Paul Girvan Portrait

Paul Girvan

Democratic Unionist Party - South Antrim

First elected: 8th June 2017

Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

(since July 2017)

Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education)

(since July 2017)

Paul Girvan is not a member of any APPGs
5 Former APPG memberships
Adult Social Care, Eggs, Pigs and Poultry, Healthy Homes and Buildings, Hydrogen, Union
International Trade Committee
2nd Mar 2020 - 26th Apr 2023
Transport Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Paul Girvan has voted in 459 divisions, and 3 times against the majority of their Party.

21 Sep 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Paul Girvan voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 2 Democratic Unionist Party No votes vs 6 Democratic Unionist Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 332 Noes - 257
11 Jan 2022 - Household Energy Bills: VAT - View Vote Context
Paul Girvan voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Democratic Unionist Party No votes vs 5 Democratic Unionist Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 229 Noes - 319
24 Jan 2023 - Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill - View Vote Context
Paul Girvan voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 2 Democratic Unionist Party No votes vs 6 Democratic Unionist Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 232 Noes - 296
View All Paul Girvan 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
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(7 debate interactions)
Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit)
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Northern Ireland Office
(25 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(10 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(9 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(7 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Paul Girvan's debates

South Antrim Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

As Parliament considers the Bill of Rights, the Government must reconsider including abortion rights in this Bill. Rights to abortion must be specifically protected in this legislation, especially as the Government has refused to rule out leaving the European Convention on Human Rights.


Latest EDMs signed by Paul Girvan

15th April 2024
Paul Girvan signed this EDM as a sponsor on Wednesday 17th April 2024

50th anniversary of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster Mission Board

Tabled by: Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry)
That this House notes that March 2024 marked 50 years since the founding of the Mission Board of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; further notes that since its inception funds have been raised to help alleviate hunger, assist in regions struck by earthquakes and war, missionaries have been trained …
6 signatures
(Most recent: 17 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Democratic Unionist Party: 3
Conservative: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
15th April 2024
Paul Girvan signed this EDM as a sponsor on Wednesday 17th April 2024

50th anniversary of Irish League title win by Coleraine FC

Tabled by: Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry)
That this House notes that 16 April 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the occasion when Coleraine FC won the Irish League title; congratulates the club on its preparations for significant further development both on and off the field; and further notes that the greatest achievement thus far in the …
3 signatures
(Most recent: 17 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Democratic Unionist Party: 3
View All Paul Girvan's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Paul Girvan, 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.


Paul Girvan has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Paul Girvan has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Paul Girvan has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


Latest 50 Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
27th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people in South Antrim constituency have received interim compensation payments as a result of (a) their infection and (b) their family member’s infection resulting from contaminated blood or blood products.

The Statistical Expert Group, established by the Infected Blood Inquiry, has provided valuable insight into the numbers of infections from blood and blood products in the UK between 1970 and 1991 and subsequent survival rates. Since October 2022, the Government has paid over £400 million in interim compensation payments to those infected or bereaved partners registered with the UK Infected Blood Support Schemes, totalling over 4000 individuals. However, the requested information is not available by Parliamentary constituency. There is also considerable uncertainty over the number of people, especially those affected, who might be eligible under Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations. Therefore I am not able to provide a substantive response to the Honourable member’s questions on his constituency.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
27th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department has taken to (a) identify and (b) contact people in South Antrim constituency who were (i) infected and (ii) affected by the contaminated blood scandal as part of Government preparations for responding to Infected Blood Inquiry recommendations on compensation.

The Statistical Expert Group, established by the Infected Blood Inquiry, has provided valuable insight into the numbers of infections from blood and blood products in the UK between 1970 and 1991 and subsequent survival rates. Since October 2022, the Government has paid over £400 million in interim compensation payments to those infected or bereaved partners registered with the UK Infected Blood Support Schemes, totalling over 4000 individuals. However, the requested information is not available by Parliamentary constituency. There is also considerable uncertainty over the number of people, especially those affected, who might be eligible under Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations. Therefore I am not able to provide a substantive response to the Honourable member’s questions on his constituency.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
27th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an estimate of the number of people that would be eligible for compensation under the terms of the recommendations of the second interim report of Infected Blood Inquiry, published on 5 April 2023, in South Antrim constituency.

