Patrick Grady Portrait

Patrick Grady

Scottish National Party - Glasgow North

SNP Chief Whip
20th Jun 2017 - 9th Mar 2021
European Statutory Instruments Committee
18th Jul 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
European Statutory Instruments
18th Jul 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)
30th Oct 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)
30th Oct 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Committee of Selection
12th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Selection Committee
12th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Administration Committee
6th Nov 2017 - 22nd Oct 2018
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)
20th May 2015 - 20th Jun 2017
Procedure Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Immigration
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 44 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 270 Noes - 358
Speeches
Thursday 4th March 2021
Counter-Daesh Update

Pope Francis is due to visit Iraq in the coming days. It is the first visit of a pope in …

Written Answers
Thursday 1st April 2021
Coronavirus: Vaccination
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Joint Committee …
Early Day Motions
Monday 1st March 2021
Political prisoners on hunger strike in Ethiopia
That this House notes with concerns reports about the deteriorating health of Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 27th April 2020
1. Employment and earnings
21 April 2020, payment of £50. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 24 April 2020)
EDM signed
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Aid to the Church in Need's Religious Freedom in the World Report 2021
That this Houses welcomes the release of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)’s Religious Freedom in the …
Supported Legislation
Prime Minister (Nomination) and Cabinet (Appointment) 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, Patrick Grady has voted in 198 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Patrick Grady 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
(37 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
(17 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(13 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(38 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(29 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(26 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Patrick Grady's debates

Latest EDMs signed by Patrick Grady

8th February 2021
Patrick Grady signed this EDM on Wednesday 28th April 2021

Removing barriers to education

Tabled by: Carol Monaghan (Scottish National Party - Glasgow North West)
That this House believes removing barriers to education, including ending all forms of violence against children, is crucial to achieving the Government’s goal of ensuring 12 years of quality education for every girl and boy; and further believes that removing barriers to education should be a central theme in the …
64 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 28
Labour: 17
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
Liberal Democrat: 6
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Alliance: 1
21st April 2021
Patrick Grady signed this EDM on Wednesday 28th April 2021

Global covid-19 vaccine inequality

Tabled by: Claire Hanna (Social Democratic & Labour Party - Belfast South)
That this House notes with concern that affluent countries including the UK have bought enough covid-19 vaccines to immunise the population many times over while poorer countries are hindered by industry monopolies that are driving supply shortages and blocking vaccine access; acknowledges the moral and practical necessity to challenge that …
22 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Apr 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 10
Plaid Cymru: 3
Scottish National Party: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
View All Patrick Grady's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Patrick Grady, 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.


Patrick Grady has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Patrick Grady has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Patrick Grady has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


271 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
3 Other Department Questions
19th Jan 2021
To ask the President of COP26, whether he will make arrangements with the Leader of the House for the President of COP26 to answer (a) written and (b) oral parliamentary questions.

I will answer Oral Questions in the House on a regular basis. Written questions can be tabled to myself as the President of COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, what plans he has to appoint a new Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

An appointment will be announced in due course.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
19th Dec 2019
To ask the hon. Member, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission has received a request from the Government to arrange for Big Ben to chime to mark the UK's departure from the EU.

The House of Commons Commission has not received a request from the Government to arrange for Big Ben to chime to mark the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Commission is aware of EDM No. 2, tabled by the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford, which calls on Mr Speaker and the House Authorities to make arrangements for Big Ben to chime at 11.00 pm on 31 January 2020.

The Commission is further aware that an amendment in the names of Mark Francois and other signatories has been tabled to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill that moves the following clause;

Exit day chimes of Big Ben

(1) The United Kingdom leaves the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union, at 11.00pm Greenwich Mean Time on Friday 31 January 2020.

(2) The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Corporate Officer of the House of Commons, together with any other relevant parliamentary authorities, must make arrangements for the occasion in subsection (1) to be marked by the sounding of the hourly chimes including eleven strikes of the principal bell (Big Ben) of the Great Clock in the Elizabeth Tower of the Houses of Parliament at 11.00pm Greenwich Mean Time on Friday 31 January 2020.

In May 2018, the Commission agreed that, during the Elizabeth Tower refurbishment project, Big Ben should sound only for Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and over the New Year.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government plans to (a) issue any official commemorative items and (b) organise any celebratory events to mark the end of the transition period and coming into force of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The Government was elected on a manifesto which made clear our plans to exit the EU and that the transition period would end on 31 December 2020. The UK Government has agreed and delivered a deal with the EU which fully delivers on this manifesto commitment.

While efforts are currently focused on dealing with the pandemic and supporting businesses and citizens, many millions of people welcome this outcome and will mark it in their own private ways. Suggestions from colleagues and the public are always welcomed.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the value of goods (a) imported from and (b) exported to the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara was in 2019.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the value of goods (a) imported from and (b) exported to Morocco was in 2019.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will establish a full public inquiry into the Government's awarding of contracts during the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, has published its report on Government procurement activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as outlined in the statement on gov.uk.

The Government has always been clear that there will be opportunities to look back, analyse and reflect on all aspects of COVID-19. This will include an independent inquiry at the appropriate time. For now the Government is focused entirely on responding to the pandemic and saving lives, particularly as the country is experiencing a second wave of the virus.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a response to the Early Day Motion tabled by the hon. Member for Glasgow North on 23 January 2020 entitled Scotland's representation in the European Parliament.

We have notified the Regional Returning Officer for Scotland of the MEP vacancy and asked them to take the necessary steps to fill the MEP seat in accordance with the European Parliamentary Elections Regulations 2004.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish a response to Early Day Motion 256, Accelerating human relevant life sciences in the UK.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe.   At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs). This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research. Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish a response to Early Day Motion 1335, COP26 and deep coal mining in the UK.

The UK is a global leader in the fight against climate change: since 1990 emissions from the electricity sector have decreased by 72%, while the economy has grown by two thirds. The UK was the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In line with our Net Zero target, the Government has committed to phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025, and is consulting on moving this date forward to 2024. The UK has already made great progress in decarbonising its energy system, with coal’s share of electricity generation falling from 40% in 2012 to less than 3% in 2019. The UK Government has also shown strong leadership internationally on the shift from coal power generation to clean energy. We co-launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance with Canada, which has now grown to over 100 members and is leading the COP26 Energy Transition campaign to accelerate the global transition to clean energy. The Government have also announced that we will no longer provide any new direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas.

The planning application for the Whitehaven coal mine relates to metallurgical (coking) coal, rather than coal for electricity generation, and the Government recognises that some industrial processes, including steel production, are particularly difficult to decarbonise as there is currently no commercially viable alternative to coal in blast furnaces. Our priority is supporting innovation to help carbon-intensive industries to decarbonise further. We are taking steps to achieve this through initiatives such as the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, the Industrial Clusters Mission and the Clean Steel Fund. In addition, ahead of COP26, we are working in partnership with other countries to accelerate the pace of industrial decarbonisation, which includes the steel sector. The UK is coordinating action on the research, development and demonstration of new low carbon technologies with other countries, as well as exploring policy options for creating international markets for low carbon industrial products.

Planning decisions are made at a local level and this application is a matter for Cumbria County Council.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the effect of Amazon's commercial practices on (a) workers’ rights, (b) the environment, (c) public finances, (d) digital rights and (e) fair markets; and if he will make a statement.

All employers must comply with employment law. If a worker believes that they have suffered a breach of their employment rights, they can get support and advice from Acas. If they cannot resolve the issue with their employer, they can take a claim to an employment tribunal. The government also spends over £35m a year on enforcement of employment rights to protect vulnerable workers.

Regarding the environment, I welcome the steps that Amazon has taken so far in an effort to decarbonise and encourage the company to continue with its Science-Based Targets commitments and move quickly towards Net Zero, including working with companies in its supply chains.

Regarding public finances, I cannot comment on individual taxpayers.

Regarding digital rights, the UK has strong safeguards and enforcement regimes to ensure that personal data is collected and handled responsibly and securely. We would expect Amazon, like all organisations who process personal data, to comply with the UK’s Data Protection legislation, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

Regarding fair markets, the Government is committed to ensuring digital markets remain competitive and deliver positive outcomes for consumers, small businesses, and society. That is why we have announced funding to establish a new Digital Markets Unit within the Competition and Markets Authority from 2021-22. We will consult on proposals for a new pro-competition regime for digital markets in early 2021.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on the determination of the UK's Nationally Determined Contributions under the terms of the Paris Agreement of the target of 75 per cent emissions reductions in Scotland by 2030 set by the Scottish Government's Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

The UK Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) will represent the highest possible ambition based on a number of factors including the scope and feasibility of emission reductions measures across the entirety of the UK. Delivering on the NDC will require a whole of UK effort and we will continue to work with the Devolved Administrations on this.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with counterparts in the devolved Administrations on the calculation of the UK's Nationally Determined Contributions under the terms of the Paris Agreement.

There have been a series of discussions between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and counterparts in the Devolved Administrations at official and ministerial level on the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution, and these discussions will continue.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to prevent lenders blocking businesses from accessing the Bounce Back Loan Scheme by requiring them to set up feeder accounts which are subject to credit checks that do not apply to the loan itself.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme (BBLS) rules do not mandate that the applicant must have a business relationship with the lender in order to receive a BBLS loan.

Certain lenders may require that you enter into a business relationship with them before you can apply and, within their standard policies and terms and conditions of business, some lenders may not permit an existing customer to operate their business via a personal account.

While all lending decisions remain solely at the discretion of the lender, the Government have always made clear to lenders that they should open to new customers as soon as it is operationally possible for them to do so.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Government's response to the consultation on the future of UK carbon pricing published on 1 June 2020, what assessment he has made of the potential (a) merits and (b) costs of a carbon free and dividend policy; and for what reasons his policy is not to implement that policy at this time.

A carbon fee and dividend is an alternative form of carbon pricing policy. The UK already prices carbon through, for example, our participation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

The UK Government and Devolved Administrations are establishing a UK Emissions Trading System, with increased ambition on carbon pricing. The new system will ensure a smooth transition for businesses as the UK is set to leave EU system after the Transition Period at the end of the year, while also allowing us to have autonomy over its design and governance.

The UK Government has, on 21 July, also published a consultation on the design of a domestic carbon emission tax as an alternative to a UK ETS. This option will ensure a carbon price remains in place in the UK in all scenarios.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
30th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether businesses are eligible to (a) apply for and (b) be approved for loans through the Bounce Back Loan scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme at the same time.

A borrower is not able to take out a loan under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS) if they have been approved for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) facility, and vice versa.

However, a business that has already taken out a CBILS facility can apply to transfer to a BBLS facility if the BBLS facility will refinance the CBILS facility in full. All accredited lenders who have approved CBILS loans so far will allow customers to refinance their loan into the BBLS where appropriate, however, borrower protections under these schemes differ, and businesses should discuss these with their lender.

Businesses do not need to request the transfer immediately. In order to enable lenders to focus on dealing with new applications first, there will be a window for transfer requests until 4 November 2020.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 28 January 2020 to Question 6620, Copyright: EU Law, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals equivalent to the (a) transparency obligations, (b) contract adjustment mechanisms and (c) right of revocation in the EU Copyright Directive.

The UK has one of the best intellectual property copyright frameworks in the world and the Government remains committed to high standards of copyright protection. The UK copyright framework will continue to provide proper rewards for creators, while considering the needs of consumers and ensuring a thriving digital economy. If, in the future, evidence demonstrates that the current framework is not effective, the Government will consider action to address this. As a result of the UK leaving the EU, the Government will not be required to implement the Directive. The Government plans to assess our options as part of our domestic policy process.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the UK’s creative industries of the decision not to implement the EU Copyright Directive.

The UK has one of the best intellectual property copyright frameworks in the world and the Government remains committed to high standards of copyright protection. The UK copyright framework will continue to provide proper rewards for creators, while considering the needs of consumers and ensuring a thriving digital economy. If, in the future, evidence demonstrates that the current framework is not effective, the Government will consider action to address this. As a result of the UK leaving the EU, the Government will not be required to implement the Directive. The Government plans to assess our options as part of our domestic policy process.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and (b) other UK nuclear research-related grant holders of losing access to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor after the conclusion of the current contracts.

The UK will remain a world-leader in fusion science. We recently approved an ambitious commitment to fund £220 million towards the first five-year phase of UK Atomic Energy Authority’s STEP programme. This phase will complete detailed design and development work, ensuring the UK’s fantastic nuclear researchers are well placed to deliver the world’s first commercial fusion power plant by 2040.

UK companies have secured around £500 million in commercial contracts from ITER in areas including remote handling, plasma heating, and diagnostics; we are well positioned to deliver more before operations commence in 2025. UK academics and researchers are valued ITER partners, including those at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

The UK will continue to participate in ITER via Fusion for Energy until the end of 2020.

Beyond the Transition Period, we are open to participating in specific EU programmes where it is in the UK’s interests. The Euratom Research and Training Programme, including membership of Fusion for Energy, will be considered alongside other EU programmes.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reasons the Government is not required to seek the approval of the House of Commons on the appointment of a new chair of Ofcom.

The Ofcom Chair is appointed by the Secretary of State in line with the provisions of the Office of Communications Act 2002. Pre-appointment scrutiny by the House of Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is an important part of the public appointment process, once a preferred appointable candidate has been identified by the Secretary of State.

The government does not believe it is appropriate for the Committee to have the right to veto the appointment of the Ofcom Chair, or other similar public appointments, as the direct line of accountability and responsibility between the appointee and the Minister must be preserved.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Government plans to appoint a new permanent chair of Ofcom.

The process to appoint a new permanent Chair of Ofcom is underway and has been open for applications since 12th February. The campaign will be open to applications until Friday 26 March, and we encourage all qualified candidates, from a diverse range of backgrounds, to come forward.

The recruitment process will be fair and open, in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments and will be regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the rate of payment per book loan under the Public Lending Right.

The rate per loan is reviewed annually by the government following a recommendation from the British Library Board. The Department holds a public consultation with major groups representing the interests of authors, library authorities and other stakeholders in the public library sector in the UK, and to the devolved administrations. The consultation, and outcome following Ministers’ considerations, are posted on ghttps://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-lending-right-rate-per-loan-2019-to-2020-consultationov.uk

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for the Public Lending Right.

The Public Lending Right fund amount is set for the Spending Review period. The British Library administers the Public Lending Right Scheme on behalf of the government and the funding level of the PLR would form part of the consideration of British Library’s overall funding at the next Spending Review.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the maximum payment threshold for the Public Lending Right.

DCMS will continue to work with the British Library, which administers the Public Lending Right on behalf of the Department, to consider the potential for future improvements to how PLR operates, including the maximum payment threshold. Any changes to this threshold would be considered at a future Spending Review.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with officials at UNESCO on the UK’s (a) participation in and (b) ratification of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The UK’s cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, brings benefits to communities and individuals in every part of the country. Government is committed to protecting important intangible heritage, including through grants made by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Arts Council and the Cultural Recovery Fund. Ministers in the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport have not had recent discussions with UNESCO regarding the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, however we remain open to considering ratification when resource allows.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
5th Nov 2020
What assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the (a) live music industry and (b) arts and culture sector of ending the transition period without a deal with the EU.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer from the Secretary of State to his topical question during DCMS Oral Questions today.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using the taxation system to disincentivise the collection of personal data by companies.

The Government has not made an assessment of the use of taxation as a disincentive to the processing of personal data. The better use of data can help organisations of every kind succeed – across the public, private and third sectors. Data can be a driver of scientific and technological innovation, and central to the delivery of a whole range of vital public services and societal goals, from tackling climate change to supporting the National Health Service.

All organisations in the UK that process personal data, whether large or small, have to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The DPA and the GDPR strengthen the obligations on companies to process people’s data fairly, lawfully and transparently and to keep it safe and secure. It also strengthens people’s rights to seek to access, rectify or delete their data.

The legislation is regulated and enforced by the independent Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO has issued comprehensive guidance for organisations on how to comply with the legislation and works closely with specific sectors to address areas of risk.

The ICO has a range of corrective powers and sanctions to enforce the GDPR, including:

  • issuing warnings and reprimands;

  • imposing a temporary or permanent ban on data processing;

  • ordering the rectification, restriction or erasure of data; and

  • suspending data transfers to third countries.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish a response to Early Day Motion 718 on Audio-visual performers' rights.

Actors and other audiovisual performers enrich our lives and our culture and make an important contribution to our economy. The United Kingdom’s high standards of intellectual property protection include protections for audiovisual performers which reflect this contribution and allow them to be rewarded for it. These include economic rights in audiovisual performances which are consistent with those set out in the Beijing Treaty.

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the Beijing Treaty. However, while it was a Member State of the European Union, it was unable to proceed towards ratification by itself. Now that the UK has left the European Union, we are able to consider ratification as part of our future domestic and international policy agendas.

However, the Treaty contains certain optional provisions, which may be implemented in different ways. Before taking steps to ratify the treaty, these and other elements would need to be fully considered and their impacts assessed. This would include consultations with interested parties to best ensure that the most appropriate decisions are made for the United Kingdom’s creative industries and audiovisual performers in particular.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if his Department will publish guidance for (a) youth and child and (b) adult choirs on planning to recommence safely during the covid-19 outbreak.

Current Public Health England assessment is that singing carries a potential higher risk of transmission and that participation in this activity requires particular attention to the risk involved. Based on this, Government guidance proposes a precautionary risk-based approach to certain activities and aims to develop the ways activities can be carried out as the evidence base is better understood.

To help support the development of the evidence base in regards to singing, DCMS is engaged in a number of scientific activities focusing on the need to understand the different risks associated with singing, brass and woodwind. DCMS is working closely with SAGE and a number of specialists in aerosol transmission and ventilation, who will focus on a number of critical research questions. These groups will be examining existing and emerging evidence to provide advice to guide the future development of policy and guidelines.

Sector wide guidance for the performing arts returning to rehearsal and performance safely will be published in due course.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will issue a response to the Open Letter to the UK Government published by the Music Venue Trust on 23 June 2020.

Since the open letter from the Music Venue Trust was published, the Secretary of State has announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors, including live music venues.

We are working closely with DCMS’ Arm’s Length Bodies to develop guidance indicating who can apply for the different elements of this funding, and we will publish detailed guidance as soon as possible in July.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Oct 2020
What discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the effect of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill on Scotland’s education system.

I meet regularly with education ministers from all of the devolved administrations and value our dialogue on a range of matters. During the course of recent meetings we have discussed aspects of the UK Internal Market Bill that are relevant to education.

