Rupa Huq Portrait

Rupa Huq

Labour - Ealing Central and Acton

First elected: 7th May 2015


Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill
3rd May 2023 - 23rd May 2023
Panel of Chairs
22nd Jun 2020 - 27th Sep 2022
Public Order Bill
25th May 2022 - 21st Jun 2022
Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union
2nd Mar 2020 - 16th Jan 2021
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Crime and Prevention)
21st Oct 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Regulatory Reform
12th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Justice Committee
26th Oct 2015 - 31st Oct 2016


Department Event
Thursday 18th April 2024
09:30
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
Oral questions - Main Chamber
18 Apr 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 155 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 286 Noes - 221
Speeches
Thursday 1st February 2024
Oral Answers to Questions
Last July, the then Solicitor General, the hon. and learned Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson), told …
Written Answers
Thursday 8th February 2024
Football: Regulation
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if she will take steps to include anti-racism teaching …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 22nd February 2022
Jamal Edwards MBE
That this House remembers the life and achievements of Jamal Edwards MBE, a musical pioneer, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist born …
Bills
Wednesday 24th June 2020
Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to restrict demonstrations in the vicinity of abortion clinics; and for connected purposes.
MP Financial Interests
Monday 30th October 2023
4. Visits outside the UK
Name of donor: European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Address of donor: Rue Montoyer 23, 1000 Brussels
Estimate …
EDM signed
Monday 12th June 2023
Sixth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire
That this House marks with sadness the sixth anniversary of the terrible Grenfell Fire disaster; calls for urgent action from …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 29th November 2022
National Eye Health Strategy Bill 2022-23
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish a national eye health strategy for England; and to require …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Rupa Huq has voted in 678 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Rupa Huq voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Labour No votes vs 124 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
View All Rupa Huq 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
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(28 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Independent)
(22 debate interactions)
Kit Malthouse (Conservative)
(17 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(60 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(56 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(48 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Public Order Act 2023
(9,734 words contributed)
Finance Act 2020
(3,176 words contributed)
Forensic Science Regulator Bill 2019-21
(2,348 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Rupa Huq's debates

Ealing Central and Acton Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with highest Ealing Central and Acton signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

Revoke all licences (PEL) for commercial breeders of laboratory animals. Require all Project Licences (PPLs) applications be reviewed by an independent Non Animal Methods (NAMs) specialist committee. Revise s24 ASPA 1986 to allow review. Urge International Regulators to accept & promote NAMs.

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.


Latest EDMs signed by Rupa Huq

12th June 2023
Rupa Huq signed this EDM on Monday 12th June 2023

Sixth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire

Tabled by: Dawn Butler (Labour - Brent Central)
That this House marks with sadness the sixth anniversary of the terrible Grenfell Fire disaster; calls for urgent action from the Government to ensure all buildings are made safe by remedying fire safety defects irrespective of building type, height, tenure or any other characteristics so a disaster like this can …
35 signatures
(Most recent: 6 Jul 2023)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 20
Scottish National Party: 5
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Green Party: 1
17th April 2023
Rupa Huq signed this EDM on Wednesday 26th April 2023

20th anniversary of shooting of Tom Hurndall

Tabled by: Andy McDonald (Independent - Middlesbrough)
That this House notes that April 2023 marks twenty years since 22 year old British photojournalist, Tom Hurndall, was shot in the head by an Israeli army sniper as he tried to rescue Palestinian children from the line of gunfire in Gaza; further notes that he died in January 2004 …
62 signatures
(Most recent: 4 Sep 2023)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 28
Scottish National Party: 15
Liberal Democrat: 8
Independent: 7
Conservative: 2
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Rupa Huq's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Rupa Huq, 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.



1025 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
18 Other Department Questions
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she has had recent discussions with the Prime Minister on the potential merits of appointing a Minister for Disabled People.

My Hon. Friend, the Member for Mid Sussex (Mims Davies MP) has been appointed as the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, and will build on the government’s strong track record of supporting disabled people, having delivered millions of cost of living payments and helping over one million more disabled people into work five years earlier than planned. The Minister will help ensure there is always a strong safety net for the most vulnerable in our society, while tearing down barriers so that every disabled person can realise their potential and thrive.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jul 2023
To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the Church of England's estimate is of the capital cost of outstanding repairs for parish churches in each diocese.

The National Church Institutions do not hold statistics on outstanding repairs for parish churches, collectively or by diocese.

The Church Commissioners and Archbishops' Council have agreed funding of £11 million for 2023-25 in support of Buildings for Mission, which includes £2m for places of worship maintenance/repairs, and funding for up to 20 support officers to work with communities on the care of their church buildings. This is alongside a one-off commitment of £190 million (over nine years) to support the whole Church, including its buildings, in the transition towards Net Zero 2030.

12,500 church buildings are listed, with 45% of all England's Grade I listed buildings being cathedrals and churches. The average annual cost for the maintenance and repairs to parish churches alone is estimated at £150 million, and the maintenance of our churches across the country is mostly financed by generous local donors and volunteers. Support and advice, including on available grants, is available from ChurchCare: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare(opens in a new tab)

The Church remains grateful for the continuation of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme as it was for the Culture Recovery Fund. Money invested in church buildings has positive benefits to the wider community: the 2021 House of Good report by the National Churches Trust (https://www.houseofgood.nationalchurchestrust.org/(opens in a new tab)) found that "the annual social and economic value of church buildings to the UK is worth around £55 billion. This sum, calculated using the latest HM Treasury Green Book guidance, includes the contribution churches make to wellbeing and to local economies."

By means of an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in the House of Lords, the Government has recently agreed to make it clear that churches are legally able to access Local Authority grant funding. This clarification is very welcome and comes in response to many years of advocacy by church, heritage and Local Authority groups. The removal of ambiguity means that Local Authorities and parish councils in England will enable seed funding to repair, restore and upgrade facilities, helping churches to continue to serve their local communities as worship spaces, community hubs, and through social action projects.

The Church is committed to engaging with the Government on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Taylor Review into the sustainability of church buildings (The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)(opens in a new tab))

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
18th Jul 2023
To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the Church of England's estimate is of the capital cost of outstanding repairs for parish churches.

The National Church Institutions do not hold statistics on outstanding repairs for parish churches, collectively or by diocese.

The Church Commissioners and Archbishops' Council have agreed funding of £11 million for 2023-25 in support of Buildings for Mission, which includes £2m for places of worship maintenance/repairs, and funding for up to 20 support officers to work with communities on the care of their church buildings. This is alongside a one-off commitment of £190 million (over nine years) to support the whole Church, including its buildings, in the transition towards Net Zero 2030.

12,500 church buildings are listed, with 45% of all England's Grade I listed buildings being cathedrals and churches. The average annual cost for the maintenance and repairs to parish churches alone is estimated at £150 million, and the maintenance of our churches across the country is mostly financed by generous local donors and volunteers. Support and advice, including on available grants, is available from ChurchCare: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare(opens in a new tab)

The Church remains grateful for the continuation of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme as it was for the Culture Recovery Fund. Money invested in church buildings has positive benefits to the wider community: the 2021 House of Good report by the National Churches Trust (https://www.houseofgood.nationalchurchestrust.org/(opens in a new tab)) found that "the annual social and economic value of church buildings to the UK is worth around £55 billion. This sum, calculated using the latest HM Treasury Green Book guidance, includes the contribution churches make to wellbeing and to local economies."

By means of an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in the House of Lords, the Government has recently agreed to make it clear that churches are legally able to access Local Authority grant funding. This clarification is very welcome and comes in response to many years of advocacy by church, heritage and Local Authority groups. The removal of ambiguity means that Local Authorities and parish councils in England will enable seed funding to repair, restore and upgrade facilities, helping churches to continue to serve their local communities as worship spaces, community hubs, and through social action projects.

The Church is committed to engaging with the Government on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Taylor Review into the sustainability of church buildings (The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)(opens in a new tab))

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
18th Jul 2023
To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, how many churches have been closed by the Church of England in each of the last 10 years.

Between 2010 and 2019, 209 consecrated churches were formally closed, which amounted to just over 1%. Since the 1990s the rate of closure has remained steady at 20-25 per year out of a total of around 16,000 church buildings. It is important to note that new churches are also being built and that some congregations meet in other kinds of buildings.

More information can be found in the annual reports of the Church Commissioners, which are available in the House of Commons Library, or online here, in the sections for ‘Mission, Pastoral and Church Property’ or ‘Pastoral Administration’: https://www.churchofengland.org/about/leadership-and-governance/church-commissioners-england/how-we-are-governed/publications

Churches are first and foremost places of worship. The 2017 Taylor Review into sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals ( https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/669667/Taylor_Review_Final.pdf ) found that the Government could also enable the church to serve local communities better by reviewing planning law around listed buildings, to enable Local Authorities to think more imaginatively about diversification and wider use. For over a decade the Church of England’s own ‘open and sustainable churches’ programme, has encouraged churches to consider partnering with a wide variety of community resources (e.g. post offices, village shops, children’s play areas, credit unions, foodbanks, co-working spaces) in sharing space: Sharing your building and finding partners | The Church of England

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
26th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a requirement for employers to disclose staff salary bands in the context of gender pay gap reporting.

The government has considered the merits of making disclosure of staff salary pay bands a requirement in this context, including the impact on women and those from ethnic minorities. However, since some employers may find it challenging to be fully transparent about pay, and the issues many organisations would face moving immediately to a system of full pay transparency, we do not believe that introducing a legal requirement to disclose this information is the right course of action.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
1st Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to publish the Gambling Review white paper.

The Gambling Act Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that gambling regulation is fit for the digital age. We will publish a White Paper setting out our conclusions and next steps in the coming weeks.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2022
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps the Commission is taking to ensure that all-party Parliamentary groups disclose their financial accounts on request in the event that those accounts are not publicly available online.

An APPG which has received over £12,500 from outside Parliament, in money or in kind, in its reporting year is required to complete an income and expenditure statement (paragraph 28 of the APPG Rules). That income and expenditure statement must be either published on the APPG’s website or provided on request (paragraph 21 of the APPG Rules).

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (OPCS) does not actively monitor APPGs’ compliance with this requirement. However, the OPCS will investigate any complaints made about the non-disclosure of income and expenditure statements.

14th Dec 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of signing Unicef's Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to PQ 73892 on 22 November 2021.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will take steps to (a) reinstate gender pay gap reporting, (b) introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting and (c) modernise equal pay laws to give women the right to know what their male counterparts earn.

The legal requirement for relevant organisations to publish gender pay gap data each year, set out in the Equality Act 2010, has not changed. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has, due to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed employers until 5 October 2021 to report their gender pay gap information for 2020/21. Extending the deadline by six months was the correct decision.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its independent report in March this year, which included a recommendation on ethnicity pay gap reporting. We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings on this matter, and to consider them in light of the work that has already taken place within government. As well as consulting on ethnicity pay gap reporting, we have met with businesses and representative organisations to understand the barriers towards reporting and what information should be published. We have also run a methodology testing exercise with a broad range of businesses to better understand the complexities outlined in the consultation.

We recognise the importance of transparency and awareness when it comes to ensuring equal pay. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for an employer to stop employees from sharing information about what they earn, therefore protecting people who wish to discuss pay with their colleagues.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of updating the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to include self-declaration for transgender and non-binary people.

We want all LGBT people to be able to live and prosper in modern Britain. We listened closely to all those who responded to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and our response was published on 22 September 2020, stating that it is the Government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct. There are proper checks and balances in the system as well as support for people who want to change their legal sex.

However, it is clear that we need to improve the process and experience that transgender people have when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). That is why we are digitising the process and reducing the fee to lessen the administrative burden on individuals who want to legally change their gender and ensure that no one faces financial barriers when doing so. We want to make sure that applying for a GRC is as straightforward and dignified as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of implementing Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 to help (a) tackle existing disadvantages and inequalities and (b) protect socio-economic rights.

Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 would require a public body, in taking strategic decisions, to have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage. As a “due regard” duty, this requires no specific action from the public body concerned, and risks becoming a tick-box exercise, complied with to minimise the risk of legal challenge rather than to promote real change in society. It is also wrongly focussed on equalising socio-economic outcomes rather than opportunities.

Instead this Government prefers to progress specific policies and practical actions that will deliver real change. We are promoting social mobility and tackling inequality through a range of initiatives – for example in education, through reforms to the welfare system, and by giving greater developmental devolution in England and rebalancing the economy through schemes such as the Towns Fund.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of bringing forward mandatory gender pay reporting for companies from April 2021 onwards.

On 23 February, the Equality and Human Rights Commission announced that employers will have an additional six months, until 5 October 2021, to report their gender pay gap information.

Employers can continue to report their gender pay gap information via the government website: https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/.

The Government is fully committed to women’s economic empowerment but, given the impact on the pandemic on businesses, extending the period employers have to report by six months is the correct decision.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what estimate she has made of the average time taken by the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission to respond to queries from members of the public.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission has to investigate inequalities of (a) outcome from the judicial system and (b) composition of (i) Supreme Court judges, (ii) Court of Appeal judges (iii) civil court judges, (iv) magistrates court judges, (v) barristers and solicitors and other legal professionals, (vi) the Crown Prosecution Service and (vii) the police.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether Race and Ethnic Disparities Commissioners will receive unconscious bias training in connection with their role.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department took to ensure that recruitment of the (a) Commissioners and (b) staff of the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission was (a) open, (b) fair and (c) transparent.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what the cost to the public purse was of establishing the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
10th Dec 2020
What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on the CPS of the UK leaving the EU (a) with and (b) without a deal.

The CPS has worked with other prosecutors, law enforcement, the courts, and the Home Office to ensure that effective international cooperation with EU Member States on extradition, gathering of evidence and asset recovery can continue after the Transition Period.

Extensive preparation has taken place to prepare for the outcome of the negotiation and there are well-prepared and well-reheased plans in place – which include producing guidance and training for prosecutors. The CPS has also engaged extensively with EU counterparts in order to safeguard existing and new cases.

22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has held discussions with the Home Secretary on the news organisations that attended her 2023 visit to Rwanda.
3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislation to ensure that (a) former Prime Ministers and (b) former Ministers must have served a minimum of 12 months in post before becoming eligible to access the Public Duty Costs Allowance.

Only former Prime Ministers are eligible to claim against the Public Duty Costs Allowance. The allowance assists former Prime Ministers who are still active in public life and payments are made only to reimburse incurred expenses, such as office and secretarial costs, arising from the fulfilment of public duties. The allowance has been frozen at an annual limit of £115,000 since 2011 and the Government has no current plans to change its eligibility requirements.

23rd Sep 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will undertake a review of the Government’s plan to cut 19,000 jobs from the civil service over the next 3 years.

The Government is firmly committed to the delivery of high quality public services at an affordable cost. Earlier this year, the former Prime Minister tasked Secretaries of State and Permanent Secretaries to work together on producing a plan for returning the Civil Service workforce numbers to 2016 levels over the next three years. This work remains ongoing and, as plans are still in development, no decisions have yet been made.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Sep 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) increasing the Treasury pay remit and (b) refunding the overpaid pension contributions.

Pay for grades below the Senior Civil Service is delegated to departments. Pay awards are made by individual departments, in consideration of their own priorities and affordability, and discussed with their trade unions.

The pay remit guidance is a cost control document and allows departments to seek further flexibility for a pay award above the headline range for pay awards.

It is important that pay awards for civil servants are affordable, as well as fair to both staff and the taxpayer. The pay remit guidance considers economic conditions while balancing the need for sustainable public finances. The 2023/24 guidance will be published next year.

Civil servants are not overpaying pension contributions. Member contribution rates are set via the Cost Control element of the Valuation. The 2016 Valuation was completed on 17 December 2021. It found that there was no ‘breach’ in the Cost Control element, meaning there was no need to adjust benefits or contributions. The valuation process ensures that members receive generous benefits linked to their contributions. The 2020 valuation is ongoing.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the total costs were of the Prime Minister's trip to Ukraine in June 2022; and which Department met those costs.

Details of the Prime Minister’s overseas travel are published quarterly and will be made available on GOV.UK in due course. As per the Ministerial Code, when Ministers travel on official business, their travel expenses should be borne by the departmental vote.

23rd May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what meetings the Prime minister has had with the Second Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office on the Investigation into Alleged Gatherings on Government Premises during Covid Restrictions; and when those meetings took place.

I have been asked to reply. The Prime Minister discussed the process and procedure on timings and publication arrangements. The findings and contents of the Second Permanent Secretary’s independent report was a matter for her, as the Prime Minister made clear in his oral statement yesterday.

23rd May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent discussions the Prime Minister has had with the Second Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office.

I have been asked to reply. The Prime Minister discussed the process and procedure on timings and publication arrangements. The findings and contents of the Second Permanent Secretary’s independent report was a matter for her, as the Prime Minister made clear in his oral statement yesterday.

10th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that the Minister for Brexit Opportunities has no conflict of interest in taking up his role.

The Ministerial Code sets out the process by which, following appointment, Ministers should declare their interests, and take advice from their Permanent Secretary and the Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests about any action that may be needed to avoid a conflict or the perception of a conflict.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the proposed removal of prosecutorial powers from the Electoral Commission on the (a) accountability of the executive, (b) integrity of elections and (c) transparency of political party funding.

The Electoral Commission does not currently, and has never in over 20 years, brought criminal prosecutions. The Government intends to maintain the status quo by providing clarity in law that the Commission should not bring criminal prosecutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The proper place for criminal investigations and prosecutions relating to electoral law is with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland) who are experts in this domain. Having the Commission step into this space would risk wasting public money. The Electoral Commission will continue to have a wide range of investigatory and civil sanctioning powers available to it and, as is currently the case, is able to refer more serious matters to the police.

The Government is committed to protecting our democracy and ensuring that it remains secure, modern, transparent and fair. The Elections Bill will further strengthen the integrity of UK elections by updating electoral law, including the rules on the transparency of digital campaigning and political finance, the introduction of voter identification and measures improving the integrity of postal and proxy voting.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what audit process his Department undertakes on claims made under the Public Duty Cost Allowance by former prime ministers; and what steps his Department takes to ensure that those claims meet the criteria for funding from that allowance.

As with any other Cabinet Office financial transaction, PDCA payments are subject to inspection by the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) and the National Audit Office (NAO). The amount paid to each former Prime Minister is disclosed each year in the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts following full audit.

The costs are a reimbursement of incurred expenses for necessary office and secretarial costs. These costs can include diary support, Met Police protection on public visits, correspondence, staffing at public visits, support to charitable work, social media platforms and managing and maintaining ex-PMs office (staff, payroll, admin).

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
25th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of including British Sign Language interpreters at all Downing Street press briefings.

As a matter of practice, the BBC has, since March 2020, provided BSL interpretation on its News Channel in respect of the vast majority of Covid media briefings, and continues to do so. A clean feed of the BSL interpretation has, since May, been made available for use on government social media channels.

In the relatively rare event that the BBC chooses not to provide BSL interpretation, we will be notified in advance of the briefing. We will then arrange for an independent organisation to provide BSL interpretation of the briefing in question, further to an arrangement that came into effect on 26 November. That BSL interpretation will be made available on government social media channels (including the No 10 YouTube channel). It will also be made available to broadcasters and other media outlets for TV and social media channels.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of recognising 23 March as an annual day of memorial in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

While the Government’s immediate focus is on protecting the lives and livelihoods of the nation, the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to recognise those involved in the unprecedented response is something the Government is considering very carefully. We will set out the Government’s proposed approach to this important matter in due course.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a (a) detailed cost breakdown of the £2.6 million spent on the television studio in 9 Downing Street and (b) cost-benefit analysis of that spending.

(a)

A breakdown of the figures given out in response to a Freedom of Information Act request on 06/01/2021 is as follows” -

The Government is establishing facilities within 9 Downing Street which will be used for daily broadcasting by a number of news organisations. This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting.

This spending is in the public interest as the new broadcasting of lobby briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of this Government now and in the future.

Such spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street (the Privy Council Office) is a Grade 1 listed building.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1267063

All such listed buildings must be maintained to high heritage standards, reflecting the buildings’ important role in the cultural fabric of our nation.

A breakdown of the costs which we hold are below.

Media centre Ph1 fees

£96,157.67 ex vat

Media centre Ph1 enabling works.

£135,201.85 ex vat

Media centre Broadband equipment

£33,394.63 ex vat

LBC application

£9,050.30 ex vat

Core drill

£1,456.06 ex vat

Enabling order 2

£285,788.29 ex vat

Main works ph1

£1,848,695.12 ex vat

Media Centre Ph1 Long Lead items

£198,023.75

Annual figures on expenditure on property, plant and equipment by the Cabinet Office can be found in the departmental annual report and accounts.

(b)

In assessing the business case for the spending (i.e. the costs and the benefits), it was noted that No 9 Downing Street is a Grade 1 listed building which has not been updated or modernised for over 50 years. Over half of the cost of this project provides for modernisation to a substantial part of the building in line with the Cabinet Office’s statutory duties to preserve and maintain it, through making the roof sound, strengthening the floor, new heating and cooling, and electrical wiring replacement. The space being converted was idle and dilapidated and this project maximises the capability of the building. It was also deemed necessary to the success of the project to bring in technical expertise from specialist contractors.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent steps he has taken to simplify trading arrangements between the UK and the EU.

I refer the Hon Members to the answers given in Cabinet Office orals on 11 February. Guidance and published information are available on gov.uk.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russian involvement in UK democracy.

We acknowledge the public’s interest in the publication of the report, however the report itself is the property of the independent ISC. As such it is not for the Government to publish ISC reports; it is for the ISC to lay them before Parliament. Once a new Committee has been established, it will be up to them to choose when they wish to publish it.

Members are appointed by the Houses of Parliament (having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition). The Committee is being formed in the normal way and as quickly as current circumstances allow.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to co-ordinate the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he is taking to ensure that holistic person-centred support is provided to all shielded and non-shielded vulnerable individuals affected by covid-19.

Four ministerial implementation committees focusing on health, public sector preparedness, economy, and our international response, have been established to coordinate, prioritise, and respond to the pandemic.

Shielding of the extremely vulnerable - those who suffer from the most serious underlying health conditions - is one of the Government’s top priorities. This work is being led by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Communities Secretary outlined some of this support recently and details are available here (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/communities-secretarys-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-2-may-2020--2)

In terms of our work to support other vulnerable people, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster outlined some of this work to the House of Commons last week, details of which are available here https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-04-28/debates/6B80ADC6-5AE0-404A-BF91-3924FAD111CE/PublicServices.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
22nd Jan 2020
What estimate he has made of the number of voters at risk of becoming disenfranchised as a result of the proposals for voter ID requirements contained in the Queen’s Speech.

No one will be disenfranchised by confirming who they are. These are sensible plans to make our elections more secure. Everyone registered to vote will have the opportunity to do so. Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for an electoral ID from their local authority.

Both the pilots and the Northern Irish experience demonstrate that showing ID does not reduce participation.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to review the criteria for transferring a proxy vote from one person to another in the case of an emergency.

There is currently no provision to transfer proxy votes between people. Emergency proxy votes are granted in limited circumstances, to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. The Government has announced it will consider the process of emergency proxy applications and the circumstances in which they can be issued, when time allows.

18th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps she is taking to reduce the number of people on zero hour contracts in (a) Ealing Central and Acton constituency and (b) the UK.

Zero hours contracts are an important part of the UK’s flexible labour market. They are useful where there is not a constant demand for staff, allowing flexibility for both employers and individuals – like carers, people studying, or retirees. For some, a zero hours contract may be the type of contract which works best for them.

Individuals on zero hours contracts represent a very small proportion of the workforce. The ONS estimates that 155,000 people aged 16 and over were employed on a zero hours contract in London in April – June 2023, representing 3.3% of people in employment in the area.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that guide dog owners are not refused access to businesses and services.

The Equality Act 2010 places a general duty on businesses and service providers to make reasonable adjustments to allow disabled people access to goods and services so they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Equality Act. In 2017 it published two pieces of guidance - ‘a guide to help businesses understand what they can do to meet their legal duties to assistance dog owners’, and ‘a guide to help tourism businesses welcome people with access requirements’.

Duties and protections under the Equality Act are ultimately enforceable through the courts, and anybody who thinks that they have been discriminated against - including where access to an assistance dog has been refused - can take legal action to seek to resolve the issue. The EHRC will support people who have experienced discrimination through that process.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
26th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether the Government is taking steps to help protect businesses from harmful fake online reviews.

Yes. The Government introduced the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill on 25 April. The DMCC Bill includes a delegated power to amend the list of automatically unfair practices in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The Government will consult on the use of this power during bill passage with a view to adding practices related to fake and misleading reviews to the list of automatically unfair practices. This will give greater clarity to business on their responsibilities in relation to consumer reviews and allow enforcers to take effective action quickly.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
20th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a human rights and environmental due diligence law to increase protection for (a) environmental and (b) workers' rights.

The Government both encourages and supports the mostly voluntary, business-led, approach to due diligence; as set out in international frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. Additionally, the Environment Act has introduced world-leading due diligence legislation, in order to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
22nd Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether her Department has made an assessment of the impact on customers of the potential closure of Royal Mail customer service points.

Decisions on the closure of customer service points are an operational matter for Royal Mail, provided they meet Ofcom’s regulatory requirement on Royal Mail, as the Designated Universal Service Provider, to provide access points for the universal service.

Whilst the Government has no role in Royal Mail’s operational decisions, I understand that Royal Mail has completed the first stage of its review of customer service points and decided to maintain the current estate.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
7th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing additional time for parliamentary scrutiny before automatically revoking certain retained EU law.

Retained EU law (REUL) will automatically cease to exist after 31 December 2023 unless the Government takes steps to keep it as “assimilated law” under the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. This provides the most effective way to remove unnecessary or outdated EU laws, without taking up resources and parliamentary time to revoke every such law individually, and additional time for parliamentary scrutiny is not necessary.

We will continue to update a published REUL dashboard which lists over 3,700 pieces of REUL to provide transparency about affected legislation. We will also be bringing forward an extensive programme of secondary legislation, subject to parliamentary scrutiny, to preserve, restate, or reform REUL where it is in the United Kingdom’s interests to do so. This includes powers to extend the sunset date, or revoke legislation proactively, in specific instances where this is more appropriate than a 31 December 2023 sunset.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
18th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps his Department have taken to increase solar capacity to 70GW by 2035.

The Government incentivises large-scale solar through the Contracts for Difference scheme. Last month, the Government awarded contracts to 56 solar projects, totalling 1.9 gigawatts of capacity, in the fifth, and first annual, allocation round


Rooftop solar is encouraged through various financial and regulatory measures. These include the Smart Export Guarantee, removal of VAT on domestic panels, tax relief, and business rate exemptions. The Government is reviewing permitted development rights to simplify planning for commercial solar projects.

The Government has established the Solar Taskforce to drive forward actions needed to achieve the Government's ambition of more than quadrupling solar capacity by 2035.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing targeted financial support to terminally ill people to cover the cost of powering medical devices in the home.

As set out in the autumn statement, we are exploring the best approach to consumer protection, as part of wider retail market reforms. The government continues to monitor the situation and will keep options under review, including with respect to the most vulnerable households.

In response to higher prices, we have put in place the Energy Price Guarantee and provided significant help to those who need it most through this winter and into 2023-24, including an additional Cost of Living Payment of £900 paid across three instalments and payments through the Warm Home Discount and Winter Fuel Payments.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
26th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department has taken steps to support people with further increases in the standing charges for energy bills.

The energy price cap sets a limit on unit rates and standing charges, ensuring that millions of households pay a fair price for their energy. The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer’s premises.

In the meantime, the Energy Price Guarantee has been extended for an additional 3 months at its current level from April 2023 to the end of June 2023. This brings a typical household energy bill in Great Britain down to around £2,500 per year.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent progress his Department has made on providing Gypsy and Traveller communities living on permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites with Alternative Fuel Payment support.

The Government is keen to support these households and to ensure that they can receive the Alternative Fuel Payment via the Alternative Fund where eligible. The Government is currently working to find an acceptable method for these households to provide proof of eligibility, whilst protecting public funds, so they can claim the AFP AF support.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent progress his Department has made on providing itinerant liveaboard boaters with Alternative Fuel Payment support.