The Statistical Expert Group, established by the Infected Blood Inquiry, has provided valuable insight into the numbers of infections from blood and blood products in the UK between 1970 and 1991 and subsequent survival rates. Since October 2022, the Government has paid over £400 million in interim compensation payments to those infected or bereaved partners registered with the UK Infected Blood Support Schemes, totalling over 4000 individuals. However, the requested information is not available by Parliamentary constituency. There is also considerable uncertainty over the number of people, especially those affected, who might be eligible under Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations. Therefore I am not able to provide a substantive response to the Honourable member’s questions on his constituency.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
24th Mar 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of holding a census every five years.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the Hon gentlemen Parliamentary Question of 24th March 2023 is attached.

13th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will meet the hon. Member for South Antrim and investors to discuss (a) strengthening the Union and (b) working together to ensure that the economy recovers in all four nations of the UK.

As set out in our Manifesto, this Government is fully committed to strengthening the bonds between our four great nations. This includes providing unprecedented economic support, £160 billion to protect people’s jobs, incomes and businesses across every part of the UK, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ministers are always willing to meet with fellow Members to discuss how we can work in the most effective way possible, to realise fully all the associated benefits of being a United Kingdom. Our officials will be in touch with your office to arrange details.

6th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made on the introduction of an energy price cap for businesses in the UK.

Applying a price cap in the non-domestic market is impractical given the number of different contractual arrangements, the range of prices offered and the risk of market distortion. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme has been designed to offer a comparable level of support to the domestic Energy Price Guarantee and legislation came into force on 1 November, shielding businesses across the United Kingdom from soaring energy prices and saving some around half of their wholesale energy costs. The scheme applies to energy usage from 1 October 2022 for an initial 6-month period.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to develop new financial support packages to help support UK shipyards to compete internationally.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is developing proposals for a Home Shipbuilding Loan Guarantee instrument as part of the cross-Whitehall National Shipbuilding Strategy. We hope to launch this instrument shortly.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has provided guidance to health and wellbeing boards on how health and wellbeing is to be applied within the context of the government heat and buildings strategy.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Strangford on 16th March 2022 to Question 136558 and to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North on 28th March 2022 to Question 128459.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is co-ordinating discussions with (a) Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, (b) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and (c) Department for Health and Social Care on a definition of health and wellbeing as it applies to the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Strangford on 16th March 2022 to Question 136558 and to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North on 28th March 2022 to Question 128459.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how his Department defines health and wellbeing within the context of the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Strangford on 16th March 2022 to Question 136558 and to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North on 28th March 2022 to Question 128459.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has plans to strengthen the security of the electricity supply in the context of the move from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for landline telephones.

Maintaining a resilient and secure energy supply for the UK is a key priority for this Government. The Government continues to work with both the energy and telecommunication industries to understand the implications of the move from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to tackle the impact of rising energy prices for consumers.

The Government is committed to protecting customers, especially the most vulnerable. Despite the rising cost of wholesale energy, the price cap still saves 15 million households up to £100 a year. Low income and fuel poor households will continue to be supported with their energy bills through the Warm Home Discount, which provides eligible households with a £140 discount. Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments will also ensure that the most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the colder months.

Additionally, the Government has announced an extra £500 million for local authorities through the new Household Support Fund to help those most in need over winter.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to tackle the delays in Government redundancy payments for ex-Flybe staff in Northern Ireland.

The payment of redundancy claims to employees who were employed in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Executive. Redundancy claims are processed by the NI Redundancy Payments Service in Belfast under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.

16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the potential economic effect of the development of gigafactories.