My officials continue to work closely with colleagues in the devolved administrations on a range of matters. They have also discussed the UK Internal Market Bill with their counterparts.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Sep 2020
What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on allocating additional funding for (a) further and (b) higher education.

In Further Education, we are providing up to £96 million to support disadvantaged students whose studies have been disrupted.

We have announced a number of measures to help ensure there are no barriers to students being able to progress to Higher Education in 20/21. We have lifted caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year and we are supporting providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have physical capacity for, and where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision. Health Education England and the Office for Students will be contacting all medical and dental schools to discuss their capacity to take on additional students in the 2020/21 academic year.

I can now confirm that providers will be eligible to bid for a share of up to £10 million funding to support capital expenditure on infrastructure required to accommodate additional students recruited as a result of the changed policy on A level grades. The fund will be administered by the Office for Students, and providers will be eligible to bid for projects that support expansion in 2020/21.

Additional teaching grant funding will also be provided to increase capacity in medical, nursing, STEM and other high-cost subjects which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. All high cost subjects, which already receive additional funding from the Office for Students will potentially see further increases where there is an unexpectedly high distribution of students. The Office for Students will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.

We will also be considering all Departmental funding as part of the Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce and (b) replace the use of toxicology testing on animals.

The UK is committed to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system which ensures that animal research and testing is carried out only where no practicable alternatives exist and under controls which keep suffering to a minimum. The Government ensures all research proposals are compliant with the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3Rs). The UK has been at the forefront of opposing animal tests where alternative approaches could be used, known as the "last-resort principle". The last-resort principle will be enshrined as a protected provision in our landmark Environment Bill.

Defra, together with the Environment Agency and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, are actively engaged in research and development work centred around the 3Rs principles. This work sits within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) chemical testing guidelines programme. Our regulators and scientists, alongside colleagues at Public Health England and The National Centre for the 3Rs, are working collaboratively with partner countries to develop new test methods and approaches with the potential to reduce or replace animal tests for chemical assessment, whilst maintaining a high degree of safety.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress his Department has made on bringing forward legislative proposals on animal sentience.

We have committed to bringing in new laws on animal sentience. Any necessary changes required to domestic legislation will be made in an effective and credible way and will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the financial cost to pet owners making multiple trips between Northern Ireland and Scotland, England or Wales of having to obtain a new animal health certificate on each journey.

For the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, Great Britain and the Crown Dependencies are considered a Part 2 listed third country which requires an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for travel to the EU. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU rules also apply to the non-commercial movements of pets into Northern Ireland from Great Britain. As such, an AHC is required when travelling to NI from Scotland, England or Wales.

The cost of completing and certifying pet travel documentation, including AHC, is set by individual veterinary practices.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the validity of animal health certificates for those travelling between Northern Ireland and Scotland, England or Wales to (a) allow multiple trips and (b) allow more than ten days before travel.

For the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, Great Britain and the Crown Dependencies are considered a Part 2 listed third country which requires an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for travel to the EU. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU rules also apply to the non-commercial movements of pets into Northern Ireland from Great Britain. As such, an AHC is required when travelling to NI from Scotland, England or Wales.

The model AHC is set down in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 577/2013 and it states that the certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue until the date of entry into the Union, and that it is valid for onward travel within the Union for a period of four months subject to certain conditions. Great Britain cannot unilaterally choose to amend the conditions specified on this certificate.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of indefinitely suspending the requirement for wine imports to the UK to be accompanied with a wine-specific VI-1 certificate.

Further to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ogmore on 27 November 2020, PQ UIN 117332, no assessment has been made of the potential benefits of removing the requirement for wine imports to the UK being accompanied by a VI 1 certificate.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to reform the Packaging Recovery Note scheme to (a) levy costs on packaging producers and (b) reward recycling.

We committed in our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy to reform the UK's current packaging producer responsibility system and to introduce measures to incentivise packaging producers to make better, more sustainable design decisions and require them to fund the full net costs of managing packaging once it becomes waste, including collection, recycling and disposal costs.

In reforming the current system, the Government's aim is to reduce the amount of unnecessary and difficult to recycle packaging and increase the amount and quality of packaging that can be and is recycled. Measures being considered to drive and reward increased recycling through the reformed system include setting recycling targets on producers, and setting producer 'disposal' cost fees based on the design and recyclability of packaging. We are taking new powers in the Environment Bill to enable us to introduce these reforms and to place more responsibility on producers for products at end of life.

We plan to undertake a second consultation on these reforms in 2021.

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 he is taking to ensure there is no duplication of chemical tests performed on animals from UK organisations which had previously supplied the relevant registration data to the European Chemicals Agency under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006, after the end of the transition period.

Under UK REACH, we will recognise the validity of any animal tests on products that have already been undertaken and so avoid the need for further testing

The grandfathering of all existing UK-held REACH registrations into the UK system will further avoid the need to duplicate animal testing associated with re-registration.


We are determined that there should be no need for any additional animal testing for a chemical that has already been registered, unless it is subject to further evaluation that shows the registration dossier is inadequate or there are still concerns about the hazards and risks of the chemical, especially to human health.


The UK has been at the forefront of opposing animal tests where alternative approaches could be used. This is known as the "last-resort principle", which we will retain and enshrine in legislation through our landmark Environment Bill.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the recommendations in the Horse Welfare Board's five year horse welfare strategy on the use of the whip in horse racing.

The Horse Welfare Board’s (HWB) five-year Horse Welfare Strategy (HWS) “a life well-lived” was published on 20 February 2020. The HWS contains 20 recommendations for improving horse welfare. The HWS recommends that, as a minimum, the penalties for misuse of the whip need to increase and that the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) should conduct a consultation on the use of the whip this year. As well as seeking views on appropriate sanctions for misuse of the whip, the HWS also recommends that the BHA uses the consultation to consider whether the use of the whip for encouragement should be banned or retained and whether the rules that restrict the use of the whip for encouragement need to be changed. Defra welcomes the publication of the HWS and officials will remain engaged with the BHA and the HWB on the progress being made.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether his Department has established a budget or accounting line to provide for ceremonial and official events to mark the formal exit of the UK from the EU.

Our focus is on getting the PM’s great Brexit deal through Parliament over the coming weeks. As I said during DExEU Oral Questions on 9 January 2020, we’ll keep you posted on plans to commemorate 31 January and announcements will be made in the usual way – we will of course be celebrating the day.

Financial accounts for this will be in line with normal processes.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, with reference to the Answer of 28 October 2019 to Question 3722, when the Government will announce plans for ceremonial and official events to mark the formal exit of the UK from the EU.

Our focus is on getting the PM’s great Brexit deal through Parliament over the coming weeks. As I said during DExEU Oral Questions on 9 January 2020, we’ll keep you posted on plans to commemorate 31 January and announcements will be made in the usual way – we will of course be celebrating the day.

Financial accounts for this will be in line with normal processes.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 9 July 2020 to Question 69595, on British Indian Ocean Territory: Overseas Aid, how many Chagossians in Mauritius have participated in English Language Training to date.

Since the commencement of English Language Training in August 2019, 65 Chagossians have enrolled on training courses offered by the British Council. There have been 157 enrolments in total and with around 4,500 hours of language training provided up to the end of April 2020.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 9 July 2020 to Question 69595, on British Indian Ocean Territory: Overseas Aid, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of English Language Training on the livelihoods of Chagossians in Mauritius.

The British Council is still evaluating the impact of the English Language Training programme, a process which has been impeded by the COVID 19 outbreak. However, initial feedback from participants has indicated strong appreciation of the opportunity, including for some participants learning to read and write for the first time.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether her Department has been responsible for expenditure from the £40 million Chagossian support package announced in November 2016.

HMG continues to work with partners to identify effective ways to spend the £40 million Chagossian support package announced in November 2016, half of which is sourced from ODA. To date DFID has supported the British Council to provide English language training for Chagossians in Mauritius.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much expenditure from the £40 million Chagossian support package announced in November 2016 has been counted as Official Development Assitance in each financial year in which that expenditure occurred.

Since the Written Ministerial Statement in November 2016, neither the main Chagossian leadership nor the Government of Mauritius have engaged actively with the UK Government in the development of a support package for Chagossians in Mauritius. However, as a first step DFID has contracted the British Council in Mauritius to deliver English Language Training (ELT) to the Chagossian community. ELT courses commenced in late August 2019 and will continue into 2020/2021. Of the £20 million allocated as Overseas Development Assistance under the package, £37,944.37 was spent in 2019/20 on ELT as a means to help the Chagossian community improve their livelihoods. No funds were spent in earlier years or have been spent in 2020/21 to date.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support her Department is providing to civil society organisations in Malawi that promote free and fair participation in the presidential election planned for 23 June 2020.

The UK, together with the US, is supporting two national civil society networks in Malawi to independently observe the election on the 23 June. Independent observation is an important contribution to free and fair elections. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Public Affairs Committee, an ecumenical body, will between them deploy 500 observers across the country to observe the polls and the counting of ballot papers.

The UK is also supporting the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, an association of political parties, to train political party monitors, disseminate peace messaging, and to host multi-party dialogue sessions in hotspot areas to prevent violence.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions she has had with stakeholders participating in the Aid Match scheme on (a) the potential merits of extending the Aid Match fundraising period and (b) basing Aid Match funding on income projected or anticipated before any effect of restrictions as a result of covid-19.

We are engaging directly with the seven charities who have UK Aid Match appeals live or due to launch, to discuss the potential impacts of Covid-19 on these appeals. If charities have had to postpone fundraising activities due to Covid-19, DFID has agreed that when these activities do take place we will continue to match the funds raised from these events, ensuring that through UK Aid Match we continue to give the UK public a say in how the aid budget is spent.

Whilst charities are asked to predict their anticipated income from a UK Aid Match appeal, the actual amount raised can vary widely and there is never a guarantee that anticipated income will be met. As such, whatever the circumstances, it would not be transparent to match fund projected figures.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions she has had with recipients of grant funding on the potential merits of extending project implementation timetables with full funding to take into account delays caused by restrictions imposed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

DFID is engaging with supply partners to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and has had initial discussions with many of our highest delivery impact supply partners regarding contingency planning and their concerns. We will work collaboratively with supply partners and take a flexible and reasonable approach to find pragmatic solutions to support continuation of delivery where appropriate.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps the Government is taking to end violence against children in conflict and humanitarian crises.

DFID is providing significant support to protect children from violence around the world in conflict and humanitarian crises. Our programmes assist children and reduce their risks of violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect.

In August 2019 at the G7 Summit, the UK Prime Minister announced £90 million of new UK support for education in emergencies and crises across the world, this will support 600,000 children living in conflict areas and areas of proacted crises. Girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school in emergencies. This investment is a key plank of the PM’s plan to ensure more girls benefit from 12 years of education. This funding will provide safe spaces for girls and psycho-social support to those who have experienced violence and trauma.

The UK’s £16 million per year contribution to the UN Peacebuilding Fund is strengthening access to justice for children in Haiti; reintegrating children associated with armed groups in Myanmar; and preventing the recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia.

DFID’s ‘Children on the Move’ programme is working in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan to develop and strengthen child protection systems for migrating, internally displaced, and refugee children. This is helping to prevent and respond to violence against some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps the Government is taking to prevent violence against children when UK aid is being distributed.

The UK is reducing violence through dedicated investments to protect children, alongside interventions embedded in wider development and humanitarian programming. This includes our £10 million funding to the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, which drives international ambition and progress through campaigns such as ‘Safe to Learn’, that aim to inspire action to end violence in schools. We have also provided £10 million in funding to UNICEF to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation of children on the move in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan through a strengthened child protection system.

We have recently introduced a stronger approach to safeguarding children throughout the department’s programming and will seek to effect change across the development sector.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps the Government is taking to end child marriage worldwide.

The UK remains resolute in our commitment to end child marriage, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The UK’s Strategic Vision on Gender Equality is clear on this.

Through our flagship investments, DFID committed a total of £39 million over 5 years (2015-2020) to support international efforts to end child marriage, in twelve high prevalence countries across the world. Since 2015 the programme has reached over 7.7 million girls with schooling initiatives, skills training and girls’ clubs to prevent and respond to child marriage. Engagement with community and faith leaders has also shifted attitudes and practices related to girls’ rights, in programme areas reaching 4.2 million people.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what his policy is on contributing to the Global Survivors Fund to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.

The UK welcomes this global initiative from Nobel Laureates Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and plans to announce a contribution to the International Fund in due course. The FCO leads on this as part of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. DFID and FCO continue to work closely together to ensure a survivor-centred approach to end conflict-related sexual violence.

Preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls, including conflict-related sexual violence, is a priority for the Department for International Development. DFID provides substantial, long-term support to survivors of violence through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (£21 million, 2014-2020). In November 2019, DFID announced a new £67.5 million programme to prevent violence against women and girls – the largest investment by any single government donor to prevent such violence, including conflict-related sexual violence.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if he will publish a response to EDM 21 on Global Goals, Official Development Assistance, and the role of the Department for International Development.

The Global Goals are at the centre of our work to improve lives around the world. The international community is making progress but there is much more to do if we want to achieve them by 2030.

We are proud of our 0.7 commitment in legislation – a commitment shared by all parties in their manifestos at the recent general election.

The UK is and will remain a global champion for humanitarian relief and international development. Our aid budget is a major part of the UK’s contribution to deliver the international goals that shape global efforts to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions she has had with the World Trade Organisation on the development of intellectual property waiver agreements to facilitate the mass production of coronavirus vaccines.

The UK has engaged regularly in debates at the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council and other international institutions to promote affordable and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, including in developing countries. As part of this, the UK has encouraged evidence-based discussions between WTO members to find real solutions to the issues at hand within the multilateral intellectual property framework.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the use of anti-riot gear manufactured by (a) DMS Plastics and (b) other British-based manufacturers by US law enforcement in response to Black Lives Matter protests in the US; and if she will make a statement.

Officials in the Export Control Joint Unit have carried out two reassessments of whether the events in the United States – since George Floyd was killed on 25th May 2020 – give rise to a clear risk under Criterion 2a of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”) that crowd control equipment exported to the US might be used for internal repression.

The first reassessment was completed in July and it was determined that no clear risk that such equipment might be used for internal repression existed. The second reassessment was completed in September 2020 and this concluded likewise.

Given the broad list of end-users covered by the licences, the reassessments assumed that it was possible that crowd control equipment exported from the United Kingdom was and/or could be sold to and used by police forces involved in these or similar protests, whether or not this was the case; accordingly, this supersedes an assessment on whether such equipment was actually used.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the US remains a beacon for freedom, opportunity and democracy. The US maintains the rule of law and has robust institutions. Further, there is democratic oversight, accountability and extensive public scrutiny, including by an active civil society and free press.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that (a) tear gas, (b) riot shields and (c) rubber bullets produced in and sold by companies based in the UK to law enforcement agencies in the US are not used against peaceful civilian protesters in that country.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade and I have been sorry to see the violence that has taken place in the United States of America.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (‘Consolidated Criteria’). In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from NGOs and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any equipment. These are not decisions my Department takes lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Any licence granted by my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade may be subject to conditions. In addition, in line with the Consolidated Criteria, my Department is able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require. There are currently eight extant licences that may be linked to law enforcement agencies. Six are Open Individual Export Licences (‘OIELs’), which have potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. Two are Standard Individual Export Licences (‘SIELs’), which have numerous potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. There are also 15 Open General Licences (‘OGLs’) for which businesses can register that cover the export of anti-riot gear.

Much information is in the public domain already. We publish information on all export licences issued, refused and revoked on a quarterly and annual basis as official statistics on GOV.UK – at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data – and whilst data on actual exports is not required to be centrally held, the licences issued until the end of December 2019 are available.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she plans to negotiate a carve-out provision based on the definition by the European Public Services Union excluding (a) the NHS and (b) other public services from a trade deal with the US.

The UK’s public services, including the NHS, are protected by specific carve-outs, exceptions and reservations in the trade agreements to which the UK is a party, and the UK will continue to ensure that the same rigorous protections are included in future trade agreements. Decisions about public services will continue to be made by the UK Government (or the Devolved Administrations, where appropriate), not by our trade partners.

The Government has been clear that the NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic and this position was reaffirmed in our negotiating objectives for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement published on 2 March 2020.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of protecting regulatory data exclusivity for innovative drugs in a UK-US trade deal.

The Government’s objectives for US negotiations state that we will secure provisions that protect the UK’s world-leading intellectual property standards and seek an effective and balanced regime which supports innovation within the pharmaceutical sector, while reflecting wider public interests such as ensuring patient access to medicines.

The Government is clear that when negotiating free trade agreements, the NHS and the price the NHS pays for medicines will not be on the table. We will not agree to measures which undermine the Government’s ability to deliver our NHS manifesto commitments.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Eurostar International Limited on the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the future of the service.

Ministers and officials, working with other Government Departments, have engaged extensively with Eurostar since March 2020 in relation to their financial situation to help the company access Government support schemes where it is eligible and appropriate. We will continue to engage, at both official and Ministerial level, withEurostar and the French government regarding the continuing impact of COVID-19 on Eurostar and on any potential financial support proposals.

We will also work with the international travel industry, including Eurostar, through the relaunch of the Global Travel Taskforce and as we look to support the restart of wider international travel when it is safe to do so.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the role of the Eurostar service in reducing the climate impact of travel between the UK and mainland Europe.

The Government recognises that high-speed international rail services provide major benefits for UK and European citizens and businesses, including associated environmental benefits.

The overwhelming majority of passengers travelling between London and Paris or Brussels now choose to do so by rail, as opposed to by air, given the significant journey time and environmental benefits rail offers. Industry figures indicate emissions by international rail are significantly lower than the equivalent short-haul flight.

The Government fully supports the continued growth and expansion of our international rail links, such as the launch of a direct return service between London and Amsterdam last year, with the associated environmental benefits this will provide.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a frequent flyer levy.

The Government has committed to consult on aviation tax reform. Due to the impact of Covid-19, we have delayed the publication of this consultation. Aviation must play its part in delivering the UK’s net zero commitment and we will be publishing a separate consultation on a net zero aviation strategy in the coming months. We have no plans to bring forward a frequent flyer levy.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the British Transport Police on its investigation into the death of Belly Mujinga.

The Secretary of State has not had any discussions with the British Transport Police on their investigation into the death of Belly Mujinga at Victoria Station on 21 March 2020. The investigation is an operational matter for BTP.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the British Transport Police on releasing the CCTV footage of the assault of Belly Mujinga at Victoria Station on 21 March 2020.

