support service.

While the FCA can’t resolve individual disputes and will not normally be able to discuss their investigations or findings with the person making the complaint, they can take any information provided into account as a part of their wider monitoring of practices in the sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to ensure that travel agents are eligible for full refunds for transaction fees in the event that holidays are cancelled as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains committed to helping businesses and workers through the present very difficult time, and has announced unprecedented support, including a range of grant and tax deferral schemes, and £300 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15 per cent of UK GDP.

The terms on which transaction fees for card purchases may be refunded are a commercial arrangement between businesses and their acquirers (the financial services firms which process card payments on behalf of businesses). Some acquirers are taking voluntary measures to support their business customers, for example through waiving fees, and the Government welcomes such action.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will review the tax liability for Benefit in Kind vehicles not registered before 6 April 2020 as a result of covid-19 restrictions which under the Worldwide Harmonized Light Duty Vehicles Test Procedure will be liable for an average increase in tax of £18 per month.

The Government recognizes the challenges faced by households as a result of COVID-19. This is why the Government has announced unprecedented support for public services, businesses and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

The Government has not delayed the introduction of WLTP. WLTP strengthens the link between the vehicle tax system and the true environmental impact of car purchasing decisions as well as allowing consumers to make more informed decisions between model variations. From 1 January 2021 only WLTP emissions figures will be shown on registration documents for new cars.

However, to ease the transition to WLTP, company car tax appropriate percentages for effected vehicles have been reduced for two years so company car drivers do not see a significant increase in their tax liabilities.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to ensure continued tax relief for seafarers unable to take to sea due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction (SED) offers a 100 per cent reduction in income tax on maritime employment income for UK and EEA resident seafarers who have a qualifying period of time absent from the UK. The qualifying period must be made up of at least 365 days, but return visits to the UK during that time up to a maximum of 183 consecutive days can count towards the qualifying period. This is among the most generous reliefs available to seafarers worldwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented interruption to many industries and businesses, and the Government has announced a broad range of support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and mortgage holidays for homeowners and landlords.

The Government will keep all taxes under review.

18th May 2020
VAT
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of applying a credit for the 2020-21 financial year to VAT accounts of £17,000.

The Government has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion. On 20 March, the Government announced that UK VAT registered businesses can defer VAT payments due with their VAT returns in the deferral period until March 2021.

While the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are currently no plans to apply a credit to VAT accounts.

18th May 2020
VAT
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of calculating VAT payable only from a turnover of £85,001 and above.

The Government consulted in 2018 on how the design of the VAT registration threshold, currently set at £85,000, could incentivise growth better.

The results of the call for evidence did not present a clear option for reform.

While there are no plans to make changes to the design of the VAT threshold, the Government continues to keep all taxes under review.

Details of the call for evidence are available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/vat-registration-threshold-call-for-evidence.

26th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the reduction in the number of free cash machines.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of ministerial discussions are not normally disclosed.

Treasury ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including banks, as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

The Government recognises that widespread free access to cash remains extremely important to the day-to-day lives of many consumers and businesses in the UK.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) regulates LINK, the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network. The PSR has used its powers to hold LINK to account over its commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs in the UK.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Justice on the adequacy of the regulation of nitrous oxide.

Cabinet colleagues and other ministers meet regularly to discuss a wide range of matters. The Government takes the supply of substances for their psychoactive effect very seriously. There are legitimate uses for nitrous oxide, such as in medicine, dentistry and as a propellant for whipped cream canisters, but those who supply nitrous oxide who know, or who are reckless as to whether, it will be used for its psychoactive effect may be subject to a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. On 3 September, the Government asked the independent statutory advisory body, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, to provide an updated assessment of the harms of nitrous oxide and adequacy of controls.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to accelerate the provision of visas to the 35 Afghan Chevening scholarship students.

The Government worked tirelessly to support the evacuation from Afghanistan, up until the UK’s final withdrawal on 28 August. All 35 Chevening scholars were contacted and the Afghan Chevening Scholars who arrived in the UK were given conditions of permission which allow them to start their course of study.

We are aware that there a small number of scholars who are currently in a third country overseas and we are working to find the best solution for them to come to the UK to start their course, unless they choose to defer their studies until next year. Those overseas in a third country can make a visa application as normal.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to deploy additional staff to the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre Helpline in response to the high volume of calls being made to that helpline as the deadline for applications approaches.

Resource for the EUSS Resolution Centre is kept under close review and additional resource has been made available to support call handling.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance her Department has provided the Department for Work and Pensions on the continued payment of universal credit to people who are (a) awaiting a decision about their EU Settled Status applications or (b) appealing a rejection of their EU Settled Status application.

The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 protect existing relevant EU law rights. EEA citizens and their family members who were lawfully resident in the UK at the end of the transition period and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by the 30 June deadline, have their rights protected until the final determination of an application, including through any appeal.

There is a system-to-system service between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Home Office, which will in most cases confirm a pending application to the EUSS automatically.

We continue to work closely with DWP to ensure anyone whose rights are protected by making an in-time application to the EUSS will continue to receive benefits. DWP have provided staff with guidance.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what information he holds on the number of military personnel who assisted with covid-19 testing in Liverpool who are currently in isolation at Catterick Garrison; and what representations he has received on the standard of catering services in that location for those personnel affected.

Of the Service personnel who assisted with COVID-19 testing in Liverpool, which ended in November 2020, none are currently in isolation at Catterick Garrison.

At present, neither the chain of command nor the catering department at Catterick Garrison have received negative comments from personnel in isolation. Spot checks on meals are conducted daily by duty personnel, and menus are routinely monitored by Food Service Warrant Officers to guarantee appropriate standards are maintained.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when the successful bids for the first round of the Levelling Up Fund will be announced.

I am delighted to say that the first round of the Levelling Up Fund received significant interest from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland bidding authorities across the three investment priorities of the Fund. Bids are currently being assessed in line with the published assessment process. Outcomes from the first round of bids for the Levelling Up Fund will be announced later in the year and bidding authorities will be informed in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
18th May 2021
What plans he has to amend the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Government has established the Independent Human Rights Act Review to examine the framework of the Human Rights Act, how it is operating in practice and whether any change is required.

The Review is considering the approach taken by domestic courts to jurisprudence of the ECtHR. It will also examine whether the HRA currently strikes the correct balance between the roles of the courts, the Government and Parliament. The Panel will report back in Summer 2021.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)