This Government recognises the economic benefits that securing a UK gigafactory could bring and made this a manifesto commitment. That is why last autumn we announced up to £1 billion of additional funding to develop UK electric vehicle supply chains, and for further electric vehicles research and development.

This builds on the £274 million Government has already invested in the Faraday Battery Challenge through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Faraday is a cutting-edge programme, helping businesses in the UK to lead the world in the design, development, and manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles. The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is on course to open for business in spring 2020 with the first industry-led projects to scale-up battery technology fully underway by the summer.

The Faraday Institution commissioned a study which showed that by 2040, an estimated eight gigafactories (of 15GWh per year capacity) will be needed in the UK and consequently employment in the automotive industry and battery supply chain could increase to 246,000 jobs.

16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what information her Department holds on the number of instances that businesses have been (a) warned and (b) fined for charging fees for the use of credit or debit cards since January 2018.

No such information is held by the Department.

16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will make an assessment of the potential effect of banning the geographical restriction by sellers on deliveries to parts of the UK.

The Government is clear that information about costs and restrictions must be transparent at the point of purchase, and this is set out in legislation. Enforcement bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority take action where retailers fail to comply.

The aim of Government in relation to postal services is to secure a sustainable, efficient and affordable universal postal service in the UK.  It is a matter for retailers and any private delivery partners they use to determine whether it is within their commercial interests to deliver to a particular location. Parties must be able to cover their costs in delivering to consumers which may be higher or prohibitive in some areas due to varying factors including volume.

18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent progress her Department has made on the future of Channel 4.

The Government set out its plans to deliver a new golden age of British TV and to and to help the nation’s public service broadcasters (PSBs) thrive in a White Paper, published on 28 April 2022.

Channel 4 is a major pillar of these plans to safeguard the future of public service broadcasting. Following an extensive consultation, the Secretary of State has come to the conclusion that, in today’s intensely competitive broadcast economy, public ownership is holding Channel 4 back.

Channel 4 is and will remain a free-to-air PSB, just like ITV, Channel 5 and STV which are privately-owned and hugely successful. But the government will remove the restriction which effectively prohibits Channel 4 from producing and selling its own content so it can diversify its revenue streams and improve its long-term sustainability.

Whoever buys the broadcaster will inherit equivalent obligations to what it is subject to now as a Public Service Broadcaster - a requirement to support regional production outside London and England, commission a minimum volume of shows from independent producers, and to provide news as well as the original, innovative and risk-taking content it is known and loved for.

The Government will look to use some of the proceeds from the sale of Channel 4 to deliver a new creative dividend for the sector.

The Government will bring forward legislation to enable a change of ownership of Channel 4 through the Media Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will publish details of (a) planned changes to the Communications Code; and whether that will include mitigations to help ensure that telecoms companies cannot demand rent reductions from landowners for mast infrastructure.

Our consultation on Electronic Communications Code closed on 24 March 2021, and we are analysing the responses received. The government’s response will be published once this process is completed.

The consultation made clear that the government continues to believe the valuation regime introduced in 2017 strikes the right balance between the public need for digital communications and the rights of landowners to receive fair payments for allowing their land to be used. The valuation regime is therefore not being revisited, but the consultation did ask whether changes were needed to support more collaborative negotiations and help disagreements to be dealt with more quickly and cheaply.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to enable the return of in-person events without social distancing.

We want to see live venues open their doors to full audiences as soon as it is safe to do so, and we are working extensively with these sectors on how to achieve this.

Indoor performances to socially distanced audiences have been permitted since 15 August, and I am happy to see a number of organisations have opened successfully in this way. Any further steps to continue to open up the sector will understandably be dependent on the pandemic and the number of cases at that time.

18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with advisory bodies on identifying the type of businesses which require different types of covid-19 support in the live events industry.