The Secretary of State has not had any discussions with the British Transport Police on releasing the CCTV footage of the alleged assault of Belly Mujinga at Victoria Station on 21 March 2020.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment she has made of the number of people who qualify to continue driving while waiting for the DVLA to process their application for renewal of their driving licence under Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 but cannot obtain car insurance coverage due to that situation.

No figures are available on the number of drivers who continue to drive under the Section 88 provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This is because drivers must consider whether they can meet the relevant criteria.

Insurance cover in these circumstances would be a matter for the driver and their insurer.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of of 18 May 2020 to Question 46711 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, whether he plans refund people if their driving theory test certificate expires while they are unable to undertake their practical driving test due to restrictions during the covid-19 outbreak.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation. This is so the candidate’s theoretical knowledge and ability to identify developing hazards remains current. To extend the validity period would require legislative change.

Candidates who have had their practical driving test suspended as a result of COVID-19 will receive an email from the DVSA telling them the date of their rescheduled test. The test will be rescheduled automatically, and free of charge. The candidate can, if they prefer, request a refund of their practical test fee.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the cycle to work scheme to self-employed people as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

No assessment of the potential merits of extending the cycle to work scheme to self-employed people has been made at this point.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2bn package of funding for cycling and walking. This includes £250m which will encourage cycling to work through the provision of pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, as well as vouchers for cycle repairs and greater provision for bike fixing facilities. This builds on the refreshed Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance published in 2019 which made it easier for employers to provide bicycles and equipment including e-bikes and adapted bikes worth over £1,000.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the validity period of theory test certificates for people who cannot undertake their practical driving test as a result of the coronavirus public health measures.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation. This is so the candidate’s theoretical knowledge remains current. To extend the validity period would require legislative change. To do this, the relevant parliamentary process would need to take place. This situation is being given urgent attention.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the need for additional measures to increase pension credit uptake.

The Department assesses levels of take-up of Pension Credit on an annual basis. Latest official statistics on the take-up of income-related benefits at Great Britain level, including Pension Credit, can be found in the publication ‘Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up in 2018 to 2019', available at.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2018-to-2019

The Department continues to use available channels to promote Pension Credit and reach potential recipients, and their family and friends. This includes using proactive press activity and planned social media posts to encourage older people to check if they are eligible. As part of an internal review of communication products, we have identified improvements in our Pension Credit messaging at key customer “touchpoints” and are updating the products used to claim Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance accordingly. We have also improved the information about Pension Credit in the leaflet accompanying the letters to over 11 million pensioners informing them about the increase in their State Pension from April. No assessment has been made of the need for additional measures to increase Pension Credit take-up.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the level of uptake of pension credit.

The Department assesses levels of take-up of Pension Credit on an annual basis. Latest official statistics on the take-up of income-related benefits at Great Britain level, including Pension Credit, can be found in the publication ‘Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up in 2018 to 2019', available at.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2018-to-2019

The Department continues to use available channels to promote Pension Credit and reach potential recipients, and their family and friends. This includes using proactive press activity and planned social media posts to encourage older people to check if they are eligible. As part of an internal review of communication products, we have identified improvements in our Pension Credit messaging at key customer “touchpoints” and are updating the products used to claim Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance accordingly. We have also improved the information about Pension Credit in the leaflet accompanying the letters to over 11 million pensioners informing them about the increase in their State Pension from April. No assessment has been made of the need for additional measures to increase Pension Credit take-up.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the time taken by her Department to process applications for personal independence payments.

Throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, we have been committed to ensuring that people can access financial support through Personal Independence Payment in a timely manner. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.

We are currently operating within expected levels. Average clearance times from initial claim to a decision being made for new claims are currently 16 weeks (October 2020).

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the Scottish Government's system of fast-track access to disability benefits for people who have terminal illnesses to (a) universal credit and (b) all other benefits administered by her Department.

The Department is committed to delivering an improved benefit system for claimants that are nearing the end of their lives and is working across Government to bring forward proposals following the evaluation. I remain committed to implementing the key areas identified in the evaluation; a consensus to change the six-month rule; improving ​consistency with other services used by people nearing the end of their lives; and raising awareness of the support that is available.

The Scottish Government are able to develop their own policies and procedures as they introduce their replacement benefits. My Department works closely with the Scottish Government to ensure we understand how the two systems interact.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of amending the rules for universal credit to ensure that payments received from the Scottish Government’s Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund are fully disregarded so as not to result in deductions to benefit entitlement.

The eligibility criteria for the Scottish Government’s new £1,500 grant for private hire and taxi drivers is a matter for the Scottish Government not the UK government. While DWP was not consulted in advance about the eligibility criteria, it is our understanding that the grant is intended to assist with fixed costs and expenses, including license plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. Legislation already provides that Covid-19 related grants which are intended to cover loss of business income and to aid business recovery will be disregarded for Universal Credit purposes for 12 months.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of suspending in-work conditionality requirements for universal credit recipients as a result of the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the job market.

Claimants who are in work with earnings above the Administrative Earnings Threshold are not currently expected to undertake any mandatory work-related activity in Universal Credit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of (a) receipt and (b) non-receipt of furlough payments on in-work claimants in receipt of universal credit as a top-up to their wages.

No assessment has been made.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on the applicability of the Kickstart scheme to employment in offices of Members of Parliament.

Engagement with stakeholders has been a vital part of developing the Kickstart Scheme. Throughout the rapid policy development phase, we have engaged with over 300 individual stakeholders and/or stakeholder organisations. This includes employers and business representative organisations, local and regional representatives, devolved administrations, and third sector organisations. Following the launch, we will continue to engage with organisations and reach out to those not yet consulted, such as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, in order to encourage a wide range of delivery partners to support the scheme and make it a success.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what equality impact assessments have been undertaken on the differential effect of No Recourse to Public Funds in relation to (a) race and (b) other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

The Home Office reviewed the policy on removing the No Recourse to Public Funds condition in relation to race and other protected characteristics earlier this year. A Policy Equality Statement was published in April and placed on GOV.UK: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880531/Policy_Equality_Statement__PES__21_April_2020.pdf

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what equality impact assessments her Department has undertaken on people who have been refused access to social security benefits as a result of being subject to No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions with in relation to (a) race and (b) other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

I can confirm that there have been no equality impact assessments undertaken. Non-UK nationals and family members who are issued with a residence permit with a NRPF condition are not eligible to access taxpayer-funded benefits such as Universal Credit, Child Benefit or housing assistance for the duration of their leave. Public funds does not include contributions-based benefits and the State Pension. DWP has no powers to award taxpayer-funded benefits to an individual whose Home Office immigration status specifies no recourse to public funds.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to allow students in further and higher education to apply for Universal Credit during months when they are not in receipt of (a) grants or (b) loans from relevant awards agencies or loans companies.

Most students in full-time education do not qualify for Universal Credit (UC) unless an exception applies.

Under covid-19 regulations, those who do not receive student finance and who would ordinarily not have entitlement to UC, such as those undertaking a part-time course which would otherwise not be considered as compatible with the requirements for them to look for and be available for work, will have entitlement to UC. The DWP Secretary of State and Chief Secretary to the Treasury have agreed to dis-apply UC and both legacy and new style JSA work preparation, work search and availability requirements and related sanctions. This will initially be for a three-month period which commenced on the 30th March. After three months, consideration will be given as to whether a further extension is required.

Students are able to access funding to support their education courses through various loans and grants, which are the responsibility of the Department for Education (DfE). Students who do not ordinarily have entitlement to UC and who receive a maintenance loan or grant through the student finance system will continue to be able to draw upon this financial support until the end of this academic year. The adequacy of student finance is a matter for DfE.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants had their social security payments limited by the application of the benefit cap in (a) January (b) February (c) March and (d) April 2020 in each region of the UK.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs. However, whilst the stats requested are not readily available, as part of a regular publication, new statistics for Benefit Cap Households to February 2020 are due to be published on Thursday 7th May at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/benefit-cap-statistics

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants had their social security payments limited by the application of the two child rule in (a) January (b) February (c) March and (d) April 2020 in each region of the UK

The information requested is currently not available. They will be issued in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Government's announcement of 20 March 2020 that the rate of universal credit standard allowance will be increased in response to the covid-19 outbreak, whether the Government plans to increase the rate of jobseeker's allowance.

There are no current plans to increase the amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance due to COVID19. Of course these benefits were increased by 1.7% from 6 April, following the Government announcement to end the benefits freeze in November 2019.

DWP and HMRC are experiencing significant increased demand and the Government has to prioritise the safety and stability of the benefits system overall, announcing measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised.

Taken together, DWP’s measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to COVID19.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on the prioritisation of the covid-19 vaccination for foster carers.

Foster carers who are eligible for a vaccine because of their age or other clinical factors such as underlying health conditions, will have access to a vaccine in the first phase.

Phase two of the COVID-19 vaccine programme will cover all adults under 50 year old not already included in phase one. Prioritisation for phase two has not yet been decided, but interim advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends an age-based approach, which the Government has accepted in principle.

The JCVI has concluded that targeted vaccination to reduce transmission or give priority to occupational groups at higher risk of exposure would not be as effective or as fast in reducing mortality, morbidity and hospitalisation as direct protection of those at higher risk of serious disease.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish a response to Early Day Motion 1314 on Sage care workers and cleaners.

All social care workers are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. The National Living Wage is currently £8.72 an hour and applies to all workers aged 25 years old or over.

Our guidance has been clear that care workers should be paid their normal wages to self-isolate. The Infection Control Fund has given over £1.1 billion to support social care providers with the cost of infection control measures, including self-isolation pay. The Fund also supports providers with extra costs related to other infection prevention measures such as avoiding using public transport. In all other cases of illness other than COVID-19, eligible employees remain entitled to at least Statutory Sick Pay from the fourth qualifying day of sickness, paid by their employer.

Individual social care providers set the pay and terms and conditions for their staff. Since the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016, care worker pay has increased at a faster rate than before.

Health and safety concerns in the care sector are a matter for the Health and Safety Executive or relevant local authority and should be reported as appropriate. Employees are able to seek independent advice on matters of concern relating to their employment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish a response to Early Day Motion 1340 on Fetal Pain.

The Department does not set clinical practice. To support clinical practice, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has considered the issue of fetal pain and awareness in its guidelines on ‘The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion’ and ‘Fetal Awareness: Review of Research and Recommendations for Practice’, which are available at the following links:

https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/abortion-guideline_web_1.pdf

https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/rcogfetalawarenesswpr0610.pdf

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on food business operators of the Food Standards Agency guidance on the co-location of food and pet food production, published on 21 December 2020; and if he will make a statement.

The Food Standards Agency has produced the guidance for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help Food Business Operators (FBOs) and enforcement agencies to better understand the controls and systems that must be put in place to manage the risks from the production of pet food in establishments that also produce food for human consumption. It was developed and published following a lengthy public consultation exercise and a high-level internal clearance process.

Food Standards Scotland has not been approached by FBOs in Scotland to approve co-located establishments and would consider any applications on a case-by-case basis.

This approach is only applicable to the manufacturing of pet food in approved/registered food establishments to the same high standards as for food for human consumption. This co-location of production is permitted in legislation and the guidance has been developed and published to assist food businesses and their enforcement agencies in improving their understanding of the controls and systems that must be in place.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on ensuring that asylum seekers are able to access the covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care regularly meets with the devolved administrations to discuss a range of topics. The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations to ensure successful delivery of the vaccination programme across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Entitlement to free National Health Service treatment is generally based on ordinary residence in the UK based on clinical need. As there is no charge for the COVID-19 vaccine, the immigration status of a patient is not relevant and therefore no proof of residence is required and there is no requirement to report anyone to the Home Office.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of adding nuclear medicine technologists to the list of professions registered with the Health and Care Professional Council.

The Government has no plans to extend statutory regulation to nuclear medicine technologists. Therefore, an assessment of the potential merits of bringing nuclear medicine technologists into statutory regulation has not been undertaken.

The statutory regulation of healthcare professionals should only be used where the risks to public and patient protection cannot be addressed in other ways, such as through employer oversight or accredited voluntary registration.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to evaluate the effectiveness of the contracts awarded by the Government in response to the covid-19 outbreak before awarding further contracts.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 using a direct award of a contract without a competitive tender process. The great majority of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts let by the Department – including that for Medpro Ltd - were direct awards.

Suppliers are evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental policy and procedures. All contracts have clauses in them that allow the Department to seek redress if the company supplies faulty products or misses delivery dates.

The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. Where any procurement meets the tests for the use of a direct award then that approach will be used. Where it does not, other approaches will be considered.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to review the process for awarding Government contracts related to the covid-19 outbreak in response to the report of the National Audit Office, published on 18 November 2020.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 using a direct award of a contract without a competitive tender process. The great majority of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts let by the Department – including that for Medpro Ltd - were direct awards.

Suppliers are evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental policy and procedures. All contracts have clauses in them that allow the Department to seek redress if the company supplies faulty products or misses delivery dates.

The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. Where any procurement meets the tests for the use of a direct award then that approach will be used. Where it does not, other approaches will be considered.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure the award of Government contracts to Medpro Ltd complied with procurement guidelines.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 using a direct award of a contract without a competitive tender process. The great majority of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts let by the Department – including that for Medpro Ltd - were direct awards.

Suppliers are evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental policy and procedures. All contracts have clauses in them that allow the Department to seek redress if the company supplies faulty products or misses delivery dates.

The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. Where any procurement meets the tests for the use of a direct award then that approach will be used. Where it does not, other approaches will be considered.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that face coverings sold privately for use by the general public are of a high standard and effective.

In the United Kingdom, face coverings are being sold by a large number of retailers online and in store. Details of a product’s conformance to any standards can be found under the product details section online, or on the packaging or label of the covering itself.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards has produced guidance for manufacturers and sellers of face coverings, which is available online.

In June 2020, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) approved a Workshop Agreement with performance requirements, methods of testing and uses of community face coverings.

The British Retail Consortium has released a specification for Textile Barrier Face Coverings designed for both disposable and reusable coverings. The specification sets out the design, performance and chemical requirements of coverings, as well as labelling instructions.

The British Standards Institution will not be creating a separate standard and intend to adopt the CEN Workshop Agreement. Copies of both the CEN and AFNOR documents are freely available for the public to download.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish a response to EDM 521 on the UK law on disability-selective abortion.

Abortion is a sensitive area, Where there are strongly held moral and ethical views.

Parliament decided the circumstances under which abortion can legally be undertaken. It would be for Parliament to decide whether to make any changes to the law on abortion. As with other matters of conscience, abortion is an issue on which the Government adopts a neutral stance and allows Members to vote according to their moral, ethical or religious beliefs.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he plans to hold with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations on the findings of the Public Health England report on Disparties in the risk and outcomes of covid-19.

The Department is regularly in discussions with the devolved administrations at both ministerial and official level on a wide range of issues relating to COVID-19. COVID-19 presents a global challenge which requires a collaborative response. The Department will continue to work with the devolved administrations throughout the crisis and beyond.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) will be taking forward work off the back of Public Health England’s report on disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19. Stakeholder engagement will be a key part of that work, as set out in the Terms of Reference at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-steps-for-work-on-covid-19-disparities-announced

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using camostat mesylate in the treatment of patients with covid-19.

There are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19 and full evaluation of the merits of any potential treatments can only be made once clinical trials involving COVID-19 patients have been completed. The United Kingdom Government is considering a wide range of potential treatments in the current UK clinical trials. Drugs representing a range of relevant modes of action including - but not limited to - serine protease inhibitors, such as camostat, are being reviewed and prioritised by a panel of experts so that the most promising are put into clinical trials first.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using therapeutic plasma in the treatment of patients with covid-19.

On 25 April, the Department announced that the clinical trial REMAP-CAP was given approval to determine as part of a trial, if plasma donated by patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can help those with the virus. NHS Blood and Transplant has started to collect convalescent plasma to supply to REMAP-CAP and the first transfusion took place last week.

In parallel with the trial, NHS Blood and Transplant is scaling up a national programme for collecting plasma so the treatment can be widely rolled out if it is shown to be effective. The collection of plasma will be ramped up by mid-May to deliver up to 10,000 units of plasma to the National Health Service every week, enough to treat 5,000 COVID-19 patients per week.

Convalescent plasma has been used as an effective treatment for emerging infections in the past, and this step forward underpins the Department’s scientific approach to fighting this virus.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding his Department is providing for research into the potential merits of using therapeutic plasma in the treatment of patients with covid-19.

The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR is prioritising clinical research activity on COVID-19 through its national prioritisation process for Urgent Public Health research. The REMAP-CAP trial is one of several studies that have been nationally prioritised. This is a platform clinical trial testing the effectiveness of multiple treatments on COVID-19 patients in intensive care. The NIHR is supporting prioritised studies such as REMAP-CAP to expedite their local set-up, management and delivery through the NIHR Clinical Research Network. As announced on 25 April, the Department is working in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant and the other United Kingdom blood services, Public Health England and NHS Digital to enable the testing of convalescent plasma through this trial. Details of funding for this will be made publicly available shortly.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the continued supply of isotope species for medical (a) diagnosis and (b) treatment after the transition period.

The United Kingdom has now left the European Union and entered the transition period, which will run until 31 December 2020.

EU regulations on medicines and medical devices, including medical radioisotopes, will continue to apply to the UK throughout the transition period, during which we will negotiate a new trade agreement with the EU.

All necessary measures are in place to ensure that civil nuclear sector can continue to operate in the UK after the end of the transition period.

Both the EU and the UK are committed to agreeing a future partnership by the end of 2020 and are working to achieve this. It is in the interests of both the UK and the EU to agree a future partnership that keeps goods flowing, services being provided, and business being done.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions the HM Ambassador to Ethiopia has had with the Government of Ethiopia on the wellbeing of political prisoners on hunger-strike in Ethiopia.

The Foreign Secretary raised the importance of respect for human rights including political freedoms when he met with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit. We will continue to champion open and free political expression and respect of the fundamental human rights for all Ethiopians.

I [Minister Duddridge] note the recent announcement, by the prisoners’ defence lawyer, that Bekele Gerba, Jawar Mohammed and Hamza Borana have agreed to end their hunger strikes. Officials at our Embassy in Addis Ababa are engaging with Ethiopian officials on this issue and we will continue to monitor developments closely.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the (a) United Nations (b) African Union and (c) Government of Ethiopia on political violence in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.