The Government is keen to support these households and to ensure that they can receive the Alternative Fuel Payment via the Alternative Fund where eligible. The Government is currently working to find an acceptable method for these households to provide proof of eligibility, whilst protecting public funds, so they can claim the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund support.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of ending the free allocation of UK Emissions Trading Scheme permits for oil and gas companies.

UK ETS industrial participants, such as those in oil and gas sectors, are provided with free allocations reducing their exposure to the carbon price and mitigating the risk of carbon leakage. The UK ETS Authority is in the process of reviewing the free allocation policy and consulted last year on elements of this. The Government will publish the response in due course.

The Government will also be consulting later this year on potential changes to the methodology for distributing free allocations and ways to target those most at risk of carbon leakage.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
14th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on investment in (a) home insulation and (b) heat pumps in order to improve energy efficiency in the context of (i) the cost-of-living crisis and (ii) achieving the UK's Net Zero targets.

The Government is investing £6.6 billion over this Parliament on clean heat and improving energy efficiency in buildings, including through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, Home Upgrade Grant, and Boiler Upgrade Scheme. In addition, £6 billion of new Government funding will be made available from 2025 to 2028.

The new ECO+ scheme will be worth £1 billion and run from Spring 2023 – March 2026. The scheme will target a broader pool of households in the least efficient homes in lower council tax bands as well as the most vulnerable.

The Government considers improving the energy efficiency of homes to be the best long-term method of tackling fuel poverty.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning the forced installation of prepayment meters in households with someone with a disability.

All suppliers have agreed to cease the forced installation of prepayment meters and the remote switching of smart meters to prepayment mode up to 31 March 2023.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State has written to Ofgem to ask that it does more to ensure suppliers protect vulnerable consumers and that they revise their practices and make sure PPMs are being installed as a genuine last resort. Ofgem has also called for evidence on identification of vulnerabilities, PPM Safe and Reasonably Practicable rules and guidance, and processes in place for installing or switching customers to PPMs by 7 March.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of taking legislative steps to reduce energy standing charges.

Decisions about standing charges are a commercial matter for energy suppliers. The standing charge is a fixed charge that suppliers pass on to their customers to cover the cost of providing a live supply. Under the Energy Price Guarantee, average standing charges for customers on default tariffs remain capped in line with the levels set by Ofgem.

Ofgem reviewed the components of the standing charge to see if they could be reduced and concluded that retaining the current methodology would protect users with greater energy needs and decided not to direct industry parties to make changes to the methodology.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps his Department are taking to support the growth of community energy schemes.

The Government is enabling local areas to tackle net zero goals through UK-wide growth funding schemes. The Government encourages community energy groups to work closely with their local authority to support the development of community energy projects within these schemes. In addition, Ofgem supports community energy projects and welcomes applications from community interest groups, co-operative societies, and community benefit societies to the Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department is taking steps to help ensure that energy standing charges do not increase.

The standing charge is a fixed charge that suppliers pass on to their customers to cover the cost of providing a live supply and decisions about standing charges are a commercial matter for energy suppliers subject to the maximum permitted under the price cap. One component of the standing charge cost relates to transmission and distribution charges, which have increased due to the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) levy. The Government, together with Ofgem, is looking at reforms to ensure the energy market is more resilient.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of migrating households from the public switched telephone network to the Digital Voice service on (a) the elderly and (b) people with disabilities.

The Government recognises the importance of both fixed (landlines) and the mobile telephone network in the UK. We expect the telecoms industry to ensure that all consumers, particularly the most vulnerable including the elderly and people with disabilities, are protected and prepared for the upgrade of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). DSIT receives regular updates from telecoms providers about the progress of their migration and any emerging challenges they face.

Ofcom is responsible for ensuring telecoms providers adhere to their regulatory obligations throughout the migration process, which includes protecting vulnerable consumers. Ofcom has published guidance which states that providers must take steps to identify at-risk consumers who are dependent on their landline and provide them with additional support.

DSIT meets regularly with Communications Providers to monitor their migration process, and to ensure adequate provisions are in place to protect vulnerable consumers. This includes, but is not limited to, quarterly progress meetings with individual providers, quarterly meetings with all government departments/agencies, and monthly meetings with Ofcom.

21st Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that the expansion of online essential services do not create barriers to access for elderly people.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is responsible for coordinating HMG digital inclusion policy, and aims to ensure that as many people as possible, no matter their age, can overcome the barriers of digital inclusion and make the most of digital opportunities.

The Government is working to remove barriers and ensure that online services are as inclusive as possible by making public sector websites accessible to as many people as possible. The accessibility regulations ensure that websites and mobile apps are designed to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Furthermore, assisted digital support services aim to increase digital inclusion for those online users who lack digital confidence, digital skills or access to the internet.

We also recognise that ongoing support is essential to overcome barriers of access. Our network of 2,900 public libraries across England provide a trusted network of accessible locations with staff, volunteers, free wifi, public PCs, and assisted digital access to a wide range of digital services. Charities such as Age UK and AbilityNet play an important role in assisting people with access to technology and the internet.

30th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of the need for a ministerial portfolio for eradicating the use of animals in laboratory experiments.

The Government continues to actively support and fund the development and dissemination of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for the use of animals in scientific procedures. This is achieved through UK Research and Innovation’s funding of the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of non-animal technologies, and through research into the development of alternatives by Innovate UK, the Medical Research Council, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The Government is committed to the development of alternatives to using animals in scientific procedures and to avoiding unnecessary suffering and I am the Minister with lead responsibility in this area.

20th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a targeted energy assistance payment for families that run lifesaving medical care equipment at home.

The Government is delivering the Energy Bills Support Scheme, a £400 non-repayable grant to support all families with their energy bills. The Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) will save a typical household in Great Britain £900 this Winter. In addition, families with disabled children are also entitled to a one-off £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment.

The Government is currently reviewing the EPG. This consultation will explore the best ways to ensure that vulnerable high energy users, such as those with medical requirements, are not put at risk of having to pay more.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of maintaining the Energy Bill Relief Scheme support in place for Post Office branches beyond 31 March 2023.

HM Treasury is currently conducting a review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme and evidence from post offices is included in that which has been received. The Government cannot confirm which sectors will receive further support after 31st March 2023 until the end of the review, which will report by the end of this year 2022.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
8th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending support for Post Office branches under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme past March 2023.

HM Treasury is conducting a review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme to inform decisions on future support after March 2023.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
7th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of rejecting proposals to develop the Rosebank oil field in favour of investment of renewable, reliable, and affordable energy sources.

Development proposals for oil fields are dealt with by the North Sea Transition Authority and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, in line with their regulatory responsibilities.

Development of oil, gas and renewables projects are not mutually exclusive. In the British Energy Security Strategy the Government highlighted the ongoing requirement for oil and gas – for heating, cooking, transport, and industries – and the need to develop affordable, renewable energy sources to ensure the UK's domestic energy security.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of placing a legal duty on employers to make information about flexible working accessible to their employees.

The Government consulted on whether employers should be required to publish information about their flexible working policies in 2019. Having reviewed consultation responses from a range of stakeholders and taken account of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government decided not to take forward a legislative requirement. This conclusion was set out in “Making Flexible Working the Default”, which was published in September 2021.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
1st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of delivering public information broadcasts on the most efficient ways to conserve energy in order to reduce (a) household bills and (b) energy consumption.

The Government’s public information campaign, Help for Households, aims to increase public awareness of the support available to help with the cost of living, including government financial support to help with energy bills this winter.

The campaign website explains the support available, including the Energy Price Guarantee and Energy Bills Support Scheme. It also provides a tool launched earlier this year to provide homeowners with energy efficiency recommendations that could help save hundreds of pounds a year on bills. It recommends some simple actions people may not be aware of which could help to save money.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of halting the development of the North Sea gas field Rosebank.

Development proposals for oil fields are a matter for the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED). Both the NSTA and OPRED assess development proposals in line with the applicable robust regulations.

UK offshore oil and gas production accounts for the equivalent of around half of UK gas demand, and over three-quarters of UK oil demand.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing investment for the retrofitting of 19 million homes to (a) increase energy efficiency, (b) lower costs for households and (c) increase our energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Improving the energy efficiency of UK homes is the best way to lower household bills and help the Government's ambition to achieve energy independence by 2040. Retrofitting homes is a key driver of economic growth, currently supporting around 175,000 full-time jobs. The Government is investing £12 billion in Help to Heat schemes to make people’s homes warmer, which can save households £300 - £700 on their bills. These schemes are making a substantial impact, with 46% of homes in England having reached the Government’s 2035 target of achieving EPC Level C, up from 14% in 2010.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Energy Prices Bill, whether he will exempt (a) co-operatively and (b) consumer owned wind farms from the proposed revenue cap.

The Government will shortly be consulting on the Cost-Plus Revenue Limit so interested and affected parties can have their say on the scope, design and application of the proposal.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of delivering a fossil fuel-free electricity system by 2030.

The Government is already enabling the transition of the electricity system to low emissions, as part of delivering Net Zero by 2050. 95% of British electricity could be low-carbon by 2030. This transition cannot be at the expense of security of supply, a critical consideration as the use of fossil fuels reduces and the system relies more on renewables.

The Government will continue to assess its progress in power sector decarbonization, including when responding to the annual progress report from the Climate Change Committee next year, taking account of the finding of the independent review of net zero.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a cap on energy standing charges.

The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer’s premises. Standing charges are capped under the price cap and ensure millions of households pay a fair price for their energy.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government's energy rebate scheme that is provided to domestic consumers will also be made available to (a) YMCA and (b) other housing charities which have a centralised contract for energy in their hostels.

For all eligible non-domestic customers, including businesses and those in the public and voluntary sector, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide a discount on energy bills for those organisations whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices. This includes establishments such as youth hostels and housing charities on non-domestic tariffs, and the Government expect such establishments to pass on the benefits under the scheme through to the people who live in this kind of accommodation in a reasonable and proportionate way.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional support he is providing for (a) young and (b) vulnerable people who live in (i) hostels and (ii) supported accommodation with energy costs within their personal service charge.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide a discount on energy bills for all eligible non-domestic customers whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices. This includes establishments such as hostels and supported accommodation on non-domestic tariffs. The Government expect such businesses to pass on the benefits under this scheme to the people who live in this kind of accommodation in a reasonable and proportionate way.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what targeted support he is providing to charities to help with the rising cost of energy.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme was announced on 21 September 2022, initially running for 6 months covering energy use from 1 October 2022 until 31 March 2023. The Government will provide a discount on energy bills for all eligible non-domestic customers, including businesses, the voluntary sector and public sector, whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of availability of electricity contracts for new hospitality businesses.

There is no obligation on energy suppliers to offer terms to non-domestic customers. When offering terms, suppliers will likely take account of factors such as: the costs of supplying energy to the customer, the customer’s credit history and the circumstances of the sector in which they operate.

On 21 September the government announced the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers. Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-outlines-plans-to-help-cut-energy-bills-for-businesses .

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is taking steps to ensure that people using communal heat networks will be covered by the energy price cap.

The Government wants heat network consumers to receive equivalent support to mains gas and electricity consumers. Therefore, on 21 September, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme was announced which will see energy prices for non-domestic energy customers such as businesses, charities and public sector organisations cut – protecting them from rising energy costs. These discounted prices for wholesale gas and electricity will ensure lower prices for customers on communal heat networks.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is taking steps to include residential care homes in the domestic energy price cap.

Those care home residents that pay individually for their energy, i.e. they have their own gas and/or electricity meters, will be captured by the domestic energy price cap. Whereas, the care home itself will be captured by the non-domestic scheme if energy bills are paid for centrally by the business running the care home. The Department will soon introduce legislation to ensure the cost savings are passed on to residents.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support the glass industry.

The Government is determined to secure a competitive future for energy intensive industries (EIIs) including the glass industry. In recent years, the Government has provided EIIs with extensive support, including more than £2 billion to help with the costs of energy and to protect jobs. The British Energy Security Strategy announced the three-year extension of the EII Compensation Scheme, doubling its budget. The Strategy also announced a consultation on plans to consider increasing support offered by the related EII Exemption Scheme. That consultation closed on the 16 September and the Government will respond in due course.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the announcement on 9 November 2021 that the Government would invest £210 million to develop small modular reactors in the UK, what recent assessment he has made of (a) the likely overall impact of that investment and (b) the progress that has been made in achieving that end up to 5 September 2022.

The Advanced Nuclear Fund includes up to £210 million announced in November 2021 for Rolls-Royce SMR to develop the design for one of the world’s first Small Modular Reactors, potentially capable of deployment in the UK in the early 2030s. This has already leveraged £280m of private sector investment to support the project and wider activities.

The project has completed significant engineering milestones, and the key objective of completing Step 2 of the Generic Design Assessment by Spring 2025 remains achievable – a view shared by the Infrastructure & Projects Authority in their July 2022 report.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
12th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to incentivise new onshore wind projects.

The Government is providing ongoing support to onshore wind via the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. In July 2022, the results of allocation round four of the CfD were published. Onshore wind secured support for almost 900MW of capacity. There will be annual CfD auctions to accelerate low carbon electricity generation from 2023. Furthermore, as set out in the British Energy Security Strategy the Government will consult this year on developing local partnerships for supportive communities in England who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for benefits, such as lower energy bills.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many packets and parcels were processed through Post Office counters in each of the last five years for which records are available.

Information on the number of parcels and packets processed through the Post Office is commercially sensitive.

5th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on providing a wider range of Post Office services through banking hubs.

Ministers have had discussions with the Post Office CEO, Nick Read, to discuss the future of bank hubs. As part of the industry-led Community Access to Cash Pilots, Post Office Limited (POL) have been trialing the Bank Hub format since April 2021 both in Rochford and in Cambuslang near Glasgow.

Five new Bank Hubs are due to be operational by end of 2022 (with three more commissioned, likely at the start of next year).

5th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the investment provided to the Post Office by the Government in November 2020 to maintain and enhance the network of post offices in England.

Over the past ten years, the Government has provided over £2.5 billion in funding to support the Post Office network. The funding includes a subsidy to ensure the viability of rural and community branches. Since 2019 this subsidy has been maintained at £50 million a year and will remain at the same level until 2025.

Through Government funding, Post Office Limited (POL) is on a more sustainable footing; ensuring POL continues to meet the core requirements for the network, including maintaining a network of at least 11,500 branches and ensuring that 99% of the UK population lives within three miles of their nearest branch.

6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with retail business owners on plans to reintroduce imperial measurements.

The Government’s commitment to review the current law on units of measurement was first announced in September 2021, as part of our plans to capitalise on the benefits of Brexit.

The purpose of the review is to identify how we can give more choice to businesses and consumers over the units of measurement they use for trade, while ensuring that measurement information remains accurate.

As part of this review, we are carrying out an early-stage consultation to gather views and to ensure that we have the best evidence available to make changes. We encourage retail business owners to share their views in response to the consultation.

An assessment of any economic impact will be carried out in due course, as part of the normal policy-making process.

6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to publish a cost-benefit analysis of the reintroduction of imperial measurements.

The Government’s commitment to review the current law on units of measurement was first announced in September 2021, as part of our plans to capitalise on the benefits of Brexit.

The purpose of the review is to identify how we can give more choice to businesses and consumers over the units of measurement they use for trade, while ensuring that measurement information remains accurate.

As part of this review, we are carrying out an early-stage consultation to gather views and to ensure that we have the best evidence available to make changes. We encourage retail business owners to share their views in response to the consultation.

An assessment of any economic impact will be carried out in due course, as part of the normal policy-making process.

25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to prevent the establishment of new coal mining sites.

The Government has committed to phase-out coal power by 2024 – a year earlier than planned. Coal mining in the UK has been in long term decline reflecting falling domestic demand. There are only a handful of operational mines remaining in the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of halting the development of the North Sea gas field, Jackdaw, which is currently being assessed by the oil and gas regulator.

Development proposals for oil fields under existing licences are a matter for the regulators - the North Sea Transition Authority and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED). As part of that regulatory process, OPRED completes an Environmental Impact Assessment and a public consultation on any proposal, ensuring the impact on the environment is taken into account. OPRED’s decision on the Environmental Impact Assessment for Jackdaw will be made in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the impact on residents of reduced hours for postal collection recently introduced by Royal Mail for post boxes in Ealing.

Changes to local collection hours are operational matters for Royal Mail in ensuring an efficient and sustainable universal postal service.

Ofcom, as the independent regulator for postal services, requires Royal Mail to publish and maintain clear and updated information on specified collection times.

24th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to mandate companies selling spray foam loft insulation to inform customers of the potentially detrimental impact this product could have on the customer's property value.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) apply across all business sectors and prohibit traders from engaging in unfair commercial practices in connection with the promotion, sale and supply of products to consumers. This includes misleading actions or omissions, such as leaving out or hiding important information or presenting information in such a way that it is likely to deceive the consumer.

Under the CPRs, traders are required to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. The regulations prohibit commercial practices which omit or hide material information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to make an informed choice, where such an omission causes or is likely to cause them to make a different choice (e.g. purchase goods or a service that would not otherwise have been purchased).

23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to include mandatory energy efficiency requirements in building regulations to reduce (a) energy costs and (b) fuel poverty.

When implemented in 2025, the Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard will ensure new buildings are zero carbon ready, with high energy efficiency and low carbon heat. The Government believes that by improving energy efficiency and moving to cleaner sources of heat, carbon emissions can be reduced and energy costs kept down for consumers now and in the future. Reducing energy demand through energy efficiency can directly address fuel poverty by minimising energy costs for consumers.

In the Heat and Buildings Strategy the Government set out how it is prioritising the most vulnerable in society. The Government is targeting support for those in fuel poverty through several schemes, such as: the Local Authority Delivery Scheme, Home Upgrade Grant and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, totalling a record level of investment of £6.6 billion. This is in line with the Government’s target to ensure, where practical, that as many fuel poor households achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of a Band C by 2030.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on what date he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to establish a public register of overseas property ownership.

As announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 28 February, a Register of Overseas Entities will be legislated for within the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill, introduced to Parliament on 1 March.

14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what legislative steps he is taking to promote tidal energy.

The Government announced in November that the fourth Contracts for Difference allocation round will feature a £20m annual ringfenced budget for tidal stream energy. This builds on a long history of government support for the sector. The Government has no plans at present to introduce legislation relating to tidal energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to restrict firework usage to organised displays only.

There is a comprehensive regulatory framework already in place for fireworks that controls who can purchase them, their availability and use, curfews, and their safety as a product.

We agree with the conclusion of the Petition Committee’s 2019 inquiry into fireworks, that any further restrictions on fireworks sold to the public could lead to more individuals buying products inappropriately, through online social media sources or from outside the UK. This could drive individuals to source fireworks from illegitimate or unsafe suppliers, where products may not meet the UK’s safety requirements.

As part of the Government’s programme of action, we have commissioned research and continue to use evidence to inform our work. This has included developing and publishing an evidence base on fireworks and undertaking engagement with a wide range of organisations on the key issues raised.

We also commissioned research by Ipsos Mori that provided evidence on consumer attitudes towards and behaviours around using fireworks in the UK. The key findings have informed our annual public awareness campaigns and support the need to educate consumers on fireworks use.

22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will hold discussions with representatives of Weetabix on reports of fire and rehire practices at Weetabix.

Government has been consistently clear that we do not accept the inappropriate use by any employer of ‘fire and rehire’ as a negotiation tactic.

When employment disputes arise, the Government wants to ensure that employers and employees are able to resolve them quickly and effectively. Earlier this year, we asked Acas to produce comprehensive, clear guidance so that employers can explore all the options before considering ‘fire and rehire’, and to encourage good employment relations practice. This guidance was published on 11 November and is available at http://www.acas.org.uk/changecontract.

18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of pensioners in Ealing Central and Acton constituency live in fuel poverty; and what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of that proportion.

In 2019, an estimated 13.2% of all households in the Ealing Central and Acton Parliamentary Constituency were estimated to be in fuel poverty.

Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty, reducing energy bills and delivering warmer, safer homes for the most vulnerable. We consider improving the energy efficiency of homes to be the best long-term method of tackling of fuel poverty. Energy efficiency schemes include the Energy Company Obligation and the Sustainable Warmth Competition.

Since 2011, the Warm Home Discount has helped over 2 million low-income and vulnerable households each year with their energy costs. In the 2019/20 scheme year, which is the latest we have data for, around 1 million low-income pensioners in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit received a £140 Warm Home Discount as an automatic rebate on their energy bills. Support is also available through the Winter Fuel Payment: £200 for households with somebody who has reached State Pension age and is under age 80; or £300 for households with somebody aged 80 and over. The Cold Weather Payment is also available to eligible households if the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to contribute to the (a) development and (b) validation of non-animal (i) research methods and (ii) technologies.

The Government 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 (NC3Rs), who have committed £100 million through its research, innovation, and early career awards to provide new 3Rs approaches for scientists in academia and industry to use. This includes 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.

21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to incentivise the transition from gas boilers to heat pumps.

The Government will shortly publish the Heat and Buildings Strategy which will set out a long-term plan to decarbonise domestic heating.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the compatibility of the Cambo oilfield near Shetland with the UK's upcoming role as President of the COP 26 summit.

Cambo is not a new oilfield, it was licensed in 2001. The development proposal from Cambo is being scrutinised in line with robust regulatory procedures and no decision has yet been taken.

Oil and natural gas are still required for heating, cooking and transport, and are vital to the production of many everyday essentials like medicines, plastics, cosmetics and household appliances. While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee, with the UK as net importers of both oil and gas.

Looking forward, the Government will introduce a climate compatibility checkpoint which will be used to assess whether any future licensing rounds remain in keeping with our climate goals. We have committed to launching the checkpoint by the end of 2021.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of using thorium fuels for energy production.

Research and development on thorium and related technologies in the UK remains active, including Research Council grants to UK universities to explore thorium-fuelled reactor systems and fuel cycle processes. The UK Government plans to continue in a similar approach to support future R&D into the use of thorium as reactor fuel.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of vehicle supply shortages affecting the UK van sector; and what cross-departmental steps he is taking to help rectify those supply shortages.

The Government has regularly engaged with multiple stakeholders including the Department for Transport, manufacturers and automotive trade associations to discuss steps to help rectify supply chain shortages.

The Government recognises the severity of the semiconductor shortage and its impacts on vehicle supply chains. BEIS officials are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who are leading on this issue. DCMS is working closely with companies affected by this shortage to discuss interim support measures and supply solutions, as well as lobbying for a coordinated multilateral response through the G7. DCMS is also engaging bilaterally with key supplier countries like the US and Japan, to lobby for fair UK access to currently constrained supply and address systemic issues in the sector to avoid future repetition of the current shortage.

14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he is taking steps to prevent the extension of the Cambo heavy crude field; and what discussions he has had with the Oil and Gas Authority on the environmental impact of those proposals.

While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee. The UK is a net importer of both oil and gas and reducing domestic production would only lead to higher imports from other countries on a net basis.

The Cambo field was licensed in 2001 and 2004 and consent to proceed to production will be a matter for our expert regulators, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), following their standard regulatory processes. As is normal for such a site, our regulators submit these proposals to extensive scrutiny, including a full environmental impact assessment and a public consultation. This process is currently underway.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he made an assessment of the potential merits of delaying bounce back loan repayments for 12 months to enable local businesses to recover from the covid-19 outbreak.

We have always been clear that businesses are responsible for repaying any finance they take out. However, we recognise that some borrowers will benefit from additional flexibility with regards to their repayments. That is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures last year.

Pay As You Grow is designed to provide Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and flexibility over their repayments by giving them the option to:

  • Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten.
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan.
  • Take up a six-month repayment holiday. This option is available once during the term of their loan.

Businesses are able to use these options either individually or in combination with each other. These are only available once a business has started making repayments on the loan. In addition, they have the option to fully repay their loan early and will face no early repayment charges for doing so.

The British Business Bank has a range of guidance and resources available to all businesses, including content on managing cashflow and a list of independent advice services. Details can be found at: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/finance-hub/dealing-with-debt/.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has met with representatives of the UK book industry to discuss the potential impact of an international copyright exhaustion regime on that industry.

Officials at the Intellectual Property Office (an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) which is responsible for policy development on the UK’s IP exhaustion regime have met with representatives of the UK book industry to discuss the potential impact of an international IP exhaustion regime on that industry. The Government will continue to do so as part of the public consultation on the UK’s future exhaustion of intellectual property rights regime.

The Government welcomes views from businesses and consumers and encourages interested parties to respond to the consultation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to expand access to unfair dismissal for temporary and agency workers who are not considered to be employees.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

An individual’s employment rights are determined by their employment status (employee, limb (b) worker or self-employed). Employees are entitled to all rights including unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So-called “limb (b) workers” are only entitled to some rights such as the National Minimum Wage but have increased flexibility and fewer obligations to their employer. The self-employed generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work. We believe our three-tiered Employment Status structure provides the right balance for the UK Labour Market.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the National Security and Investment: Sectors in Scope of the Mandatory Regime, published March 2021, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the sample size of respondents with respect to providing a basis for legislation.

The Government received 94 written responses to the consultation on the sectors in scope of the mandatory notification regime. The responses were used to refine and narrow the definitions for the basis of secondary legislation to provide further clarity for parties on whether their proposed acquisition comes in scope of the mandatory notification regime.

There were substantial responses for each sector definition and the responses received were representative of the key areas of the economy. This included investors, individuals, regulators, individual businesses, legal and advisory firms, trade associations and industry groups, academics and regulators. In addition, the Government has engaged informally with external stakeholders across the economy on the proposed descriptions.

19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what impact assessment he has undertaken on the reduction in Official Development Assistance on funding for UKRI.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting international research partnerships, and supporting the UK research sector. Our commitment to research and innovation has been clearly demonstrated by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget announcement of increasing investment in R&D across government to £14.6bn in 2021/22, and as has been set out in our Integrated Review ambitions, international collaboration is central to a healthy and productive R&D sector.

We are working with UKRI and all our Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund Delivery Partners to manage the impact of next year’s ODA allocation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Prime Minister's press release of 12 December 2020, PM announces the UK will end support for fossil fuel sector overseas, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing that policy with immediate effect.

The related consultation launched by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12 December 2020, ‘Aligning UK international support for the clean energy transition’, set out four possible timing options for implementation of the above referenced policy shift – March 2021, June 2021, October 2021 and Later than 2021. The consultation closed on 8 February 2021, the Government is considering the evidence received, and will respond in due course.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will provide additional financial support to the wedding industry.

I meet regularly with the industry-led Weddings Taskforce to understand the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs in the sector.

Over the course of the pandemic the Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to businesses, including those in the wedding sector, which we keep under regular review.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of the covid-19 pandemic on travel agencies.

We know how difficult the current national and international restrictions are for the travel sector, with businesses having already faced many months of reduced trade. Impacted businesses can access a range of Government support measures, including the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes, as well as various government-backed loans.

We are regularly assessing Covid-19’s impact on tourism businesses and are continuing to engage across Government and with stakeholders - such as the Association of British Travel Agents and Association of Independent Tour Operators - to assess how we can most effectively support the recovery of travel and tourism across the UK.

The Government has also committed to producing a Tourism Recovery Plan setting out the transformation and growth of the sector over the next five years as part of our economic recovery.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to provide targeted financial support for the travel agency industry during the covid-19 pandemic.

We recognise that these are extremely challenging conditions for businesses in the travel sector, including tour operators and travel agents, which is why we’ve provided a range of targeted measures to see the sector through COVID-19.

On top of our wider economic support package, we've provided business rates relief and one-off grants for eligible hospitality and leisure businesses – and we’ve cut VAT for tourism and hospitality activities from 20% to 5% until the end of March.

Additionally, on 18 July the Government announced that ATOL-protected holidaymakers can book with confidence following confirmation that the Government will protect refund credit notes offered if packages are cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

31st Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if she will take steps to include anti-racism teaching in the objectives of the independent regulator for English football.

The Regulator’s primary strategic purpose will be to ensure that English football is financially sustainable for the benefit of fans and the local communities football clubs serve. This approach was set out in the football governance white paper, the Government’s subsequent consultation response, and the Government’s response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s report on football governance. As such, the Regulator will focus on the financial sustainability of clubs, the financial resilience of the football pyramid, and safeguarding club heritage. Industry is therefore best placed to lead on such issues, and I continue to engage closely with football authorities on these important topics.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department has made an assessment of the adequacy of the Football Leadership Diversity Code.