  • We recognise that the live events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19. The ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group ensures we understand the issues facing all our Creative Industries sectors and that we are helping them as effectively as possible. The membership of the Working Group includes live events industry trade bodies such as the Production Services Association, the Music Venue Trust, the Concert Promoters Association and the National Arenas Association.

  • In addition, officials are in regular contact with live events industry stakeholders, ensuring that the needs of the industry are fully understood.

  • We will continue to work with the representatives of the live events industry to understand the difficulties the different parts of the sector faces and support the industry through these challenging times.

18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government plans to take to assist companies in the live entertainment industry that are unable to take on more debt and are at risk of insolvency as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the live entertainment events sector. As you are aware, the Government has provided unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the Bounceback Loan Scheme and business rates reliefs.

The Chancellor has announced the Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months, once the existing SEISS and CJRS come to end. From November, the Jobs Support Scheme will provide further support to returning workers, while the extended Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will aid the self-employed who are currently actively trading but are facing reduced demand.

We are also offering businesses who face a drop in demand for their services and possible cash flow issues generous terms for the repayment of deferred taxes and government-backed loans, and are extending the application window of the government-backed loan schemes and continuing reduced VAT (from 20% to 5%) on concert tickets to March 2021.

We will give all businesses that borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. We also intend to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans.

In addition, the Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This support package will benefit the events sector by providing support to venues and many other organisations to stay open and continue operating.

We recognise that the live entertainment events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19. We continue to meet with the stakeholders to discuss the specific issues facing the industry.

18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that funding for the live entertainment industry is made available to all parts of the sector.

  • The Government recognises that the pandemic presents a significant challenge to the live entertainment industry.

  • The £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund will secure the future of the performing arts and live events, protect jobs in the industry and ensure work continues to flow to other parts of the sector, such as freelancers, the self employed and people who work in production services.

  • The Cultural Recovery Fund is devolved. Northern Ireland has received £33 million from the Fund under the Barnett formula.

  • To complement the funding for organisations made available by Government, Arts Council England have announced £95m of additional support for individuals in England, including freelancers.

  • ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the existing programmes, including stage managers and technicians.

  • The Chancellor has announced the Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months, once the existing Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme come to end.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what (a) role and (b) responsibilities his Department has apportioned to the Department of Communiites in Northern Ireland in relation to the Tampon Tax Fund; and if he will publish documentation on that role and those responsibilities.

The Tampon Tax Fund is a UK-wide fund. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport works in consultation with the government of the devolved administrations, including the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, to deliver the Tampon Tax Fund.

The 2020/21 round of the Tampon Tax Fund was launched on 16th March 2020. The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland will be asked to provide additional feedback on how applications looking to deliver projects in Northern Ireland fit within their priorities, as part of a wider assessment process. The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland also holds the grant agreements for Tampon Tax Fund projects that are delivered predominantly in Northern Ireland and will continue to do so for the 2020/21 round of funding.

9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Government plans to bring forward the Online Harms Bill.

As set out in the Queen’s Speech, the Online Harms Bill is a key legislative priority for this Government. Last month we published our initial government response to the White Paper consultation and we are working at pace on our legislative proposals, which will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows.

17th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance her Department provides to (a) schools and (b) other educational establishments to help ensure political impartiality in messaging shared with (i) students and (ii) the wider community.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to ensure that all Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils cover (a) the creation of the United Kingdom, (b) Acts and Treaties of Union and (c) the creation of the Union flag as part of the national curriculum.

Education is a devolved matter, and the response outlines the information for England only.

The National Curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The National Curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. There is plenty of scope to teach about the creation of the United Kingdom, the Union and the UK flag within the themes and eras of the history curriculum.

The forming of the United Kingdom can be taught as part of the Key Stage 3 theme, ‘the development of Church, state and society in Britain 1509-1745’ where one of the non-statutory examples is ‘the Act of Union of 1707’.

The later creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as its flag, as a result of the Acts of Union in 1800 could be taught as part of the theme, ‘ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901’.

15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to ensure that all Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils are taught about the culture, politics and geography of each of the UK nations as part of the national curriculum.