We are deeply concerned by the violent clashes in recent months in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. When I [Minister Duddridge] visited Ethiopia from 27-29 July 2020, I [Minister Duddridge] discussed growing ethnic tensions with the President and senior ministers, as well as the President of Oromia. Leaders on all sides must be clear ethnic-based violence and discrimination will not be tolerated, and must stress to all [those under their control] the importance of respecting human rights and avoiding civilian loss of life at all costs. The Foreign Secretary underlined the need for all Ethiopians to be respected and not be subject to violence and discrimination during his visit to Ethiopia on 22 January. The UK is committed to supporting a peaceful political transition in Ethiopia where all the rights of minorities are protected.

The UK has been consistent, alongside the UN and international partners, in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia and respect for human rights. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations when he met with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit to Ethiopia. We fully supported efforts by three African Union appointed envoys last November 2020 to push for peace. We welcome the visits of three UN Under-Secretaries General to Ethiopia in February, and their engagement with the Government of Ethiopia. We continue to monitor the human rights situation in Ethiopia closely.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Ambassadors of (a) Ethiopia and (b) Eritrea to the UK on the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

We have, and will continue to advocate that a political process is essential to bring a full end to fighting and a sustainable settlement for Tigray. We have consistently urged all parties to end the conflict, prioritise the protection of civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian access. I [Minister Duddridge] pressed for political dialogue to end the conflict when I [Minister Duddridge] spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the (a) UN and (b) African Union on the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The UK has been consistent, alongside the UN and international partners, in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia, unfettered humanitarian access, and respect for human rights. We fully supported efforts by three African Union (AU) appointed envoys last November 2020 to push for peace. The Foreign Secretary has discussed Ethiopia in recent weeks with several African Heads of State and Government, including Kenya as a current UN Security Council member. He also raised these issues when he visited East Africa in January. I [MInister Duddridge] also regularly raise in my engagement. We welcome the visits of three UN Under-Secretaries General to Ethiopia in February, and their engagement with the Government of Ethiopia. As a complement to the efforts of the AU to find sustainable solutions to the conflict in Tigray, we will continue to press these messages with all relevant international partners, including at the UN Security Council where Ethiopia is expected to be discussed again on 4 March.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is providing to (a) faith-based actors and (b) other civil society organisations to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

We are concerned about the continued violence in Tigray region and have consistently urged all parties to end the conflict, prioritise the protection of civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian access. The Foreign Secretary raised these points when he met with Prime Minister Abiy on 22 January and also pressed for a political dialogue to bring a lasting peace to Tigray. We also continue to engage with a range of other actors, including faith based actors and civil society organisations.

The UK is facilitating capacity building in Ethiopia to ensure that democratic institutions fulfil their constitutional mandate. Since 2016, the FCDO has provided over £30 million to support Ethiopia's electoral process, support engagement with citizens and support civil society organisations so that they can play an increasing role in monitoring human rights.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the new US Administration on the issue of Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

The UK works closely with the US on matters relating to the Middle East Peace Process. We strongly opposed any move to annex all or part of the West Bank. Such a move would be contrary to international law and deeply damaging to prospects for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The UK welcomed the suspension of annexation as part of the normalisation agreement between the Government of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and subsequent resumption of cooperation between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Biden Administration has also outlined their opposition to unilateral acts, including annexation, settlement construction and demolitions. We are now focused on building on these positive steps to encourage greater cooperation between the parties and further confidence-building measures. We look forward to working with the US, alongside regional partners, and the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, to pursue that goal.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans the Government has to send Observers to the first First Conference of States Parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons planned to be held by January 2022.

The United Kingdom will not send Observers to the First Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Government has been clear it will not sign the TPNW. We do not believe this Treaty will bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons. The Government believes that the best way to achieve our collective goal of a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach, under the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterparts on the issue of illegal settlements in Palestine.

Both the Foreign Secretary and I made clear our opposition to settlement advancement in the sensitive location of Givat HaMatos on 21 January 2021. I also raised settlement construction in Givat HaMatos with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 18 January 2021 and urged the Government of Israel not to proceed. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv have also urged the Israeli Authorities to cease the construction process in a meeting alongside European counterparts on 19 January 2021. The UK's position on settlements is clear: They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he last raised the issue of the demolition of Palestinian homes with his Israeli counterparts.

Our Ambassador in Tel Aviv raised ongoing demolitions with the Israeli Authorities, in a meeting alongside like-minded partners on 25 February. I called on Israel to stop demolitions on 5 February 2021 and raised my concerns about demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures with the Israeli Ambassador on 29 October 2020. UK officials from the British Consulate in Jerusalem have made regular visits to areas at risk of demolition and eviction to reiterate UK support for those communities. The UK is clear that in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Indian counterpart on the threat of imposing the death penalty on UK citizen, Jagtar Singh Johal, who is in prison in that country facing trial under anti-terror laws.

The UK Government is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We raise this opposition with India regularly as part of discussions on human rights concerns. In individual consular cases we raise our opposition to the death penalty at whichever stages we judge will be most effective.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the risk faced by UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal of exposure to covid-19 in Tihar prison, India.

Mr Johal's welfare continues to be a priority. In-person consular visits in India are currently suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, consular staff have secured telephone access to Mr Johal in lieu of visits, and ask questions about Mr Johal's health on every call. We spoke to Mr Johal most recently on 20 January. Tihar prison, as the detaining authority, are responsible for managing any risk to Mr Johal's welfare due to exposure to Covid-19. Our consular staff therefore request regular updates from the prison management about Tihar's Covid-19 prevention measures, testing regime and news of any new cases in the prison.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Indian counterpart in respect of reports that UK Citizen, Jagtar Singh Johal, was forced to sign a confession under (a) torture and (b) coercion.

The UK Government takes all allegations of human rights violations very seriously and raises concerns with the local authorities where appropriate. We regularly raise Mr Johal's case directly with the Government of India, including his allegations of torture, his right to a fair trial, and concerns about delays to legal proceedings against him. The Foreign Secretary raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on 15 December 2020. The Secretary of State for International Trade raised the case with the Indian Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on 5 February. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, last raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian High Commissioner on 28 January 2021, and with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, on 3 November 2020.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterparts in Sri Lanka on the protection of marginalised Tamil and Muslim people in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

The UK has long supported efforts to promote peace and reconciliation for all communities in Sri Lanka, and made clear our concern about the marginalisation of minority groups in a statement delivered on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in June 2020.

The Minister of State for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, has raised the importance of protecting the rights of all communities including minority groups on several occasions with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, most recently during calls on 9 February and 22 January respectively. We will continue to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka to underline the importance we attach to this issue.

The UK and Core Group have tabled a new resolution on Sri Lanka which signals the international community's continued commitment to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. The new resolution will call on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the human rights of people in all of its communities are protected.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Sri Lankan counterpart on the rights of minority groups to lawful peaceful protest in that country.

The right to peaceful assembly is a vital part of a democratic society. The UK Government is aware of the recent demonstrations that took place in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, and are concerned at reports of threatening behaviour experienced by some demonstrators. Officials from the British High Commission in Colombo will continue to monitor the events closely.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Chinese counterpart on the animal welfare issues associated with the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

The Government is committed to raising standards of animal welfare at home and abroad. The sale and consumption of dog meat is legal in many countries, including China, and there are no international norms, laws or agreements governing this. We believe that it is necessary to work with governments around the world to gain agreement to animal welfare standards. We have raised our concerns on specific animal welfare issues with the Chinese authorities and will continue to do so.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Turkish counterpart regarding the European Court of Human Rights judgment ordering the release of Selahattin Demirtaş.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Turkish authorities. I did so in December 2020 with my Turkish counterpart. We remain concerned about the four-year imprisonment of Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), in Turkey. With our international partners, we call on Turkey to meet its obligations as a founding member of the Council of Europe and release Demirtaş from his extended pre-trial detention. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will supervise the implementation of the judgment in Demirtaş (No.2) v Turkey, a process in which the United Kingdom actively participates. Working with our international partners, we will continue to encourage Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to act in line with the conventions of the Council of Europe and to make greater progress on wider human rights reforms.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the new US Administration on the cessation of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Ministers have not yet discussed with the Biden Administration the reported US suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The UK takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously and we assess all export licenses in accordance with strict licensing criteria.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of imposing (a) a UK travel ban and (b) an asset freeze on Chen Quanguo, senior official in the Chinese Communist Party, under the terms of the UK's Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations.

The Government remains gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. On 12 January the Foreign Secretary announced robust, targeted measures to help ensure that British organisations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang. We also continue to play a leading role in holding China to account for its human rights violations in the region, working closely with international partners, including at the UN.

The FCDO are carefully considering further designations under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime, introduced in July 2020. We will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review. It is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated in the future, as to do so could reduce their impact.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussion he has had with his EU counterparts on preserving the right of UK citizens to retire to EU countries following the UK leaving the EU.

The European Commission has confirmed that, from the 1 January 2021, UK nationals who move or travel to a country in the Schengen area will be treated as third country nationals under EU and Member State immigration rules. UK nationals who wish to move to an EU Member State, whatever their age, will have to meet the domestic immigration and residency rules of the relevant country.

However, under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK State Pension will continue to be uprated for UK nationals who retire to the EU. The Agreement also ensures that, where the UK or an EU Member State is responsible for an individual's healthcare, individuals will be entitled to reciprocal healthcare cover. This includes healthcare cover for UK state pensioners who retire to the EU. No one, for example UK nationals living in EU Member States by the end of 2020, will lose their Withdrawal Agreement rights as a result of this new Agreement.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with international counterparts on helping to relocate refugees and asylum seekers at camps on the Aegean Islands in response to snowfall and below freezing temperatures in that region.

The UK recognises the challenges faced by Greece in dealing with the difficulties presented by the migration situation, including the conditions of migrant camps on the Greek islands. We regularly engage Greek ministers and senior officials on these issues and will continue to work with Greek and international partners to identify opportunities to further support improved conditions for migrants in Greece. The UK government responded to requests by the Greek Government for specific humanitarian goods after the Moria fire in September 2020 by providing kitchen sets to nearly 2,000 vulnerable families to prepare and cook food, and solar lanterns to help them stay safe. This is in addition to our commitment earlier last year of £510k worth of humanitarian supplies and equipment to help vulnerable migrants and refugees on Greek islands.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what estimate he has made of the amount of funding that will become available to his Department to spend as Official Development Assistance once the UK has met all outstanding commitments to the European Development Fund.

The UK's contribution to the European Development Fund (EDF) for 2021 onwards will gradually reduce on an annual basis as programmes are finalised. In 2019, the contribution to the EDF was £852,683,097 and for 2020 it was £371,142,678. In late 2020, the Commission estimated that the UK's share of the EDF will be EURO 1,527,732,926 (approx. £1,374,107,687) for the four year period 2021-2024. The UK ODA that the FCDO will have available to spend once the UK has met all outstanding commitments to the EDF will be calculated, audited and officially reported on once all EDF programmes are implemented and finalised and the total UK commitments fulfilled.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department plans to co-ordinate the allocation of Official Development Assistance funding with the EU's forthcoming Neighbourhood, Development and International Development Instrument.

The FCDO has no plans to co-ordinate allocations of Official Development Assistance (ODA) with the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). We will take our own decisions about where we allocate our ODA in line with our own prioritisation decisions and the outcomes of the Integrated Review. However, following the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement we will continue to maintain an effective dialogue with the EU on global issues of common interest and coordinate when appropriate to maximise impact.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 1139 on Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion within the West Bank. As the UK made clear on 16 October, in a joint statement alongside France, Germany, Italy and Spain, we are deeply concerned by the recent decision taken by the Israeli authorities to advance more than 4,900 settlement building units in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I also expressed concern about settlement advancement in Givat Hamatos on 18 November and Har Homa on 25 November. We regularly raise settlements with the Government of Israel; UK officials raised settlements with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 18 November. The UK's position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. Settlement expansion is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 1140 on the Demolition of Palestinian homes.

As the EDM is a motion for a debate the FCDO has no plans to reply in writing. We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including the demolition of Palestinian property in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process. I [Cleverly] raised demolitions of Palestinian structures with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 6 November. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have repeatedly raised our concern about demolitions with Israeli Ministers and senior officials, and urged them to cease the counter-productive policy of demolitions, and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with international counterparts on securing a lasting peaceful political solution to the conflict in Syria.

The UK continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to adhere to agreed ceasefires and abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. We regularly raise this matter in bilateral discussions and multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council. On 22 October, the Foreign Secretary and likeminded counterparts issued a statement following a ministerial meeting of the Syria Small Group: a political settlement in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire as part of a political process, is the only way to end the Syrian conflict. To this end, we welcomed UN Syria Envoy Pedersen's convening of the Constitutional Committee for a fourth round of talks in Geneva on 29 November, but regret that due to regime obstruction there has been little progress to date.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking with the UK's international partners to secure a ceasefire in Syria which is upheld by all parties.

The UK continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to adhere to agreed ceasefires and abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. We regularly raise this matter in bilateral discussions and multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council. On 22 October, the Foreign Secretary and likeminded counterparts issued a statement following a ministerial meeting of the Syria Small Group: a political settlement in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire as part of a political process, is the only way to end the Syrian conflict. To this end, we welcomed UN Syria Envoy Pedersen's convening of the Constitutional Committee for a fourth round of talks in Geneva on 29 November, but regret that due to regime obstruction there has been little progress to date.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the wellbeing of political detainees in Syrian prisons.

The UK has repeatedly condemned the illegal detention, torture and execution of detainees by the Assad regime, affiliated militias and proscribed terrorist organisations. We support the UN's call to the Assad regime and Syrian armed groups to release a sufficient number of detainees to prevent COVID-19 spreading in detention facilities, as well as their urgent request to allow humanitarian actors and medical teams unhindered access to prisons. The UK has raised the plight of detainees at the UN Security Council and at the UN Human Rights Council, which have included language on detainees in recent Syria Resolutions.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his international counterparts to on establishing an investigation on the fate of Syrians kidnapped by ISIS.

The UK is committed to highlighting the appalling violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Syria including those committed by Daesh and to pursuing accountability for the most serious crimes. The UK is supporting efforts to account for missing people in formerly held Daesh territory in north-east Syria. Through our Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) we support the International Commission on Missing Persons' (ICMP) work with local Syrian civil society organisations to collect data on missing persons and secure the rights of families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations. We support ICMP's role as the holder of an impartial missing persons' database, and underline the need for a missing persons process that accounts for all missing persons, regardless of their role in the conflict or origin, in accordance with international human rights and the rule of law. The UK has contributed over £13 million since 2012 in support of Syrian and international efforts to gather evidence and assist victims of human rights abuses and violations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Government's decision to cut international aid spending on the civilian victims of the conflict in Syria.

Tackling the humanitarian impact of the Syria Crisis remains a priority for the FCDO. FCDO is currently running a prioritisation exercise across all its programmes, to ensure that every pound we spend goes as far as possible and makes a world-leading difference. We are in the process of assessing the impact of this decision on the UK's aid expenditure in Syria.

The UK has been one of the largest donors to the humanitarian response to the Syria Crisis. Since 2012, we have committed over £3.3 billion to help Syrian civilians displaced and vulnerable within their country, and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. This includes a pledge of at least £300 million for 2020 at this year's Brussels conference. In his statement to the House of Commons on 26 November, the Foreign Secretary stated that resolving conflicts and alleviating humanitarian crises will be focus areas for ODA.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to help prevent the spread of covid-19 in Syria during the conflict in that country.

The UK has committed £3.3 billion to the humanitarian response to the Syria Crisis since 2012, this includes a pledge of at least £300 million this year to the Syria Crisis. Our delivery partners' ongoing activities include healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation support, which help and will continue to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The UK has provided £34 million in funding specifically to help partners respond to COVID-19 across Syria. This support includes interventions which target vulnerable Syrians and help to tackle the spread of the virus. These include training for health workers; food and water; and sanitation and hygiene support, including educational material to raise awareness of best hygiene practices.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Morocco on the recent occupation of further territory in the Western Sahara.

We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and are in regular contact with the parties including Morocco. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Saudi Arabian counterpart to secure the release of (a) Loujain AlHathloul and (b) other human rights defenders in that country; and if he will make a statement.

Our Ministers, Ambassador and Embassy in Riyadh have raised concerns over the continued detention of human rights defenders, including Loujain al-Hathloul and other women's rights defenders, at senior levels with the Saudi authorities. We have consistently pressed for due process, raised concerns about the use of solitary confinement, lack of family contact and allegations of torture. I most recently raised the women's rights defenders' cases with the Saudi Ambassador to the UK on 16 November.

The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September. It noted our human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, regretted the continued detention of women's human rights defenders and called for the release of all political detainees. We continue to raise concerns and are monitoring the situation closely.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the merger between his Department and the Department for International Development on the criteria for (a) acceptance and (b) refusal of international development grant applications.

There has been no change to the criteria for international development grants.

From 2 September, FCDO has been implementing a twin-track approach to programme delivery rules and accountabilities. This will remain in place until a harmonised programme delivery framework can be established at the start of the next financial year. Until that point, existing and new programmes, including those which make grant awards, will be governed by the rules framework for the department that the programme budget is drawn from.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Iranian counterpart to secure the release of Anoosheh Ashoori; and if he will make a statement.

The Government remains extremely concerned about all dual British nationals detained in Iran, including Anoosheh Ashoori. Iran does not recognise dual nationality and therefore does not permit access to British-Iranian detainees. We continue to urge the Iranian Government immediately to release all British-Iranian nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran to enable them to return to their families in the UK. The welfare of British-Iranian citizens in Iran is also of paramount importance, and we call on Iran to uphold its commitments under international law to treat all detainees in line with international standards. We have continued to raise the cases of British-Iranian nationals detained in Iran at the most senior levels, and discuss them at every opportunity with our Iranian counterparts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 717 on Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan tabled by the hon. Member for Harrow East.

The situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is complex and the UK deeply regrets the loss of life. We do not believe that apportioning blame will assist in resolving the conflict. The UK Government has made its position regarding the current outbreak of hostilities clear; a military solution is not possible and only a negotiated peaceful settlement will resolve the situation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the compatibility of the actions of the joint British-American registered Carbones de Cerrejón company at the Tajo Patilla mining site in Colombia with the commitments contained in the UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

The UK was the first country to create a National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This plan sets out what is expected of the conduct of UK businesses, including compliance with relevant laws and respect for human rights; treating the risk of causing human rights abuses as a legal compliance issue; adopting appropriate due diligence policies; and consulting those who could potentially be affected.