The Government's aim is to increase diversity among sporting organisations and to help the sport sector be more inclusive and welcoming to its spectators, participants and people in its workforce.

It is for The Football Association (FA) to assess the impact of their Football Leadership Diversity Code. I recently met with The FA to discuss the Code, including changes to make the reporting of diversity data mandatory for all professional clubs in the English Leagues from the 2024/2025 football season - as well as new requirements for workforce data on LGBT+ and disability. I will continue to monitor the progress of the Code and hope it contributes to a positive impact on diversity in the sport.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the levels of racial bias in football; and what estimate she has made of the number of off-pitch roles for former black male footballers.

The Government's aim is to increase diversity among sporting organisations and to help the sport sector be more inclusive and welcoming to its spectators, participants and people in its workforce. In August 2023 we published our sport strategy “Get Active” which has diversity and inclusion embedded throughout.

It is for football organisations to assess levels of diversity in the sport and the number of off-pitch roles for former black footballers, and to decide on the appropriate initiatives to increase diversity in their organisations. The Football Association recently announced they will be evolving their Leadership Diversity Code to be mandatory for all professional clubs. I hope this will provide the data needed to assess any work that may need to be done to help football become as diverse as the community it represents.

I will continue to engage with football authorities on such issues.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending VAT relief on building works for all listed places of worship.

The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme offers financial grants to cover VAT expenses incurred for the repair and upkeep of the country's listed places of worship. This scheme is accessible to all places of worship, irrespective of their denomination, provided they are listed and meet the specific eligibility requirements. Currently, there is no intention to expand the grant scheme further.

18th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what percentage of the National Heritage Lottery Fund’s grants have been awarded to local churches, chapels and meeting houses open for worship in each of the last ten years.

Over the past decade, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has allocated 11% of its grants to support local churches, chapels, and meeting houses.

13th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to provide financial support to arts and cultural organisations.

HM Government recognises the great value of the UK’s world-leading arts and cultural sectors, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has a strong record of support for organisations in this space.

Arts Council England are spending £444 million annually on a record 985 organisations in their National Portfolio, which was enabled by a total increase of over £43 million in Arts Council Funding across the most recent Spending Review period.

We are also investing more than £200 million through the Cultural Investment Fund over this Spending Review period, and the £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund supported around 5,000 organisations. The extension to the higher rate of cultural tax reliefs secured at Spring Budget 2023 is estimated to be worth £350 million over the five year forecast period.

20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, what steps she is taking to ensure that (a) parliamentary scrutiny is upheld and (b) personal data and personal health data is protected.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on Monday 18 July 2022. Following the election of the new leader of the Conservative Party, business managers have agreed that the government will not move the Second Reading and other motions relating to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to allow ministers to further consider the Bill. Once resumed, Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise it fully as per parliamentary procedure.

The Bill will maintain high standards of protection for personal data, including sensitive healthcare data. At the same time, it will reform the most complex and burdensome parts of the data protection legislation which can impede responsible data use.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a mandatory levy on gambling companies to fund support for people with gambling addictions.

The Government’s Review of the Gambling Act called for evidence on how best to recoup the regulatory and societal costs of problem gambling. We will publish a white paper outlining our proposals for reform and vision for the sector in the coming weeks.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking with Spotify to help ensure that anti-Semitic content on that platform is swiftly removed.

Antisemitism has absolutely no place in our society. The UK is taking robust action to tackle harmful online content, including antisemitism. Tech companies may already be held liable for illegal third party content that they host if they are aware of it and fail to remove it expeditiously. Tech companies that publish illegal content are already liable for it.

We also introduced the Online Safety Bill to Parliament on 17 March 2022 and it passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 19 April.

The Bill will give online companies, such as Spotify, new duties of care for user-generated content that they host on their service. Companies will have duties to prevent the proliferation of illegal content, including illegal hate speech, on their platform, and ensure that children who use their services are not exposed to harmful or inappropriate content. They will also be required to have effective and accessible mechanisms for users and affected persons to easily report concerns and seek redress.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of existing legislation on gambling in protecting those at risk from gambling-related harm.

The Government is conducting a wide-ranging and evidence-led Review of the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. This includes ensuring we have the right protections in place to prevent vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited. We are considering the evidence carefully and will publish a White Paper in the coming weeks.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of reinstating the Young Audiences Content Fund.

The pilot Young Audiences Content Fund was allocated Licence Fee underspend to test a new way of financing public service TV content for a three-year period. This three-year period concluded on 31 March 2022. As planned a full evaluation will now take place to determine the impact of the Young Audiences Content Fund on the children’s television industry and the provision and plurality of public service content for young audiences across the UK.

The potential for any further investment of public funding will be assessed against the Fund evaluation and alongside future public service broadcasting needs.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential financial public losses as a result of the proposed changes to the Gambling Act.

The Gambling Act Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. We will publish a white paper setting out our conclusions and next steps in the coming months. Appropriate consideration of impacts is being made at all stages.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that there are adequate age-related controls in place for people purchasing Non-Fungible Tokens in video games.

This Government is committed to ensuring that video games are enjoyed safely and consumers are empowered to make informed decisions. Video game ratings are mandatory under UK law for physical products. The Games Rating Authority - which is part of the Video Standards Council - rates games using the Pan European Games Information (PEGI) system. In addition to age classifications, PEGI ratings also include content descriptors to ensure buyers are informed about games at the point of purchase, including whether a title contains 'in-game purchases', such as Non-Fungible Tokens, loot boxes and other in-game items.

We will continue to work with industry and other relevant stakeholders to understand the impact of new in-game technologies.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the number of short-stay educational visits to the UK from EU schools; and what steps she is taking to encourage more visits from EU schools to the UK.

As set out in the government’s Tourism Recovery Plan, we are committed to supporting the tourism industry’s return to pre-pandemic levels across England, including tourism for educational purposes.

So far, the government has provided over £35 billion in support to the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors over the course of the pandemic in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks.

The continuing desirability of English language skills drives the UK’s soft power on the world stage. The Tourism Recovery Plan recognises educational travel as an important part of the visitor economy and highlights the 2021 updates to the International Education Strategy, which sets out how we will promote English Language Training in the UK.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of establishing a compensation scheme in order to grant financial redress to customers of Football Index.

The government appreciates the significant impact that the collapse of the novel gambling product Football Index had on former customers. BetIndex, the company which operated Football Index, went into liquidation on 5 November. The process is continuing and it is likely that this will result in some amounts being reimbursed to creditors. There is no compensation scheme for losses caused by a gambling firm ceasing to operate and the government does not think it would be appropriate to use public funds for these purposes.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle the environmental impact of auto racing.

Motorsports, as with other sports, operate independently of the government, setting their own rules and regulations in line with those of their International (Sport) Federations and relevant overarching legislation.

I note the work of many motorsports bodies in their environmental impact, such as Formula 1 aiming to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and with the growth of new disciplines such as Formula E.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with representatives of public (a) galleries and (b) museums on the provision to customers of telephone numbers to ensure that those customers without access to the internet can find relevant information.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently met with representatives from museums and museum sector bodies and discussed the accessibility of museums amongst other topics.

Access policies are a matter for the museum in question, as they, including the DCMS sponsored museums, operate independently from the government. However, the government supports the Museum Accreditation Scheme, the UK-wide standard for the sector, via its arms-length body Arts Council England. Requirements for accreditation include that museums have an Access Policy and an Access Plan to maintain (and where possible to improve) the physical, sensory and intellectual access to their collections, information about their collections, and access to the buildings housing their collections. There are currently more than 1700 museums participating in the scheme across the UK.

The DCMS sponsored museums are also required to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, and are expected to act in such a way as to maximise attendance and broaden audiences.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Broadcasting Act 1996 so that all Group A listed events must be aired on free-to-air television.

The government does not have plans to review the listed events regime at this time. We believe that the current listed events regime works well to deliver the best outcome and strikes an appropriate balance between retaining free-to-air sports events for the public while allowing rights holders to negotiate agreements in the best interests of their sport.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timetable is for publishing the findings of the independent review into the collapse of Football Index announced on 20 April 2021.

The Secretary of State has appointed Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead the independent review of the Football Index gambling product. He will provide an independent expert account of the actions taken by the Gambling Commission and other relevant regulatory bodies, and consider the lessons to be learnt for the future. As outlined in my Written Ministerial Statement of 7 June, the independent review is expected to provide a report for publication in the summer. The statement can be found at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-06-07/hcws63 and the scope and terms of reference for the review are available on gov.uk.

24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure Parkrun events can go ahead from 5 June 2021 as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

I refer my honourable colleague to the answer I gave to written parliamentary question 3831.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason the guidance for the performing arts sector recently published by his Department diverges from previous guidance which stated that non-professional music activity could take place outdoors and indoors in England from 17 May 2021.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on what date indoor rehearsals of amateur singing choirs of more than six people will be permitted.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he plans to take to support the (a) Victoria and Albert Museum and (b) wider heritage sector.

We have supported the Victoria and Albert Museum (“V&A”), an arms’ length body, since the very start of the pandemic and will continue to do so. The V&A has benefited considerably from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, it received tailored revenue support from the Government last year, and is eligible for additional investment this year. Furthermore, we are investing in the V&A’s estate to help with the maintenance of its unique heritage interiors.

Likewise, the Government has provided unprecedented support to the arts, heritage and museums sectors through the Cultural Recovery Fund which has distributed over £1.2 billion, reaching over 5000 individual organisations and sites. This includes £53 million to specifically support construction and conservation projects at heritage sites across England. This fund has supported over 1000 projects directly and is estimated to have safeguarded between 744 and 1137 heritage construction and conservation jobs.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of the absence of a Government-backed insurance scheme for the festivals sector on that sector.

This Government recognises the importance of the UK’s live music sector, and in particular Music Festivals known around the world.

More than £21 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund has supported over 100 festivals to continue trading including Boomtown, Shambala, Glastonbury and Deer Shed Festival.

Our science-led Events Research Programme (ERP) is also exploring ways in which we can bring larger audiences back safely to the arts this summer if public health conditions allow and we recently announced an outdoor music pilot event at Sefton Park in Liverpool on 2nd May which will provide some valuable data for outdoor events settings featuring unstructured movement of people.

We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and we continue to assess all available options to provide further support to the sector within the public health context.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) a Seat Out to Help Out scheme to support live entertainment and (b) providing individual funding for musicians and other freelancers in England via the Cultural Recovery Fund on a similar basis to the support available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ announced by the Prime Minister on the 22 February provides a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England, including for live events. Once theatres and live entertainment venues are able to reopen, we want the public to show their support by attending events, and we will continue to review all viable options to ensure the successful reopening of the live entertainment sector.

DCMS continues to engage with HM Treasury to ensure the needs of our sectors are factored into the developing economic response, and that DCMS sectors, including the music sector, are supported throughout this time. The Government recognises the significant challenge the current pandemic poses to many individuals and freelancers working in the music industry, and we are working very hard to help freelancers in this sectors access support, including through Arts Council England and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will continue until September with a fourth and fifth grant. Individuals will be able to qualify for the new grants based on their 2019-20 tax returns. This means that over 600,000 self-employed individuals may be newly eligible for the SEISS, including many new to self-employment in 2019-20.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) making online abuse a specific criminal offence and (b) making verified identification a requirement for opening a social media account.

Being anonymous online does not give anyone the right to abuse others. Under the new Online Safety framework, which will be introduced in the Online Safety Bill later this year, companies in scope will need to limit the spread of illegal abuse on their services, including illegal anonymous abuse. Major platforms will also need to set out clearly what legal content is acceptable on their platform, and stick to it. The major online services and social media platforms will also need to take action with regard to legal but harmful content

The Government has sponsored a Law Commission review of harmful online communications, which is considering whether current law needs updating to help tackle online abuses. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations later this year, which we will carefully consider.

There are many legitimate reasons why an individual would not wish to identify themselves online. Whistleblowers, victims of modern slavery and survivors of domestic abuse may wish to stay anonymous, to protect their identity online. Our proposals strike the right balance between protecting users’ rights online, while preserving freedom of expression.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of including the English language teaching sector in current and future covid-19 related support measures targeted at the tourism, leisure and hospitality industries.

English Language Schools have been, and are, able to benefit from a wide variety of Government support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until September, a variety of generous Government backed loan schemes and grants through the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme.

Although funding issued under the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme is ultimately issued at the discretion of Local Authorities, we encourage and expect them to be sympathetic to applications from English Language Schools, as well as other businesses in the tourism supply chain which have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much spending has been allocated to the Festival UK* 2022 in (a) 2021-22 and (b) 2022-23; and from which departmental budget that spending will be taken.

For 2021-22, £29.1 million has been allocated to Festival UK 2022 for delivery in England, with a further £58.6 million allocated for 2022-23. This funding will be taken from the DCMS budget. These spending forecasts do not include the Barnett allocations to the devolved nations, which is administered by HM Treasury.

21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to increase funding to the Public Lending Right fund.

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.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has plans to review the role of the Independent Press Standards Organisation in the regulation of the news media.

The government is committed to the independent self-regulation of the press and does not intervene in the operation of independent regulators. There have been significant changes to press self-regulation since the Leveson Inquiry and there now exists a strengthened, independent, self-regulatory system. Sir Joseph Pilling’s 2016 review of IPSO found that it had made some important achievements in demonstrating that it is an independent and effective regulator, and it has made further progress since then.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps he has taken to tackle problem gambling.

All gambling operators offering services in Britain are subject to strict regulation and must abide by rigorous requirements for the protection of children and vulnerable people. In the last year, the government and the Gambling Commission have acted to strengthen these protections further, including a ban on credit card gambling, making participation in the self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP mandatory for online operators, and issuing new guidance for operators to address the potential for some customers to be at heightened risk during the Covid period. In addition, the Gambling Commission introduced tighter controls on VIP schemes which came into force at the end of October, and has recently launched a consultation on measures to ensure operators have robust procedures in place to identify and intervene with those who may be at risk of gambling harm.

According to the 2016 combined Health Survey, the 2017 Health Survey for Scotland and the 2018 Health Survey for England, the problem gambling rate among adults has remained stable at around 0.6-0.8%. The NHS Long Term Plan made a commitment to expand the geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems through the opening of an additional 14 serious problem gambling clinics by 2023/24. In July 2019, government secured a commitment from five large operators for a tenfold increase in their contributions to the research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling over four years, rising from 0.1% to 1% of gross gambling yield. This includes a commitment to spend £100m on treatment over this period. The Department for Health and Social Care continues to work with the NHS and GambleAware to support the expansion and alignment of existing treatment services.

The government has committed to reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. Further details will be announced in due course.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the potential effects of long waiting lists of schools that are specialised for Special Educational Needs children on such children.

​​The department recognises the importance of accessing timely and effective support to improve the experiences of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and their families.

​Nationally, 17% of pupils are identified with some form of SEN, three quarters of whom receive SEN support from their mainstream school, funded from its own resources. Local authorities must ensure there are sufficient good school places for all pupils, including special schools and those with SEND. They are statutorily required to keep the services and provision for children and young people with SEND under review (including its sufficiency), working with parents, young people, and providers.

​To go further in supporting local authorities to meet this duty, in the SEND and alternative provision (AP) Improvement Plan, the department is committed to investing £2.6 billion between 2022 and 2025 to fund new special and AP places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND, including announcing 41 new special free schools. This funding represents a significant, transformational investment in new high needs provision.

​The department has also collected new data from local authorities on available capacity in special schools, SEND units and resourced provision, along with corresponding forecasts of demand for these places. This data will help the department to more effectively support local authorities to fulfil their statutory duty to provide sufficient specialist places.

​Through these reforms, the department aim to ensure that placements for children and young people with SEND are sufficient to meet need, allowing them to access the right support, in the right setting, at the right time.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to increase support for autistic (a) children and (b) young adults in the education system.

In the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan, published in March 2023, the department set out its vision to improve mainstream education through setting standards for early and accurate identification of need and timely access to support to meet those with SEND. The standards will clarify the types of support that should be ordinarily available in mainstream settings, who is responsible for securing the support and from which budgets. This will give children and young people confidence and clarity on how their needs will be met. The department will establish a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND, including autism, so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment.

In the immediate term, the system is being supported to deliver change and improve the experience and outcomes for children and young people with SEND, including autism, by investing:

  • A further £21 million to train 400 more educational psychologists across the 2024 and 2025 academic years to increase the capacity of specialists.
  • £2.6 billion between 2022 and 2025 to fund new special and AP places and improve existing provision, including announcing 41 new special free schools, with a further 38 special free schools currently in the pipeline.
  • £18 million between 2022 and 2025 to double the capacity of the Supported Internships Programme. In addition, up to a further £3 million has been invested to pilot extending Supported Internships to young people with learning difficulties and disabilities without Education, Health and Care plans.
  • £30 million to develop innovative approaches for short breaks for children, young people, and their families over three years.
  • An additional £6 million to fund extension of the AP Specialist Taskforce pilot programme (delivering now in 22 local authorities), to run until 2025.
  • Funding for up to 7,000 early years staff to gain an accredited Level 3 Early Years Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) qualification to support the development of the early years workforce.

To help frontline professionals better support the needs of autistic children and young people in their settings, the department’s Universal Services contract offers autism awareness training and resources for the school and further education workforce. This aligns with the all-age autism strategy and its ambition to improve autistic children and young people’s access to education and support positive transitions into adulthood. Over 100,000 professionals have undertaken autism awareness training as part of a train the trainer model since the Universal Services programme launched in 2022.

Additionally, new practitioner standards are being developed to further help education staff support children and young people with SEND. The first three practitioner standards, including one on autism, will be published by the end of 2025.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of offering higher starting salaries to people entering the teaching profession with wider professional experience relevant to the subjects they teach.

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions document (STPCD) sets out the four pay ranges for teachers in maintained schools in England. A teacher must be paid a salary within the minimum and maximum of the pay range as set out within the STPCD as the relevant body determines. A link to more information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-teachers-pay-and-conditions.

In the recent pay award, teachers and leaders in maintained schools received a pay award of 6.5%, the highest pay award for teachers in over thirty years. The Government also delivered its manifesto commitment of a minimum £30,000 starting salary for teachers in all regions of the country, with a pay award of up to 7.1% for new teachers outside London. The Department is committed to ensuring that teaching is a financially competitive career option within the graduate labour market.

The Department wants to ensure there are excellent teachers where they are needed most. The Department has announced a £196 million initial teacher training (ITT) financial incentives package for the 2024/25 ITT recruitment cycle, a £15 million increase on the last cycle. This includes increased bursaries worth up to £28,000 tax free and scholarships worth up to £30,000 tax free, to encourage talented trainees to key subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing. The Department is also providing a Levelling Up Premium worth up to £3,000 tax free for mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who choose to work in disadvantaged schools. For 2024/25 and 2025/26, the Department will be investing £100 million each year to double the rates of the Levelling Up Premium to up to £6,000 tax free.

The Department continues to consider longer term pay priorities to attract and retain the best graduates whilst also delivering value for money on taxpayers’ investment in schools. The next remit to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) is due to be published shortly, which will include the strategic areas that the Department will consult the STRB on and look to implement in the next academic year.

7th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has issued guidance to universities on pay deductions during marking boycotts.

Unlike some education sectors where the government has taken part in negotiations with trade unions, universities are autonomous. They are therefore responsible for the pay and pension provision of their staff. While government plays no formal role in such disputes, there is concern about the potential impact of the marking and assessment boycott. The government hopes all parties can reach an agreement that delivers good value for students, staff and universities, so further industrial action can be avoided.

On 22 June 2023, I met with Universities UK (UUK), the Russell Group and UCEA to better understand the impact of this boycott. I have also written to the Russell Group and UUK, encouraging them to continue to do everything within their powers to protect the interests of students during this phase of industrial action.

On 27 June 2023, I met with a number of higher education (HE) representative groups to discuss the marking and assessment boycott, including the mitigating actions HE institutions are taking.

On 12 June 2023, the Office for Students (OfS) wrote to institutions affected by the boycott to reiterate its expectations in relation to its conditions of registration. The OfS will continue to monitor this ongoing situation through their normal regulatory mechanisms.

My officials and I will continue to engage with the HE sector over the coming weeks to help better understand the boycott’s impact and the mitigating actions HE institutions are taking.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
10th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps she has taken to ensure that parents of deaf children have access to British Sign Language classes.

The department understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. We also appreciate the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the adult education budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focussing on BSL, up to and including Level 2. These qualifications include, for example, the Level 1 Award in BSL which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or expected to meet part of the cost (through co-funding).

About 60% of the AEB has been devolved to Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority, who determine which provision to fund for learners who live in their areas. The Education and Skills Funding Agency provides the remaining funding for learners who live in non-devolved areas. Where community learning providers offer BSL courses, those providers are responsible for determining the course fees, including levels of fee remission.

For some BSL courses, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available, and parents can find more information about which qualifications are eligible on the GOV.UK website at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan/.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help (a) recruit and (b) retain special educational needs and disabilities specialist staff in schools.

All teachers are teachers of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The department is committed to ensuring that all pupils can reach their potential and receive excellent support from their teachers.

The number of teachers remains high, with over 465,500 full-time equivalent teachers working in state-funded schools across the country. This is over 24,000 more than in 2010.

The department’s priority is to ensure that we continue to attract, retain, and develop highly skilled teachers. This is why we are taking action to improve teacher supply and quality by transforming the training and support we provide for teachers to attract more people to teaching and enable them to succeed.

The Teachers’ Standards sets clear expectations that teachers must understand the needs of all pupils. All trainees who achieve Qualified Teacher Status must demonstrate that they can adapt teaching to respond to the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND.

To support all teachers in meeting these standards, the department is implementing a golden thread of high-quality teacher training reforms, which begins with initial teacher training and continues throughout their career progression.

Once teachers qualify and are employed in schools, headteachers use their professional judgement to identify any further training, including specific specialisms, for individual staff that is relevant to them, the school, and its pupils.

To teach a class of pupils with sensory impairments, a teacher is required to hold the mandatory qualification in sensory impairment approved by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education. The department has developed a new approval process to determine providers of Mandatory Qualifications in Sensory Impairments from the start of the 2023/24 academic year. Our aim is to ensure a steady supply of teachers of children with visual, hearing, and multi-sensory impairments, in both specialist and mainstream settings.

The school teachers’ pay and conditions document for 2022 sets out that an additional SEND allowance must be paid to teachers in a SEND post that requires a mandatory SEND qualification and involves teaching pupils with SEND. It is for schools to determine the specific amount, but this must be between £2,384 and £4,703 per annum.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
14th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that climate change and sustainability are integrated throughout the primary and secondary school curriculum.

The Department will not be making any changes to the National Curriculum. Topics related to climate change and sustainability feature in the National Curricula for science, citizenship, and geography for primary and secondary schools.

An environmental science A level is available, and a Natural History GCSE will be introduced in 2025. The National Education Nature Park will also provide many educational opportunities for young people to take part in citizen science and biodiversity monitoring.

17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to increase the number of qualified teachers for deaf children in schools.

I refer the hon. Member for Ealing Central to the answer I gave on 23 February 2023 to Question 143709.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to support international students, in the context of the cost of living crisis.

To be eligible for home fee status and student support from Student Finance England, a student must be ordinarily and lawfully resident in England, and have ‘settled’ status or a recognised connection with the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course. This includes persons who are covered by the EU Withdrawal Agreement, those who have long residence in this country or those who have been granted international protection by the Home Office.

Usually, students must also have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three years immediately preceding that date. This ensures that the limited public funds available for student support are targeted at people with a lawful and substantial residential connection to the UK.

We have boosted our student premium by £15 million to help students who need extra support. This extra funding, now totalling £276 million, will complement the help universities are providing through their own bursary, scholarship and hardship support schemes. The department works with the Office for Students to ensure universities support students using both hardship funds and drawing on the student premium.

All households will save on their energy bills through the Energy Price Guarantee and the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount. The Energy Prices Act passed on 25 October 2022 includes the provision which requires landlords to pass any benefits they receive from energy price support onto end users, as appropriate. Further details of the requirements under this Act are set out in the legislation.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme provides a price reduction to ensure that all businesses and other non-domestic customers are protected from high energy bills this winter, including universities and private purpose-built student accommodation providers.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on potential options for resolving the pay dispute with teachers.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education continues to work with Cabinet colleagues to seek a fair and reasonable resolution to the pay dispute with teachers. She has made a serious offer to the leaders of the National Education Union (NEU) to pause the planned strikes so that we can discuss pay, conditions and reforms. The NEU refused to call off strike action last week, once again causing disruption to families and thousands of children who missed out on their education.

This same offer has been accepted by health unions including Unite, the GMB, Unison, CSP and the Royal College of Nurses who have all paused their strikes and are engaging in intensive negotiations.

Last year, the Chancellor committed an additional £2 billion for schools for next year and the year after. This additional money means schools will be funded at their highest levels in history. Each school has flexibility over how this money is used, such as staffing, classroom materials, or other running costs.

Teacher pay is set by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) and Government respects its independence. The Department published written evidence on Thursday 21 February to the STRB that will, alongside evidence from the treasury and other consultees including trade unions, inform their recommendations on teachers’ pay for 2023/24.

The Government published its written evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) on 21 February 2023, giving views and input to help them form their recommendations for teachers’ pay. This evidence sets out how a 3.5% overall award, which includes raising starting salaries to £30,000, would be manageable within schools’ budgets, on average. The Department recognises that this year this judgment is particularly finely balanced, with the possibility that changing conditions, such as an improvement to energy prices, might allow schools to accommodate a higher award.

The Secretary of State has been clear that her offer to the NEU still stands. It is in the best interests of children, parents, and teachers for the NEU to take up her offer and engage in talks on all areas of their dispute.

31st Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2022 to Question 37614 on Schools: Buildings, which schools in Ealing Central and Acton constituency had at least one construction element in (a) condition grade C and (b) condition grade D, when that data was collated; and which of those schools (i) have already received funding from the School Rebuilding Programme and (ii) are expected to receive funding from the School Rebuilding Programme in the next two years.

The Condition Data Collection (CDC) is one of the largest and most comprehensive data collection programmes in the UK’s public sector. It collected data on the building condition of government funded schools in England. It provides a robust evidence base to enable the Department to target capital funding for maintaining and rebuilding school buildings.

The key, high level findings of the CDC programme were published in May 2021 in the ‘Condition of School Buildings Survey: Key Findings’ report. This is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/989912/Condition_of_School_Buildings_Survey_CDC1_-_key_findings_report.pdf.

Individual CDC reports have been shared with every school and their responsible body to use alongside their existing condition surveys to plan maintenance schedules and investment plans. The Department plans to publish detailed school level CDC data. The Department is still preparing the data and will publish it as soon as possible.

Well maintained, safe school buildings are a priority for the Department. Our funding is directed both to maintaining the condition of the school estate and rebuilding schools. The Department has allocated over £13 billion for improving the condition of schools since 2015, including £1.8 billion committed this financial year.

The ten year School Rebuilding Programme (SRP) is condition led. 400 of the 500 available places on the programme have been provisionally allocated. A list of these schools and the methodology used to select them is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme-schools-in-the-programme.

Of the 400 so far selected, none are in Ealing Central and Acton constituency.

The 239 schools announced in December 2022 will enter delivery at a rate of approximately 50 per year, over a five year period from 2023. The Department is currently undertaking due diligence on these schools prior to scheduling them, with schools prioritised according to the condition of their buildings, readiness to proceed, and efficiency of delivery. The scope and funding for each project will be confirmed following detailed feasibility studies and condition surveys of buildings.

Where a school identifies significant safety issues with a building, that cannot be managed within local resources, the Department considers additional support on a case-by-case basis. This includes applications for Urgent Capital Support (UCS) from eligible institutions. Schools eligible for Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) can apply for UCS where there are urgent health and safety issues that threaten school closure and cannot wait until the next CIF bidding round.

16th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the National Food Strategy Report published in July 2021, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of updating the School Food Standards to remove the mandatory servings of (a) meat including fish and (b) dairy as suggested in that report.