Education is a devolved matter, and the response outlines the information for England only.

All schools in England must offer a curriculum that is balanced and broad, which prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

The National Curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The National Curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. There is plenty of scope to teach pupils about the culture, politics and geography of each of the UK nations within the National Curriculum across a range of subjects, including citizenship, geography and where else teachers and schools feel it is appropriate.

Within citizenship, pupils in secondary maintained schools in England will learn about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding. Pupils should also be taught about parliamentary democracy and the key elements of the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Within geography, pupils should be taught to name and locate counties and cities of the United Kingdom, geographical regions and their identifying human and physical characteristics, key topographical features and land-use patterns, and understand how some of these aspects have changed over time.

The Department has published Political Impartiality in Schools guidance to support teachers in tackling sensitive issues in the classroom in a politically impartial way. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/political-impartiality-in-schools.

13th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment her Department has been made of the difference between the eligibility threshold for free school meals in England compared to (a) Northern Ireland and (b) other devolved nations; and if she will take steps to review the threshold that applies for free school meals in England.

Education, including free school meals (FSM), is a devolved matter. The Department is aware that approaches will vary between different administrations. This response outlines the information for England only.

The latest published statistics from the Department are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics. The figures show that around 1.9 million pupils are claiming FSM. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 20.8% in 2021. Together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the Universal Infant Free School Meal policy, over one third of school children are now provided with FSM at a cost of over £1 billion a year. The Department currently has protections in place, ensuring that eligible pupils keep their FSM entitlement even if their household circumstances change.

The Department believes that the current eligibility threshold level, which enables children in low income households to benefit from FSM while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. The Department will continue to keep FSM eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them, as well as continuing to monitor current issues that affect disadvantaged families, such as the rising cost of living, and its effect on FSM.

12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, who can register a child for a school; and what effect a statement of special educational needs has on the rights of the parent.

Education is a devolved matter, and the response outlines the information for England only.

Section 86 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, which covers admission to schools in England, enables the parent of a child to express a preference as to which school(s) they would like their child to attend. It also requires school admission authorities in England to comply with that parental preference subject to certain limited exceptions, for example, where the school is oversubscribed. Young people, as well as their parents, can apply for a place at a school sixth form.

The Children Act 1989 states that anyone who has parental responsibility for a child can exercise ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’. For a looked-after child, the local authority is the corporate parent.

Statements of Special Educational Need (SEN) were phased out in England after the Children and Families Act 2014. There is now a broader system of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Where a child has an EHC plan, the parent can request a place at a state school, or various other education settings. The local authority must then name that requested placement on the EHC plan unless it is unsuitable for the child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN, or the attendance of the child at the school would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others or with the efficient use of resources.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that the Pikku Publishing children's book entitled, Amazing Women of the Middle East: 25 Stories from Ancient Times to Present Day, which deletes Israel from the map, will be denied authorisation for use in schools in the UK.

The content of textbooks is a matter for individual publishers. The department does not play a role in prescribing or authorising the books that schools can use. It is a matter for schools themselves to determine what curriculum resources they use, and we trust them to use their judgement in assessing their quality.

We understand from the publisher that Palestine was included on the map to signify the origin of one of the women in the book, born in the 19th century. The publisher has made clear no offence was intended, and if a new edition is published, they would omit or update the map to address the criticisms. Additionally, the publisher has stated that only a selection of countries from the area are included on the map.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to reduce the maximum fee for higher education tuition.

The government is committed to a sustainable higher education funding model which supports high quality provision, meets the skills needs of the country, and maintains the world-class reputation of UK higher education. We also recognise that tuition fees must represent value for money for students and taxpayers.

The government has already announced that the maximum tuition fee cap will remain at £9,250 for the 2021/22 academic year in respect of standard full-time courses, meaning maximum fees have been frozen for 4 consecutive years. We continue to consider the recommendations in the Augar report, including those pertaining to higher education fees and funding, very carefully.