The Government backs its expectations with actions. We ensure that large UK companies are held to account on these issues through regulation, including the Companies Act, which requires corporate transparency over potential human rights issues, and due diligence measures taken.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether a representative from the UK embassy in Colombia has (a) been invited to and (b) attended a meeting with members of the indigenous Wayuu Community and the Jesuit Centre for Research and Popular Education on the operations of the Carbones de Cerrejón company at its Tajo Patilla mining site.

Representatives from the UK Embassy were invited to a recent meeting with members of the Wayuu community and Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP) to discuss Cerrejón. Unfortunately, due to scheduling pressures, no-one from the Embassy was able to attend. Instead, FCDO officials in London convened a separate meeting with the Wayuu and CINEP to hear their concerns, and have fed them back to Embassy staff.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of the 12 UN Special Rapporteurs on the operations of the Carbones de Cerrejón company at its Tajo Patilla mining site in Colombia.

We have noted with concern the recent statement by David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, concerning the Cerrejón mine and are seeking further information.

As set out in the FCDO Annual Human Rights Report, we expect British businesses to respect local and international law wherever they operate, and look to extractive companies to comply with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. BHP, Anglo American and Glencore, which own Cerrejón, are all signatories to these Principles.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what changes he has made to the responsibilities of Ministers in his Department following the merger of the Department for International Development with his Department.

Prior to the creation of the new department, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office team of Ministers had held joint Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office portfolios since February 2020. These portfolios remain unchanged.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will list which Ministerial responsibilities previously allocated to the Secretary of State for International Development are now allocated to (a) the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and (b) other Ministers in his Department.

The former Secretary of State for International Development was responsible for leading the DFID ministerial team, and setting the overall strategy and direction for the Department for International Development. Following the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs assumed all of these responsibilities.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether any Ministerial responsibilities previously held by Ministers in the Department for International Development have been transferred to Ministers in Departments other than his Department.

No Ministerial responsibilities previously held by Ministers in the Department for International Development have been transferred to Ministers in Departments other than the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with representatives of the (a) Pacific Islands Forum and (b) Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States on their call for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be permitted access to West Papua by Indonesia to prepare an independent report into the humanitarian situation in the area.

The Foreign Secretary has not discussed the request with representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum or the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States regarding the UN High Commissioner. However, the then Minister for Asia and the Pacific attended the Pacific Island Forum in August 2019, noting the communique. Officials at the British Embassy in Jakarta have discussed the proposed visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and continue to encourage the Indonesian Government to agree dates as soon as possible. It is our longstanding position that we regard Papua and West Papua provinces as being part of Indonesia and consider dialogue on territorial issues in Indonesia as a matter for the Indonesian people.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterpart in Indonesia on the exile of human rights lawyer Veronica Koman.

We are aware of the situation of Veronica Koman. It would not be appropriate to comment on this case during the ongoing judicial process but we continue to monitor developments. The UK respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia, which includes Papua, and within this framework we support the Indonesian Government's right to enforce the law in its own territory.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterpart in Indonesia on the that country's military operations in the West Papuan regencies of Nduga, Intan Jaya and Puncak Jaya.

The Foreign Secretary has not discussed the request with representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum or the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States regarding the UN High Commissioner. The then Minister for Asia and the Pacific attended the Pacific Island Forum in August 2019, noting the communique. Officials at the British Embassy in Jakarta have discussed the proposed visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and continue to encourage the Indonesian Government to agree dates as soon as possible. It is our longstanding position that we regard Papua and West Papua provinces as being part of Indonesia and consider dialogue on territorial issues in Indonesia as a matter for the Indonesian people.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 936, on the Disqualification of the President of Catalonia, tabled by the hon. Member for Arfon.

This is a matter for Spain and the Spanish courts. Political leaders, like anyone else, have a duty to abide by the law.

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 discussions he has had with his Ethiopian counterpart on the recent protests in that country.

The UK is concerned by reports of violence and displacement of people in a number of regions in Ethiopia. I raised this with the Government of Ethiopia when visiting Addis Ababa at the end of July. I raised the importance of open and transparent investigations into ongoing incidents of violence. The UK supports the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to strengthen accountability and has been encouraged by their efforts to open the political space - in particular the release of thousands of political prisoners and the reform of legislation which constrained civil and political rights. We are committed to supporting civil society organisations in Ethiopia so that they can play an increasing role in monitoring human rights. We shall continue to monitor the situation and to raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to help reduce violence committed against civilians and protesters in Ethiopia.

The UK is concerned by reports of violence and displacement of people in a number of regions in Ethiopia. I raised this with the Government of Ethiopia when visiting Addis Ababa at the end of July. I raised the importance of open and transparent investigations into ongoing incidents of violence. The UK supports the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to strengthen accountability and has been encouraged by their efforts to open the political space - in particular the release of thousands of political prisoners and the reform of legislation which constrained civil and political rights. We are committed to supporting civil society organisations in Ethiopia so that they can play an increasing role in monitoring human rights. We shall continue to monitor the situation and to raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to help reduce human rights violations against the Oromo people in Ethiopia.

I am concerned by reports of human rights violations against the Oromo people that included the murder of Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June, and the violence that followed in Addis Ababa and the Oromo region. I visited Ethiopia from 27 - 29 July and was able to discuss these events with the President, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the President of Oromia Region. I urged for transparent investigations into these incidents of violence and asked that those detained receive access to justice, and that their cases are heard promptly. I also expressed the need for more peaceful dialogue between different groups in Ethiopia and for space to be given for political debate. We shall continue to monitor the situation and to raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with the Ethiopian Government and regional leaders.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the (a) arrest and (b) detention of the Palestinian political activist Mahmoud Nawajaa.

Our Consulate General in Jerusalem have been monitoring Mr Nawajaa's case. Mr Nawajaa was released on 17 August without charge after 19 days of detention. We remain concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice, and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the treatment of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of treatment of Palestinian detainees on 18 June with both the Israeli Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We also remain concerned by the continued transfer of Palestinian detainees to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. We continue to raise our concerns in our engagement with the Israeli authorities.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterpart in Venezuela on the case of imprisoned trade unionist, Ruben Gonzalez.

The UK does not recognise the Maduro regime. The UK remains alarmed at the deteriorating human rights situation in Venezuela. Venezuela has a duty to uphold high standards of human rights, the more so as a member of the Human Rights Council, and to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms. The UK will continue to support the work of the UN Human Rights Council's Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Venezuela, and is committed to supporting a broad human rights agenda in the country. On 31 August, the Maduro regime announced that it had pardoned 110 political prisoners, including Ruben Gonzalez who has been held since November 2018. Though long overdue, the release of Sr. Gonzalez will be welcome.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Pakistani counterpart on (a) Shagufta Kauser, (b) Hussain Moosa and (c) other prisoners facing death sentences under blasphemy laws in that country.

We are concerned about the issue of blasphemy laws, which has affected both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is our longstanding policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We continue to closely monitor, the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel, whose appeal hearing is delayed until September due to court closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK Government regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and blasphemy laws at a senior level with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, the Minister of State for South Asia and human rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, raised concerns on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the death penalty with Dr Mazari, Pakistan's Human Right Minister, on 15 July. Lord Ahmad also raised our concerns regarding the blasphemy laws, including the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, with Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Nafees Zakaria, on 23 June. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP, has also spoken to the Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK about Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 375 on Future of the British Council.

As the EDM is a motion for a debate the FCO has no plans to reply in writing.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart on (a) Mohammed Ramadhan, (b) Hussain Moosa and (c) other prisoners facing death sentences in Bahrain.

We are concerned by the death sentences handed to Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa. We continue to raise 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. We continue to monitor their case, as it is taken to the Court of Cassation for final review.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will issue a response to EDM 464, Proposed Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank.

As we made clear at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 24 June, we are concerned by reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this message in his introductory calls with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Gantz on 20 May and Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi on 2 June. The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law. We continue to urge Israel not to take these steps.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether a senior UK Government Minister plans to attend the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference when it is re-scheduled.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference, scheduled for 23 March to 3 April in New York, was postponed. The UK is supportive of re-scheduling the fourth session for the earliest possible opportunity that will enable all delegations to be present for the negotiations in New York. The precise make-up of the UK delegation will need to take into account any social distancing measures that may be in place for the re-scheduled session, but it will be a strong delegation. The UK also strongly supports intersessional work, which is vital to ensure that we maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of these important negotiations.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government plans to invite any representatives from the Scottish Government to join a delegation to the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference when it is rescheduled.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference, scheduled for 23 March to 3 April in New York, was postponed. The UK is supportive of re-scheduling the fourth session for the earliest possible opportunity that will enable all delegations to be present for the negotiations in New York. The precise make-up of the UK delegation will need to take into account any social distancing measures that may be in place for the re-scheduled session, but it will be a strong delegation. The UK also strongly supports intersessional work, which is vital to ensure that we maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of these important negotiations.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the Government of Malawi on the free and fair conduct of the presidential election planned for 23 June 2020.

The UK is closely monitoring the political and security situation in Malawi ahead of fresh Presidential elections on 23 June. We have taken every opportunity to encourage all sides to respect the rule of law, follow due process under the constitution, and to respect the rulings of Malawi's courts. We have also urged de-escalation of inflammatory rhetoric and peaceful campaigning from all sides. I reiterated these messages in a phone call with Malawi's Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 15 May, as did the UK Chargé d'Affaires in his meeting with President Mutharika on 11 May.

The risks of the Covid-19 endemic have impacted the possibility for international organisations to observe the elections, however the UK's High Commission in Lilongwe is working closely with civil society organisations engaged in electoral observation ahead of polling day to encourage due diligence in the electoral process.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government is supporting any international observer missions to monitor the free and fair conduct of the presidential election in Malawi planned for 23 June 2020.

The UK is closely monitoring the political and security situation in Malawi ahead of fresh Presidential elections on 23 June. We have taken every opportunity to encourage all sides to respect the rule of law, follow due process under the constitution, and to respect the rulings of Malawi's courts. We have also urged de-escalation of inflammatory rhetoric and peaceful campaigning from all sides. I reiterated these messages in a phone call with Malawi's Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 15 May, as did the UK Chargé d'Affaires in his meeting with President Mutharika on 11 May.

The risks of the Covid-19 endemic have impacted the possibility for international organisations to observe the elections, however the UK's High Commission in Lilongwe is working closely with civil society organisations engaged in electoral observation ahead of polling day to encourage due diligence in the electoral process.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost of merging the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development.

We will implement these changes in the most cost effective way possible. While we anticipate there will be cost savings in the long term as a result of using our resources more effectively and efficiently, it is not the primary goal of the merger of these two Departments. This is primarily about bringing together our international efforts so we can maximise the UK's influence around the world. By aligning our efforts, the merger will maximise our influence and expertise and ensure we are in the best position to confront the challenges that lie ahead. This will strengthen our ability to lead the world's efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and allow us to seize the opportunities ahead, as we prepare to take on the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the costs of rebranding and renaming the proposed Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will count towards the spending target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for Official Development Assistance.

We will make the change in the most cost-effective way possible and set out full details in due course. Spending 0.7 percent of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and the UK continues to abide by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee rules for aid. We anticipate that in the long term the merger may bring efficiency savings to the cost of administering the aid budget, but that's not the primary goal of the merger, which is about uniting our international efforts so we can maximise the UK's influence around the world.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on what date he expects the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to assume the functions of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development.

Work will begin immediately on the merger and the new department - the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - will be formally established in early September under the leadership of the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 2 June 2020 to Question 49117, British Overseas Territories: Marine Protected Areas, when his Department plans to publish a Marine Protected Area Management Plan for the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The UK Overseas Territories are constitutionally responsible for their marine environments and as such the UK Government will not be publishing Marine Protected Area Management Plan for the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the US Administration on the use of (a) tear gas, (b) riot shields and (c) rubber bullets against peaceful civilian protesters by US law enforcement agencies that were (i) produced in the UK and (ii) sold from the UK.

Domestic security policy is a matter for the US. We are monitoring the situation in the US. The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world. We examine export licences on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government has provided (a) military training, (b) internal security training and (c) public order training to Chile since January 2015; and if he will make a statement.

The UK and Chile have bilateral relationships at the Defence and single-service level, within which opportunities for training or exercises may be discussed. However, in order to protect the interests and third-party relationships of both the UK and its partners, the details of any training provided by the UK Ministry of Defence or other departments are not released into the public domain.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 273, entitled International Women's Day and freedom of religion or belief.

As the EDM is a motion for a debate the FCO has no plans to reply in writing.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the World Sikh Parliament.

The UK is committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's human rights policy priorities. While the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not had any recent discussions with the World Sikh Parliament, we regularly work with international partners on FoRB, including faith groups, civil society organisations and like-minded countries.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the provision of (a) safe passage and (b) asylum for members of the Sikh community fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.

We strongly condemn the attack on a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul on 25 March. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia with responsibility for human rights and Her Majesty's Ambassador to Kabul have both condemned the attack. The UK continues to urge the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the rights of all ethnic and religious groups are protected, in line with the Afghan constitution.

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK does not consider asylum claims lodged outside UK territory and does not consider it appropriate to do so. Those who need international protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach - that is the fastest route to safety.

The UK's refugee resettlement schemes do offer a route for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognised refugees in need of protection, who have fled their country of origin. Through these schemes, the UK prioritises the most vulnerable refugees regardless of race, religion or ethnicity and we do not discriminate in favour of, or against, any group. We work closely with UNHCR, which has well-established procedures and criteria for identifying refugees they consider to be suitable for resettlement, taking into account their protection needs. Apart from the criteria we set for each scheme, we do not seek to influence which cases are referred to us by UNHCR.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to secure a global ocean treaty at the United Nations.

​My Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction – the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement to be concluded in 2020. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Chilean counterpart on engaging in peaceful dialogue with protestors.

The British Government is concerned by events that have occurred in Chile. Our Ambassador in Chile has talked with representatives of the Chilean Government about the protests and has expressed concern about the violence and reports of human rights abuses. A characteristic of the protests in Chile is that they have no leadership with whom the Government can engage. Nevertheless, the demands of the protesters have been clear and we welcome the Government's adoption of policies to address them.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Government of Iran on the imprisonment of (a) Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and (b) other Christian prisoners of conscience.

​We have repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Government of Iran at the ongoing incarceration, and the shocking sentencing of Christians for practicing their faith. We welcome the recent release of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani following his unjust imprisonment, and urge the Iranian authorities to release anyone currently detained based upon their religion or belief.

While Christian minorities are formally protected in the constitution of Iran, the reality is that many non-Muslims face discrimination. We regularly call upon Iran to cease harassment of all religious minorities and to fulfil its international and domestic obligations to protect freedom of religion or belief. Defending persecuted Christians, and persecuted individuals of all faiths or beliefs, remains a priority for the British Government. We will continue to take action, both bilaterally and with the international community, to press Iran to improve its poor human rights record.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the Chilean Government’s response to protests in that country.

The British Government noted with concern the recent violence in Chile and welcomed its decline. We also welcome the Chilean Government's public assurances, throughout the protests, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully, and that, if appropriate, perpetrators will be prosecuted. Our Embassy in Santiago is in contact with the Chilean authorities, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward the next grant for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme to assist people who require support now.

The Government is committed to supporting the self-employed population during the COVID-19 pandemic through a substantial package of support.

The three Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants combined provided up to £21,570 of support for each individual, placing the SEISS among the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. As of 31 December, about 2.7 million individuals have made claims totalling over £18.9 billion so far across all three grants.

The claims window for the third grant closed on 29 January 2021. The Government committed on 24 September 2020 that there would be a fourth grant; details of which will be announced alongside other economic updates at Budget in March.

The SEISS is not intended to provide a month-by-month replacement of income. Due to the volatility of self-employed income and the lack of granular data that HMRC hold on self-employed trading profits, precise mapping of income replacement month by month is not possible. Instead, the SEISS provides a lump sum payment to support eligible self-employed individuals whose businesses have been affected by coronavirus.

The SEISS continues to be just one element of a substantial package of support for the self-employed. In addition to the SEISS, individuals may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives of the (a) theatre and (b) live event industry regarding the potential effect of an increase in VAT on ticket sales to 20 per cent.

The temporary VAT reduced rate came into effect on 15 July 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 12 January 2021.

In order to continue supporting the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs, the Government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (five per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors until 31 March 2021.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and all stakeholder views are carefully considered. Any future decisions on tax policy will be made at Budget.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the reduced 5 per cent VAT rate on ticket sales for live events for financial year 2021-22.

The temporary VAT reduced rate came into effect on 15 July 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 12 January 2021.

In order to continue supporting the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs, the Government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (five per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors until 31 March 2021.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and all stakeholder views are carefully considered. Any future decisions on tax policy will be made at Budget.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives of the self-catering accommodation industry on enabling professional self-caterers to access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was designed to support eligible self-employed individuals by providing, in its third phase, a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This is designed to ensure that support will be targeted to those self-employed individuals who need it most.

Those individuals who are ineligible for the SEISS may be eligible for other elements of the Government’s support package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Other businesses, including those in the self-catering accommodation industry, may benefit from the additional funding for businesses worth £4.6 billion across the UK. All local authorities in England have received an additional £500 million of discretionary funding to support their local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding which local authorities had previously received to support their local economies and help businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This is on top of support being offered to businesses required to close through the Local Restrictions Support Grant and additional one-off grants.

The Government encourages local authorities to use their Additional Restrictions Grant allocations to set up a discretionary grant scheme using this funding e.g. for those businesses who are affected by closures, but which are not legally closed. However, local authorities can also use it to support businesses indirectly including by providing additional guidance and support for businesses in their areas.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of HSBC's decision to stop offering Bounce Back loans to non-HSBC UK customers on the accessibility of that scheme; and if he will make a statement.

The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to ensure that the smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of just days. As of 13 December, the scheme has provided unprecedented support to business across the UK, with more than 1.4 million businesses accessing facilities totaling over £43.5 billion.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been unprecedented demand for banking services, this accompanied with working restrictions due to social distancing has meant banks have faced significant capacity pressures which has limited their ability to meet demand.