The Department believes that the current standards provide a robust yet flexible framework to ensure that pupils continue to receive high quality and nutritious food that builds healthy eating habits for life.

The Department’s current focus is on promoting compliance with the School Food Standards, and it will keep this under review. In February 2022, the Levelling Up White Paper outlined what the Department is doing to strengthen adherence. This includes piloting work with the Foods Standards Agency, funding of up to £200,000 in a pilot Governor Training Scheme and encouraging schools to complete a statement on their websites setting out their whole school approach to food.

The Department will consider the National Food Strategy Report’s recommendations in future updates.

15th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential impact of increasing the flexibility of the apprenticeship levy on the level of (a) staff and (b) skill shortages in the hospitality sector.

The apprenticeship levy supports employers in all sectors, including those in hospitality, to invest in high-quality apprenticeship training. Employers in the catering and hospitality sector have developed 10 apprenticeship standards to help them to develop their workforces, including Level 2 Hospitality Team Member, Level 3 Chef De Partie and Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef. In the 2020/21 academic year, there were 8,870 starts in the hospitality sector.

The department is committed to enhancing the quality of apprenticeships and improving the system, so that apprenticeships continue to meet the needs of employers in all sectors.

The department is also supporting employers to make greater use of their levy funds by helping them choose more flexible training models, such as portable, flexi-job and accelerated apprenticeships. Improvements have been made to the levy transfer system, to enable larger employers to more easily support apprenticeship starts in other employers in their own or different sectors. In addition, employers can also access a range of other government-funded skills programmes, including T-levels, Skills Bootcamps, and our free Level 3 courses for jobs, which can help people gain the skills that employers value.

There are no current plans to reform the apprenticeship levy, and as such, no assessment has been made of changes to the levy and the impact on the level of staff or skill shortages in the hospitality sector.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing sensory food play as a part of the Early Years Foundation Stage for early years nutrition.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards that all early years providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to age five.

The department has published an article promoting sensory food education on the ‘Help for early years providers’ online platform, which is a resource for childminders, nursery leaders and pre-school practitioners. This supports practitioners to look at incorporating sensory food education into their practice, while delivering the statutory EYFS requirements. The sensory food education article can be found here: https://help-for-early-years-providers.education.gov.uk/get-help-to-improve-your-practice/sensory-food-education.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to support students with the cost-of-living crisis.

The government recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen this year and that have impacted students. Many higher education providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance.

There is £261 million of student premium funding available this academic year to support disadvantaged students who need additional help. The department is with the Office for Students to ensure universities support students in hardship using both hardship funds and drawing on the student premium.

In addition, all households will save on their energy bills through the Energy Price Guarantee and the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount. The Energy Prices Bill introduced on 12 October 2022 includes the provision to require landlords to pass benefits they receive from energy price support, as appropriate, onto end users. Further details of the requirements under this legislation will be set out in regulations.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of allocating additional funding for education providers to deliver hardship funds, in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

The government recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen this year and that have impacted students. Many higher education providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance.

There is £261 million of student premium funding available this academic year to support disadvantaged students who need additional help. The department is with the Office for Students to ensure universities support students in hardship using both hardship funds and drawing on the student premium.

In addition, all households will save on their energy bills through the Energy Price Guarantee and the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount. The Energy Prices Bill introduced on 12 October 2022 includes the provision to require landlords to pass benefits they receive from energy price support, as appropriate, onto end users. Further details of the requirements under this legislation will be set out in regulations.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to increase the affordability of childcare.

The department has spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on early education entitlements, and continues to support families with the cost of childcare through Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit.

At the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, the department also announced additional funding of £160 million in 2022/23, £180 million in 2023/24, and £170 million in 2024/25, compared to the 2021/22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers.

In July 2022, the department announced measures to increase take-up of childcare support and to reduce the costs and bureaucracy facing providers. These plans aim to give providers more flexibility and autonomy, and attract more people to childminding, while encouraging the growth of childminder agencies, enabling greater access to this flexible affordable form of care.

The department also has a campaign underway via the Childcare Choices website to ensure that every parent knows about the government-funded support they are eligible for to save money on their childcare bills. Childcare Choices is accessible here: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
19th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making suicide prevention a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

All pupils in schools are taught about mental health as part of the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) curriculum, which the department made mandatory in 2020 to ensure that all pupils are taught about important topics.

Schools can teach older pupils about suicide in an age-appropriate and sensitive way. The RSHE statutory guidance advises that schools should approach teaching about self-harm and suicide carefully and should be aware of the risks to pupils from exposure to materials that are instructive rather than preventative. This includes websites or videos that provide instructions or methods of self-harm or suicide. The guidance is clear that if teachers have concerns about a specific pupil in relation to self-harm or suicidal thoughts, they must follow safeguarding procedures immediately.

7th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will undertake a review of the eligibility criteria for free school meals before the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

Through the provision of free school means (FSM), together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the Universal Infant Free School Meal policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. We do not have any plans to extend universal provision, but we will continue to review free school meal eligibility, to ensure that these meals are supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. In setting a threshold, the department believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending FSM eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

The department is also providing over £200 million per year for the next three years to provide healthy food in the holidays via our Holiday Activities and Food programme, providing breakfast clubs in thousands of schools, as well as delivering the School Fruit and Vegetable scheme and wider government schemes such as Healthy Start vouchers.

7th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact of increases in the cost of living on the number of children who will be both living in poverty and ineligible for free school meals in the next three years.

Through the provision of free school means (FSM), together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the Universal Infant Free School Meal policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. We do not have any plans to extend universal provision, but we will continue to review free school meal eligibility, to ensure that these meals are supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. In setting a threshold, the department believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending FSM eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

The department is also providing over £200 million per year for the next three years to provide healthy food in the holidays via our Holiday Activities and Food programme, providing breakfast clubs in thousands of schools, as well as delivering the School Fruit and Vegetable scheme and wider government schemes such as Healthy Start vouchers.

7th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that children living in poverty who are not eligible for free school meals have access to healthy meals.

Through the provision of free school means (FSM), together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through the Universal Infant Free School Meal policy, the greatest ever proportion of school children, 37.5%, are now provided with a free meal at lunchtime, at a cost of over £1 billion a year.

The department continues to monitor the situation surrounding the rising cost of living whilst working with other government departments on support surrounding this issue. We do not have any plans to extend universal provision, but we will continue to review free school meal eligibility, to ensure that these meals are supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest incomes. In setting a threshold, the department believes that the current level, which enables children to benefit, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. Extending FSM eligibility to all pupils would carry a significant financial cost.

The department is also providing over £200 million per year for the next three years to provide healthy food in the holidays via our Holiday Activities and Food programme, providing breakfast clubs in thousands of schools, as well as delivering the School Fruit and Vegetable scheme and wider government schemes such as Healthy Start vouchers.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing pay for educational psychologists, in the context of the rising cost of food and domestic bills.

The department does not currently plan to make an assessment on increasing pay for educational psychologists.

The department currently funds the tuition fees for the three-year training course for educational psychologists, as well as a bursary for the first year of the course, which is passed on to trainees. Trainees also receive a bursary for the second and third years of study, which is funded by the local authorities where trainees undertake their placements. The bursary can be used to assist with living and travel costs.

After graduation, specific employment terms, including pay, are governed by the education psychologist’s contract of employment with their employer.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of (a) teachers and (b) therapists employed in special educational needs schools in London; and what steps he is taking to help increase the number of (a) teachers and (b) therapists employed in those schools.

In November 2021, there were 3,423 full-time equivalent teachers in state-funded special schools in London, which is 1,057, or 45% higher than in 2010.

The department’s priority is to ensure that we continue to attract, retain, and develop the highly skilled teachers that we need, as set out in the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published in 2019.

Children and young people may access therapists through a number of different routes, one of which may be directly through their school. In November 2021, there were 169 staff contracts in state-funded special schools based in London, with the main role reported as therapist. These figures will not include therapists working in schools on contracts that last for fewer than 28 days.

The further increases in school funding next year mean that high needs funding for children with more complex needs in England, including those in London special schools, is increasing by £1.65 billion over two years, between the 2021/22 and 202324 financial years. This is an increase of 21% and will bring total high needs funding to over £9.7 billion by 2023/24.

Decisions about how funding is used locally, including for the employment of specialist teachers and other specialist services, are made by local authorities and schools.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the context of the rising cost of (a) food and (b) domestic bills, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing a temporary moratorium on the wearing of school uniforms in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools.

The Department is not making such an assessment.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of granting kinship carers paid time off work when a child starts living with them.

The department will consider the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, including the recommendations to introduce a statutory definition of kinship care, provide kinship carers with paid time off work when a child starts living with them, and provide financial allowances at the same rate as foster carers.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing all kinship carers with a weekly allowance.

The department will consider the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, including the recommendations to introduce a statutory definition of kinship care, provide kinship carers with paid time off work when a child starts living with them, and provide financial allowances at the same rate as foster carers.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a single statutory definition of kinship care.

The department will consider the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, including the recommendations to introduce a statutory definition of kinship care, provide kinship carers with paid time off work when a child starts living with them, and provide financial allowances at the same rate as foster carers.

28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of guaranteeing funding for BTEC qualifications for the current parliamentary session.

The year delay to the qualifications review which was announced by my right Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education in November 2021 means that no qualifications, including BTECs, will have their funding approval removed because they overlap with T Levels before 1 August 2024.

We will continue to fund applied general style qualifications including BTECs as part of mixed programmes where there is a clear need for them, and they meet new quality and other criteria. Students will also be able to study qualifications such as BTECs as their full programme of study where there is no A level or T Level. These qualifications will continue to play an important role for 16 to 19 year olds and adults as they do now.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
7th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of restricting eligibility for student loans to people with (a) GCSEs and (b) other equivalent qualifications on social mobility in England.

In the higher education policy statement and reform consultation, which closed on 6 May 2022, the department started a conversation on the principle of a minimum eligibility requirement (MER) for access to student finance for those intending to study a degree-level qualification.

The department sought views on what would be a fair and proportionate level at which to potentially set a MER and on proposed exemptions from such a MER, such as for mature and/or part-time students.

The department strongly believe that access to higher education should be based on a student’s attainment and ability to succeed – not their background. It’s important that students, of all backgrounds, are not pushed into courses they are not ready for, and that are unlikely to provide high-quality outcomes for them and good value for money.

In every scenario the department are considering students would have other means of progressing to a degree. This is including by first doing a Foundation Year, an Access to higher education course, retaking their GCSEs or A-Levels, or by undertaking a Level 4 or 5 qualification (for example, a Higher Technical Qualification). Successfully completing any of these would allow a student to progress to a degree, regardless of their GCSEs or A-Levels.

A decision has not yet been made on whether to introduce a MER. The department is considering consultation responses and will publish the government's response in due course.

Our published equality analysis covers impacts potentially arising from proposed higher education reforms, including minimum eligibility requirements. The published equality analysis can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1058933/Higher_education_policy_statement_reform_consultation_-_Equality_analysis.pdf.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) updating Initial Teacher Training to strengthen training on SEND for all teachers and (b) including deaf awareness in all Initial Teacher Training.

The department is determined that all children and young people, including those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, receive the support they need to succeed in their education.

Since September 2020, all new teachers entering the profession benefit from at least three years of evidence based professional development and support, starting with Initial Teacher Training (ITT) based on the new ITT Core Content Framework (CCF). This is followed by a new two-year induction underpinned by the Early Career Framework (ECF). Both frameworks, developed with educational experts, will equip teachers with a clear understanding of the needs of all children, including those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the SEND code of practice.

ITT courses must be designed so that trainee teachers can demonstrate that they meet the Teachers’ Standards at the appropriate level which includes the requirement that all teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils. This includes those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. All teachers in local authority-maintained schools or non-maintained special schools in England are required to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is awarded upon successful completion of an ITT course.

In specialist settings, in addition to holding QTS, it is a legal requirement for teachers of classes of pupils who have sensory impairments to hold the relevant mandatory qualification. Providers must be approved by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education to offer these qualifications. Teachers working in an advisory role to support such pupils should also hold the appropriate qualification.

The department intends to develop a new approval process to determine providers of mandatory qualifications in sensory impairment from the start of academic year 2023/2024. Our aim is to ensure a steady supply of teachers of children with visual, hearing, and multi-sensory impairment, in both specialist and mainstream settings.

Wider decisions relating to teachers’ professional development rest with schools, headteachers, and teachers themselves, as they are in the best position to judge their own requirements, which may include further training and development.

16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing immediate access to full maintenance loans for medical students in line with other healthcare professional courses for the duration of their degree programme.

The government is committed to supporting medical students. Students attending years one to four of a standard medical degree course qualify for a fee loan to meet the full costs of their tuition, and a partially means-tested loan for living costs from Student Finance England. Students with adult or child dependants can apply for fully means-tested grants, and students who are obliged to incur additional costs while studying as a result of a disability can apply for disabled students’ allowances.

Maximum grants and loans for living costs were increased by 3.1% this academic year, and we have announced that they will increase by a further 2.3% next year. In addition, we are freezing maximum tuition fees for the 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By the 2024/25 academic year, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years, meaning reduced debt for students in real terms.

We are also reforming student loans so that new borrowers starting from the 2023/24 academic year onwards will not, under the new terms, be required to repay more than they have borrowed when adjusted for inflation.

For the fifth year of a standard medical degree course, and years two to four of accelerated medical programmes, the Government pays students’ tuition fees via a non-repayable Bursary, funded by Health Education England via the NHS Business Services Authority. Every eligible student receives an NHS Bursary at a minimum of £1,000 plus a means-tested bursary of up to £3,191.

The NHS Bursary provides additional allowances including for childcare, travel and accommodation, and to help students manage shortfalls between their income and expenditure. Students eligible for bursary support for an academic year of their course can also apply for a reduced rate non-means tested loans for living costs from Student Finance England.

Where a student is struggling financially and is eligible for the NHS Bursary, the Exceptional Support Fund is available where they may be able to claim for any sum between £100 and £3,000, depending on current financial circumstances. Additionally, Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses provides reimbursement towards travel and accommodation costs that may be incurred whilst undertaking a practice placement.

In our guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2021/22 financial year, we made clear that the OfS should protect the £256 million allocation for the student premiums to support disadvantaged students and those that need additional help. The 2022/23 financial year guidance to the OfS confirms universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through the student premium. Ministers’ Strategic Priorities Grant guidance letter to the OfS asks that the OfS looks to protect the student premium in cash terms for 2022/23.

Alongside this, the government is also making available discretionary funding of £144 million to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes, including students, to support those ineligible for council tax. The government recognises many households will need support to deal with rising energy costs, and has therefore announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in the 2022/23 financial year. This includes a £200 discount on energy bills this autumn for domestic electricity customers in Great Britain, which will be paid back automatically over the next five years.

The department has secured up to £75 million to deliver a National Scholarship Scheme that will support high achieving disadvantaged students to reach their full potential whilst studying in higher education. This scholarship aims to address the ongoing financial barriers that can restrict high achieving, disadvantaged students from achieving their full academic potential whilst studying in higher education and is in addition to the significant sector interventions already in place.

15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing financial assistance to childminders who are unable to operate in circumstances where someone in their household has tested positive for, or has symptoms of, covid-19.

Since Thursday 17 March, if someone in a childminder’s household has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, childminders can continue to operate at home.

Childminders are advised to follow the steps below to reduce the risk of onward transmission:

The risk assessment must demonstrate that the provision of childcare in the setting is safe, and how childminders will put into place any additional but proportionate measures. Childminders can also consider using alternative places to operate such as other childminders’ houses, where possible.

11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of granting a second student loan to prospective veterinary studies students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in a separate subject in order to help tackle the shortage of veterinarians in the UK.

In most cases, students who already have an equivalent or higher-level higher education qualification, compared with the one offered by their current course, will not qualify for maintenance or fee support.

However, the department recognises the need to promote access to professions by protecting the position of students who wish to retrain in the following subjects: teaching, architecture, social work, medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and healthcare. Students on these courses may qualify for some support, even when they already have an equivalent level qualification.

Students undertaking a full-time second degree in veterinary studies will qualify for maintenance support for the duration of their course.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has had discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on establishing a new multi-sensory impairment (MSI) education fund in the Spring Budget 2022.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has not had any such discussions. The department does not currently have plans to create funding streams for specific types of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This is because the department believes decisions around funding for SEND provision are best taken locally.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, local authorities and schools have the responsibility to support children and young people with SEND. They are best placed to decide how to prioritise their spending on the range of resources and activities that will best support their pupils.

The department is firmly committed to ensuring that children with SEND, including those with multi-sensory impairments, receive the support they need to succeed in their early years, at school, and at college.

High needs funding, which is specifically for supporting children with more complex SEND, including those with multi-sensory impairments, will be increasing by £1 billion in the financial year 2022/23, bringing the overall total of funding for high needs to £9.1 billion. This unprecedented increase of 13%, compared to the financial year 2021/22, comes in addition to the £1.5 billion increase over the last two years.

I also refer the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton to the answer I gave on 8 March 2022 to Question 133247.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing schools with additional ringfenced funds to cover rising energy bills.

The department recognises the concern that schools will be facing cost pressures in the coming months, particularly due to the increase in energy prices. We are looking carefully at how this will impact schools and considering what additional support we can offer.

The department knows that the vast majority of school expenditure is devoted to staff costs. This means that even while energy costs are rising, inflation in this area would have an impact on a small portion of a school’s budget overall. Energy costs represented 1.3% of local authority maintained schools spending in the 2019/20 financial year and 1.4% of academy trust spending in the 2019/20 academic year. The department pays close attention to the financial health of the sector, and we are closely assessing where energy costs may more significantly impact schools’ financial health.

Cost increases should be seen in the wider context of funding for schools. The government is delivering a £4 billion cash increase in the core schools budget next year, taking total funding to £53.8 billion. This includes an additional £1.2 billion for schools in the new schools supplementary grant for the 2022/23 financial year. Overall, this represents a 7% cash terms per pupil boost, which will help schools meet the pressures we know they are facing.

26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to continue support for disabled adults whose EHCPs have ended during the covid-19 outbreak as a result of their age.

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice is clear that education, health and care plans (EHCPs) should be designed to support young people to make positive transitions to adulthood, with a clear focus on outcomes and the support a young person will need to achieve them.

The legislative and funding arrangements for EHCPs do not allow for a plan to be extended beyond the age of 25. Instead, the local authority should ensure that the appropriate adult services have the necessary transition support in place for the individual young person, including through the statutory adult care and support plan which is designed to set out the type of support you need and how this will be given, and support to enable them to secure appropriate housing or link them to employment services.

Young people who have previously had an EHCP and have reached the age of 25 may also be eligible for funding through the Adult Education Budget (AEB). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to help them gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that young people have access to a wide choice of T-Levels that meet individual (a) needs and (b) interests; and what steps he is taking to ensure that their choice is not limited to (i) their location and (ii) local industries.

T Levels are being introduced across 11 different industry areas, from Engineering & Manufacturing and Digital, to Creative & Design and Science. The rollout of T Levels began last year with three subjects offered by 43 providers. 10 T Levels are now offered by over 100 providers. These numbers will grow year on year and over 20 T Levels will be available by 2023. This gradual introduction has meant T Levels got off to a high-quality start with feedback from both providers and students has been positive.

Current T Level providers are based across the country, and we have ensured they are represented in Opportunity Areas. As the rollout continues, coverage will increase and more students will benefit from these pioneering new qualifications. Young people will also benefit from improved, high-quality information, advice and guidance to help them make informed choices about the course that is right for them.

T Level content is designed by employers, so they will meet students’ needs by giving them the skills and knowledge needed by business. Current T Level students have been particularly enthusiastic about industry placements, which allow them to hone their technical skills in their chosen occupational specialism.

As with other education provisions, we do not expect all T Levels to be available in all post-16 providers. Providers will choose which courses to offer based on a number of factors, including their current post-16 offer and the local labour market situation. This is no different to current arrangements. The department has given extensive support to ensure providers can work with local employers to offer industry placements, and the National Apprenticeship Service is helping to match providers and employers, particularly targeting areas where there may be gaps in provision.

As part of our review of level 3 qualifications, we have set out the range of situations where we see a role for other technical qualifications to sit alongside T Levels. For 16-19 year olds this includes qualifications enabling entry to occupations not covered by T Levels. Information on reforms to post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reforms-to-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3-in-england.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Ceramics pathway for the Craft and Design T-Level, what estimate he has made of the number of ceramics studios able to offer industry placements to cover all regions of England.

T Levels are based on the same occupational standards as apprenticeships and the outline content is designed by panels of employers, industry experts and education providers, working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. In developing the outline content for the Craft and Design T Level, which is rolling out in September 2023, the T Level panel took account of a number of factors when determining the occupational specialisms of jewellery making and ceramics making, including deliverability and likely demand from employers and students.

The department is investing in direct support to employers and providers to increase the number of industry placements available for all T Levels, across all regions. We have invested over £200 million since the 2018/19 academic year to help providers build their capacity and networks with employers, and we are engaging directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to develop a pipeline of industry placements. We are also working with key intermediaries to develop innovative ways to stimulate the small and mid-size enterprises market, which includes targeting specific industries and geographical regions, and we have established a T Level employer ambassador network to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and industry placements.

There is also a comprehensive package of support available for employers, which offers online guidance, webinars and direct hands-on support to help them prepare for industry placements, and we are further developing our communications materials to continue to raise the profile of T Levels to employers. We will continue to monitor the availability of industry placements across the country to ensure that all T Level students have a high-quality placement.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the context of the Jewellery making pathway for the Craft and Design T-Level, what assessment he has made of the number of jewellery makers able to offer industry placements to cover all regions of England.

T Levels are based on the same occupational standards as apprenticeships and the outline content is designed by panels of employers, industry experts and education providers, working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. In developing the outline content for the Craft and Design T Level, which is rolling out in September 2023, the T Level panel took account of a number of factors when determining the occupational specialisms of jewellery making and ceramics making, including deliverability and likely demand from employers and students.

The department is investing in direct support to employers and providers to increase the number of industry placements available for all T Levels, across all regions. We have invested over £200 million since the 2018/19 academic year to help providers build their capacity and networks with employers, and we are engaging directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to develop a pipeline of industry placements. We are also working with key intermediaries to develop innovative ways to stimulate the small and mid-size enterprises market, which includes targeting specific industries and geographical regions, and we have established a T Level employer ambassador network to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and industry placements.

There is also a comprehensive package of support available for employers, which offers online guidance, webinars and direct hands-on support to help them prepare for industry placements, and we are further developing our communications materials to continue to raise the profile of T Levels to employers. We will continue to monitor the availability of industry placements across the country to ensure that all T Level students have a high-quality placement.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing breakfast provisions in schools for children in poverty.

The department knows that it is important for pupils to start the day with a nutritious breakfast. Between March 2018 and July 2021, the National School Breakfast Programme for schools in disadvantaged areas has supported up to 2,450 schools to establish and develop breakfast clubs, and to sustain them in the longer term. We are now investing up to £24 million in a new two year contract to continue our support for school breakfast provision until July 2023.

The department recognises that healthy breakfast clubs can play an important role in ensuring children from all backgrounds have a healthy start to their day so that they enhance their learning potential. An independent evaluation by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, published by the Education Endowment Foundation, found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered, on average, 2 months of additional progress for pupils in key stage 1 with moderate to low security. The evaluation is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/projects/magic-breakfast. A 2017 evaluation commissioned by the department also found that schools perceived important benefits from having a breakfast club, including improving concentration and behaviour in class. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/breakfast-clubs-in-high-deprivation-schools.

Throughout the current contract, the department will be working with our provider, Family Action, to monitor different aspects of the current programme, including the benefits the programme is having on pupils who are attending. We will consider the best opportunities to share information on the programme as it progresses.

26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the number of people working in the early years sector in England.

The majority of the early years’ workforce are employed in private, voluntary and independent organisations and those employers are responsible for recruiting sufficient staff in line with the requirements set out in the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The government recognises that high-quality childcare, with a well-qualified workforce, has a powerful impact on children’s outcomes and we have announced a £153 million investment in early years education to build a stronger, more expert workforce, enabling settings to deliver high quality teaching and help address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the youngest children, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas. Within this investment we have substantially expanded the number of places that we fund for initial teacher training in early years, to increase the supply of qualified graduates to the sector.

25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether T-Level students in England can resit (a) a component or (b) components of their course; and how those resits will be funded for each student.

T Levels have several components that are required for completion. Students can re-take all elements of the T Level Technical Qualification and the timing of retakes will depend on the availability of assessments set by the T Level awarding organisation. As per study programmes for young people, retakes of components are not generally eligible for funding as the activity has already been funded. In exceptional circumstances students may be eligible for funding, and institutions will need to consider the relevant funding guidance.

T Levels require students to have achieved level 2 mathematics and English by the end of their course, either through Functional Skills or GCSEs, and students will be able to resit these throughout their course. Institutions also have the discretion to allow students to make up the required industry placements hours, up to 2 years after finishing their T Level programme, should they need to. This is the same for other T Level components.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to (a) support colleges to organise industry placements for T- Level students in England and (b) guarantee that all T-Level students in England can secure industry placements.

We have provided an extensive programme of support to providers to help them to deliver high-quality industry placements. Alongside this we have invested more than £200 million over the past 4 years to help providers build their capacity and relationships with employers. Further to this, a comprehensive package of support offers providers tailored advice and support to deliver placements and networking opportunities to share best practice.

Practical industry placement delivery guidance for both providers and employers has been published and we are investing in direct support for employers to increase the number of industry placements available. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/t-level-industry-placements-delivery-guidance/t-level-industry-placements-delivery-guidance. We continue to engage directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to provide a strong pipeline ready to offer placement opportunities, and a targeted package of support is helping employers across all industries to effectively plan and implement placements. A T Level employer ambassador network has been established in order to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and placements, and we are further developing our communications materials to continue to raise the profile of T Levels to an employer audience.

Finally, we have put in place a short-term incentive fund, offering employers £1,000 per industry placement, to encourage employer engagement in the period after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) art and design, (b) sport and (c) music and performing arts will be offered as T-Level courses for students in England.

We are introducing over 20 T Levels in a wide range of subject areas by 2023, which will boost access to high quality technical education for thousands of young people.

There are no plans currently to introduce T Levels in the areas of art and design, sport or music and the performing arts. T Levels in craft and design will be made available from 2023 and will contain content of relevance to the art and design sector – including occupational specialisms such as textiles, ceramics and jewellery making. The outline content for this qualification can be found at: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/media/5021/craft-and-design-final-outline-content.pdf.

The T Level in Media, Broadcast and Production, also due to be introduced from 2023, will offer occupational specialisms of relevance to the music and performing arts industry, including Creative Media Technician, Events and Venues Technician and Content Creation and Production. The outline content for this qualification can be found at: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/t-levels/approved-t-level-technical-qualifications-and-final-outline-content/final-outline-content/ under the heading 'creative and design'.

We are not currently developing any further T Levels. In July we set out our final plans for the range of situations where we see a role for other technical qualifications to sit alongside T Levels, further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reforms-to-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3-in-england. For 16-19 year olds this includes qualifications enabling entry to occupations not covered by T Levels.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of maintaining the student loan repayment threshold at its current level in England.

As part of the wider Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, we continue to consider carefully the recommendations made by the independent panel that reported to the review, including those around fees and funding for higher education. We plan to set out a full conclusion to the Review in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on introducing alternative student finance options for Muslim students.

I refer the hon. Members for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, and Ealing Central and Acton to the answer I gave on 18 October 2021 to Question 53884.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of awarding (a) teachers and (b) all other school staff in England a pay rise.

The government is grateful to all teachers, leaders and other staff in schools who have worked incredibly hard throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including the dedication they have shown in enabling schools to remain open and working in new ways to support pupils with remote education.

In the September 2020 pay award, teachers received an average award of 3.1%, with starting salaries receiving a generous uplift of 5.5%, helping to increase the competitiveness of teacher pay in the wider labour market. The department recognises the decision to pause pay rises in 2021/22 is disappointing, but it ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented government spending on the response to COVID-19. The government is reassessing the public sector pay policy ahead of the 2022 pay round, once the economic recovery is established and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the wider labour market is clearer.