Universities and other higher education providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees under the maximum cap defined by government. In deciding to keep charging full fees, providers will want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. The Office for Students, as regulator for higher education providers in England, has made it clear that providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will commission a report on the level of academic freedom in UK universities.

Universities must protect academic freedom and must be places where staff and students with a diverse range of views are comfortable to express their views without fear of repercussion.

A number of recent reports have provided evidence of a range of threats to freedom of speech and academic expression at UK universities. A 2019 report by Kings College London found signs of a “chilling effect”; as 1 in 4 students reported that they were scared to express their views for fear of repercussions.

A recent report by Policy Exchange found that some academics feel similarly reluctant to express their views, with some academics reporting that they face discrimination throughout recruitment and promotion processes as a result of their political views.

Lawful free speech and academic freedom must be supported to the fullest extent at universities so that students, staff and visiting speakers feel free to explore a range of ideas and challenge perceived wisdom. Academic freedom is essential, and individuals or groups of academics must be free to carry out research even on contentious issues. We are exploring a range of legislative and non-legislative options to ensure this and my department will set out further steps in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure freedom of academic thought and expression at UK universities.

Universities must protect academic freedom and must be places where staff and students with a diverse range of views are comfortable to express their views without fear of repercussion.

A number of recent reports have provided evidence of a range of threats to freedom of speech and academic expression at UK universities. A 2019 report by Kings College London found signs of a “chilling effect”; as 1 in 4 students reported that they were scared to express their views for fear of repercussions.

A recent report by Policy Exchange found that some academics feel similarly reluctant to express their views, with some academics reporting that they face discrimination throughout recruitment and promotion processes as a result of their political views.

Lawful free speech and academic freedom must be supported to the fullest extent at universities so that students, staff and visiting speakers feel free to explore a range of ideas and challenge perceived wisdom. Academic freedom is essential, and individuals or groups of academics must be free to carry out research even on contentious issues. We are exploring a range of legislative and non-legislative options to ensure this and my department will set out further steps in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department will take to ensure academic standards are maintained by UK universities that amend course material to comply with Chinese National Security Laws.

It is absolutely critical that universities ensure all students have access to the teaching materials they need to continue their studies and fully immerse themselves in our world leading education system.

Academic freedom and freedom of speech are cornerstones of the UK’s world-class higher education system, and are fundamental to a student’s experience, wherever they may be based. Providers in England are required to uphold these freedoms through a combination of legislation and regulation by the Office for Students and we expect all universities to comply with these expectations whilst also ensuring they abide by any local regulations.

Following my letter to Universities UK, and given the importance of these values, departmental officials are supporting a Universities UK-led programme of work to assist universities manage and mitigate the security risks associated with any international collaboration and to maintain UK higher education values. A key output of this work is the production of guidelines to support the sector, to be published this autumn.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a nation-wide accreditation scheme for university grades.

The government has set a clear expectation that universities must use their awarding powers responsibly and must not inflate grades for their own reputation or league table ranking. It is vital that students, graduates and the public are confident in the value of a university degree.

UK higher education providers with degree-awarding powers are responsible for the academic standards of their awards. Providers are held to account through the UK Quality Code for Higher Education which requires providers to use external expertise, assessment and classification processes that are reliable, fair, and transparent.

The sector has agreed to recognise new standards for all degree classifications. These set out what criteria students need to meet in order to achieve each level of classification of Bachelor’s degree with honours qualifications, helping to ensure degree standards are reliable and reflect the level of a student’s achievements.

24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department are taking to support research on gene edited plants; and what assessment she has made of the potential merits of requiring researchers to have a license before conducting gene editing on animals.

The Government has passed into law The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act that unlocks growth and innovation in the bioscience sector. Precision breeding technology such as gene editing, taking place in the UK’s leading research institutes has the potential to tackle some of the major challenges of our time.