The Government have always made clear to lenders that they should open to new customers as soon as it is operationally possible for them to do so. Lenders are fully aware of the current urgency, so we would expect them to respond appropriately to their customers’ needs. Whilst BBLS is 100% guaranteed by the Government, decisions about what products are offered to specific businesses remain commercial decisions for banks and building societies.

The British Business Bank has so far accredited 29 BBLS lenders, including several non-banks and alternative lenders. Some lenders are still inviting applications from new customers, and many of those that are still only open to existing customers are regularly reviewing that position.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the IR35 off-payroll working rules on self-employed contractors during the covid-19 outbreak.

The off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) have been in place for nearly 20 years and are designed to ensure that individuals working like employees but through their own company pay broadly the same Income Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) as those who are employed directly.

These rules only apply to individuals who are working like employees under the current employment status tests, and do not apply to the self-employed.

As part of the support the Government provided for businesses and individuals to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19, the reform to the off-payroll working rules was delayed for one year, from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what equality impact assessments his Department has carried out on the effect of the IR35 off-payroll working rules on the BAME community.

As set out in the Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) published in July 2019, the reform of the off-payroll working rules is not anticipated to have a specific impact on groups sharing protected characteristics.

The TIIN can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of delaying the implementation of the IR35 off-payroll working rules during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government made the decision to delay the reform of the off-payroll working rules until April 2021 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. There is no rationale for further delay. The legislation has now received Royal Assent as part of Finance Act 2020, and the reform will be implemented in April 2021 as announced.

The reform was originally announced at Budget 2018. Many businesses would have been prepared for the reform to be implemented in April 2020 as originally planned, and HMRC have undertaken a significant programme of education and support to ensure that large and medium-sized businesses are ready to implement the reform.

Further delaying implementation of these changes would have very significant drawbacks. It would prolong the fundamental unfairness of taxing two people differently for the same work, in addition to the fiscal cost. It would also extend the disparity between the private and voluntary sectors, and the public sector, where the reform has been in place since 2017.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives of the financial sector on allowing non-banks to access direct funding for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, as is available to high street banks.

The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to ensure that the smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of just days. As of 15 November, the scheme had supported nearly 1.4 million businesses with facilities totaling over £42 billion.

The British Business Bank has so far accredited 29 lenders for BBLS, including several challenger banks and non-bank lenders.

The Treasury recognises the vital role that non-banks and challenger banks play in the provision of credit to SMEs. It is grateful for the way the sector has responded to the current crisis, and remains committed to promoting competition, and widening the funding options available to UK businesses.

The Government does not provide funding to lenders who are participating in the government loan schemes; lenders must source their own funding, as they do for standard business lending.

We have made changes to allow the transfer and assignment of the Government guarantee for all government-guaranteed loan schemes loans, which is something that NBLs have requested, to support their ability to access funding. We will continue to work with non-bank lenders to support their participation in the loan schemes.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the VAT reduction offered to hospitality services until March 2021 to (a) hairdressers, (b) beauty services and (c) other close contact services.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July in order 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 relief comes at a significant cost to the Exchequer, and there are currently no plans to extend the scope to include other sectors.

The Government has announced a significant package of support to help businesses through the winter months, which includes an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, and an extension of the application window for the Government-backed loan schemes.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation businesses for the 2021-22 financial year.

The Government initially cut the rate of VAT applied to hospitality, accommodation and attractions, from 20 per cent to 5 per cent, for a period of six months to 12 January 2021.

The Government extended this relief in September 2020, and it will now end on 31 March 2021. The reduced rate aims to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses in the affected sectors and will help protect 2.4 million jobs.

The Government keeps all taxes under review.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend business rates relief for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England for the 2021-22 financial year.

The Government has taken the unprecedented step of providing almost £10 billion in business rates relief this year. All business rates reliefs in England will be considered through the business rates review.

Business rates are devolved in Scotland and are a matter for the Scottish Government.
Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of continuing finance for the Union Learning Fund to provide support for workers affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

My officials continually consider assessments of the value for money of public spending.

The government has provided unprecedented support for jobs, and remains committed to investing in adult skills and retraining. The Plan for Jobs provided funding for skills and training to help workers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, and the forthcoming Spending Review will confirm details of the National Skills Fund to help more people learn new skills and prepare for the jobs of the future.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of mortgage holidays taken during the covid-19 outbreak on the credit ratings of mortgage prisoners.

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government worked quickly with lenders and financial regulators to give people access to payment holidays on their mortgages. This gives customers a much-needed respite period, where no repayments on these products are due. It was necessary to bring this temporary measure in, in order to give customers time to smooth out their finances that may have taken a hit by the pandemic.

The FCA issued guidance to all firms that engage in mortgage activities, this includes all borrowers whose mortgage is in a closed book or owned by an inactive lender.

We were clear from the start, that anyone taking a one of these payment holiday should not suffer a worsening arrears status.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on small, independent breweries of the proposal to convert Small Brewers Relief from a percentage formula to a cash basis measurement.

The proposal to convert Small Brewers Relief (SBR) to a cash basis would affect small breweries entitled to SBR, but would only have an impact if there are future changes to the value of the relief. The Treasury will consult further on Small Brewers Relief later this Autumn.
Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much his Department has spent on private debt collection agencies in (a) fees and (b) the proportion of funds collected for the purposes of recovering tax credit debts in each financial year since 2010-11.

The table below details HMRC’s spending on Debt Collection Agencies between 2010/11 and 2019/20.

None of the funds collected are used for the purpose of recovering tax credits. HMRC request funding from HMT through fiscal measures.

Total

% Spent on TC

2010-11

£ 3.72m

0.00%

2011-12

£ 11.08m

0.00%

2012-13

£ 13.06m

0.00%

2013-14

£ 9.34m

11.61%

2014-15

£ 10.89m

19.85%

2015-16

£ 16.77m

31.59%

2016-17

£ 26.25m

24.54%

2017-18

£ 32.10m

20.50%

2018-19

£ 26.02m

28.83%

2019-20

£ 26.16m

24.03%

Total

£ 175.39m

20.16%

Further information about payments to Integrated Debt Services Ltd, who manage the contract between HMRC and the Debt Collection Agencies contracted to act on HMRC’s behalf, is published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/spending-over-25-000.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to publish the further consultation on the proposed reforms of Small Brewers Relief.

As previously announced, the consultation will be published in the Autumn.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on small, independent brewers of the proposal to reduce the production threshold at which Small Brewers Relief starts to taper.

The Government anticipates that by replacing the existing taper with a more gradual one spread over a wider range of production, small breweries will find it easier to grow and expand.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of a period of statutory maternity pay being used to calculate a reduced furlough pay entitlement for returning mothers on variable pay; and if he will make a statement.

Employees on variable pay who have been on Statutory Maternity Pay or other forms of Parental Leave are eligible to apply for furlough pay under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Eligible employees will be entitled to 80% of the higher rate of two calculations: either the wages earned in the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020, or the average wages payable in the tax year 2019 to 2020. These measures have been put in place to cover a wide range of contractual and working arrangements and are designed to mitigate situations where individuals have low pay in a certain month for any reason.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to ensure that older people are not disproportionately disadvantaged by (a) banks and (b) other financial organisations offering preferential interest rates to online-only customers.

The pricing of financial products remains a commercial decision for firms, in which the Government does not seek to intervene.

UK banks’ and building societies’ treatment of their customers is governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in its Principles for Businesses. This includes a general requirement for firms to provide a prompt, efficient and fair service to all their customers.

More broadly, protecting vulnerable customers, such as those with low digital skills, is a priority for the FCA. The FCA requires firms to identify particularly vulnerable customers, and to take these customers into consideration when designing products.

Further to this, the FCA recently concluded a guidance consultation for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. While many firms have made significant progress on this, the Treasury and the FCA want to see the fair treatment of vulnerable consumers being taken seriously by all firms so that vulnerable consumers receive consistently fair treatment.

The Treasury continues to work with firms and the FCA to ensure that the needs of vulnerable customers are met.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the proportionality of the effect on older people of banks offering preferential interest rates to online-only customers.

The pricing of financial products remains a commercial decision for firms, in which the Government does not seek to intervene.

UK banks’ and building societies’ treatment of their customers is governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in its Principles for Businesses. This includes a general requirement for firms to provide a prompt, efficient and fair service to all their customers.

More broadly, protecting vulnerable customers, such as those with low digital skills, is a priority for the FCA. The FCA requires firms to identify particularly vulnerable customers, and to take these customers into consideration when designing products.

Further to this, the FCA recently concluded a guidance consultation for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. While many firms have made significant progress on this, the Treasury and the FCA want to see the fair treatment of vulnerable consumers being taken seriously by all firms so that vulnerable consumers receive consistently fair treatment.

The Treasury continues to work with firms and the FCA to ensure that the needs of vulnerable customers are met.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) obligations and (b) timescales are in place to require organisations in receipt of Research and Development tax breaks to publish the outcome of their research in public.

R&D tax credits are a key part of the Government’s support for innovative business investment and provided £4.4 billion to businesses across the UK in 2016-17. The Government does not place an obligation on organisations to publish any intellectual property which arises from their research.

Patents are publicly available and so any R&D that leads to a patent will be made public. It would be impractical to require greater disclosure than this; for example, it could potentially reveal trade secrets and it would also impose a significant administrative burden, both factors that would be likely to prevent companies from claiming.

In some circumstances the same work can attract research and development relief for more than one company, as is envisaged in paragraph eleven of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Guidelines regulations. These regulations specify which activities are to be treated as being research and development.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merit of requiring organisations in receipt of Research and Development tax breaks to publish the outcome of their research in public after a set period of time.

R&D tax credits are a key part of the Government’s support for innovative business investment and provided £4.4 billion to businesses across the UK in 2016-17. The Government does not place an obligation on organisations to publish any intellectual property which arises from their research.

Patents are publicly available and so any R&D that leads to a patent will be made public. It would be impractical to require greater disclosure than this; for example, it could potentially reveal trade secrets and it would also impose a significant administrative burden, both factors that would be likely to prevent companies from claiming.

In some circumstances the same work can attract research and development relief for more than one company, as is envisaged in paragraph eleven of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Guidelines regulations. These regulations specify which activities are to be treated as being research and development.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has in place to prevent organisations that benefit from research and development tax breaks from duplicating (a) their own and (b) other organisations’ research.

R&D tax credits are a key part of the Government’s support for innovative business investment and provided £4.4 billion to businesses across the UK in 2016-17. The Government does not place an obligation on organisations to publish any intellectual property which arises from their research.

Patents are publicly available and so any R&D that leads to a patent will be made public. It would be impractical to require greater disclosure than this; for example, it could potentially reveal trade secrets and it would also impose a significant administrative burden, both factors that would be likely to prevent companies from claiming.

In some circumstances the same work can attract research and development relief for more than one company, as is envisaged in paragraph eleven of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Guidelines regulations. These regulations specify which activities are to be treated as being research and development.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of (a) the adequacy of the classification of sunscreen as a cosmetic product and (b) the potential merits of reducing the rate of VAT applied to sun protection products.

The Government's approach is to support safety campaigns that place sunscreen within its proper context; as a precaution that people can take against the sun, but that does not provide 100 per cent protection. While sun protection products have a role to play in skin safety, it is important that people do not rely on sunscreen alone.

VAT raises a significant amount of revenue and plays an important part in funding the Government's public spending priorities. Any application of a reduced rate would have to be balanced against this. The Government keeps all taxes under constant review.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish a response to the open letter of 20 July 2020 signed by 50 hon. Members calling for urgent action to protect research funded by UK medical research charities.

Medical research charities are an integral part of the United Kingdom’s world-leading life sciences sector and we welcome the interest of honourable members in this area. The government is monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the work of medical research charities. To this effect, the Department of Health and Social Care is closely liaising with the Association of Medical Research Charities, as well as individual charities, to understand the impact of the pandemic on this sector and identify how best the Government and charities can work together to ensure that patients continue benefiting from charity funded research.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of extending the eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to those whose self-employment income makes up less than 50 per cent of their annual income on the (a) cost of that scheme and (b) number of eligible claimants.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) continues to be one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world as the economy reopens.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) undertook an initial assessment of the impact of requiring an individual’s trading profits to be at least equal to their non-trading income. This was set out in a letter from Jim Harra, Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary of HMRC, to the Treasury Select Committee on 5 May 2020, which is available at https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1151/documents/9923/default/. HMRC’s analysis of Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) data for 2017-18 suggested that of the 5.75 million individuals deemed as having some form of self-employment in 2017-18, 1.73 million received less than half of their total income from self-employment trading profits.

The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too. The design of the SEISS, including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS. Individuals receiving more than half their income from other sources may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. The SEISS is one element of a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to those whose self-employment income makes up less than 50 per cent of their annual income.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) continues to be one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world as the economy reopens.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) undertook an initial assessment of the impact of requiring an individual’s trading profits to be at least equal to their non-trading income. This was set out in a letter from Jim Harra, Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary of HMRC, to the Treasury Select Committee on 5 May 2020, which is available at https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1151/documents/9923/default/. HMRC’s analysis of Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) data for 2017-18 suggested that of the 5.75 million individuals deemed as having some form of self-employment in 2017-18, 1.73 million received less than half of their total income from self-employment trading profits.

The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too. The design of the SEISS, including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the SEISS. Individuals receiving more than half their income from other sources may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. The SEISS is one element of a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to the letter of 24 April 2020 from the seven hon. Members that represent constituencies in Glasgow on support for universities affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

HM Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and apologises for the delay in responding to the Honourable Member. The Honourable Members’ correspondence is receiving attention and will be replied to as soon as possible.
Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to the letter of 27 April 2020 from the hon. Member for Glasgow North, reference number PG15145, on the Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme.

HM Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and apologises for the delay in responding to the Honourable Member. The Honourable Members’ correspondence is receiving attention and will be replied to as soon as possible.
Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to the letter of 6 April 2020 from the hon. Member for Glasgow North, reference number PG15057, on support for people working in the creative sectors during the covid-19 outbreak.

HM Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and apologises for the delay in responding to the Honourable Member. The Honourable Members’ correspondence is receiving attention and will be replied to as soon as possible.
Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the insurance industry on implementing an insurance premium holiday period for people affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector about its contribution to handling this unprecedented situation.

The Government recognises that the outbreak of COVID-19 may lead to consumers facing financial difficulty and uncertainty. The Government is working closely with the financial sector and financial regulators in order to ensure they take coordinated steps in support of the Government’s economic response to COVID-19.

To help consumers who are facing temporary cash flow problems as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, there are several measures that have been introduced across wider financial services. On 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that mortgage lenders will offer a three month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers in financial difficulty.

In addition, on 14 April, the Financial Conduct Authority implemented proposals to give its regulated firms the flexibility to provide temporary financial relief to those facing payment difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include firms being expected to offer a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards for up to three months, for consumers negatively impacted by COVID-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to waive duty payments on the production of alcohol for use in hand sanitiser by spirit drinks distillers in the UK.

To meet the additional demand for hand sanitiser, the government has been supporting manufacturers by ensuring they have access to the denatured alcohol they need. Since the beginning of March, HM Revenue & Customs has fast-tracked the authorisation of over 3 million additional litres of denatured alcohol for hand sanitiser production.

However, in light of continuing high demand for the alcohol needed in these products, HMRC has worked proactively with the spirits industry on a series of easements to the current requirements. Under new measures announced on 23rd March, distillers and gin producers that hold alcohol or alcohol waste within an excise warehouse may, without HMRC’s prior approval, use these products to produce hand sanitiser without the payment of excise duty, providing the final product meets the World Health Organization’s formulation for Handrub.

Further information on all the easements announced by HMRC to support hand sanitiser production can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/producing-hand-sanitiser-and-gel-for-coronavirus-covid-19

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives of the spirit distillation industry in the UK on the support they require to switch production to the manufacture of santising products.

To meet the additional demand for hand sanitiser, the government has been supporting manufacturers by ensuring they have access to the denatured alcohol they need. Since the beginning of March, HM Revenue & Customs has fast-tracked the authorisation of over 3 million additional litres of denatured alcohol for hand sanitiser production.

However, in light of continuing high demand for the alcohol needed in these products, HMRC has worked proactively with the spirits industry on a series of easements to the current requirements. Under new measures announced on 23rd March, distillers and gin producers that hold alcohol or alcohol waste within an excise warehouse may, without HMRC’s prior approval, use these products to produce hand sanitiser without the payment of excise duty, providing the final product meets the World Health Organization’s formulation for Handrub.

Further information on all the easements announced by HMRC to support hand sanitiser production can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/producing-hand-sanitiser-and-gel-for-coronavirus-covid-19

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to support people that are unable to transfer from high interest rate mortgages to more affordable mortgages.

A mortgage prisoner is an existing borrower that cannot switch to a cheaper deal with a new lender because they don’t meet stricter borrowing criteria set by strengthened regulations post financial crisis. The Government is aware that these borrowers have been in a difficult and stressful situation. That is why we have worked closely with the FCA to implement their rule change to remove the regulatory barrier that has prevented some customers from switching.

I have written to Stephen Jones, Chief Executive Officer of UK Finance to outline my expectation that as many of its members as possible should move quickly to offer new deals to borrowers that are eligible to switch under the new FCA rules.

However, FCA data shows that some of these borrowers may be in problem debt and are therefore likely to exceed the risk appetite of many lenders, including those in arrears. As with any borrower in the UK that experiences problem debt, the Government and the FCA are committed to working alongside lenders to provide appropriate support for these individuals. That is why we have established a range of initiatives to support those in problem debt, including the Money and Pensions Service which has been set up by the Government to support consumers with free and impartial information for every stage of their financial lives. Treasury officials are also working on implementing Breathing Space which will give borrowers in problem debt the opportunity to get their finances back on track. We have also ensured that regulations concentrate on helping people avoid repossession, including protection in the courts through the Pre-Action Protocol which makes it clear that repossession must always be the last resort for lenders.

The sale of mortgage books is a commercial decision for lenders and the Government does not seek to intervene in these decisions.

I cannot comment on future UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) sales other than to say that a range of buyers, including active lenders, will be invited to participate and we will continue to require bidders to agree to our robust customer protections. In asset sales to date, we have not received a bid from an active lender that covered all of the portfolio on offer.

In all sales of UKAR loans, customer treatment is a key consideration for UKAR and the government in selecting a bidder and all bidders have to agree to UKAR’s customer treatment conditions in order for their bid to be considered. This is a strict requirement, not open to negotiation, and is considered before bids are assessed on price.

The purchaser is obliged to ensure the servicer of the mortgages is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For the latest asset sale and future sales the legal title holder must also be FCA-regulated. This is a contractual requirement.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help prevent the sale of mortgages to vulture funds.