The department does not set pay for non-teaching staff in schools. Employers have the freedom to set pay and conditions to suit their circumstances. Most schools use the local government pay scales and employers are required to pay at least the statutory minimum wage. Data published in the School Workforce Census in 2020 shows that the average salary for full-time general teaching assistants has increased year on year since 2017.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing laptops to all disadvantaged secondary school pupils in England.

The department recognises the importance of the availability of laptops and other technology, in particular for disadvantaged children and young people who may not have access to a device of their own. This is why we have already provided over 1.35 million devices, via schools, colleges and local authorities, which are responsible for allocating them to those pupils who need them most.

On Friday 22 October, the department announced that a further 500,000 devices will be provided this academic year, which brings the total investment to over £520 million.

15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to publish a long-term funding plan for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.

Our holiday activities and food programme has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children. For 2021, it was expanded to every local authority across England and was backed by up to £220 million. It builds on previous pilots of the programme operating since 2018, including last summer’s, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

As with other programmes, a decision on future funding is dependent upon the forthcoming spending review.

15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding eligibility for (a) free school meals and (b) the Healthy Start scheme.

We think it is important that free school meal support is targeted at those that need it most. Free school meals (FSM) are an integral part of our provision for families on low incomes and our wider actions to promote social mobility.

Under the benefits-related criteria, there are currently around 1.7 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free school meal. An additional 1.3 million infants receive a free meal under the Universal Infant FSM policy.

Eligibility for the Department of Health and Social Care Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review and aligns closely with other passported benefits across government. There are no current plans to change eligibility for the scheme with regard to the earnings threshold or the qualifying age range.

The government will consider the recommendations in Henry Dimbleby’s independent review when developing the forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Initial teacher training market review report, published in July 2021, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposals set out in that report on the numbers of trainee teachers being trained on university-run courses.

The review focused on producing recommendations aimed at increasing the quality, consistency and coherence of Initial Teacher Training for trainee teachers. Ensuring there are sufficient teachers in the subjects that schools require is one of the priorities of the review and the department will proceed carefully to ensure this is maintained. We intend to respond to the report and its recommendations this autumn.

The department has engaged widely with stakeholders and sought opinions through the consultation to help us understand any potential impact of the proposals on the numbers of trainee teachers. If the recommendations are accepted, the department’s priority during the transition period to any new configuration will be ensuring that the capacity continues to offer enough training places to meet the continuing teacher supply needs across the whole education system. The department expects any future landscape to consist of a diverse range of provision and partnerships, including higher education institutions and school-based providers, as it does now.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reversing reductions to the Higher Education Teaching Grant Budget for England in 2021-22 for performing arts and creative subjects.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, asked the Office for Students to reform the Strategic Priorities Grant for the 2021/22 academic year. The Strategic Priorities Grant is a limited funding pot provided by government to support the provision of higher education. Reprioritisation of this funding is needed to ensure value for money, and support strategic priorities across the sector, including provision of courses vital for the economy and labour markets, and continued support for disadvantaged students and underrepresented groups. The reforms he proposed include: the reallocation of high-cost subject funding (extra money given to providers to deliver expensive subjects) towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, STEM, and specific labour market needs; and the removal of the London Weighting element of the Grant.

The Office for Students (OfS) consulted on the Secretary of State’s proposals and has recently published its conclusions. The consultation responses were carefully analysed, and the issues raised were considered by both the OfS and the Secretary of State in reaching their respective decisions about the allocation of the Strategic Priorities Grant in 2021/22.

For the 2021/22 academic year, total funding for high-cost subjects, such as medicine and engineering, is 12% higher than last year, an increase of £81 million. The high-cost subject funding rate for arts and music courses has been set at £121.50; this is equivalent to a reduction of around 1% in combined funding (on a per-student basis) from a £9,250 tuition fee and Office for Students grant funding compared to 2020/21.

Despite the need to reprioritise taxpayers’ money, the government continues to value performing arts and creative subjects. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services, as well as being intellectually rewarding and culturally enriching for those studying them and wider society.

As part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance issued by his Department entitled Schools COVID-19 operational guidance, what options his Department is investigating to help improve ventilation in school settings; and what steps his Department has taken to implement those ventilation improvements in schools.

On 21 August, the Department announced that carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors will be provided to all state-funded nurseries, schools, and further education colleges from September. Backed by £25 million of government funding, the new monitors will enable staff to act quickly where ventilation is poor and provide reassurance that existing ventilation measures are working.

The programme will provide nurseries, schools, and further education colleges with sufficient monitors to take representative readings from across the indoor spaces in their estate. It is expected that monitors will confirm that, in most cases, existing ventilation is sufficient.

The majority of monitors will become available over the autumn term, with special schools and alternative provision prioritised to receive their full allocation from September given their higher than average numbers of vulnerable pupils.

The Department will also shortly provide new guidance on how to better manage ventilation, including how using CO2 monitors can help.

The Government has also launched a trial of air purifiers in 30 schools in Bradford, which is designed to assess the technology in education settings and whether they could reduce the risk of transmission.

5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of providing daily lateral flow tests to schools and other education settings to prevent pupils who remain covid-19 negative following a positive covid-19 contact from being required to isolate for 10 days.

Between March and June this year, over 200 secondary schools and colleges participated in the independently monitored, voluntary trial of Daily Contact Testing, which was approved by Public Health England’s independent Research and Ethics Governance Group.

The aim of the trial was to keep pupils in face-to-face education, whilst reducing the risk of community transmission of COVID-19. The trial consisted of two randomised groups, a control group and an intervention group.

  • The control group quarantined contacts of positive cases
  • The intervention group enabled daily contact testing of contacts, instead of 10 days isolation

The trial concluded on 25 June 2021, and its findings are expected shortly. The Department has not been informed of the results of the independent trial in order to protect the integrity of the study. The trial’s findings need to be evaluated fully before any decisions can be made by the Government on how Daily Contact Testing may be used in the future.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the uptake of covid-19 testing during the summer 2021 term.

Rapid testing is a vital part of the Government’s plan to supress COVID-19. Testing is voluntary but staff, pupils and students are strongly encouraged to participate in the education testing programme to help to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in school and college settings and the community.

Pupils, students, and staff have made an incredible and important contribution to the Government’s mass testing programme. As of 23 June, over 60.5 million tests have been completed in total through education settings since January. In recent weeks, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has written open letters to all parents, and to schools and college leaders, to thank them for their contribution so far and to encourage them to continue their efforts to keep pupils and students testing until the end of term.

The Department has worked in partnership with NHS Test and Trace to understand the barriers to rapid testing amongst school and college students and to take steps to encourage uptake of both testing and the reporting of results. These steps have included: improvements to the digital journey for parents, providing advice and guidance to schools and colleges, utilising a range of communications channels to reach parents and pupils directly, collecting and sharing best practice, and giving schools and colleges access to aggregate testing data for their setting to support them to take action where participation rates are low.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will review the decision to reduce the funding available to help schools in England cover the costs of implementing covid-19-related mitigations.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, schools have continued to receive their core funding regardless of any periods of reduced attendance. School budgets increased by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year and will increase by a further £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23 compared to the 2019/20 financial year. Any decisions on future funding will be made as part of this year’s Spending Review.

The Department has provided additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Through the exceptional costs fund, schools could claim costs incurred between March and July 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that could not be met from their budgets. The Department has paid schools £139 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund across both application windows.

There are no current plans to reopen the exceptional costs fund. Schools will be able to use their existing budgets to help with all other costs associated with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 workforce fund for schools and colleges helped those schools with high staff absences and also facing significant financial pressures to remain open. It funded the costs of teacher absences over a threshold from 1 November 2020 until the end of the autumn term 2020.

The Workforce Fund was introduced at a time when workforce absence and community transmission were high nationally. Workforce absence has since reduced and remained lower than in the autumn term. Schools may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff, and use existing staff more flexibly as set out in our guidance. These include making best use of teaching assistants, hosting initial teacher trainees, using volunteers, engaging supply staff using in-year allocated budget, and seeking support from their local authority or trust.

Schools continue to be able to access existing support for financial issues, including a wide range of school resource management tools, and in serious circumstances, additional funding or advances from local authorities for maintained schools, or the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academy trusts.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to review the guidance on covid-19 bubbles within schools ahead of the summer holidays.

From Step 4 it will no longer be necessary to keep children and young people in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term.

As well as enabling flexibility in curriculum delivery, this means that assemblies can resume, and schools no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch. Schools and colleges may of course decide to keep the current arrangement for the last few days of term.

Schools and colleges should make sure their outbreak management plans cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups.

Any decision to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ would not be taken lightly and would need to take account of the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education. The Department has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to develop guidance for schools.

24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of (a) Step 3 guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on covid-19 restrictions and indoor singing and (b) communications from his Department encouraging school children to sing the One Britain One Nation song on 25 June 2021.

The Department has not asked pupils to sing songs for One Britain One Nation day or endorsed any specific materials. However, our schools should promote fundamental British values including those relating to tolerance and respect. As such, the Department supports One Britain One Nation’s broad aims to help children learn about equality, kindness and pride, and it is for schools to decide how they teach these important values.

Singing is an important part of pupils’ education, especially as this builds confidence and supports wellbeing. The Department has continued to make it clear in all of our COVID-19 related guidance that schools are to continue to teach music and we have provided detailed advice on how schools can do this safely in class.

There may be an additional risk of infection where singing takes place, and the guidance provides detailed advice on how music can be taught safely. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for primary schools.

The Department increased core schools funding by £2.6 billion last year and is increasing core schools funding by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years respectively, compared to the 2019/20 financial year. This investment has enabled us to increase funding for primary schools by 3.2% per pupil through the schools national funding formula (NFF) in 2021/22, compared to last year.

Every primary school will receive at least £4,000 per pupil this year, up from at least £3,750 per pupil last year. All schools will receive additional funds to cover additional teachers’ pay and pension costs, adding a further £180 to the minimum per pupil amount.

The Department are increasing the extra support the NFF provides to small, rural primary schools by increasing the maximum amount they can attract through the sparsity factor to £45,000, a significant increase from £26,000 last year. This has contributed to small and remote primary schools attracting on average 5.1% more per pupil through the NFF this year compared to last.

The Department reviews school funding on an ongoing basis and the NFF is designed to respond to changes in need, in order for us to target funding where evidence indicates it is most needed.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if the Government will issue an official apology to people affected by historic forced adoptions.

The government has, on several occasions, expressed its deepest sympathy for those affected by historical forced adoptions, and I completely endorse those sentiments. Practices in the past which led to such outcomes cannot now occur, not least because of the protection of legislation which has been introduced by successive governments and which is given effect by our independent judiciary. Birth parents also have legal representatives who are appointed to support them in court. These representatives ensure that the views of birth parents are heard and that evidence put forward can be challenged.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to implement a covid-19 recovery plan for disabled children and young people.

The Department is committed to helping all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education, health and wellbeing. The Department is committed to supporting them and their families.

Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support towards pupils in greatest need. In the development of this recovery plan, Sir Kevan is regularly meeting with a variety of stakeholders, including disabled young people and their families. Sir Kevan is reviewing how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had not just on academic outcomes, but on the physical and mental health of children and young people.

As part of this plan, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme. The Department recognises the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings. Eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools, and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of funding for summer schools. We have also consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium.

Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Colleges are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy catch up will benefit all children, including those with SEND.

The Department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to reverse the proposed reductions in funding for music and arts courses at Higher Education level in England.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the Grant for the 2021-22 financial year. These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost STEM subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

One of our proposals is for a 50% reduction in the rate of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the wider Strategic Priorities Grant, for some subjects in order to enable this reprioritisation. This will help to correct discrepancies which have seen, for example, media studies funded at a higher rate than mathematics or history.

It is important to note that the Strategic Priorities Grant accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total income of higher education providers today. For the providers losing funding due to this reallocation, the income lost would account for approximately 0.05% of their estimated total income, based on the latest data available.

This important reprioritisation of taxpayers’ money does not mean this government is devaluing the arts or social sciences. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce, and our public services, and is culturally enriching for our society.

That is why, as part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that our specialist providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS has now publicly consulted on these proposals, and responses from universities, students and others will be taken into account before any final decisions on allocations are made.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Higher Education Update statement made on 13 April 2021, if he will publish the scientific advice for the decision to postpone in-person teaching for university students in England until at least 17 May 2021.

We are committed to taking a cautious approach to easing restrictions, guided by data instead of dates. Much of the data that has been used to inform decision making has already been published.

It is important that we continue to take a cautious – but irreversible – approach to re-opening. Moving too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence in infections, hospitalisations and deaths. Whilst we are aware that there is limited evidence of transmission in in-person teaching environments, we must not lose sight of the risks the virus poses and must stay vigilant throughout to ensure this roadmap provides a one-way passage to returning to a more normal life.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to understand and model various scenarios to inform our plan that seeks to enable us to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The government has also carefully considered data on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young and low-income groups.

The government has taken into account all the scientific advice and models that suggest that allowing additional indoor mixing at an earlier stage when prevalence is higher, and fewer people have been vaccinated, would result in significantly higher numbers of infections. This is why restrictions outdoors have been eased first and restrictions on most indoor activity will remain in place. As the number of people vaccinated increases, we anticipate being able to take steps to ease further as more people are protected.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information that the government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes information from Public Health England:

  • Information on vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccination.
  • A surveillance report with a more detailed summary of the findings so far from the SARS-CoV-2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN (SIREN) study and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Watch.
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis being published (as a pre-print) by the Lancet.

The papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last 4 SAGE meetings.
  • Children’s Task and Finish Group paper: ‘COVID-19 in higher education settings, 10 February 2021’
  • 3 papers from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), with a summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions, together with the supporting papers from modellers at Warwick and Imperial universities.
  • A collection of papers from SPI-M on “relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and the re-opening of schools”, Independent Pandemic Scientific Insights Group on Behaviours (the behavioural experts’ sub-group of SAGE) on return to campus for the spring term and the risk of increased transmission from student migration.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date will all university students be permitted to return to receive in-person teaching in response to the easing of covid-19 restrictions.

Following the review into when the remaining higher education students can return to in-person teaching and learning, the government has announced that the remaining students should return to in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May 2021, alongside Step 3 of the roadmap. Students and institutions will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap.

The government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions to reduce public health risks and ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening. However, the government recognises the difficulties and disruption that this may cause for many students and their families and that is why the government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21. In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship.

We are supporting universities to provide regular twice weekly asymptomatic testing for all students and staff on-site and, from May, at home. This will help break chains of transmission of the virus.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure students catch up with learning lost as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to work with parents, teachers, and pupils to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament. As an immediate step to support nurseries, schools, and colleges, on 24 February the Department committed an additional £700 million to support summer schools, tutoring, early language interventions and additional support to schools to help pupils make up their education. This builds on the £1 billion from last year and brings the total available to £1.7 billion.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as the Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on the approach for education recovery and the development of a long term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of funding universal breakfast clubs to give every child a healthy breakfast, more time to play with their friends and extra time for teachers to provide targeted catch-up support.

This Government wants pupils to be healthy and well nourished, and encourages pupils to adopt a healthy balanced diet and healthy life choices, through school funding, legislation and guidance.

Up to £24 million will be available to extend our support for school breakfast clubs until 2023, to make sure thousands of children in disadvantaged areas have a healthy start to the day. Further details on the invitation to tender for the delivery of the future programme can be found through the following link: https://education.app.jaggaer.com/web/login.html (under ‘View Opportunities’).

We know that breakfast clubs can bring a wide range of benefits for children. An evaluation by the Education Endowment Foundation found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered an average of 2 months’ additional progress for pupils in Key Stage 1 with moderate to low security. Breakfast club schools also saw an improvement in pupil behaviour and attendance.

The Department’s guidance has been updated to make clear that providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, breakfast or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children, are able to continue to open for both outdoor and indoor provision, provided that they follow the protective measures set out by the Government in this guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Parents and carers are only able to access settings for certain essential purposes. Providers should only offer indoor and outdoor face-to-face provision to vulnerable children and young people where the provision is reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work or undertake education or training; attend a medical appointment, address a medical need or attend a support group; be used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education; or be used as part of their efforts to obtain a regulated qualification, meet the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is why we have invested £1.7 billion to give early years, schools and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support and summer schools.

We have also appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner who will advise Ministers on the approach for education recovery, with a particular focus on helping pupils catch up on lost education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) changes to the Higher Education Teaching Grant budget for the 2021-22 financial year and (b) removal of London weighting on higher education in London.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the grant for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting higher education provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

The London weighting accounts for a small proportion of London providers’ incomes. Providers in London received around £64 million London weighting in the 2020-21 academic year, which is less than 1% of their estimated total income.

London universities will be able to benefit from the significant uplifts we are making to elements of the Strategic Priorities Grant, including the first real terms increase in years in per capita funding for high-cost subjects in grant funding, as well as being able to bid for capital investment to support the delivery of strategic subjects.

We have also asked the OfS for a £10 million increase to the specialist provider allocation, to support these institutions which are particularly reliant on Strategic Priorities Grant funding, many of whom are London-based. We want to ensure that our small and specialist providers, including some of our top music and arts providers, receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021-22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to provide additional temporary classrooms ahead of schools and colleges reopening to all students on 8 March 2021.

From 8 March 2021, all schools, colleges and further education colleges should allow full attendance. To prepare for return to full attendance, schools and colleges should update their risk assessment and ensure they are implementing the system of controls as set out in guidance, to minimise the risk of infection. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/958906/Restricting_attendance_during_the_national_lockdown_schools_guidance.pdf and here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963584/Further_education_coronavirus__COVID-19__operational_guidance.pdf. This includes taking steps to minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible. Measures have been further strengthened to provide more reassurance and to help decrease the disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak causes to education.

Whilst the Department encourages schools to make use of additional space, support older pupils to maintain distance and keep groups of pupils separate, we do not think that schools need to make significant changes to their buildings. By assessing risk and implementing all the measures, including ventilating occupied spaces, wearing face coverings when recommended and putting in place enhanced cleaning, schools will effectively manage risks and create an inherently safer environment for pupils and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. The way to control this virus is the same, even with the current new variants.

Colleges should also follow the measures set out in the guidance. They are advised to look to maximise the use of their sites and any associated available space. Following a risk assessment, colleges may determine that small adaptations to their sites are required. This will be at colleges’ discretion, based on their circumstances.

23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure schools and colleges are adequately ventilated.

At each stage of the Department's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice. The Department has worked closely with other Departments, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector, to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, and to continue to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

It is important to ensure that schools are well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.

Current evidence recommends that the way to control COVID-19 is the same, even with the current new variants. The PHE endorsed ‘system of controls’, in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak set out in our published guidance and which includes ventilation, continues to be the appropriate set of measures to take. These measures create an inherently safer environment for children, young people, and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. PHE keeps all these controls under review, based on the latest evidence. Schools therefore need to continue to fully implement these controls. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Our guidance signposts to further advice from the Health and Safety Executive on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm.

More generally, in 2018, the Department published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which is guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment the potential merits of allowing each primary school year group to return to school in-person on a part-time, rota basis when the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

The Department is committed to getting all pupils and students back into schools and colleges full time, as soon as the public health picture allows, in terms of the spread of the virus in communities and the pressures on the NHS. In doing so, the Department will be guided by scientific and medical experts. Data and evidence are considered regularly, including that from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England, and the Chief Medical Officers.

In the week commencing 22 February 2021, the Government will publish a plan for taking the country out of lockdown. Our aim will be to set out a gradual approach towards easing the restrictions in a sustainable way, guided by the principles we have observed throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, beginning with the most important principle of all: that reopening schools must be our national priority. We have committed to providing schools, parents and young people with a minimum of two weeks’ notice for this return to on-site provision. Additional pupils and students will return to on-site education on 8 March 2021 at the earliest.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis a compulsory part of teaching training courses.

In November 2019, we published the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) which sets out a core minimum entitlement for all trainees of what should be covered during their teacher training. From September 2020, all ITT courses will have to encompass the full entitlement described in the CCF into their ITT curricula for all subjects and phases.

The CCF is underpinned by robust independently reviewed evidence about what makes good teaching. There is a strong emphasis on the need for training to be subject and phase specific throughout the framework and it is for providers to ensure they carefully craft coherently sequenced curricula that meet the particular needs of their trainees.

The new ITT CCF does not replace the Teachers’ Standards and all ITT must be designed so that teacher trainees can demonstrate that they meet all of the Teachers' Standards at the appropriate level, including Section 3 ‘having a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas’, which can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665522/Teachers_standard_information.pdf.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of retrofitting schools, colleges and universities to net-zero emission standards by 2030.

Reduction in energy use in new and existing buildings to meet the legislative zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 is a priority for the Government.

Schools can use their condition funding to invest in improving energy efficiency. Since 2015, the Department has allocated £9.5 billion to maintain and improve school buildings, including an additional £560 million in financial year 2020-21. The latest Spending Review committed a further £1.8 billion in financial year 2021-22 for maintaining and improving the school estate.

The Further Education (FE) Capital Transformation Fund delivers the Government’s £1.5 billion commitment to upgrade the FE college and designated institutions’ estate in England. This will target colleges in the worst condition and promote efficient use of space and support the government's objectives on achieving net zero carbon.

In 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set up the £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which provided grants for eligible public sector bodies, including schools and FE colleges to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures. Higher education (HE) institutions were also eligible for these grants.

Whilst this scheme has now ended, schools, FE and HE institutions can apply for interest free loans through the government’s Salix scheme for public sector projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will update guidance for schools and colleges to ensure that clear face coverings are worn where necessary to meet the needs of deaf students and staff.

The Department’s guidance on face coverings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, during national lockdown, in schools and colleges where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors), pupils and students when moving around indoors, outside of classrooms and other teaching environments, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Based on current evidence and the measures that schools and colleges are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom.

Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Face coverings can make it more difficult to communicate with pupils and students with additional needs or those who many rely on lip reading or facial expressions for understanding. We expect staff to be sensitive to these needs when teaching and interacting with pupils and students.

Schools can get advice and support for children with hearing impairments from specialist teachers of the deaf. These teachers support children and young people with hearing impairment, and their families, from the point of diagnosis. The Department for Education also funds the whole school special educational needs and disability consortium (£1.9 million per annum), hosted by National Association for Special Educational Needs, to provide schools with access to resources and tips for the classroom, including for hearing impairment.

We continue to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We will also continue to work with Public Health England, as well as stakeholders across the sector, to monitor the latest scientific and medical advice and understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils and parents.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to his oral contribution of 3 November 2020 on Exams and Accountability 2021, Official Report, column 435, what recent discussions he has had with universities on grading exams generously in response to disruptions to student learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises that students have faced many changes over the last year, as providers have had to adapt teaching, learning and assessment methods in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some universities have put in place policies stating that students should not be awarded a degree classification below their level of academic performance prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is designed by providers as a safety net for students to ensure they are not unfairly impacted by these challenging circumstances.

While providers are autonomous, and responsible for setting their own assessment practices, the government expects providers to make all reasonable efforts for student achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely. It is vital that a fair approach to exams and assessment is in place and understood by students. The Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, has issued guidance to the sector setting out expectations about provider approaches to teaching and assessment during this time. OfS guidance is clear - standards must be maintained, but clearly changes to assessments may be required in some circumstances.

The government will continue to work closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, professional bodies and the OfS to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to announce the details on GCSE and A-level assessments for summer 2021.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a fair way. We have therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

We have already confirmed our proposals that in summer 2021 students taking GCSE, AS and A levels regulated by Ofqual should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers.

To provide clarity to the sector as soon as possible, and to ensure that our approach is developed with the sector, Ofqual and the Department launched a two week consultation on how to ensure all students are supported to move to the next stage of their lives.

Further details of alternative arrangements to exams will be confirmed as soon as possible, ensuring that students have the confidence that they will be fairly treated in terms of assessment in 2021.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing independent supermarkets and cafés to participate in the National Free School Meals Voucher scheme.

Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Iceland, the Company Shop Group, Waitrose, McColls and M&S are signed up to the national voucher scheme. We are keen to work with a wide range of supermarkets and encourage others to join – this involves them having the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards.

However, we recognise that other independent stores are also well placed to provide this support. Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme. If a school arranges a local voucher, they will be able to claim the costs back from the department. For more information, please see our guidance on free school meals: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the criteria is for reopening schools and educational settings during the covid-19 outbreak in England.

Head teachers, teachers, and staff of schools and other education settings have been doing an extraordinary job to remain open, keep settings safe, and provide education for vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers.

We know that receiving face to face education is best for children’s mental health and for their educational achievement. We have resisted restrictions on attendance at schools and other education settings since the first lockdown but, in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, we now need to use every lever at our disposal to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible. Limiting attendance during the national lockdown is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.

During the period of national lockdown, schools, colleges and wraparound childcare and other out of school activities for pupils and students should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils and students should not attend and should learn remotely until February half term. Early years provision should continue to remain open and should continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours.

Only university students doing medical, clinical and healthcare related subjects, including nursing, social care, dentistry and veterinary studies should return to face to face teaching as planned. Most students should not return to university and should study from their current residence, where possible, until at least mid-February.

On an exceptional basis, universities should consider supporting the return of students who may need to return earlier for other reasons, for example, students who do not have access to appropriate accommodation, facilities, studying space, or that need to return for health reasons.

We will continue to review the restrictions on schools, colleges and universities and will ensure that children and young people return to face to face education as soon as possible.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that nursery and early years staff have access to (a) mass testing, (b) PPE and (c) covid-19 vaccines following the decision to keep early years settings open during the January 2021 national lockdown.

During national lockdown restrictions, all early years providers remain open nationally to all children, providing vital early education and childcare. The wider restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the community enable us to continue to prioritise keeping early years providers open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.

The department is working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure rapid asymptomatic testing for all early years staff to support early years providers to remain fully open. In the meantime, as they are essential workers, early years staff have priority access to symptomatic tests via the online portal.

As outlined in our published guidance, additional use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19- related purposes is only needed in a small number of cases, such as if a child becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms and a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained, or when undertaking aerosol generating procedures. Public Health England has advised that the current guidance on the system of controls, including the use of PPE and face coverings, should continue to be followed.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the government on which vaccine/s the UK should use and also provide advice on who should be offered them. JCVI advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems. As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age. In the next phase of the vaccine rollout, JCVI have asked that DHSC consider occupational vaccination in collaboration with other government departments. The Department for Education will input into this cross-governmental exercise.

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Oral Statement of 3 November 2020 on Exams and Accountability 2021, Official Report, col 435, what recent discussions he has had with universities on grading exams generously in response to disruptions to student learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government will continue to work closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), professional bodies and the Office for Students?(OfS) to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The government expects providers to make all reasonable efforts for student achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely. The OfS, the higher education regulator in England, has issued guidance to the sector setting out expectations about provider approaches to teaching and assessment during this time. OfS guidance is clear - standards must be maintained, but clearly changes to assessments may be required in some circumstances.

The QAA has also published a series of guides and information to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes a paper, published in April, which provides an overview of what 'no detriment' policies aim to achieve and some of the measures providers can put in place to ensure that the academic standards of awards remain secure, while also recognising the challenging circumstances for students.

We expect providers to develop solutions appropriate to each course, considering the needs of individual students and to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been (a) requested by and (b) delivered to (i) local education authorities and (b) academy schools, companies and organisations in England by local authority area since 1 April 2020.

As part of over £195 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care, over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education may be disrupted.

This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets which have already been delivered during the summer term. This represents an injection of over 500,000 laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

The Department has updated the allocation process to more closely align allocations with the number of students schools typically have self-isolating. This approach ensures that as many children as possible are able to access a device at the point at which they need one.

Data about the number of laptops and tablets delivered and dispatched to local authorities or trusts as of 27 August 2020 is published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf

Information on the devices provided this term to schools, local authorities and academy trusts as of 23 October 2020 is published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/929064/Ad-hoc_stats_note_shipped_data_231020_FINAL.pdf

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help the most disadvantaged students catch up on learning missed during the covid-19 lockdown to prevent the attainment gap from widening.