Relevant licences under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 continue to be required for any scientific research involving gene-editing in animals.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) bottom-towed fishing gear and (b) other destructive fishing activities are banned from offshore Marine Protected Areas.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.


We have designated over 100 Marine Protected Areas since 2010, so that now 40% of English waters are within the protected area network. We have already committed that the next step is to ensure all of our MPAs are properly protected, supported by our proposed legally binding target under the Environment Act which we are consulting on at present. We have already introduced byelaws in the first four sites which ban bottom towed gear over sensitive habitats and published a call for evidence relating to the next thirteen sites. We are aiming to have all Marine Protected Areas in English offshore waters protected from damaging fishing activity by 2024.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will commit to setting future catch limits for cod in line with scientific advice to allow stocks to recover and rebuild.

The UK advocates an approach towards setting Total Allowable Catches for cod stocks and other species that is founded on the best available scientific advice, which seeks to maintain or rebuild sustainable fish stocks and fisheries in the long term. For many whitefish stocks, such as cod, a further key consideration when setting the Total Allowable Catch is their interaction with other stocks caught in the same mixed fishery.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of re-establishing the three mile limit.

Fisheries management is largely devolved. In England, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities manage fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone. In future, fisheries management will increasingly be delivered through Fisheries Management Plans.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) allocating a share of publicly-owned fishery to recreational sea anglers and (b) setting aside an area within 0 to 3 miles from commercial exploitation for those anglers.

Regarding (a) in England, recreational sea angling is unlicensed and therefore anglers are not subject to quota allocations.

The value of recreational sea angling is recognised in England via the inclusion of ‘recreational sea fishing’ in the Fisheries Act 2020. The Act contains a requirement to develop fisheries management plans, ensuring the integration of recreational sea angling into wider fisheries management.

Regarding (b) there is no proposal to set aside specific areas for recreational sea angling. However, consultation on a number of potential Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters is planned for this spring. As part of this work, we will continue to work with recreational fishers to explore opportunities for recreational or low impact zones around HPMAs.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the removal of the basic payments scheme and transfer to a Countryside Stewardship grant on food production in the UK.

The Basic Payment Scheme is not about food production. Decoupling of payments from food production took place some 15 years ago. Our evidence suggests that the removal of Direct Payments in England would only have a very marginal effect, if any, on overall production.

Direct Payments appear to stimulate a small (0-5%) increase in production only in the sheep, cattle, and dairy sectors, although the payments do not add to the economic value of these sectors. The overall profitability of those sectors is unlikely to be affected by a decrease in production.

Phasing out Direct Payments will free up money so we can reward farmers for delivering public goods, including environmental outcomes. Farmers will also be able to access grants to help boost their productivity through the Farming Investment Fund.

We recently reviewed Countryside Stewardship revenue payment rates and the new rates will apply to all agreements from 1 January 2022. Compared to 2013 rates, there is an average increase of around 30% but the changes vary for different options.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the total agricultural subsidy in each year of the next seven years; and what his timetable is for reviewing that level of spending.

We have committed to maintain the farming budget for the duration of this parliament. On 1 January 2021 the agricultural transition period in England commenced. Between 2021 and 2027 the Government will seize the opportunity of EU exit to increase the sustainability, productivity and resilience of the agriculture sectors by:

  • fulfilling the commitment to maintain total farm support in every nation of the UK worth a cumulative £3.7 billion a year.
  • progressing the Agricultural Transition in England including the roll out of Environmental Land Management schemes to pay farmers for delivering climate and environmental benefits while producing the nation's food.

Figure 1 of the Agricultural Transition Plan, published in November 2020, sets out our high-level spending plans across the rest of the parliament.

This is the first four years of the agricultural transition period and is covered by the Government's commitment to maintain current levels of spending in England, based on 2019 funding levels when the manifesto commitment was made. This amounts to an average of £2.4 billion a year over that period.