A mortgage prisoner is an existing borrower that cannot switch to a cheaper deal with a new lender because they don’t meet stricter borrowing criteria set by strengthened regulations post financial crisis. The Government is aware that these borrowers have been in a difficult and stressful situation. That is why we have worked closely with the FCA to implement their rule change to remove the regulatory barrier that has prevented some customers from switching.

I have written to Stephen Jones, Chief Executive Officer of UK Finance to outline my expectation that as many of its members as possible should move quickly to offer new deals to borrowers that are eligible to switch under the new FCA rules.

However, FCA data shows that some of these borrowers may be in problem debt and are therefore likely to exceed the risk appetite of many lenders, including those in arrears. As with any borrower in the UK that experiences problem debt, the Government and the FCA are committed to working alongside lenders to provide appropriate support for these individuals. That is why we have established a range of initiatives to support those in problem debt, including the Money and Pensions Service which has been set up by the Government to support consumers with free and impartial information for every stage of their financial lives. Treasury officials are also working on implementing Breathing Space which will give borrowers in problem debt the opportunity to get their finances back on track. We have also ensured that regulations concentrate on helping people avoid repossession, including protection in the courts through the Pre-Action Protocol which makes it clear that repossession must always be the last resort for lenders.

The sale of mortgage books is a commercial decision for lenders and the Government does not seek to intervene in these decisions.

I cannot comment on future UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) sales other than to say that a range of buyers, including active lenders, will be invited to participate and we will continue to require bidders to agree to our robust customer protections. In asset sales to date, we have not received a bid from an active lender that covered all of the portfolio on offer.

In all sales of UKAR loans, customer treatment is a key consideration for UKAR and the government in selecting a bidder and all bidders have to agree to UKAR’s customer treatment conditions in order for their bid to be considered. This is a strict requirement, not open to negotiation, and is considered before bids are assessed on price.

The purchaser is obliged to ensure the servicer of the mortgages is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For the latest asset sale and future sales the legal title holder must also be FCA-regulated. This is a contractual requirement.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of asylum seekers from countries on the red list who have arrived at the UK border since March 2020.

Asylum seekers are not going to be denied entry to the UK from red-list countries and their asylum claims will be processed as usual.

We have a legal obligation to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation, and as such the Home Office will continue to provide accommodation in which asylum seekers can self-isolate to stop to spread of Covid.

The Home Office publishes data on asylum applications in the Immigration Statistics quarterly release. Data on the number of asylum applications in each quarter, broken down by nationality is published in table Asy_D01 of the asylum detailed datasets. The latest data are to the end of September 2020, with data to the end of December 2020 due to be published on 25th February 2021. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the asylum and resettlement summary tables. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on asylum.

The published data does not show the country from which the asylum seeker left when they began their journey (or through which country or countries the asylum seeker subsequently travelled) in order to reach the UK, or when they arrived in the UK. Some asylum seekers may have been in the UK (or another country) for some time before claiming asylum. An individual with a particular nationality may not have actually been in that country for a significant length of time prior to claiming asylum. It is therefore not possible to say from the available data whether or not the individual has recently travelled from a ‘red list’ country.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Government plans to deny entry to the UK to asylum seekers arriving at the UK border from red list countries during the covid-19 pandemic.

Asylum seekers are not going to be denied entry to the UK from red-list countries and their asylum claims will be processed as usual.

We have a legal obligation to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation, and as such the Home Office will continue to provide accommodation in which asylum seekers can self-isolate to stop to spread of Covid.

The Home Office publishes data on asylum applications in the Immigration Statistics quarterly release. Data on the number of asylum applications in each quarter, broken down by nationality is published in table Asy_D01 of the asylum detailed datasets. The latest data are to the end of September 2020, with data to the end of December 2020 due to be published on 25th February 2021. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the asylum and resettlement summary tables. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on asylum.

The published data does not show the country from which the asylum seeker left when they began their journey (or through which country or countries the asylum seeker subsequently travelled) in order to reach the UK, or when they arrived in the UK. Some asylum seekers may have been in the UK (or another country) for some time before claiming asylum. An individual with a particular nationality may not have actually been in that country for a significant length of time prior to claiming asylum. It is therefore not possible to say from the available data whether or not the individual has recently travelled from a ‘red list’ country.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Government plans to seek to recoup the cost of hotel quarantine from asylum seekers arriving at the UK border from red list countries during the covid-19 pandemic.

Asylum seekers are not going to be denied entry to the UK from red-list countries and their asylum claims will be processed as usual.

The Home Office have a statutory duty to accommodate any asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute. Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation while their applications for asylum are considered. The Accommodation providers recognise the challenge of managing COVID 19 within our accommodation estate and are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) on how their guidance on social distancing and self-isolation is properly applied, while ensuring that people can continue to access essential services.

The accommodation is provided for free to those asylum seekers in receipt of asylum support and we do not recoup costs.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to help ensure that asylum seekers arriving at the UK border from red list countries can (a) quarantine effectively and (b) proceed with their asylum claim during the covid-19 pandemic.

Asylum seekers are not going to be denied entry to the UK from red-list countries and their asylum claims will be processed as usual.

The Home Office have a statutory duty to accommodate any asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute. Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation while their applications for asylum are considered. The Accommodation providers recognise the challenge of managing COVID 19 within our accommodation estate and are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) on how their guidance on social distancing and self-isolation is properly applied, while ensuring that people can continue to access essential services.

The accommodation is provided for free to those asylum seekers in receipt of asylum support and we do not recoup costs.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of amending income requirements for family visas to account for temporary reductions in income during the covid-19 pandemic.

We have already made several adjustments to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including those seeking to renew spousal visas.

These adjustments are among a range of measures put in place by the Home Office to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. These are set out for customers on GOV.UK and are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that the digital record of an EU citizen's settled status in the UK is protected against data loss.

Immigration decisions - and the rights and conditions which flow from those decisions - have been recorded digitally by the Home Office since the turn of the century and maintaining digital records of immigration status is not a new concept.

The following safeguards are in place to protect this data from accidental or deliberate loss:

  • the data in the central repository for immigration data is copied across three different data centres (or ‘availability zones’ within the Home Office cloud service provider’s region), which prevents any loss of data in the event of a catastrophic failure to one of those data centres. As a further precaution, the data is also copied across the Home Office cloud service provider’s regions which prevents any loss of data in the event of a catastrophic failure to an entire region
  • data is modelled in such a way it allows accidental deletions to be undone and a full audit maintained to allow a rollback due to accidental corruption
  • frequent backups of immigration data are carried out to act as a point in time snapshot if there is ever a need to refer back in time
  • robust security controls are in place to protect personal data against unauthorised access and only those who need access to perform their job are granted. Security and background checks are performed on all staff in these roles to further mitigate the risk there may be a deliberate attempt to corrupt or delete the data.

The Home Office will also look to apply any lessons learnt from the recent issues affecting the PNC to the ongoing management of immigration data, including digital records of immigration status.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending graduate work visas in response to the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Graduate route will be launched in summer 2021 and will enable students to work or look for work for two years (three years for PhD students) after successful completion of their course of study.

To be eligible for the route students must successfully complete a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance and hold valid leave as a student after the route is launched.

Students whose leave expires prior to the introduction of the route will not be eligible, but still benefit from favourable switching provisions into skilled work routes, including the new Skilled Worker Route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 1 December 2020 to Question 120888 on Biometric Residence Permits, for what reason free appointments were not offered during June 2020 when the service restarted.

The target of appointments being offered for free was decided as part of a contract change - a joint agreement with Sopra Steria Ltd on a metric that measured the number of free appointments in the system which augments the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regime in place.

This metric is designed to ensure more than half of all appointments at core sites (Cardiff, Croydon, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester) will be free to the customer. Details on the relevant performance indicators to measure appointment availability has been published and can be found in Schedule 7 of the UKVI Front End Services contract available here:

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/ec5031ea-021e-471a-86cf-af540e8d8efa

The performance of Sopra Steria Ltd on KPI 3 for the period of Quarter 2 (July – September 2020) is due to be published by the Cabinet Office as part of wider Government transparency in early 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/key-performance-indicators-kpis-for-governments-most-important-contracts

Following the suspension of UKVCAS due to COVID-19 lockdown measures, SSL began a phased reopening of the service in England on 1 June 2020 and from 22 June 2020 a phased reopening of sites in devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) where local conditions allowed. Both free and chargeable appointments were provided from these dates to customers. Customers who had appointments scheduled as of 27th March 2020 (when the service was suspended) were invited first to book and attend a UKVCAS appointment. As a result of customers having an appointment profile at the point of service suspension, customers’ existing appointment profiles (free or chargeable) at the time of service suspension were honoured across all UKVCAS sites.

Appointment systems returned to pre-COVID-19 profiles at the point of booking for customers on 22 June 2020. Customers who submitted their online application to UKVI in June were invited to book a UKVCAS appointment from 21 July.

As set out in the answer to a previous question, UKVCAS service was suspended in April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. In June 2020 the total number of appointments fulfilled across UKVCAS sites was 23,985 and of these 7,270 were paid for appointments.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 01 December 2020 to Question 120888 on Biometric Residence Permits, how many paid appointments were offered from April to June 2020.

The target of appointments being offered for free was decided as part of a contract change - a joint agreement with Sopra Steria Ltd on a metric that measured the number of free appointments in the system which augments the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regime in place.

This metric is designed to ensure more than half of all appointments at core sites (Cardiff, Croydon, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester) will be free to the customer. Details on the relevant performance indicators to measure appointment availability has been published and can be found in Schedule 7 of the UKVI Front End Services contract available here:

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/ec5031ea-021e-471a-86cf-af540e8d8efa

The performance of Sopra Steria Ltd on KPI 3 for the period of Quarter 2 (July – September 2020) is due to be published by the Cabinet Office as part of wider Government transparency in early 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/key-performance-indicators-kpis-for-governments-most-important-contracts

Following the suspension of UKVCAS due to COVID-19 lockdown measures, SSL began a phased reopening of the service in England on 1 June 2020 and from 22 June 2020 a phased reopening of sites in devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) where local conditions allowed. Both free and chargeable appointments were provided from these dates to customers. Customers who had appointments scheduled as of 27th March 2020 (when the service was suspended) were invited first to book and attend a UKVCAS appointment. As a result of customers having an appointment profile at the point of service suspension, customers’ existing appointment profiles (free or chargeable) at the time of service suspension were honoured across all UKVCAS sites.

Appointment systems returned to pre-COVID-19 profiles at the point of booking for customers on 22 June 2020. Customers who submitted their online application to UKVI in June were invited to book a UKVCAS appointment from 21 July.

As set out in the answer to a previous question, UKVCAS service was suspended in April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. In June 2020 the total number of appointments fulfilled across UKVCAS sites was 23,985 and of these 7,270 were paid for appointments.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 1 December 2020 to Question 120888 on Biometric Residence Permits, how the target of 56 per cent of appointments being offered for free was decided.

The target of appointments being offered for free was decided as part of a contract change - a joint agreement with Sopra Steria Ltd on a metric that measured the number of free appointments in the system which augments the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regime in place.

This metric is designed to ensure more than half of all appointments at core sites (Cardiff, Croydon, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester) will be free to the customer. Details on the relevant performance indicators to measure appointment availability has been published and can be found in Schedule 7 of the UKVI Front End Services contract available here:

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/ec5031ea-021e-471a-86cf-af540e8d8efa

The performance of Sopra Steria Ltd on KPI 3 for the period of Quarter 2 (July – September 2020) is due to be published by the Cabinet Office as part of wider Government transparency in early 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/key-performance-indicators-kpis-for-governments-most-important-contracts

Following the suspension of UKVCAS due to COVID-19 lockdown measures, SSL began a phased reopening of the service in England on 1 June 2020 and from 22 June 2020 a phased reopening of sites in devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) where local conditions allowed. Both free and chargeable appointments were provided from these dates to customers. Customers who had appointments scheduled as of 27th March 2020 (when the service was suspended) were invited first to book and attend a UKVCAS appointment. As a result of customers having an appointment profile at the point of service suspension, customers’ existing appointment profiles (free or chargeable) at the time of service suspension were honoured across all UKVCAS sites.

Appointment systems returned to pre-COVID-19 profiles at the point of booking for customers on 22 June 2020. Customers who submitted their online application to UKVI in June were invited to book a UKVCAS appointment from 21 July.

As set out in the answer to a previous question, UKVCAS service was suspended in April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. In June 2020 the total number of appointments fulfilled across UKVCAS sites was 23,985 and of these 7,270 were paid for appointments.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 1 December 2020 to Question 120888 on Biometric Residence Permits, when she plans to publish Sopra Steria Ltd's performance against KPI3 for the period from July 2020 onwards.

The target of appointments being offered for free was decided as part of a contract change - a joint agreement with Sopra Steria Ltd on a metric that measured the number of free appointments in the system which augments the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regime in place.

This metric is designed to ensure more than half of all appointments at core sites (Cardiff, Croydon, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester) will be free to the customer. Details on the relevant performance indicators to measure appointment availability has been published and can be found in Schedule 7 of the UKVI Front End Services contract available here:

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/ec5031ea-021e-471a-86cf-af540e8d8efa

The performance of Sopra Steria Ltd on KPI 3 for the period of Quarter 2 (July – September 2020) is due to be published by the Cabinet Office as part of wider Government transparency in early 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/key-performance-indicators-kpis-for-governments-most-important-contracts

Following the suspension of UKVCAS due to COVID-19 lockdown measures, SSL began a phased reopening of the service in England on 1 June 2020 and from 22 June 2020 a phased reopening of sites in devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) where local conditions allowed. Both free and chargeable appointments were provided from these dates to customers. Customers who had appointments scheduled as of 27th March 2020 (when the service was suspended) were invited first to book and attend a UKVCAS appointment. As a result of customers having an appointment profile at the point of service suspension, customers’ existing appointment profiles (free or chargeable) at the time of service suspension were honoured across all UKVCAS sites.

Appointment systems returned to pre-COVID-19 profiles at the point of booking for customers on 22 June 2020. Customers who submitted their online application to UKVI in June were invited to book a UKVCAS appointment from 21 July.

As set out in the answer to a previous question, UKVCAS service was suspended in April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. In June 2020 the total number of appointments fulfilled across UKVCAS sites was 23,985 and of these 7,270 were paid for appointments.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of suspending deportations until the World Health Organization declares that the global covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control.

We remain committed to removing foreign national offenders or those who violate our immigration rules and we have shown that we can continue to do this safely.

Immigration Enforcement are following the latest guidance from Public Health England. On all removal flights public health guidance is adhered to, those on flights are seen by a healthcare professional before they are returned and anyone who is exhibiting symptoms would be removed from the flight and placed into medical isolation.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of appointments for biometric enrollment are her Department's commercial partners Sopra Steria required to offer to applicants for free at any given time.

The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) regarding availability of free appointments for biometric enrolment related to Sopra Steria Ltd is published on a quarterly basis as part of the Key Performance Indicators for Government’s Most Important Contracts held by the Home Office.

Please follow the below link;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/key-performance-indicators-kpis-for-governments-most-important-contracts

Note: In order to find the information specific to Sopra Steria Ltd and the front end services contract, this can be identified via column C and selecting Sopra Steria Ltd.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether an equality impact assessment has been carried out in respect of her Department's plans to make rough sleeping grounds for deportation under the immigration rules.

The new Immigration Rules make provision for the refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK on the basis of rough sleeping. This will only be used where individuals have repeatedly refused support offers such as accommodation and are engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Guidance will be provided for decision makers to make clear the circumstances in which permission may be cancelled or refused, and this will also be available on GOV.UK when the new provision comes into force.

An Equality Impact Assessment was completed for all the Immigration Rules laid on 22 October 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, under what circumstances would someone who is rough sleeping be considered to have refused support under her Department's plans to make rough sleeping grounds for deportation under the immigration rules.

The new Immigration Rules make provision for the refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK on the basis of rough sleeping. This will only be used where individuals have repeatedly refused support offers such as accommodation and are engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Guidance will be provided for decision makers to make clear the circumstances in which permission may be cancelled or refused, and this will also be available on GOV.UK when the new provision comes into force.

An Equality Impact Assessment was completed for all the Immigration Rules laid on 22 October 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance will be given to immigration caseworkers to ensure that her Department's plans to make rough sleeping grounds for deportation under the immigration rules will be used as a last resort.

The new Immigration Rules make provision for the refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK on the basis of rough sleeping. This will only be used where individuals have repeatedly refused support offers such as accommodation and are engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Guidance will be provided for decision makers to make clear the circumstances in which permission may be cancelled or refused, and this will also be available on GOV.UK when the new provision comes into force.

An Equality Impact Assessment was completed for all the Immigration Rules laid on 22 October 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect of No Recourse to Public Funds conditions on the number of people rough sleeping in the UK.

The Home Office does not hold data on the number of people rough sleeping in the UK who are subject to no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

NRPF is applied to migrants who are expected to maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK, without recourse to public funds. However, individuals whose basis of stay in the UK is based on their family life or human rights can apply to have the NRPF condition lifted by making a ‘change of conditions’ application if there are exceptional circumstances related to financial circumstances, to avoid destitution and rough sleeping.

The Home Office has published its policy equality statement on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Fund (NRPF) policy on migrants on the 10-year human rights route. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change.

To avoid destitution and sleeping rough, those without immigration status should regularise their stay or leave the UK. There is support available to do this through the Voluntary Returns Service.

The Rough Sleeping Support Service (RSSS) offers an enhanced service for Local Authorities and registered charities to establish whether a rough sleeper has access to public funds. Part of this service includes the RSSS contacting casework teams (where there is an open application) to request that the case is prioritised. The Home Office remains committed to working with Local Authorities in their work with non-UK national rough sleepers.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals to automatically grant British citizenship to British born Windrush descendants whose families gained rights to settle in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971.

Individuals born in the UK prior to 1 January 1983 are British citizens. A person born in the UK since 1983 will be a British citizen automatically if either parent was a British citizen or settled in the UK at the time of the birth. This includes any person whose parent was a member of the Windrush generation with indefinite leave to remain granted by the Immigration Act 1971.

A child born before 1 July 2006 will only acquire citizenship automatically through their father if their parents were married. There is a provision in nationality law for such a person to register as a British citizen if they would have become a British citizen automatically had their parents been married. This provision extends to individuals born in the UK to members of the Windrush generation that were granted indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Act 1971. Those applying under this provision do not have to pay a registration fee.