All children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit and initial analysis suggests that the attainment gap has widened. The government has announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch-Up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation has published a support guide for schools which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1.

The guidance includes evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students and a further school planning guide for 2020-21, which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

Alongside this universal grant, a National Tutoring Programme worth £350 million will deliver proven, successful interventions to the most disadvantaged young people. Research shows high-quality individual and small group tuition can add up to 5 months of progress for disadvantaged pupils.

Schools will continue to receive the pupil premium every quarter. Each school’s original pupil premium strategy may have not been met since March and the pupils’ needs may have changed or intensified. We recommend that, as part of the planning for needs-based universal catch up, school leaders review their pupil premium strategy and amend it to reflect the new situation from September.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of adding critical thinking to the secondary school curriculum.

It is imperative that all pupils, irrespective of background, are taught a broad and ambitious knowledge rich curriculum, covering the core academic subjects, alongside a vibrant arts education that gives pupils a deeper appreciation of their culture. This has been the emphasis of the Government’s National Curriculum and qualifications changes, to ensure that more pupils are able to access ‘the best that has been thought and said’, and to think critically within their subjects.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to include in the school curriculum mandatory lessons on (a) black history and (b) UK colonial history.

The Department is committed to an inclusive education system which recognises and embraces diversity and supports all pupils and students to tackle racism and have the knowledge and tools to do so.

The national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. The Department believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach.

As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and this can include the voices and experience of Black people. The flexibility within the history curriculum means that there is the opportunity for teachers to teach about Black history across the spectrum of themes and eras set out in the curriculum. For example, at Key Stage 1, schools can teach about the lives of key Black historical figures such as Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks or others; and at Key Stage 3, cover the development and end of the British Empire and Britain’s transatlantic slave trade, its effects and its eventual abolition. The teaching of Black history need not be limited to these examples.

10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Reception Baseline Assessments.

The purpose of the reception baseline assessment (RBA) is to form the starting point for reception to year six progress measures in primary schools. The RBA has undergone a thorough review process to ensure that it is fit for purpose, including a national pilot. Data from over 340,000 assessments has now been analysed and shows that the assessment is valid and fit for purpose. The department has recently published the reception baseline assessment validity report, demonstrating the evidence that has been gathered throughout the assessment development process, showing the assessment to be an accurate assessment of children’s starting points.

The report can be found at the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reception-baseline-assessment-validity-report.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason universities have autonomy over the procedure for charging application fees at postgraduate level.

Universities are, historically, autonomous institutions, and they may determine their own procedures, within the law. The Secretary of State has no current legal power to intervene in the charging of application fees. In general, the freedom of higher education providers to determine the criteria for the admission of students and how they are applied is recognised in Section 2, and elsewhere, in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of abolishing application fees for postgraduate students; and if he will make a statement.

Higher education providers in England are autonomous bodies and therefore have discretion over the application fees they charge for postgraduate courses.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to establish an offenders' registry for the perpetrators of animal cruelty.

The Police National Computer holds all relevant information for prosecutions made for animal cruelty offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and the police may be approached by anyone who has concerns about whether someone should be keeping animals. The Department currently has no plans to establish a public offenders' registry for animal cruelty offences.

Robbie Moore
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to prevent the presence of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water.

Water companies (for public drinking water supplies) and local authorities (for private drinking water supplies) have statutory duties to carry out assessments, identifying risks to the quality of the water. They must sample the drinking water supply for any element, organism or substance which could pose a danger to human health. This includes the detection of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Drinking Water Inspectorate has provided guidance on PFAS since 2007, which was updated in 2021. Work continues across government to assess levels of PFAS occurring in the environment, their sources and potential risks, to inform future policy and regulatory approaches to safeguard current high drinking water quality.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what her Department's planned timescale is for bringing forward legislative measures from the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

We are introducing the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill in this parliamentary session to deliver our manifesto commitment to end this trade. The Bill will ban the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain, stopping unnecessary stress, exhaustion and injury caused by exporting live animals. We remain dedicated to delivering our other manifesto commitments that were in the Bill. These are: to crack down on the smuggling of puppies, and to ban the keeping of primates as pets. We have already consulted on primate keeping standards and will bring forward legislation before the end of the year. We also look forward to progressing the non-manifesto measures which will deliver a new offence of pet abduction, update legislation to tackle livestock worrying, and raise standards in zoos. We would be supportive of single issue legislation when Parliamentary time allows. We believe this to be the quickest and most effective way of achieving these aims.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she is taking steps to increase the (a) safety and (b) welfare of professional racing horses.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is British racing's governing and regulatory body and is responsible for the safety of racehorses at British racecourses. The BHA works alongside the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to make horseracing as safe as possible. Officials from Defra engage with these organisations on such matters.

13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to introduce mandatory animal welfare labelling on food products.

Stimulating market demand for higher welfare products is a key strand of the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.

We therefore ran a call for evidence in 2021 to gather data on the impacts of different types of animal welfare labelling reforms, which received over 1,600 responses. The evidence provided suggested that there is public appetite for improved welfare labelling.

We will continue working with key stakeholders to explore how we can harness the market to improve food information for consumers and raise animal welfare standards. As part of this, we will continue to gather evidence on the impacts of a wide range of market interventions, as well as how they would align with wider labelling proposals such as eco-labelling.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she plans to introduce legislative proposals to help reduce food waste.

Environment Act 2021 amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 will require all local authorities in England to arrange for the separate collection of food waste for recycling. If citizens can see how much food waste they are producing then they are more likely to take preventive action. Further details will be published in the response to our second consultation on Simpler Recycling in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of highly dense areas of barley grass seeds on the health of dogs; and whether her Department plans to take preventative action to reduce the risk of injury to dogs.

To support dog owners and handlers, the Government has published a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs which is available here: Code of practice for the welfare of dogs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The code summarises important information for owners and helps them make decisions about how best to care for their dogs. The code includes information on how to keep dogs healthy and protect them from pain, suffering, injury, and disease, and recommends that owners monitor their dogs carefully and seek the advice of a veterinarian where necessary.

In addition, many of the UK’s animal welfare organisations provide owners and handlers with advice on how to care for their dogs, including the risks posed by grass seeds. For example, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals has published advice for owners here: Grass seeds in dogs - PDSA.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she is taking steps to help ensure that improvements to sewage treatment are paid for from profits made by the water companies over the last decade.

Water companies must maintain and replace water and sewerage assets and infrastructure with significant ongoing investment. Companies seek funding from financial investors, to smooth the cost of investing and to spread the bill impact over a longer period of time to prevent short term ‘bill-shock’ to consumers.

If a company did not pay dividends, it would struggle to get access to finance to fund investment and this would limit the level of investment and impact on service for future customers. The water sector has invested more than it has paid in dividends every year over the last decade and bills have also remained stable throughout this period.

Water companies are monopoly providers of an essential service. It is therefore important to customers that decisions on dividends reflect service delivery for customers and the environment. Government has been clear that it is unacceptable for companies to profit from environmental damage.

Through the Environment Act 2021, the government has given Ofwat improved powers to modify water company licenses. Ofwat has introduced a new measure that will enable it to take enforcement action against water companies that do not link dividend payments to performance for both customers and the environment. This licence condition came into effect on 17 May 2023.

When water companies pay fines for their poor environmental performance the cost is borne by their shareholders, not by charging customers. In addition, Ofwat’s outcome delivery incentives ensure that where companies do not meet their performance targets, they must reimburse their customers through lower water bills in the next financial year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she is taking steps with Cabinet colleagues to protect and preserve landscapes with a distinct literary heritage and value.

Many of our most precious literary landscapes are protected in law as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). In England, there are 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs. Together, they cover nearly 25% of land in England. These places are designated in statute for their natural beauty which provided the inspiration and the settings for some of our greatest works of literature. There are also some good examples of literary considerations in landscape character assessments, including Natural England’s National Character Areas, which reference these associations across England’s landscapes.

These designated landscapes are all managed to conserve and enhance their important cultural associations, including relevant literature and the sites which inspired it, as key components of the natural beauty of the area. For instance, the Lake District National Park celebrates its close links to and the inspiration it provided for the great British Romantic Movement, including authors such as Wordsworth and the other Lakes Poets, as well as the much loved children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons). Exmoor National Park actively promotes its links with Robert Blackmore’s ‘Lorna Doone’. The Dorset, Blackdown Hills and Cranbourne Chase AONBs all rightly celebrate their associations with Thomas Hardy and help conserve and enhance the settings for his novels.

Literary associations are also celebrated and conserved in some of the England’s World Heritage sites. The Lake District World Heritage Site was designated in part due to the fact that it is “A landscape which has inspired artistic and literary movements and generated ideas about landscapes that have had a global influence and left its physical mark” and the Management Plan for this site emphasises the importance of its literary associations.

In addition, nearly 400,000 heritage assets – many of them located within the boundaries of National Parks and AONBs – benefit from statutory protection in their own right as Listed Buildings or Scheduled Monuments. Often such assets have strong literary associations – for instance, Stonehenge (protected as a Scheduled Monument) famously provided the setting for the tragic climax of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, while Max Gate (protected as a Listed Building) survives as the house Hardy designed and had built in Dorchester, and in which he wrote this and several of his other classics. These are but two of several such examples.

2nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to tackle trends in the level of cropping of dogs’ ears.

The cropping of a dog’s ears is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Now that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 has come into force, anyone convicted of such an offence, faces being sent to prison for up to five years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill includes powers to introduce restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation. In August 2021, the Government launched a consultation on how these powers should be used, including proposals to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails.

We are carefully reviewing the feedback gathered from our consultation and wider engagement with stakeholders, and a summary will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help tackle the cropping of dogs’ ears.

The cropping of a dog’s ears is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Now that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 has come into force, anyone convicted of such an offence, faces being sent to prison for up to five years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill includes powers to introduce restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation. In August 2021, the Government launched a consultation on how these powers should be used, including proposals to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails.

We are carefully reviewing the feedback gathered from our consultation and wider engagement with stakeholders, and a summary will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to publish feedback on its consultation on changes to rules for the import of dogs.

We are carefully reviewing the feedback gathered from our consultation and wider engagement with stakeholders, and a summary will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of banning cages for laying hens.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 28 March 2023 to the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn, PQ UIN 173051.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing the Hunting Act 2004 to strengthen measures against fox hunting.

The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act. Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law.

The Government has made it clear that the Hunting Act will not be amended – that is a manifesto commitment.

22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to keep fur trade bans in the context of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

The Government is in the process of analysing all retained EU law. This analysis will enable us to determine what should be preserved as part of domestic law and what should be repealed or amended. Current government policy is to retain existing fur measures.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when she will bring forward legislative proposals to ban wet wipes containing plastic.

Government is carefully considering the impact of wet wipes containing plastic and more information will be available in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has plans to launch a consultation on the use of cages in farming systems.

The Government is committed to exploring the use of cages. However, no formal timelines for consultations have been confirmed as yet.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of banning farrowing crates for pigs.

The Government is committed to exploring the use of cages. However, no formal timelines for consultations have been confirmed as yet.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to reduce air pollution.

The action we are taking to continue improving air quality is set out in our recently published Environmental Improvement Plan.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of promoting charitable help and information to reduce pet abandonment in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

The Government is concerned about the impact of the rise in the cost of living on all aspects of people’s lives, including the rise of costs associated with maintaining the welfare of companion animals.

Defra officials regularly meet stakeholders to understand the issues and trends affecting the sector, including the impact of the rise in the cost of living on those who care for companion animals and any changes in pet abandonment rates.

Sector groups are closely monitoring the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and identifying where more support may be needed. We welcome the support they are currently providing through pet food banks and financial support with veterinary treatment which is helping to reduce the pressure on pet owners.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of making cat abduction a criminal offence in the Kept Animals Bill.

We have listened carefully to the views expressed during the passage of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill that the new pet abduction offence should be extended to cats. We are currently considering this issue further.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help reduce deforestation.

The UK Government is committed to a package of measures to tackle deforestation both in the UK and abroad.

In England, when a felling licence is issued, there is a presumption to replant after tree felling. The Forestry Commission also has an enforcement capability under the Forestry Act 1967 (as amended) to combat unlicensed and illegal felling, with additional measures in the Environment Act 2021 that commenced on 1 January 2023 enhancing these enforcement tools.

The UK Timber Regulations aim to tackle illegal logging internationally and to create a demand for legally harvested timber. Illegal logging is a major global driver of deforestation, leading to loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity, and contributing to climate change. It also affects rural communities that rely on forests for livelihoods, and results in revenue loss to Government and legitimate business. The UK Timber Regulations prohibit the placing of illegally harvested timber and timber products on the market and requires operators, those first placing such products on the market, to exercise due diligence on their supply chains.

The UK Government has introduced world-leading due diligence legislation through the Environment Act to help tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. In 2021-22 we ran a consultation to seek views on how we should implement Environment Act provisions, including which commodities we should regulate through the first round of secondary legislation, and have since published a summary of responses, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-illegal-deforestation-in-uk-supply-chains.

The UK is also tackling deforestation through International Climate Finance (ICF), which the Government has committed to double to £11.6 billion from 2021/22 to 2025/26, spending at least £3 billion of this on climate change solutions that protect and restore nature and biodiversity. Through the ICF, we support a range of sustainable agriculture programmes that aim to reduce deforestation and land degradation caused by conversion of land to agriculture whilst improving the sustainability and resilience of food systems.

1st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the (a) impact of the use of thiamethoxam on the UK’s bee population and (b) potential merits of banning the use of thiamethoxam.

Risks to bees were assessed as part of the process for considering whether to allow the use of Cruiser SB on sugar beet crops this year. The main area in which potential concerns were flagged was the risk to bees from thiamethoxam taken up by crops planted in the same field after treated sugar beet. For this reason, a restriction has been imposed on such crops which will significantly reduce that risk. Only a specific list of crops, none of which flower before harvest, are permitted to be planted within 32 months of treated sugar beet. This is one of a number of strict conditions designed to mitigate any impact of the treatment on bees and other wildlife.

The Government continues to support the existing restrictions on neonicotinoids.  We will continue to ensure that decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment of the risks, with the aim of achieving a high level of protection for people and the environment.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing (a) the Dangerous Dogs Act and (b) breed specific legislation.

We currently have no plans to review Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The Government firmly believes that these restrictions play a very important part in our overall approach towards tackling dangerous dogs.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of making it a requirement to include swift bricks in new-build housing in the context of declining swift populations in the UK.

All local authorities have a duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity as part of their policy or decision making. As well as this duty, national planning policy states that the planning system should minimise impacts on biodiversity and provide net gains in biodiversity where possible. Planning Practice Guidance published to help implement planning policy makes clear that relatively small features can often achieve important benefits for wildlife, with incorporating ‘swift bricks’ in developments in particular highlighted as an option. Specific biodiversity features, such as swift bricks, would normally be required for developments through either the relevant local plan or through the local authority’s development control team.


Through the Environment Act 2021, we have introduced a mandatory duty for developers to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’, which will mean that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were before any development.

9th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of guaranteeing funding for the Canal and River Trust for the next five years.

The Government currently provides an annual grant of £52.6 million to the Canal and River Trust. The grant was agreed, and guaranteed until 2027, when the Trust was established as a private sector charity in 2012 to replace the publicly owned British Waterways.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans she has to publish the clean air targets requested under the Environment Act 2021.

The Environment Act sets out a legal duty to publish two air quality targets. These were published on 16 December.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of setting the proposed air quality targets to 2030 instead of 2040.

We have followed an evidence-based process working closely with internationally recognised experts to set air quality targets that are stretching but achievable. We have proposed targets for 2040 because this is when our evidence shows that, although challenging, they can be achieved everywhere. The measures required to meet 10 micrograms per cubic metre by 2030, would include action on solid fuel burning and reduction of traffic, which would have a disproportionate effect on individuals and small local businesses.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she plans to introduce measures to minimise destruction caused by urban foxes.

The Government has no current plans to introduce measures to combat problems that may be caused by urban foxes. There is no statutory duty on local authorities, or anyone else, to control foxes in their areas and the decision about whether or not to do so lies with the owner or occupier of the property where the problem occurs, providing they do so in compliance with legislation to protect animal welfare.

The availability of food is likely to be a key factor in determining the size of urban fox populations and the most effective strategies for resolving problems with foxes rely mainly on preventative and deterrent strategies, such as removing or proofing food and shelter sources, using fencing to exclude or repellents to deter.

Advice on the management of foxes can be obtained from Natural England's Wildlife Management Unit.

30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of prohibiting (a) preventative antibiotic group treatments on farm animals and (b) antibiotics being used to compensate for poor hygiene or inadequate husbandry on farms.

Defra does not support the routine or predictable use of antibiotics, including where antibiotics are used to compensate for inadequate farming practices.We have been consistent that the focus of tackling antimicrobial resistance must be on reducing all unnecessary use of antibiotics, because resistance is promoted whenever an antibiotic is used, regardless of the reason.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of (a) staff shortages and (b) real terms pay in the Environmental Agency.

The Environment Agency’s (EA’s) staff are vital to its work to protect the environment, people and wildlife from harm.

The EA aims to achieve the best possible settlement for all its employees within the constraints of the Government pay guidance and in negotiation with Trade Unions.

The EA is at the beginning of a planned recruitment campaign into roles identified and funded through the most recent spending review, which comprise the majority of its vacancies, in order to deliver on the goals of its corporate report: EA2025.

The EA is covered by the annually published Civil Service Pay Remit Guidance, which sets out headline ranges for average pay awards. It is recognised that these headlines ranges are not currently in line with inflation.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing The Environment Agency's environmental protection budget to 2009-2010 levels.

Funding for the Environment Agency's work is closely monitored and regularly reviewed against the Government's strategic and statutory goals for the environment, and to ensure that the EA can continue to carry out its statutory duties.


This includes tackling environmental offences - last year record fines were handed to water companies, making clear polluters will pay. The EA's total budget this year is £1.650 billion, 18% of Defra's budget. This includes new ring-fenced money for specific enforcement activities as well as 4,000 more farm inspections and 500 more sewage treatment works inspections per year.


We are currently going through aspects of business planning for the next financial year and will have a discussion with the agency about the priorities for the Government funding.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to improve water quality in the River Brent.

Government is committed to improving water quality. In August 2022 we published our £56 billion plan to reduce sewage discharges. To tackle agricultural pollution, in November we launched a grant scheme to improve slurry storage on farms, alongside the £17 million expansion of our Catchment Sensitive Farming programme. In December we announced our ambitious suite of legally binding Environment Act targets including four targets to address pressures on the water environment and published the updated River Basin Plans which target specific action to improve all of our rivers and catchments, including the Brent, were published.


The Environment Agency (EA) is working closely with partners in the Brent Catchment Partnership and Thames Water to deliver river improvement projects throughout the catchment. This includes both work to assess the impact Combined Sewer Overflow discharges have on the water quality of the River Brent and the restoration of overly modified sections of the Brent and its tributaries to allow for a more natural flow regime, flood performance benefits, and biodiversity enhancements.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to strengthen animal welfare protections in (a) the UK and (b) abroad.

HM Government outlined our ambitious programme of legislative and non-legislative animal welfare reforms in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, published in May 2021.

Animal welfare is a devolved matter and we continue to work closely with the devolved administrations to raise our already high standards of animal welfare across the United Kingdom.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which extends to Scotland as well as England and Wales, was reintroduced in May 2022 and will continue its passage through the Commons when parliamentary time allows. The Bill delivers key manifesto commitments to end the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, crack down on illegal puppy smuggling, and ban the keeping of primates as pets. It will also update the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, introduce a new pet abduction offence following the work of the Pet Theft Taskforce and reform legislation to tackle livestock worrying which goes back to the 1950s.

Also on the domestic front, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 became law in the last Session and we are in the process of setting up the Animal Sentience Committee to advise HM Government on policies that impact on the welfare of animals. We have also introduced new powers for police and courts to tackle the illegal and cruel sport of hare coursing through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, and we also backed bills to increase the maximum penalties for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years imprisonment, introduce penalty notices for animal welfare offences and to ban glue traps, all of which have received Royal Assent.

For animals overseas, the Ivory Act 2018 came into force in June 2022 to ensure protection for elephants and we are backing private member bills to ban the trade in shark fins and the import of hunting trophies. We have also continued to explore options in order to prohibit the advertising and offering for sale, here, of unacceptably low welfare activities involving wild animals.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of strengthening the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan by (a) accelerating the targets for water companies to reduce harm by 2030 and (b) adding targets for the Government on tackling the root causes of excess storm overflows.

We have committed to review the targets in the plan in 2027. This will occur ahead of the 2029-2034 water company planning cycle (PR29) once new information, including from companies' business plans, is available. This will allow us to establish if companies can go further and faster to achieve the storm overflow targets in the Plan without having a disproportionate impact on consumers bills.

Tackling the root cause of storm overflows is a priority in the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, which sets out how better rainwater management is key to achieving reduction in sewage discharges from storm overflows. This is the most ambitious plan to address storm sewage discharges in water company history and new strict targets will see the toughest ever crack down on sewage spills.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits on introducing a specific target for 2025 to reduce single use plastic by 50 per cent under the Environment Act.

We have not assessed the merits of introducing a specific plastic reduction target under the Environment Act 2021. We consulted earlier this year on a target for reducing all residual waste excluding major mineral waste which we consider will lead to a more holistic and balanced environmental outcome. Our consultation sets out the rationale for the Government’s proposed choice.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of implementing a mandatory corporate reporting on plastic reduction to assist in working towards eliminating single-use plastics.

No formal assessment has been made of the potential merits of implementing a mandatory corporate reporting on plastic reduction to assist in working towards eliminating single-use plastics.

However, members of the UK Plastics Pact (UKPP), run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and supported by HM Government, have already voluntarily committed to reducing plastic waste, which the UKPP reports on annually. UKPP members are responsible for the majority of plastic packaging sold through UK supermarkets and approximately two thirds of all plastic packaging placed on the UK market. This reporting includes UKPP member progress towards eliminating a number of single-use plastic applications. Their most recent progress report can be found here: The UK Plastics Pact Annual Report 2020-21.pdf (wrap.org.uk)

Under packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (pEPR), packaging producers will also be required to report the weight of materials they have supplied each year, which will include how much plastic they have used in their packaging. This will form part of the evidence trail used to determine each producer’s recycling obligation and help track the weight of materials, including plastic, used and recycled each year. pEPR will place fees on packaging producers based on the amount and type of packaging they produce each year, thereby discouraging them from using excessive packaging and benefiting those who use reusable packaging.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to maintain the protections species and habitats have through Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

Nature is in need of our help, so HM Government has set a legally binding target to halt its decline by 2030.

In March this year, we published the Nature Recovery Green Paper setting out our proposals to reform our system of protections to better support this ambitious work, including the Habitats Regulations. The Green Paper is available here. Our proposals seek to create a system that better reflects the latest science and impending impacts of climate change, our domestic species and habitats, and helps us to achieve our significant goals to recover nature.

The Nature Recovery Green Paper consultation closed on 11th May and we are now in the process of analysing responses. The Government will publish a formal response on conclusion of this exercise.

27th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of updating the Hunting Act 2004 to ban hunting with dogs completely.

The Hunting Act 2004 already makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs, except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act. Those found guilty of non-compliance are subject to the full force of the law. HM Government has made a manifesto commitment not to change the Hunting Act.

26th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning all cages for breeding game birds.

No recent assessment has been made.

25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of (a) using and (b) delivering surplus food to tackle the effect of rising food bills on households during the cost of living crisis.

The amount of surplus food redistributed in 2021 was over 106,000 tonnes, worth over £330 million and the equivalent of over 253 million meals. Since UK-level data was first reported in 2015, overall levels of redistribution have increased over three-fold. Cumulatively between 2015 and 2021, 426,000 tonnes of surplus food have been redistributed, worth in excess of £1.3 billion pounds and equivalent to more than a billion meals.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimate that there could be a further 500,000 tonnes of surplus pre and post farmgate suitable for redistribution but noting considerable uncertainty around the practical and commercial feasibility of realising over half of this.

The latest survey of the sector can be found here:

WRAP-Surplus-food-redistribution-in-the-UK-2015-to-2021_0.pdf

Between 2018 and March 2021 nearly £13 million was awarded to over 250 redistribution organisations across the country in order to bolster the capability and capacity of the redistribution sector to take advantage of surplus made available by businesses. This funding has provided important infrastructure such as additional warehousing, vehicles, fridges and freezers.

The safe and speedy redistribution of surplus food is a priority, be it from retail, manufacture or the hospitality and food service sector, which all may have their own issues and challenges in their supply chains. We continue to support WRAP and the Institute of Grocery distribution (IGD) in the development of guidance and the sharing of best practice to advise on practical ways of increasing redistribution at short notice, and to help facilitate new partnerships.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department plans to take steps to maintain environmental protections in proposed investment zones.

We have been clear about the importance of environmental protection across the United Kingdom, not least through our world leading Environment Act, which includes a legally binding target to halt the decline of nature by 2030.  We are committed to meeting this target and will not undermine our obligations to the environment in pursuit of growth.

Defra and DLUHC are working closely together on Investment Zone policy to support our growth objectives and maintain HM Government’s strong position on the environment.

21st Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of prohibiting all non-essential use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS represent a group of thousands of chemicals, with hundreds used commercially across many sectors of industry and society. There is increasing evidence of the occurrence of PFAS in the environment and, once in the environment, PFAS are persistent. There is also growing concern regarding the risks to human health. Action has already been taken to ban or highly restrict specific PFAS both domestically and internationally. However, PFAS represent a very diverse group of chemicals with a wide range of uses for which safer and more sustainable alternatives are not yet available – making this a very challenging issue to tackle.

Work is underway across government to help us assess levels of PFAS occurring in the environment, their sources and potential risks to inform future policy and regulatory approaches. In the UK REACH Work Programme for 2021-22, Defra asked the EA and HSE to examine the risks posed by PFAS and develop a ‘Regulatory Management Options Analysis’ (RMOA). The RMOA will be published in due course and will make recommendations for risk management measures. Defra and the Devolved Administrations will carefully consider its recommendations to inform future PFAS policy, building on the commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan to tackle chemicals of concern.

17th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing mandatory digital waste tracking across the UK by 31 December 2022.

Earlier this year my Department consulted on proposals for the introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking and a consultation stage impact assessment was published alongside this consultation.

10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken towards meeting targets to start nature’s recovery by 2030.

Our world-leading Environment Act introduces ambitious measures to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age, including restoring nature. The Act requires a new, legally binding target to be set to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. This is in addition to setting at least one long-term legally binding target for biodiversity, air quality, water and waste reduction. Biodiversity Net Gain, Local Nature Recovery Strategies and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive action towards our targets for nature recovery.

We also published the Nature Recovery Green Paper. This sets out our ambition and proposed approach to enable nature's recovery in England, to support the delivery of our commitment to halt the decline in our biodiversity and protect 30% of our land and sea by 2030. Further, we published a Pollinator Action Plan in May supporting the National Pollinator Strategy. This plan sets out how we will continue to work with partners to help pollinators thrive.

The Nature for Climate Fund provides £750 million for the creation, restoration and management of woodland and peatland habitats.  Prior to that, we published our England Peat and Trees Action Plans. These set out our vision for the management, protection, and restoration of peatlands and how we will deliver our aim to at least treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is estimated to deliver 0.6mha of habitat creation and restoration within & outside Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  We set a target to raise at least £500 million in private finance to support nature's recovery every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1 billion by 2030. We announced at the Spending Review 2021 the investment of more than £250 million over three years to protect and restore nature. This included designating at least 15 new National Nature Reserves and expanding the Species Recovery Programme supported by new grants.

We also launched the 21,000 hectares G7 Nature Recovery Legacy Project in Cornwall. We have since launched five more partnership-led landscape-scale Nature Recovery Projects that will help nature recover across an estimated 99,000 hectares. We plan to launch a further six projects in 2022/23.

10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of maintaining the current Environmental Land Management Scheme.

Environmentally sustainable farming is fundamental to our new approach to England's agricultural system and the Environmental Land Management Schemes are an important step towards achieving our 25 Year Environment Plan ambitions and our carbon net zero goals.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of committing to a global deal for nature at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15.