In 2021/22, the period covered by the Government Spending Review, total spend is expected to be £2,415 million. Of that we intend to spend £1,644 million on Direct Payments, £562 million on new and existing schemes for environmental outcomes and £210 million on schemes supporting prosperity in the sector in addition to contributing to environmental and animal health welfare outcomes.

We will quantify spending plans for meeting the manifesto commitment in future years as part of future Spending Reviews and subject to final policy designs.

As we move through the transition, we need to be able to adjust our funding allocations in-year as we see what works, and what schemes and support farmers are interested in.

We will keep adjustments to a minimum, to provide as much certainty as possible, and we will make any changes in an open and transparent way. We intend to continue to make gradual reductions in Direct Payments across the rest of the transition until the last year of Direct Payments in 2027.

We continually review our spending plans as we learn more about farmer uptake in our schemes, iterate policy development and roll out new schemes.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of food consumed in the UK was produced in the UK in (a) 2021 and (b) 1987.

The ratio of food we produce in the UK compared to our food supply need remains high against historical levels. This ratio temporarily increased after World War 2 as production subsidies and intervention schemes drove over-production, and it stood at 74% in 1987. In addition to the end of such schemes, other things have happened since including changing consumer choices which has increased demand for a wider range of food, some of which we cannot produce in the UK for all or part of the year. For example, UK consumers currently consume significantly more rice than they did in 1987, all of which must be imported.

The most recent figures for 2020 (published in 2021) show we produced 60% of our food supply need but 74% of food that we can produce for all or part of the year. These figures have remained steady throughout this century. We are almost 100% self-sufficient in poultry, carrots and swedes. Sectors like soft fruit have seen a trend towards greater self-sufficiency with an extended UK season displacing imports.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information his Department holds on the number of illegal puppy farms have been closed down in the last five years, by jurisdiction.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the licence requirements for animal related activities such as pet selling or dog breeding. They therefore hold details of the enforcement activity being undertaken in their area, including information on action they have taken in relation to illegal breeding activity.

This Government takes the issue of the low-welfare and illegal supply of puppies very seriously. The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 require anyone in the business of breeding and selling dogs and/or who breeds three or more litters in a twelve-month period to have a valid licence from their local authority. Licencees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences.

To support local authorities’ enforcement activity, my department maintains a national communications campaign (Petfished) to raise awareness of issues associated with low-welfare and illegal supply of pets. This includes providing clear signposting to where responsible breeders and rehoming centres can be found and encouraging prospective buyers to research the seller thoroughly before they visit and decide to purchase. The campaign provides a list of red flags for buyers to look out for when searching for a pet online. More information can be found here: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/

Additionally, the Government has a manifesto commitment to crack down on puppy smuggling and one of our key reforms in the Action Plan on Animal Welfare is to end this abhorrent, cruel practice and low-welfare pet imports. Through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill currently before Parliament, we will introduce new powers to tackle the unethical trade of puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) that can travel under pet travel rules. The Bill will also include powers for the Government to bring in further restrictions on the movement of pets on welfare grounds, for example by increasing the minimum age of imported puppies and restricting the import of pregnant dogs and dogs with mutilations such as cropped ears and tails.

We continue to maintain a close working relationship with the animal welfare sector, enforcement agencies and Governments across the four nations regarding the regulation of dog breeding and pet sales. This will allow us to explore a more consistent approach to addressing any cross-border issues associated with illegal or low-welfare supply.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether Northern Ireland is included in (a) part 1 list ,(b) part 2 list or is (c) unlisted for the purpose of moving of non-commercial dogs, cats or ferrets after the transition period.

Our application to become a listed third country for non-commercial pet travel after the transition period included the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies. The EU Commission has voted and formally adopted Great Britain and the Crown Dependencies as a 'Part II' listed third country.

This listed status will not apply in Northern Ireland as the EU's pet travel regulations which govern the movement of non-commercial dogs, cats and ferrets apply there, being included in Annex II of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General