The British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2019 further provides that such a person may register as a British citizen without needing to meet the good character requirement. The Order specifically amends the British Nationality Act 1981 to address the Supreme Court’s finding that the good character requirement for registration under certain routes was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of applying the British Nationality Act Remedial Order to British born Windrush descendants whose families gained the right to settle in the UK via the Immigration Act 1971.

Individuals born in the UK prior to 1 January 1983 are British citizens. A person born in the UK since 1983 will be a British citizen automatically if either parent was a British citizen or settled in the UK at the time of the birth. This includes any person whose parent was a member of the Windrush generation with indefinite leave to remain granted by the Immigration Act 1971.

A child born before 1 July 2006 will only acquire citizenship automatically through their father if their parents were married. There is a provision in nationality law for such a person to register as a British citizen if they would have become a British citizen automatically had their parents been married. This provision extends to individuals born in the UK to members of the Windrush generation that were granted indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Act 1971. Those applying under this provision do not have to pay a registration fee.

The British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2019 further provides that such a person may register as a British citizen without needing to meet the good character requirement. The Order specifically amends the British Nationality Act 1981 to address the Supreme Court’s finding that the good character requirement for registration under certain routes was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what requirements her Department sets for contracted asylum accommodation providers to report on the (a) number of repair requests received from tenants, (b) number of repairs completed and (c) timescales for completed repairs.
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what standards her Department sets for contracted asylum accommodation providers to action repair requests from tenants.
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her timescale is for moving asylum seekers in (a) Glasgow and (b) elsewhere in the UK from the hotel accommodation to which they were transferred back to appropriate accommodation.

It is Home Office policy to move people into suitable Dispersed Accommodation (DA) once their claim for support has been assessed

The current global pandemic has presented significant challenges in relation to the provision of asylum accommodation. To mitigate these challenges, we have had to source sufficient accommodation to meet demand, including hotels.

Hotels are utilised as contingency accommodation on a temporary basis, whilst pressures in the system are addressed and hotel use will be discontinued as soon as the Home Office is able to do so.There are currently 5,168 asylum seekers accommodated in Glasgow, of which a peak of 405 were in hotels at one point, but this has now been reduced to 237 and we are aiming to get to zero as soon as practicable.

Availability of DA is crucial to plans and timelines for reductions in hotel use. A comprehensive plan for the cessation of asylum support for ineligible cases has been established with input from Local Authorities, Other Government Departments and Stakeholders to assist in this regard.

180 Local Authorities out of 414 across the United Kingdom currently allow asylum seekers to be dispersed in their area. In Scotland, only Glasgow City Council has agreed to allow the dispersal of asylum seekers within their Local Authority area. We would encourage Local Authorities across the United Kingdom, including Scotland to participate so that we can reduce the number of people accommodated in hotels and create an equitable system of asylum dispersal.

We will continue to work with Local Authorities across the UK to increase the number of DA properties available to our accommodation service providers. In Glasgow we attend fortnight partnership boards with Glasgow City Council and Scottish Goverment to discuss DA procurement and hotel reduction.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when citizenship ceremonies will resume across the UK as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

It is for each Local Authority to determine when they will be able to resume Citizenship Ceremonies in line with current government advice relating to social distancing and public safety.

A small trial of remote ‘virtual ceremonies’ has recently taken place successfully and further work is now being done to make these more widely available.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether time spent outside the UK as a result of the covid-19 pandemic will qualify for the important reason exemption from the requirement for continuous residence in the UK to qualify for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

In line with the EU law rights protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU Settlement Scheme permits an applicant to have an absence (or absences) from the UK of up to six months in any 12-month period. It also allows for a single absence of up to 12 months in the period of five years’ continuous residence generally required for settled status under the scheme where that absence is for an important reason.

This includes serious illness and would cover, for example, absence required by being quarantined to protect public health.

Further guidance for applicants to the scheme who have been affected by illness or travel restrictions due to Covid-19 will be published shortly.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it is her Department's policy that time spent outside the UK as a result of quarantine measures imposed in response to the covid-19 pandemic is counted against continuous residence in the UK for the purposes of the EU Settlement Scheme.

In line with the EU law rights protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU Settlement Scheme permits an applicant to have an absence (or absences) from the UK of up to six months in any 12-month period. It also allows for a single absence of up to 12 months in the period of five years’ continuous residence generally required for settled status under the scheme where that absence is for an important reason.

This includes serious illness and would cover, for example, absence required by being quarantined to protect public health.

Further guidance for applicants to the scheme who have been affected by illness or travel restrictions due to Covid-19 will be published shortly.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it is mandatory for immigration enforcement officers to wear face masks when attending people's homes.

Under our safe systems of work, guidance issued to Immigration

Enforcement officers states that for all encounters in any operational setting, when officers encounter or are likely to encounter any unknown person where

maintaining social distancing of 2 metres is unlikely and physical barriers are not present, officers must apply a disposable facemask.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57247 on British Nationality: Assessments, how long after testing resumes will applications for indefinite leave continue to be held.

We have plans in place to conclude applications in process as quickly as possible once customers submit their certificates. Once test centres are fully reopened and services have resumed to a level where they can again meet demand, we expect that customers will submit their certificates within a reasonable timescale.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending all visa categories to compensate for the time lost during the covid-19 lockdown.

This government has taken the unprecedented measure of extending visas until 31 July in order to support people unable to leave the UK, due to circumstances outside of their control.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak, full details of which are published on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and take exceptional circumstances into account.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when reporting requirements are due to be reinstated for asylum seekers in each (a) nation and (b) region of the UK.

Reporting centres will only begin to open when social distancing and other preventative measures are in place to keep those that we require to report safe. Centres will only open in line with each of the four nations public health guidelines. 59811

Before inviting individuals back into reporting, case owners will assess cases based on the persons harm they pose to the public, their vulnerability and personal circumstances. 59812

All individuals required to return to a reporting centre will be given a minimum of seven days’ notice before their first appointment.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the current exemption from reporting requirements for asylum seekers.

Reporting centres will only begin to open when social distancing and other preventative measures are in place to keep those that we require to report safe. Centres will only open in line with each of the four nations public health guidelines. 59811

Before inviting individuals back into reporting, case owners will assess cases based on the persons harm they pose to the public, their vulnerability and personal circumstances. 59812

All individuals required to return to a reporting centre will be given a minimum of seven days’ notice before their first appointment.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what notice period will be provided to asylum seekers before reporting requirements are reinstated.

Reporting centres will only begin to open when social distancing and other preventative measures are in place to keep those that we require to report safe. Centres will only open in line with each of the four nations public health guidelines. 59811

Before inviting individuals back into reporting, case owners will assess cases based on the persons harm they pose to the public, their vulnerability and personal circumstances. 59812

All individuals required to return to a reporting centre will be given a minimum of seven days’ notice before their first appointment.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reasons guidance was removed from her Department's website that stated that non-EU spouses of British nationals would not be disadvantaged in their application for a spouse visa if they cannot meet their income requirement due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure a spouse or partner applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • A temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to Covid-19, will be disregarded provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020.
  • An applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary.
  • A temporary loss of annual income due to Covid-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account.
  • Evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The minimum income requirement can also be met in several ways in addition to or instead of income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These concessions are set out for customers on GOV.UK and are available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

An earlier draft of the guidance was uploaded to GOV.UK, but was quickly replaced with the correct version, thereby ensuring our guidance is as clear as possible on how a spouse or partner will not be disadvantaged.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that non-EU spouses of British nationals will not be disadvantaged in their application for a spouse visa if they cannot meet their income requirement due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure a spouse or partner applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • A temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to Covid-19, will be disregarded provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020.
  • An applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary.
  • A temporary loss of annual income due to Covid-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account.
  • Evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to Covid-19 restrictions.

These concessions are set out for customers on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

The minimum income requirement can also be met in several ways in addition to or instead of income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of enabling people to take the Life in the UK test virtually during the covid-19 pandemic

During Covid 19 we have been working closely with all our providers to restart the provision of our services. The knowledge of Life in the UK (LitUK) service reopened on 1st June 2020 in England only. This service recommenced with processes to ensure social distancing and health and safety measures are in place. Consideration of opening test sites in the rest of the United Kingdom is pending decisions by the individual devolved authorities.

We have previously considered remote testing and prior to the award of the recent contract. Remote testing was not considered appropriate as anti-fraud measures have to be maintained at all times to protect the integrity of the test.

We may however consider remote testing in the future as and when suitable technology is available and we are confident the integrity of tests can be maintained.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak and pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2020 to Question 47382, how long will applications for indefinite leave to remain in the UK be held to allow applicants to complete a life in the UK test, once testing resumes.

Individuals can continue to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and their application will be held until testing resumes, with their existing leave continuing until their application is decided.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have (a) applied for and (b) received compensation under the Windrush Compensation scheme; and how much has been paid out under that scheme to date.

Information on the total number of applications, claims paid and the overall amount paid out by the scheme is available to view on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/windrush-compensation-scheme-data-may-2020.

We are processing claims as quickly as possible, but all claims are different, and the time taken will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the case. We are committed to working with the claimant to ensure all possible information is taken into account and this will have an impact on the length of time it takes to process the claim. Wherever possible, we will make interim payments on parts of the claim that are straightforward to determine, such as immigration fees, thereby speeding up the provision of compensation.

Our recently published statistics on the payments made under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, show a clear increasing trajectory of payments: £362,997 paid in the first 12 months of the scheme, of which £300,799 was paid in the most recent three months of that period.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the timescale for processing payments under the Windrush Compensation Scheme; and if she will make a statement.

Information on the total number of applications, claims paid and the overall amount paid out by the scheme is available to view on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/windrush-compensation-scheme-data-may-2020.

We are processing claims as quickly as possible, but all claims are different, and the time taken will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the case. We are committed to working with the claimant to ensure all possible information is taken into account and this will have an impact on the length of time it takes to process the claim. Wherever possible, we will make interim payments on parts of the claim that are straightforward to determine, such as immigration fees, thereby speeding up the provision of compensation.

Our recently published statistics on the payments made under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, show a clear increasing trajectory of payments: £362,997 paid in the first 12 months of the scheme, of which £300,799 was paid in the most recent three months of that period.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish the instruction to caseworkers that was ordered to be published in paragraph 76(b) of the judgment of W&J v Secretary of State for the Home Department (CO/3036/2019).

Updated guidance to caseworkers containing this instruction was published on 29 May in line with paragraph 76(b) of the judgment of W&J v Secretary of State for the Home Department: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/family-life-as-a-partner-or-parent-private-life-and-exceptional-circumstance

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her department has made of the effect of the No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions on (a) BAME communities and (b) other communities.

The Home Office has published its policy equality statement on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Fund (NRPF) policy on migrants on the 10-year human rights route. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change.

The NRPF policy, which is based on the principle that migrants coming to the UK are expected to maintain and support themselves and their families without posing a burden on the UK’s welfare system. NRPF conditions were introduced in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Access to benefits and other publicly funded services reflects the strength of a migrant’s connections to the UK and, in the main, only become available to migrants when they have become settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain.

People on the 10-year human rights route can apply to have the condition lifted and other groups, such as refugees, are exempt from the condition.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what equality impact assessments her Department has undertaken on the effect of No Recourse to Public Funds’ restrictions in relation to (a) race and (b) other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

The Home Office has published its policy equality statement on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Fund (NRPF) policy on migrants on the 10-year human rights route. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change.

The NRPF policy, which is based on the principle that migrants coming to the UK are expected to maintain and support themselves and their families without posing a burden on the UK’s welfare system. NRPF conditions were introduced in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Access to benefits and other publicly funded services reflects the strength of a migrant’s connections to the UK and, in the main, only become available to migrants when they have become settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain.

People on the 10-year human rights route can apply to have the condition lifted and other groups, such as refugees, are exempt from the condition.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what equality impact assessments his Department has undertaken in relation to the effect of No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions on health outcomes by (a) race and (b) other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

The Home Office has published its policy equality statement on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Fund (NRPF) policy on migrants on the 10-year human rights route. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change.

The NRPF policy, which is based on the principle that migrants coming to the UK are expected to maintain and support themselves and their families without posing a burden on the UK’s welfare system. NRPF conditions were introduced in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Access to benefits and other publicly funded services reflects the strength of a migrant’s connections to the UK and, in the main, only become available to migrants when they have become settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain.

People on the 10-year human rights route can apply to have the condition lifted and other groups, such as refugees, are exempt from the condition.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the visas of Chinese students to allow them remain in the UK until it is safe to return to China following the coronavirus outbreak.

We will take a proportionate approach to individuals who are unable to comply with their visa due to circumstances beyond their control. Information and guidance will be placed into the public domain as soon as it is available.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 148829 on British Indian Ocean Territory: Navy, which stated that the UK has a 12 nautical mile territorial sea in the Chagos Archipelago, when that limit was first claimed by the UK Government; and how information on that limit was promulgated by the UK Government.

The reference to 12 nautical miles refers to the Mauritian claim as put in the original question on 8 February 2020; a claim which the UK does not accept. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to provide clarification. The UK claims a territorial sea of three nautical miles around the British Indian Ocean Territory.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the judgment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on 28 January 2021, what steps he is taking to ensure that when Ships of the Royal Navy are within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the Chagos Archipelago they comply with the laws and regulations of Mauritius as the coastal State as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The United Kingdom is aware of the judgment delivered on 28 January by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea formed to deal with the Dispute concerning delimitation of a maritime boundary claimed by Mauritius to exist between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The UK is not a party to these proceedings, which can have no effect for the UK or for maritime delimitation between the UK (in respect of the British Indian Ocean Territory) and the Republic of the Maldives.

We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the territory of the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the Archipelago, and we do not recognise its claim. We have made a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.

Owing to the UK's sovereignty over the territory, the prevailing laws and regulations within its 12 nautical mile territorial sea are those enacted in governance of a British overseas territory. The domestic laws and regulations of Mauritius do not apply. As such, there is no requirement for Royal Navy ships to adhere to Mauritian law when within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the tendering process was for the contract to repaint the RAF voyager plane used by the Government in the colors of the union flag.

The Voyager aircraft are owned by AirTanker Limited (ATr) who are contracted through the Voyager PFI to provide the Voyager Air to Air Refuelling and Air Transport services to the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Therefore, this work was contracted directly with ATr against the PFI contract. ATr has sub-contracted elements of the work taking account of mandatory aircraft certification, regulatory and licencing requirements. MOD worked closely with ATr to ensure that tenders were only sought from approved suppliers and that competitive tenders received were assessed for cost and deliverability, and where possible, benchmarked against similar work performed previously.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the need for international action to prevent the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

The use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is governed by International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The UK complies with all appropriate legal obligations and takes its adherence to IHL extremely seriously. The UK is at the forefront of international discussions on the subject and officials contributed extensively to the Vienna Conference on Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare in October 2019, in which steps towards a political declaration were taken. The issue centres on balancing the need to protect civilians with the requirement for responsible states to be able to operate effectively in the pursuit of national security and defence interests. Further discussions will take place in Geneva in February 2020 and officials from Her Majesty’s Government will continue to take a full and active role.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he holds information on the number of properties in each region given a zero-value for mortgage purposes by valuation surveyors as a result of the presence of cladding.

The Department does not hold this information.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of EWS1 forms for external wall fire reviews that have been completed for residential properties in each region of the UK.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) produced the EWS1 form for use by industry. Government does not hold data on the number of EWS1 forms which have been completed and expects industry to monitor its use.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of mortgages for residential properties that have been (a) offered and (b) declined by mortgage providers as a result of the completion of an EWS1 form for external wall fire reviews.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) produced the EWS1 form for use by industry. Government does not hold data on the number of EWS1 forms which have been completed and expects industry to monitor its use.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he has made an assessment of the correlation between his Department's issuing of cladding guidance and trends in the level of properties being given a zero-value for mortgage purposes by valuation surveyors.

Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors, published in January 2020, provides the latest advice for building owners concerned about the fire safety of their building/s. It is not a compliance document for mortgage lenders. Government is continuing to engage with industry representatives, including UK Finance, to understand approaches to risk.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with UK Finance on the correlation between his Department’s issuing of cladding guidance and properties being given a zero-value for mortgage purposes by valuation surveyors.

Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors, published in January 2020, provides the latest advice for building owners concerned about the fire safety of their building/s. It is not a compliance document for mortgage lenders. Government is continuing to engage with industry representatives, including UK Finance, to understand approaches to risk.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Leader of the House, with reference to the Written Statement of 26 October 2017, HCWS199 on Opposition Day Debates and the Answer of 1 November 2017 to Question 110093, whether the Government remains committed to that convention to respond to the resolution of the House by making a statement no more than 12 weeks after the debate.

I refer the hon. gentleman to my response during business questions on 28 January (Official Report, col. 570). It is vital that the Government sets out its position on motions tabled by the opposition. In my view that is best done during the debate, in particular in the Minister’s closing remarks that respond to the points that have been raised. The Government will always listen carefully to the views of the House and will continue to make regular oral or written statements to announce policy developments, provide updates and respond to events.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, whether he plans to bring forward provisions to enable hon. Members who are required by law to self-isolate under NHS test and trace procedures to participate in substantive proceedings of the House by virtual means.

We have ensured that people who cannot be here for a range of reasons can vote by proxy and participate in interrogative proceedings. The Government has brought forward a motion to allow additional virtual participation for debates in the Chamber for any member who has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. The change is in line with the Government advice to the whole country that the clinically extremely vulnerable should currently not go into work.

I will continue to engage with Members on how we best strike the balance between facilitating virtual participation and allowing scrutiny and legislation to continue. As I have always said, we continue to keep this matter under review.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward proposals to enable the Petitions Committee to schedule debates based on petitions created on websites other than the UK Parliament e-petition website.

The Government acknowledges the important role that petitions and debates on petitions play in allowing people to scrutinise the government on their own terms. The e-petitions website is jointly owned by Parliament and Government but is overseen by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. It is for the Petitions Committee to bring forward petitions for debate under Standing Order No. 10 (1)(a) and Standing Order No. 145A.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
12th Feb 2020
What the Government’s policy is on maintaining the Sewel Convention.

This Government remains fully committed to the Sewel Convention and the related practices and procedures for seeking legislative consent.

We will continue to uphold the spirit and the letter of the devolution settlement, as every Government has done consistently throughout the last twenty years.