The decline of biodiversity is a global issue. Worldwide, we are losing biodiversity faster than ever before. This impacts global growth and security. The United Kingdom will support the adoption of an ambitious global biodiversity framework at COP15 containing goals and targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Building on our G7 and COP26 Presidencies and our co-chairship of key nature alliances, we will continue to support the Chinese Presidency and international community to make sure we make this year the ‘Paris moment’ for nature.

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason the 2010 Study to determine whether cage-based breeding can meet the needs of game birds, and if not, to identify best practice - AW1303 did not include an objective of assessing whether cage-based breeding could meet the welfare needs of game birds; and if he will make such an assessment.

Timing of the call for evidence is still to be determined and needs to be considered in light of the challenges the gamebird sector is currently facing, not least the ongoing Avian Influenza outbreak.

Responses to a public call for evidence would help to inform a review on gamebird welfare by the expert Animal Welfare Committee, whose recommendations may then form the basis of a public consultation on any proposed reforms. The timeframe of these stages could only be considered once the outcome of the call for evidence was known.

The Defra study AW1303 was commissioned under a previous administration in 2010. Details of the study, including its objectives, are available at: Defra Science AW1303 game birds

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 20 April 2022 to Question HL7651, if he will publish details of (a) how he expects the Animal Welfare Committee’s work to feed into the consultation on the welfare of game birds and (b) the expected duration of that part of the process.

Timing of the call for evidence is still to be determined and needs to be considered in light of the challenges the gamebird sector is currently facing, not least the ongoing Avian Influenza outbreak.

Responses to a public call for evidence would help to inform a review on gamebird welfare by the expert Animal Welfare Committee, whose recommendations may then form the basis of a public consultation on any proposed reforms. The timeframe of these stages could only be considered once the outcome of the call for evidence was known.

The Defra study AW1303 was commissioned under a previous administration in 2010. Details of the study, including its objectives, are available at: Defra Science AW1303 game birds

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
21st Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 20 April 2022 to Question HL7651, if he will provide further details of the call for evidence on gamebird welfare including (a) expected date of commencement, (b) expected duration and (c) whether it will be open to the public.

Timing of the call for evidence is still to be determined and needs to be considered in light of the challenges the gamebird sector is currently facing, not least the ongoing Avian Influenza outbreak.

Responses to a public call for evidence would help to inform a review on gamebird welfare by the expert Animal Welfare Committee, whose recommendations may then form the basis of a public consultation on any proposed reforms. The timeframe of these stages could only be considered once the outcome of the call for evidence was known.

The Defra study AW1303 was commissioned under a previous administration in 2010. Details of the study, including its objectives, are available at: Defra Science AW1303 game birds

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to amend fishing licenses in 2023 to reference destructive fishing.

Marine conservation is a devolved competence and the following information on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) therefore relates to England only.

The Fisheries Act 2020 requires that all vessels fishing commercially in UK waters must have a licence to do so. All licences have a set of conditions which specify the area in which fishing is authorised, the time period permitted for fishing, the quantities and description of which species may be caught and the permitted fishing method. These conditions are subject to periodic review and are based on scientific evidence.

98 MPAs in English inshore waters already have byelaws in place to protect sensitive features from damaging fishing activities and the first four offshore byelaws have now been established. The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and Marine Management Organisation continue to assess and implement measures to manage damaging fishing within MPAs. We are aiming to have all MPAs in English waters protected from damaging fishing activity by 2024.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of banning all types of destructive fishing from Marine Protected Areas.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities assess on a site-by-site basis which fishing activities could prevent MPAs from achieving their conservation objectives. Byelaws are developed using an evidence-led process to determine what management is required to protect sites and to not unduly restrict legitimate fishing activity.

98 MPAs in English inshore waters already have byelaws in place to protect sensitive features from damaging fishing activities and the first four offshore byelaws have now been established. A Call for Evidence on byelaws in 13 more MPAs has recently closed. We aim to have protection in place for all our offshore MPAs by 2024.

In July, we also launched a consultation on five candidate Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters. With the highest level of protection in England’s seas to enable the ecosystem to fully recover, many activities including commercial and recreational fishing would be prohibited. HPMAs would complement the existing MPA network. Any HPMAs Government decides to designate following the consultation would be designated by July 2023.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to create more habitat for nature in the UK.

The Environment Act 2021 requires a new legally binding target to be set to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. This world leading target will drive wide-ranging actions to deliver nature recovery. We know that to meet it we will need large-scale habitat creation and restoration and that by improving connectivity we will maximise the benefits of newly created and restored habitat.

The Environment Act introduced a number of policies that will support these outcomes. Biodiversity net gain, Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive action, including to create or restore habitats that enable wildlife to recover and thrive, while conservation covenants will help secure habitat for the long term. LNRSs will provide the spatial framework for the Nature Recovery Network, which will guide creation, restoration and connectivity of habitats and sites to create mosaics of wildlife-rich habitat; and incentivise private partnerships.

The Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship schemes help land managers deliver environmental benefits on their land. This includes the creation of habitats for wildlife including birds, small mammals and pollinators. Agreement holders can choose from actions ranging from general habitat creation benefitting a variety of species, such as hedgerow or wildflower plot creation, or actions to target specific species, such as skylark plots.

The Nature for Climate Fund provides £750 million for the creation, restoration and management of woodland and peatland habitats.  The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is estimated to deliver 0.6mha of habitat creation and restoration within & outside SSSIs.  We set a target to raise at least £500 million in private finance to support nature's recovery every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1 billion by 2030.  This includes investment in protected sites and other landscape-scale action through delivery of the Nature Recovery Network.

20th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of supporting the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature and the G7 2030 Nature Compact; and what steps he is taking to prevent degradation of nature.

The degradation of nature is a global problem that needs a global solution. Government recognises the merits of supporting international actions, alongside taking steps domestically to assess and address this crucial issue.

The UK was pivotal in driving the Leader's Pledge for Nature in 2020 and remains fully committed to working towards global implementation of the important commitments contained in the Pledge. This week the UK contributed to a highly impactful Leader's Pledge for Nature event (co-hosted with the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the Global Ocean Alliance) in the margins of the UN General Assembly where countries came forward with ambitious commitments to finance biodiversity and move to nature positive economies.

The UK led the drafting and agreement of the G7 2030 Nature Compact by Leaders during our G7 Presidency in 2021, and we are committed to the full implementation of all the commitments contained within it by 2030, including the headline target to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Domestically, Government is committed to addressing the biggest environmental priorities of our age, including restoring and enhancing nature.

We have set out clear goals for habitats and species in England in our 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP). The 25YEP marked a step change in ambition for wildlife and the wider natural environment and we are already taking action to fulfil this ambition. We are maintaining and extending key protections; introducing new legislation and new funding streams; we are supporting partnerships and we are working across Government to secure broad action.

Our world-leading Environment Act 2021 puts environmental ambition and accountability at the very heart of government, by establishing a comprehensive legal framework for environmental improvement. The act includes a range of specific measures and actions to directly tackle biodiversity loss and sets a new and ambitious domestic framework for environmental governance now we have left the European Union.

Notably, the Act requires a new, legally binding target to be set to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. This is in addition to setting at least one long-term legally binding target for biodiversity alongside targets on water, air quality and waste reduction.

We will set out all of our long-term targets, and our approach to meeting them, in our revised Environmental Improvement Plan in January 2023. This plan will mean that progress can be monitored, and Government will be held accountable for actions to recover nature.

The Environment Act also introduces measures that will strengthen our action for nature and lay the foundation for the Nature Recovery Network, a network of places that are richer in wildlife, more resilient to climate change and provide wider environmental benefits including carbon capture and recreation. Biodiversity Net Gain, Local Nature Recovery Strategies and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive action towards our targets for nature recovery, alongside wider action and investment to create or restore habitats that enable wildlife to recover and thrive, while conservation covenants will help secure habitat for the long term.

6th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a ban on the import of (a) kittens under six months of age, (b) pregnant cats that are more than 42 days pregnant and (c) cats that have been declawed.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was reintroduced to the House of Commons following the Queen’s Speech in May 2022 and will progress as parliamentary time allows. The Bill includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

In August 2021, HM Government launched a consultation on our proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. The consultation sought views on whether maintaining the existing requirements in relation to cats was the right approach. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders prior to the introduction of the legislation, to ensure that our final measures are well considered and led by the latest evidence.

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing legislation to ban water company bosses from awarding themselves bonuses unless leak reduction targets are met.

Government and Ofwat have set an expectation that companies must be transparent about how performance related executive pay and dividends are linked to services for customers, including leakage and environmental performance.

David Black, Ofwat CEO recently reiterated that “performance related pay for CEOs should be clearly linked to their performance for customers, the environment and society. Performance related pay can't be a one-way street, if companies are not performing that should be reflected in executive pay."

Ofwat plans to report on an analysis, it is completing, of whether it feels companies have clearly made the link between performance and performance related pay.

In July, Ofwat released new figures showing that three quarters of the companies are meeting their leakage targets and some have reduced leakage by more than 10% over the past two years. Industry-wide leakage has been reduced by 11% since 2017-18, heading towards a target of a 50% reduction by 2050.

Water companies already face automatic financial penalties when leakage performance commitments are missed and Ofwat can take enforcement action if a company is also breaching its legal obligations or licence conditions.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase public access to (a) rivers and (b) waterways for (i) leisure and (ii) sport.

The Government recognises that taking to our inland waters can have a positive effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.  We are aware that there has been a considerable increase over the last few years in numbers of people taking up water-based activities such as canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding and open water or wild swimming.  Access to regulated waterways can be granted through licenses from the appropriate navigation authority. Access to unregulated waterways can be arranged through voluntary access agreements. The Government encourages interested parties to work together to increase the access to unregulated rivers and waterways through encouraging and incentivising voluntary access agreements.

Sport and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health and the Government is committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, should have access to and benefit from quality sport and physical activity opportunities.

The Government also welcomes applications for designated bathing waters for both coastal and inland waters such as rivers. Local authorities, groups, and individuals can apply, with Government encouraging applications by writing annually to the Chief Executive of every local authority in England and other stakeholders such as swimming associations.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he is taking steps to incentivise the establishment of allotments in London.

The Government recognises the importance of access to local green spaces including allotments in enabling and supporting healthy lifestyles within our communities. The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that local planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space and opportunities for new provision, which can include allotments, and their plans should then seek to accommodate this. The National Model Design Code highlights that design considerations vary with the type of space and that open space design needs to consider factors such as: access, maintenance, ecology and also allotments and community growing for food production, learning and community engagement.

Natural England is also promoting the use of allotments and gardening projects in London through its work with Thriving Communities & The National Academy for Social Prescribing.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact of rising wheat costs on catering businesses; and whether he plans to take further steps to support (a) small- and (b) medium-sized catering businesses.

All food businesses, including those operating in the catering sector, are facing challenges due to rising costs stemming from factors such as energy price increases, supply chain disruption and rising labour costs.

Defra has assessed that the pressures on the grain industry will result in impacts being felt in rising prices for cereal products such as bread. Grain used in animal feed will also impact on meat prices, although the timing of effect will vary across products, with poultry quickest impacted due to shorter production timescales.

Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to gather evidence and monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains.

The Government recently published its Food Strategy, and this sets out a plan to transform our food system to ensure it is fit for the future. As part of this, the Government is developing an ambitious and transformational approach to public sector food and catering. We want the public sector to lead by example, championing small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We are consulting on public sector food and catering policy to reflect this ambition. The proposals aim to open public sector procurement to a wider range of businesses and make public procurement more accessible to SMEs.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of conducting a review of (a) Breed-Specific Legislation and (b) the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of 2022.

The primary purpose of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is public protection. The Government must balance the views of those who want to repeal or amend the breed specific legislation relating to the Pit Bull terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro and the Japanese Tosa with that responsibility.

The Government considers that a lifting of the restrictions on these types of dogs would more likely result in an increase in dog attacks, rather than contributing to any reduction in such incidents. This position is supported by the police.

In December 2021, Defra published research in collaboration with Middlesex University investigating measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible dog ownership across all breeds of dog.

Defra have subsequently set up a Responsible Dog Ownership project in collaboration with the police, local authority representatives and animal welfare stakeholders to consider the recommendations set out in the Middlesex University Report in detail and provide advice to the Government as to how these could be taken forward.

We expect the work of the work of the Responsible Dog Ownership project to be concluded in early 2023, at which point the Government will consider the advice.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure all food products contain clear information about recycling on their packaging; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals on a consistent labelling system on recycling.

The Government is already taking action here. As we stated in the response to our 2021 consultation on Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging, we will introduce mandatory recyclability labelling on all product packaging. Producers will be required to label packaging to indicate whether it is recyclable or not, as part of a clear, consistent, UK-wide labelling scheme, which will come into force from next year.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what additional cross-Departmental steps he is taking to incentivise businesses to reduce waste.

This Government has a bold and wide-ranging programme to help businesses cut the waste they produce, to recycle more and to ensure the environmental consequences of waste are minimised.

We recently published our plans for Extended Producer Responsibility on packaging, which will be introduced from 2024. We have consulted on a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers with the response due shortly. We have introduced a plastic packaging tax of £200/tonne on plastic packaging that doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled content and are consulting on a target under the Environment Act to cut residual waste by 50% by 2042. This follows on from restrictions on single use plastics, including carrier bags, where we have also proposed going further still. We also work to help reduce food waste, supporting the Courtauld Commitment which works for a more sustainable supply chain tackling food waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use and aims to halve food waste by 2030.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to extend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to include (a) rivers, (b) woods and (c) Green Belt land.

We recognise the importance of enabling access to the countryside, for people’s health and wellbeing. That is why we have established 13 community forests, alongside our substantial programmes to create more green space and significantly expand National Trails, and we have created and restored some 360,000 football fields of habitat since 2010. We have no plans to change the Rights of Way Act.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make it its policy to introduce any further changes to the regulation of genetically modified organisms by way of primary legislation.

We are taking an evidence-based, stepwise approach to introducing changes in how we govern the use of organisms developed by genetic technologies. Our next step is to seek to bring forward primary legislation to change the regulatory definitions of a GMO to exclude organisms that have genetic changes that could have been achieved through traditional breeding or which could occur naturally. We will also consider the appropriate regulatory measures needed to enable organisms that are equivalent to those produced through traditional breeding to be brought to market.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he will take to prioritise bona fide research over other non-commercial releases of genetically modified organisms, exempted under 9A of the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2022.

All non-commercial releases of GM plants that could have occurred naturally or been produced through traditional breeding will have to be notified to the Secretary of State before they can be planted/sown. There will be no prioritisation for particular types of non-commercial releases.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of shortages of veterinary surgeons in the UK; and what steps he is taking to support more people to train as veterinary surgeons in the UK.

The Department engages regularly with a range of stakeholders including both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Association on the issue of veterinary shortages across the profession. To help mitigate this, there are new veterinary schools opening at Harper Adams and Keele, The University of Central Lancashire, the Scottish Rural College and a collaboration between the University of Aberystwyth and the Royal Veterinary College (London). This will help substantially increase the number of UK graduates entering the veterinary profession in the longer term.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to ban the (a) import and (b) sale of (i) real fur and (ii) foie gras as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Now we have left the EU, the Government is able to explore potential action in relation to animal fur. We are reviewing the evidence gathered both from our Call for Evidence and wider engagement with the fur trade and stakeholders, and a summary of responses will be published soon.

The Government has made clear that the production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding raises serious welfare concerns. We do not allow its production in the UK. We are now able to consider any further steps that could be taken in relation to foie gras that is produced overseas using force feeding practices, such as restrictions on import and sale. We are gathering information and will continue to speak to a range of interested parties about the issues involved. This is in line with the Government's commitment to improving animal welfare standards as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring manufacturers to fit microplastic-catching filters to new (a) domestic and (b) commercial washing machines.

Defra is undertaking a rapid evidence assessment to understand the costs, benefits and efficiencies of incorporating filters to trap microfibres from textiles during the laundry cycle. The aim of the review will help us determine whether the filters offer a cost-effective measure to reduce inputs of microfibres to our wastewater (sewage) treatment systems and the wider water environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he made of the potential merits of (a) a permanent ban on the use of neonicotinoids and (b) incentivising the use of (i) alternative and (ii) less harmful pesticides to protect biodiversity in the UK.

The UK Government continues to support the existing restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids. We will consider emergency authorisations for limited and controlled use in special circumstances where diseases, pests or weeds cannot be controlled by any other reasonable means.

The sugar beet industry has requested emergency use of Cruiser SB to protect the crop from severe yield losses while they develop alternative approaches (including resistant crops and husbandry measures).  The applicant anticipates that applications for emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments may be needed next year, after which they aim to use those alternative approaches.

In 2021 the Government consulted on the draft National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides which sets out the ambition to further minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment.

The draft NAP aims to increase uptake of Integrated Pest Management and sustainable crop protection. Integrated Pest Management emphasises crop health with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms, therefore playing a critical role in supporting and enhancing biodiversity, whilst improving soil heath and water quality.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether Environmental Land Management schemes will reward farmers and land managers for steps they take to improve access to the countryside for disabled people.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Huddersfield on 19 January 2022, PQ UIN 100429.

Increasing access into the countryside is currently supported by existing schemes and other mechanisms already in place. We are still considering our approach to increasing and maintaining access to the countryside in our future schemes, including our environmental land management schemes. This includes access to the countryside for people with disabilities.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether Environmental Land Management schemes will reward farmers and land managers for the creation of new paths to improve public access to the countryside.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Huddersfield on 19 January 2022, PQ UIN 100429.

Increasing access into the countryside is currently supported by existing schemes and other mechanisms already in place. We are still considering our approach to increasing and maintaining access to the countryside in our future schemes, including our environmental land management schemes. This includes the creation of new paths to improve public access to the countryside.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing an animal welfare commissioner to produce an annual report on the state of animal welfare in England.

This Government is committed to high levels of animal welfare, and we have set out over 40 areas in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, published in May 2021.

The Animal Welfare Committee is a non-statutory expert committee which advises Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Governments on the welfare of animals, and would be the most appropriate body to produce reports on the state of animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Committee considers the welfare of farmed animals, companion animals and wild animals kept by people.

In 2020, the Animal Welfare Committee published a report on ‘The Animal Welfare Issues Related to Covid-19 – Short Term’, followed by a second report on ‘The Animal Welfare Issues Related to Covid-19 – Medium to Longer Term’. The Animal Welfare Committee’s reports are available on its website: Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding the due diligence clauses in the Environment Act 2021 to cover (a) breaches of international agreements on human rights and (b) all forms of damaging deforestation.

The Government has introduced world-leading due diligence legislation through the Environment Act to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains associated with agricultural commodities. This is in recognition that, globally, a significant proportion of deforestation is illegal - close to 90% in some of the world's most important forests. The due diligence legislation complements the UK Timber Regulations, which prohibit the placing of illegally harvested timber and timber products on the UK market and require those first placing such products on the UK market to exercise due diligence.

Basing our approach on compliance with the local laws of producer countries, of which the UK is one, recognises the primacy of national and sub-national Governments' decisions in determining the management of their natural resources. Through the UK's aid programmes we work in partnership with producer countries to reinforce and strengthen their efforts to protect their ecosystems, which is fundamental to enhancing forest protection in the long term. The legislation also contains a provision requiring the Secretary of State to conduct a review of the law’s effectiveness every two years once it comes into force, and set out any steps they intend to take as a result, ensuring we will take action if we do not see progress.

These regulations are part of a wider package of measures being adopted by the UK in our leading role working with partners globally to halt and reverse forest loss.

On human rights, the UK Government has consistently supported the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on business and human rights, which are widely regarded as the authoritative international framework to steer practical action by Governments and businesses worldwide on this important and pressing agenda. Implementation of the UNGPs will support access to justice and remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses, wherever these occur, and encourage businesses to adopt due diligence approaches to respecting human rights.

The Government is clear that it expects all UK businesses to respect human rights throughout their operations, in line with the UNGPs. In response to the Guidelines, the UK was the first State to produce a National Action Plan. The UK is also the first country in the world to require businesses to report on the steps they have taken to tackle modern slavery in their operations and global supply chains, and we have announced measures to strengthen the transparency in supply chains legislation in the Modern Slavery Act.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote access to nature in cities.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan made major new commitments to connect people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing, including access to green spaces in urban areas.

Work undertaken includes the Green Recovery Challenge Fund which has invested £80 million to nature-based projects across England to support a green recovery from Covid-19. The fund has "connecting people with nature" as one of its three objectives, and many of these projects are working in urban areas. An example of one of the projects delivered is Green Space for Health, which aims to make NHS sites greener and provide outdoor wellbeing sessions for NHS staff.

We are leading a £5.77 million cross-Governmental project to test nature-based social prescribing in seven test and learn sites, run national research work to understand its scalability, and deliver a robust project evaluation. This will help improve mental health and wellbeing by connecting more people to nature. The project is working in both rural and urban locations and will help connect those living in cities with nature; for example, several of the test and learn sites are in and around cities such as Greater Manchester.

We are also investing £9 million through the Levelling Up Parks Fund to regenerate 100 green spaces across the UK as part of our Levelling Up agenda. Further details on the Fund will be announced shortly.

Natural England's England-wide map of green infrastructure launched in December 2021, as part of the emerging Green Infrastructure Framework, will help local areas identify priorities for creation and enhancement, including to address inequalities in access to greenspace. The full Framework to be launched later this year will include a green infrastructure design guide with advice on designing to promote access and to maximise the benefits that access provides. This will work alongside biodiversity net gain to encourage greater inclusion of nature into our cities and built environments.

The England Trees Action Plan committed to treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament, supported by the Nature for Climate Fund (NCF) which has more than £750 million by 2025 for work on peat restoration, woodland creation and management. Through the NCF the Government is also increasing tree planting in urban areas. Local authorities have access to several NCF grant schemes, including the £4.4 million Local Authorities Treescape Fund and the £6 million Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF). Over the next two years, the UTCF fund will provide up to £6 million for planting around 44,000 large trees in towns and cities. Meanwhile, the Local Authority Treescapes Fund will increase tree planting and natural regeneration in local communities, including urban areas and beside roads and footpaths.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he taking to reduce light pollution at night in cities.

The Government recognises that light pollution may have an impact on people, affecting their health and wellbeing, as well as the environment. Through the 25 Year Environment Plan, we have committed to reducing all forms of pollution, including light pollution. My department works with colleagues across government whose policy areas affect the use of artificial light.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that planning policies and decisions should limit the impact of light pollution on local amenity, dark landscapes and nature conservation. This is supported by guidance which emphasises the importance of getting the right light in the right place at the right time, which helps local planners and developers to design in ways that avoid glare and intrusion.

The Government has put in place a range of measures to ensure that light pollution is effectively managed through the statutory nuisance regime which means that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities have a duty to investigate complaints about light emitted from premises which could constitute a nuisance or be harmful to health and have powers to take action where there is a problem.

The management of street lighting in England is the responsibility of local highway authorities. Local highway authorities have a duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the public highways in their charge, including street lighting. The Department for Transport encourages all local authorities to replace their street lighting with LED lighting where it is economically feasible to do so. Importantly some of these new, modern luminaires can also reduce the amount of glare emitted, reducing light pollution as a result. Advice is also available from the UK Lighting Board and the Institute of Lighting Professionals.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to ban glue traps in England.

In our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, published in May this year, we announced that we would look to restrict the use of glue traps as a means of pest control. Accordingly, we are supporting the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East’s Glue Traps (Offences) Private Members Bill, which proposes to ban the use of glue traps for catching rodents except in the most exceptional circumstances. The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 June, and successfully completed its second reading on 19 November. We will continue to work closely with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East over the coming months as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals impacting (a) environmental and (b) human health.

Defra and the Environment Agency are working with other regulators, including the UK Health Security Agency, to improve understanding of the chemical risks posed by per-fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) and respond appropriately.


Defra and the Environment Agency have initiated a coordinated programme of work to help us assess levels of PFAS occurring in the environment, their sources and potential risks to inform future policy and regulatory approaches. The scope of the programme includes international engagement to understand approaches being taken across the world; collecting environmental data in England; developing new analytical methods; working with industry to assess risks of PFAS produced in the UK; identifying current and legacy uses and mapping potential sources; river catchment investigations; water company investigations to understand sources to sewer and wastewater treatment options.

As part of the UK REACH Work Programme for 2021-22, the Environment Agency and HSE, at Defra’s request, are investigating the risk posed by PFAS through a Regulatory Management Options Analysis (RMOA) which will consider how best to manage any identified risks.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of conducting a review of (a) Breed-Specific Legislation and (b) the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 by the end of 2021.

Defra commissioned Middlesex University to examine measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible ownership of all breeds of dogs. The research, which will be published shortly, considers different approaches and the effectiveness of current dog control measures.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of raising the minimum juice content for cider.

The UK has a history of cidermaking dating back thousands of years. This proud tradition has given rise to a wide variety of cidermaking traditions throughout the UK, ranging from small, artisanal producers to large scale global businesses. The UK Government recognises the importance of cider and cidermakers to British farmers, publicans, and consumers alike. The present requirement under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 that 35% of the finished product be made up by apple juice was last revised in 2010, following consultation with cidermakers. Defra believes that this strikes a suitable balance, facilitating the various ancient traditions found on these islands while still allowing for innovation in the sector and large-scale production of popular styles. Neither consumers nor cider makers have been asking for a change in the rules. As a result, the Government has not made any more recent assessment of the merits of raising the minimum juice content for cider and has no plans to amend this provision in the 1979 Act.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to speed up the transition from culling badgers to vaccinating cattle to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis in England.

As set out in the Government response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, the next phase of the strategy focuses on developing a deployable cattle vaccine, wider rollout of badger vaccination and improvements to TB testing.

Badger culling will not be halted immediately – as set out in the Government’s response to the January 2021 consultation[1], no new intensive cull licences will be issued after 2022 and new supplementary badger culling licences have been limited to a maximum of two years. Culling would remain an option where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed.

We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large-scale farmer-led vaccination schemes. We are also undertaking Government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. We are continuing to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.

Developing a deployable cattle TB vaccine, with the objective of introduction within the next five years, is one of the Government’s top priorities. In 2021, world-leading bTB cattle vaccination trials began in England and Wales.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/bovine-tuberculosis-proposals-to-help-eradicate-disease-in-england

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating an ivory surrender scheme.

The Ivory Act will not affect the ownership of ivory items and as such we have no plans for a Government surrender scheme at this time. We recognise that for some low value items, owners may decide it is not cost-effective to register them for sale. This will be a decision for individual owners. Such items may of course be gifted, donated or bequeathed rather than discarded. We will explain to owners the options available to them as part of our awareness-raising campaign.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the creation of more hedgerows.

Following our exit from the Common Agricultural Policy, environmentally sustainable farming will be fundamental to our approach to England’s agricultural system. The development of our new environmental land management schemes will continue to recognise the role and fund the management of hedgerows.

For example, a Hedgerow Standard has been included within the initial phase of piloting of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme. Newly planted hedgerows, for which capital grants will be available, will be immediately available for annual payment under this standard.

Existing Agri-environment schemes, such as Countryside Stewardship, continue to fund hedgerow management and laying to deliver recognised benefits for wildlife, landscape and the historic environment. Hedgerow management is one of the most popular options within Countryside Stewardship with several options available for planting, managing and restoring hedgerows.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the import of hunting trophies into the UK.

The Government takes the conservation of endangered species very seriously, which is why we are banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species, as set out in the Government’s manifesto.

Our approach will be robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out our plans soon.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take cross-departmental steps to ensure that restrictions on lorry drivers' working hours are not relaxed in response to recent shortages of HGV drivers potentially leading to food shortages on supermarket shelves; and what steps he is taking to increase (a) capacity for HGV driving tests and (b) training to help provide new HGV drivers who are resident in the UK.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers. Defra officials are continuously gathering intelligence from food sector’s stakeholders to keep abreast of the impact of shortages on food supply.

Our officials are also working closely with counterparts in the Department for Transport who monitor any potential requirements to consider an extension of driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.

Our officials are continuously working closely across government on a diverse range of solutions to driver shortages in the short and long term. These include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s increased capacity to test drivers to reach 3,000 practical tests each week and the Department for Education’s Large Goods Vehicle drivers apprenticeship programmes with an increased funding opportunity to £7,000 to improve UK labour supply.

Overall, the UK's food supply is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to grant hedgehogs greater legal protection.

As set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government is committed to taking action to recover our threatened native species.

As part of the recently announced Green Paper, my department will explore opportunities to enhance and modernise protections for declining native species such as the hedgehog. We intend to publish the Green Paper and seek views later this year.

Our Environment Bill will also strengthen our commitment to our native species. We have amended the Bill to require a new, historic legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 to be set, aiming to halt the decline of nature. We are also taking action through our net gain provisions in the Bill, to support the role of new development in helping protect, improve and create the habitat that our native species, including hedgehogs, need to thrive.

Beyond the Bill, we are introducing three schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme. These schemes will pay for sustainable farming practices, creating and preserving habitat such as such as woodland, heathland and species-rich grassland, as well as making landscape-scale environmental changes, all of which could benefit species such as hedgehog.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward proposals to introduce a deposit return scheme in England.

The Government remains committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. We recently undertook a second consultation on introducing the deposit return scheme, in which we set out timelines for the scheme to go live.

We want to have an ambitious but realistic timetable to ensure that we are implementing a deposit return scheme that will be as effective as possible in achieving our objectives. We have therefore reviewed the timelines required to implement a deposit return scheme and currently anticipate that the scheme would launch in 2024, subject to the outcome of the second consultation and parliamentary passage of the Environment Bill.

We are now analysing responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the import of hunting trophies into the UK.

This Government takes the conservation of endangered species in the UK and internationally very seriously, which is why we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Our approach will be comprehensive, robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out plans soon.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including decapod crustaceans in the forthcoming Animal Sentience Bill.

There is clear evidence that animals with a backbone (vertebrates) are sentient and this is reflected in the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill introduced to the House of Lords on 13 May 2021. However, the Bill also gives the Secretary of State a power to extend the recognition of sentience to particular invertebrates in future on the basis of evidence.

Defra has commissioned an independent review of the available scientific evidence on sentience in decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as sentience in the class, Cephalopoda, which includes octopus, cuttlefish and squid. The review will report shortly.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning the use of snares in the UK.

We are aware of the concerns around the use of snares, which can cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals. It is an issue we are looking at closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Anyone using snares has a responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to act within the law to ensure their activities do not harm protected species or cause any unnecessary suffering.

The Government has no current plans to ban the use of all animal snares. Snares are controlled in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This already prohibits the use of self-locking snares and the setting of any type of snare in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers. It also requires snares to be inspected on a daily basis.

When practised to a high standard, and in accordance with the law, snaring can offer an effective means to reduce the harmful impacts of foxes on livestock, game and wildlife.

The code of practice for the use of snares to control foxes in England can be found at https://basc.org.uk/cop/snares-for-fox-control-in-england/. This code is designed and owned by the sector, rather than Government. It sets out clear principles for the legal and humane use of snares, using evidence from snare use research to improve snare deployment and design.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and its Schedule; and if he will bring forward proposals to reform the regulatory framework for the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK.

The schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 was last updated in 2007, following review and consultation. The Act itself was updated in 2010, following further review and consultation, to allow local authorities to focus their enforcement activity more effectively. The Act’s original aim was to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public. Based on available evidence, including the absence of reported attacks on the public by escaped dangerous wild animals, we consider that the Act is fulfilling those objectives.

However, while there are appropriate public safety measures in place for the keeping of dangerous wild animals, the Government wants to look more closely at the wider animal welfare law to see whether it needs to be improved in relation to the welfare of exotic, non-domesticated animals traded and kept as pets. Defra has already begun this process with a call for evidence and a public consultation to help inform the approach to delivering the Government’s manifesto commitment to ban the keeping of primates as pets.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage members of the public to wear reusable face coverings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The latest Government guidance on face coverings is provided at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own#when-to-wear-a-face-covering. It explains that many types of face coverings are available including disposable products and those made of breathable, washable fabric. We welcome the efforts being made by businesses and consumers to produce, sell and buy reusable alternatives which align with the guidance. The guidance also provides instructions on how people can make and care for their own face coverings at home.

Face coverings that are required in shops and a number of other settings are not the same as the single-use surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of their PPE. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace. Instead, the latest Government advice on face coverings provides instructions on how people can make and care for reusable face coverings at home using washable textiles, and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering.

Reusable cloth face coverings are also available to buy from a wide range of retail outlets, including online.

The Government has published guidance on the disposal of face coverings and other PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. This is available at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will he make it his policy to set targets to reduce the use of animal testing in the chemicals industry.

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.

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.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support assistance dog owners travelling to (a) the EU and (b) Northern Ireland since the UK ended part one listed status under the Pet Passport Scheme.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply previously given on 21 January 2021, PQ 139081.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that uprooted mature trees are replanted.

We will publish a new England Tree Strategy in spring, setting out plans to plant and protect trees across the country, including in towns and cities and on our streets.

The Government is committed to seeing more trees planted and has a general policy against permanent loss of woodland cover. The management and replanting of trees is managed through the felling licence regime.

Trees uprooted without human intervention, such as through windthrow, decay or lightning strike, are exempt from the need for a felling licence regime as this is part of the natural woodland life cycle.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which local authorities have access to a fully trained Animal Welfare Inspector to undertake the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act 2006; and what additional funding his Department has allocated to local authorities to undertake that work.

Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, local authorities in England are required to appoint one or more suitably qualified inspectors to inspect premises requiring licensing under the regulations, including those relating to dog breeding, pet selling, hiring out horses, animal exhibits and animal boarding. Local authorities appoint such inspectors using powers under section 51 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Local authority animal welfare inspectors also carry out inspections in relation to welfare in transport, on-farm welfare and helping to tackle illegal imports of dogs. It is for local authorities to determine how to prioritise their resources as well as the number of animal inspectors they appoint under the Animal Welfare Act. We do not hold data centrally on the number of inspectors appointed under the Act.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce parity of treatment under the law for people found guilty of harming or injuring a domestic pet to bring them in line with the penalties imposed if a service dog used by the police or an assistance dog used by a visually impaired person is attacked or injured.

The Government remains fully committed to animal welfare and supports increasing the maximum custodial sentences for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. This will enable courts to take a firmer approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 5 February by Chris Loder MP and is due to have its Second Reading on 10 July. The Government will continue to support the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament. The proposed new maximum sentence of five years would apply to all animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and hence would provide parity of treatment under the law for domestic pets, for service dogs used by the police, and for assistance dogs used by visually impaired people.

The new maximum penalty of five years is in line with campaigns by key stakeholders such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. This is a positive step forward in improving animal welfare and will act as a serious deterrent against animal cruelty. The increase to five years' imprisonment will provide one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare and will apply where anyone is convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
10th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of banning the use of the whip in horse racing.

Defra is keen to ensure that we uphold our high standards of animal welfare including in relation to horseracing. Irresponsible use of the whip is completely unacceptable.

The British Horseracing Association (BHA) requires that whips be used responsibly and jockeys may only use the whip within certain strict rules. The BHA policy on the whip was drawn up in consultation with animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare and is published on the BHA website. The latest rules include a threshold on the number of times the whip can be used before racing stewards can consider an inquiry. If the rules are broken, the jockey may be banned from racing for a certain number of days depending on the seriousness of the offence. Stewards also have the ability to impose a fine on a rider between £200 and £10,000.

In addition to sanctions from the sport, using the whip indiscriminately on a horse could be a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Defra is satisfied that the laws and rules in place are sufficient to restrict and limit the use of the whip in horse racing.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she has taken to ensure official development assistance supports renewable energy projects.

The UK is committed to unlocking affordable and clean energy and contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7. UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) increasingly supports renewable energy projects – between 2011-12 and 2018-19 UK aid has provided 26 million people with improved access to clean energy and installed 1,600 MW of clean energy capacity, avoiding 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

DFID supports a number of ongoing programmes with a clean energy focus, such as the Africa Clean Energy programme, which works in over 15 African countries to increase deployment of off-grid renewable energy, by supporting businesses and governments to improve market conditions for the private sector.

The doubling of the UK’s International Climate Finance (ICF) contribution to £11.6 billion from 2021/22 to 2025/26 will enable the UK to do even more to accelerate the development and adoption of low carbon technologies.

The ICF increase includes up to £1 billion for the Ayrton Fund, which will focus on developing and testing new technology in areas such as energy storage, new cooling technologies, next generation solar, and technologies for industrial decarbonisation.

As announced by the Prime Minister at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January, the UK will no longer provide any new direct ODA, investment, export credit or trade promotion support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas.

8th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of strengthening existing requirements under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 for parliamentary (a) scrutiny and (b) debate on international trade deals.

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRaG) provides an effective and robust framework for scrutiny of treaties that require ratification, including free trade agreements.

Nevertheless, the Government has also in place a suite of enhanced transparency and scrutiny arrangements that go well beyond the statutory obligations of CRaG.

The Government recognises the importance of Parliament being able to consider new free trade agreements, therefore a debate was held in Government time on 14 November to consider the Australia and New Zealand deals.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of excluding the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism from the UK-Australia trade agreement.

The precise details of a free trade agreement with Australia are a matter for formal negotiations, and the Government would not seek to pre-empt these discussions.

If it is deemed that a legal mechanism is appropriate for resolving investment disputes, the mechanism will reflect modern practice, deliver fair outcomes of claims, require high ethical standards for arbitrators and include transparent proceedings.

There has never been a successful Investor State Dispute Settlement claim against the United Kingdom, nor has the threat of potential claims affected its legislation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the effect of pesticides such as Paraquat, which are banned in the UK, being exported to India in the context of ongoing farmers’ protests in that country.

The export of paraquat is regulated under the Great Britain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) regulatory regime for the export and import of certain hazardous chemicals. Companies intending to export any of these chemicals from Great Britain must notify the importing country via the exporter’s Designated National Authority. For Great Britain the Designated National Authority is The Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Paraquat additionally requires the explicit consent of the importing country before export can take place. India allows the import of Paraquat and the exchange of information that PIC provides allows all countries to make informed decisions on the import of those chemicals and on how to handle and use them safely.

The farmers’ protests in India are a domestic matter for the Government of India.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
15th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to tackle illegal pavement parking.

We undertook a consultation on the options to tackle pavement parking outside London. We are currently working through the policy options and the possible legislative opportunities for delivering them and as soon as those matters are certain we will publish our formal response. I can assure you this is a priority for us and that we will announce next steps for policy as soon as possible.

The formal consultation response will be available to view at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1984, councils outside London have the power to prohibit pavement parking by introducing local laws through Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs); and the Department looks to local authorities to use these traffic management powers where problems occur.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of imposing a green levy on private jet flights.

The aviation sector, including business aviation, is important for the whole of the UK economy and supports connectivity, direct economic activity, trade, investment and jobs.

The Department is taking measures to reduce emissions from aviation. Its Jet Zero Strategy sets out how the sector can achieve net zero aviation by 2050 without requiring additional government interventions to limit aviation growth, by focusing on new fuels and technology.

28th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing signage at level-crossings to help tackle vehicle idling.

The Department has made no such assessment. Drivers are required to learn the Highway Code and rule 123 relates to unnecessary engine running. The rule states:

"You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Generally, if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution. However, it is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults.”

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve safety for (a) road users and (b) pedestrians in Ealing Central and Acton constituency.

Local authorities should always make personal and public safety a priority as they develop and deliver their Local Transport Plans. Local knowledge is required to determine what safety measures are appropriate in individual cases, making local authorities best placed to do this. Roads in London are the responsibility of TfL and London Boroughs.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he is taking steps to increase the provision of audio-visual announcements on local bus services for blind and partially sighted people.

We plan to require the provision of audible and visible information on local bus and coach services across Great Britain and intend to introduce the Accessible Information Regulations shortly.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
24th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of restarting the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme.

The Department for Transport is currently monitoring and evaluating the impacts of the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme. The Department and Active Travel England will continue to work closely with the cycling industry to take forward any recommendations resulting from the evaluation.

There are no plans to bring forward additional legislative proposals. The Government already supports affordable access to cycles through the Cycle to Work scheme. Active Travel England continues to fund local authority-led cycle loan and share schemes, and is implementing an e-cycle programme to provide e-cycle loan opportunities.

24th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing free bicycle lights to cyclists under the age of 18 in England.

The Department has no plans to examine this proposal.

18th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending the (a) scope of and (b) eligibility for (i) free and (ii) discounted student travel in the context of the cost of living crisis.

Local authorities already have the powers to extend both the scope and eligibility of free and discounted student travel if it makes sense in their area.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to take further steps to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points.

Publicly available chargepoints have more than tripled in less than four years, and the Government expects this growth to continue. The Government is projecting the installation ofat least ten times more public chargepoints across the UK by the end of the decade,, bringing the number to 300,000 by 2030, as set out in the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has taken recent steps to help encourage cyclists to (a) wear helmets and (b) turn on bicycle lights when cycling in the dark.

The THINK! road safety campaign promotes best practice in cycling, including wearing helmets and the correct use of bicycle lights.

The THINK! website also provides educational resources for children, such as Tales of the Road, which encourages helmet-wearing and reinforces the importance of using bicycle lights from a young age.

7th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the National Travel Survey: 2021, published August 2022, what assessment he has made of implications for his policies of the decreasing level of active travel in 2021 relative to 2020; and what steps he is taking to encourage more (a) walking and (b) cycling trips in (i) London and (ii) the rest of the UK.

We look carefully at long-term travel statistics when planning future transport needs. Whilst it is important to examine the period of the pandemic when doing so, it is also important to bear in mind that, for most people, travel then was very different to that in normal times.

The Government continues to support active travel and has invested unprecedented sums in walking and cycling since the start of the pandemic. In London, this is a matter for the Mayor, and the Department’s recent funding settlement with Transport for London will enable it to continue to invest in improving London's streets by investing over £80 million per year in schemes to enable more walking and cycling.

28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to take further steps to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points.

In March we published Taking Charge, our ambitious strategy for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure which aims to make charging an EV easier, simpler, cheaper and more convenient than refuelling a petrol or diesel car wherever you live.

We have already changed building regulations to require chargepoint infrastructure in new homes and residential buildings. In the coming months we will be taking forward the other measures outlined in the strategy. This includes the new £450 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund which will support local authorities, working with industry, to deliver chargepoints for drivers without off-street parking. We will also be reforming our Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme to focus on renters, leaseholders and those living in flats and expanding our workplace charging scheme.

6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to make it mandatory for drivers to report a collision with a cat.

The Government has made no assessment of the potential merits of introducing a legal requirement for drivers to stop and report collisions with cats. A focus for this Government is to make roads safer for all users, which will in turn reduce the risk to all animals.

Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a driver is required to stop and report an accident involving specified animals including horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs, but not cats or wild animals. This requirement arises from their status as working animals rather than as domestic pets. To introduce such a measure within the provision of section 170, would require primary legislation.

12th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has plans to introduce schemes for the funding of demand responsive transport in suburban areas.

Our Rural Mobility Fund supports suburban demand responsive transport pilots. Bus Service Improvement Plan funding will further support such schemes.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a frequent flyer levy.

Taxation is a matter for HM Treasury (HMT) which includes consideration of a frequent flyer levy.

Last year, the Government consulted on aviation tax reform and as part of this sought views on whether a frequent flyer levy could replace APD as the principal tax on the aviation sector.

Following the consultation, the Government published a response which outlined that it was minded to retain APD as the principal tax on the aviation sector.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will conduct a review of colour vision regulations for commercial pilots in the UK.

The DfT and the CAA have previously considered colour vision policy and are of the view that the current policy is fit for purpose. The current tests used to establish colour vision thresholds is scientifically validated and allows for significantly more colour deficient pilots to fly compared to historical tests. The UK regime is also more liberal compared to some European states.

The government remains committed to improving UK aviation policy and ensuring the aviation sector remains diverse and inclusive. However, all our decisions are evidence-based and there is currently no evidence indicating a change in policy in this area is necessary.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on what date he plans to bring forward legislation on prohibiting Russian vessels from entering UK ports.

Tuesday 1 March 2022. This was a vital measure to take in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Government has acted decisively.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
28th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of reports of airlines flying empty flights to retain slots; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of changing landing slot rights to prevent airlines flying planes empty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on air passenger demand. Following a review of the latest available evidence and consultation with the aviation industry, Ministers have decided that further alleviation from slot rules is necessary to support the aviation industry’s financial position, protect connectivity and reduce the risk that airlines operate environmentally damaging empty or near-empty flights.

While aviation demand remained considerably suppressed the rules requiring airlines to use slots in order to retain them were fully suspended for the Summer 2020, Winter 2020/21 and Summer 2021 seasons.

As the pandemic has gone on and aviation demand has increased, the Government wants to encourage recovery. In the Winter 2021/22 Season, which will last until 27 March 2022, we have set the usage requirement for slots at 50% and gave airlines the option of handing back slot series that they were not intending to use before the season started to allow other airlines to use them.

A draft Statutory Instrument setting out arrangements for Summer 2022 was published on 24 January 2022. To reduce the risk of airlines operating environmentally damaging empty or near-empty flights, this legislation includes an enhanced justified non-utilisation provision, meaning that airlines will not be required to operate slots where markets are substantively closed to passenger traffic.

The UK’s exit from the EU means that we have been able to take a more tailored approach that reflect the UK’s specific circumstances. Whilst these slot alleviation measures to avoid flying or near-empty flights to retain slots are only temporary, as part of the Government’s future aviation policy we are actively looking at permanent reform to the airport slot allocation process.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that guide dog owners are not illegally turned away by taxis.

Assistance dogs play a vital role in the lives of their owners, enabling them to live independently, confidently and safely. It is unacceptable that some taxi and PHV drivers continue to refuse them carriage.

Effective training is important for helping drivers to assist disabled passengers appropriately, and in December 2020, we launched the REAL training package of disability equality training to improve the transport sector’s confidence and skills in delivering inclusive journeys for disabled passengers.

The Government also remains committed to introducing mandatory disability awareness training for taxi and PHV drivers through new National Minimum Standards for licensing authorities when Parliamentary time allows.

In the meantime, we will shortly publish for consultation updated best practice guidance for local licensing authorities, including a strong recommendation that taxi and PHV drivers are required to complete disability awareness training.

19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending blue badge eligibility to people undergoing treatment for cancer.

The Blue Badge scheme is primarily about helping those with permanent mobility issues, access the goods and services they need to use. Applications are not dependent upon condition, but are based on the need of the applicant to park closer to their destination. Anyone may be entitled to a badge if they meet the eligibility criteria. The Department has recently made changes to the online application process to make it easier and quicker for some people with life limiting diagnoses to receive a badge.

18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 6 December 2021 to Question 84419 on Mexico: Coronavirus, what recent discussions he has had with his Mexican counterpart on reports that citizens of Mexico are unable to have their covid-19 vaccination status recognised by the UK.

As set out in the response on 6 December, the Government is taking a phased approach to the rollout of our inbound vaccination programme and will continue to work with international partners to expand the policy to more countries and territories where it is safe to do so. Vaccine certification between countries and territories varies considerably and the government has published minimum criteria on gov.uk that both digital and paper certificates must meet.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the level of carbon emissions produced by the UK's aviation industry; and what steps he is taking with that industry to reduce carbon emissions from air travel in the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy publishes UK greenhouse gas emissions figures annually, including domestic and international aviation emissions. The final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics from 1990 to 2019 were published in February 2021 and are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-1990-to-2019. It showed that in 2019, carbon dioxide emissions from UK domestic aviation were 1.4 Mt CO2e and carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation were 36.7 Mt CO2e.

The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions figures are due to be published on 1 February 2022.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation which sets out our vision for the aviation sector to reach net zero by 2050. We engaged with stakeholders extensively during the development of the consultation and are carefully considering consultation responses in the development of our final Jet Zero Strategy which we aim to publish later this year.

We are working closely with industry to reduce aviation emissions. We have established the Jet Zero Council, bringing together government, industry and academia to drive the delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions. We have been supporting the industry through £1.95bn of funding into aerospace R&D through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme and recently confirmed the continuation of funding for the ATI programme to 2031. We have also recently announced £180 million of new funding to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plants in the UK, building on the progress made through the previous Green Fuels Green Skies competition, and a £400 million partnership with Breakthrough Energy, through which SAF projects can bid for additional capital.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to encourage a transition towards greener modes of international transportation.

In July 2021 the department published its Transport Decarbonisation Plan that sets a credible pathway to achieving net zero emission in UK transport by 2050, and sets out our ambitions to achieve net zero in the international transport sectors of aviation and maritime. In aviation, we recently consulted on our vision for the sector to reach net zero by 2050 covering both international and domestic aviation, which focused on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel whilst maximising the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring to the UK. We will be publishing our final strategy later this year.

We continue to work closely with fellow Member States at the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization to reduce emissions from both sectors. To further drive the transition to net zero we have set the sixth carbon budget to include international aviation and shipping emissions, as recommended by our independent climate advisors, the Climate Change Committee.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of a failure to secure a long-term funding deal for Transport for London beyond 4 February 2022 on (a) bus and (b) tube services.

We have repeatedly shown our commitment to supporting London's transport network through the pandemic, providing more than £4bn in emergency funding to Transport for London to keep essential services running, to enable businesses to continue to operate and key workers to continue their critical work in the capital. This is in addition to this year’s Spending Review settlement for London, which provided over a billion pounds of capital investment per year, in line with previous funding.

The Government remains committed to providing further extraordinary funding to mitigate fare revenue loss as a result of the pandemic and ensuring all TfL services, including the bus and tube network, keep running in a way that is fair to the national tax payer. The current funding deal was only temporarily extended until February due to the Mayor being late in terms of providing future options.

30th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with his Mexican counterpart on reports that citizens of Mexico are unable to have their covid-19 vaccination status recognised by the UK.

The Government is taking a phased approach to the rollout of our inbound vaccination programme and will continue to work with international partners to expand the policy to more countries and territories where it is safe to do so. Vaccine certification between countries and territories varies considerably and the government has published minimum criteria on gov.uk that both digital and paper certificates must meet.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what cross-Departmental steps he is taking to help make electric cars more affordable for UK consumers.

We offer a range of measures to support the purchase of electric cars in the UK. The Plug in Car Grant (PiCG) provides up to £2,500 for those making the switch to electric driving. Government also offers generous tax incentives, including favourable company car tax rates confirmed until FY24/25, which can save drivers over £2,000 a year. We have also put in place a tax regime that rewards the cleanest vehicles. Building on the £1.9 billion from Spending Review 2020, the Government has committed an additional £620 million to support the transition to electric vehicles. This will support greater uptake of zero emission vehicles for greener journeys. Electric car drivers also benefit from comparatively cheaper running costs. Once fuel costs and tax incentives are factored in, we expect the total cost of ownership to reach parity during the 2020s, compared to petrol and diesel cars. It costs from 1p per mile to run a new electric vehicle, compared to around 10p per mile for new diesel or petrol vehicles.

15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to make electric car charging points more widely accessible.

We are investing over £1.3 billion in accelerating the roll out of charging infrastructure over the next four years to give more drivers the confidence to make the switch to electric driving. This funding will target support on rapid chargepoints on motorways and major roads, and installing more on-street chargepoints near homes and workplaces to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car. Our grant schemes and the £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more electric vehicle charge-points installed across the UK.

In the forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy government will define our vision for the continued roll-out of a world-leading charging infrastructure network across the UK. The strategy will focus on how we will unlock the chargepoint rollout needed to enable the transition from early adoption to mass market uptake of electric vehicles and to achieve the 2030/2035 phase out successfully. It will clearly establish government’s expectations for the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in the planning and deployment of charging infrastructure

16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the result of the Government's consultation on pavement parking by the end of October 2021.

We are giving careful consideration to the large volume of responses to this consultation and will publish the outcome as soon as possible.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward a road freight recovery plan based on the input of (a) training providers, (b) examiners, (c) businesses, (d) industry bodies, and (e) trade unions.

The Government is in regular dialogue with businesses, industry bodies, trade unions, training providers and examiners on a range of issues affecting the road freight sector.

We continue to support the industry in addressing its labour market challenges through apprenticeships and training and diversifying the demographic of its workforce. We continue to lead on issues such as the availability of driving tests and improving the quality and supply of facilities and overnight lorry parking.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what comparative assessment he has made of the potential effect of moving Brazil from the red list for international covid-19 travel restrictions to the amber list with India's placement on the amber list.

The traffic light system categorises countries, based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.

All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. The country allocations are reviewed on a three weekly cycle and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving Colombia from the red list to the amber list for international covid-19 travel restrictions.

The traffic light system categorises countries, based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.

All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. The country allocations are reviewed on a three weekly cycle and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving South Africa from the red list for international covid-19 travel restrictions to the amber list for international covid-19 travel restrictions.

The traffic light system categorises countries, based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.

All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. The country allocations are reviewed on a three weekly cycle and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of ensuring provision of tactile paving across all Network Rail stations by 2025.

We have accepted the Rail Accident Investigation Board’s recommendations in the Eden Park report in full, and we are working with Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of rail fares in England; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of taking steps to reduce rail fares in real terms.

No decision has been made on national rail fares for 2022. The Government is considering a variety of options and we will announce our decision in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to publish the result of the Government's consultation on pavement parking by the end of September 2021.

The Department will publish the consultation response as soon as possible.

20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the Government's full review of all driving offences and penalties will be published.

The Government takes road safety seriously and keeps the law under regular review. However, we do not currently have any plans to conduct a full review of all driving offences and penalties.

7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the three-stop limit for hauliers on those working with touring musicians and events across the EU.

Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU UK hauliers can undertake up to 2 additional laden journeys within the EU after a laden international journey from the UK, with a maximum of 1 cabotage movement outside Ireland.

The TCA ensures that the vast majority of haulage operations will continue as they did before the end of the transition period.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether officials in his Department are taking steps with international counterparts to introduce an international covid-19 vaccine passport to enable the safe resumption of travel.

As set out in the Global Travel Taskforce report, our ambition is to have a system in place to facilitate travel certification for international travel. Any solution for international travel certification needs to be user friendly, interoperable with various other systems and able to facilitate a quick interaction at the border. We are continuing to progress work to explore the testing of technology solutions with multilateral organisations and international partners to ensure these can operate effectively at scale as international travel recovers.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of making targeted financial support available for travel businesses for as long as covid-19 restrictions continue to remain in place for the travel industry.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances aviation and associated business face as a result of Covid-19. Firms, across the economy, that are experiencing difficulties have been able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor. This includes support through loan guarantees, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The extension of Government-backed loans and furlough payments announced at the Budget build on the support package available and will help ensure this vital and vibrant part of the UK economy is ready to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic.

We continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his timetable is for publishing the results of his Department’s pavement parking consultation which closed on 22 November 2020.

The Department received over 15,000 responses to the consultation. We are carefully considering the consultation findings and will be publishing a response when we have completed this work, which is a priority.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals for a default 20mph motor vehicle speed limit for urban areas in the UK.

The Department published a comprehensive three-year evaluation of the effect of 20mph signed-only limits on 22 November 2018.

The research substantially strengthens the evidence base on perceptions, speeds and early outcomes associated with 20mph speed limits, and is the only major UK study to consider multiple case study areas and provide a national view.

The headline findings were:

  • 20mph limits are supported by the majority of residents and drivers
  • There has been a small reduction in median speed (less than 1mph).
  • Vehicles travelling at higher speeds before the introduction of the 20mph limit have reduced their speed more than those already travelling at lower speeds.
  • There is insufficient evidence to conclude that that there has been a significant change in collisions and casualties following the introduction of 20mph limits in residential areas.
  • In one city centre case study there has been a significant reduction in collisions and casualties.
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his Department's traffic light system for international travel, what the scientific criteria is for determining whether a country is rated green, amber or red.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors. Key factors in the JBC risk assessment of each country include genomic surveillance capability, COVID-19 transmission risk and Variant of Concern transmission risk. A summary of the JBC methodology has been published on GOV.UK, alongside key data that supports ministers’ decisions.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that people returning from red list, amber list and green list cou