Ruth Jones Portrait

Ruth Jones

Labour - Newport West

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

(since August 2020)
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee
11th May 2020 - 21st Sep 2020
Environmental Audit Committee
8th May 2019 - 6th Nov 2019


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

I had a good trip up to Newcastle-under-Lyme recently to meet residents and the pressure group Stop the Stink and …

Written Answers
Friday 23rd July 2021
Newport Wafer Fab: Nexperia
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations (a) he and (b) other member …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 7th January 2020
Australia bushfire crisis
That this House acknowledges that the Commonwealth of Australia is fighting one of its worst bushfire seasons, fuelled by record-breaking …
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
On 23 April 2019, I received £7,803.40 from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 14 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4ED, for …
EDM signed
Thursday 18th March 2021
Agriculture
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Ruth Jones has voted in 353 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Ruth Jones 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
Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(76 debate interactions)
Victoria Prentis (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(19 debate interactions)
Alan Whitehead (Labour)
Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(19 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(23 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(18 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Ruth Jones's debates

Newport West 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 Newport West signature proportion
Petitions with most Newport West signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

During the pandemic government workers have delivered vital public services and kept our country safe and secure. After ten years in which the real value of civil service pay has fallen, many face hardship. The Government must start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10% increase in 2020.

The government is helping private firms to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages through this crisis. If it can do this why can it not help key workers who will be putting themselves/their families at risk and working extra hard under extremely challenging and unprecedented circumstances.


Latest EDMs signed by Ruth Jones

18th March 2021
Ruth Jones signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 18th March 2021

Agriculture

Tabled by: Keir Starmer (Labour - Holborn and St Pancras)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I., 2021, No. 158), dated 15 February 2021, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16 February 2021, be annulled.
10 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 9
Green Party: 1
14th January 2021
Ruth Jones signed this EDM on Monday 18th January 2021

Godfrey Colin Cameron

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting covid-19; extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 117
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Ruth Jones's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Ruth Jones, 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.


Ruth Jones has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Ruth Jones has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Ruth Jones has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Ruth Jones has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


590 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
14 Other Department Questions
30th Jun 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate the Commission has made of the cost to the public purse of the House of Commons energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The cost of energy usage for the House of Commons in 2019, 2020 and 2021 is as follows:

2019 was £5,021,736 – which comprised

Electricity £3,779,328
Gas £896,753
Water £345,655

2020 was £4,564,901 – which comprised

Electricity £3,925,822
Gas £419,870
Water £199,209

2021 estimate is £5,278,854 – comprising

Electricity £4,315,496
Gas £553,674
Water £409,684

Estimate was based on full occupation and Energy price increases.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with local government on the Government’s consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Government consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace focussed on ensuring that laws to protect people from harassment at work are operating effectively. We received 133 responses to our technical consultation, including from the LGA and a range of trade unions.

We have considered all of the responses received and listened carefully to the experiences shared through this consultation. We will be setting out the Government’s response shortly, and officials continue to engage with a range of stakeholders as they consider next steps.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with the trade unions on the Government’s consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Government consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace focussed on ensuring that laws to protect people from harassment at work are operating effectively. We received 133 responses to our technical consultation, including from the LGA and a range of trade unions.

We have considered all of the responses received and listened carefully to the experiences shared through this consultation. We will be setting out the Government’s response shortly, and officials continue to engage with a range of stakeholders as they consider next steps.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent progress she has made on publishing the Government’s response to its consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Government consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace focussed on ensuring that laws to protect people from harassment at work are operating effectively. We received 133 responses to our technical consultation, including from the LGA and a range of trade unions.

We have considered all of the responses received and listened carefully to the experiences shared through this consultation. We will be setting out the Government’s response shortly, and officials continue to engage with a range of stakeholders as they consider next steps.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent assessment she has made of the accuracy of the data and evidence used in the March 2021 report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

The independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities took an evidence-led approach, using quantitative data and qualitative research drawn from a number of sources which are referenced throughout the document. This includes statistical datasets derived from the Race Disparity Unit’s ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ website, other Government sources and a range of already published analysis from within and outside Government.

The Government is currently considering the Commission’s report and the evidence it considered in shaping its recommendations, and we will respond later in the summer.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, when he last spoke to President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

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

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
1st Mar 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on preparations for COP26.

The UK Government is working with the Welsh Government, alongside the other Devolved Administrations to ensure an inclusive and ambitious COP26 for the whole of the UK. I met with the Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs when I chaired the first meeting of the COP26 Devolved Administrations Ministerial Group on 6 November 2020. We discussed the UK Presidency objectives for COP26 and public and stakeholder engagement. The next meeting is scheduled this month. There is also ongoing official level engagement with the Welsh Government on COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the President of COP26, how much the Government has spent on preparations for COP26 since (a) 1 January 2020 and (b) 1 January 2021.

Discussions on costs for COP26 are currently ongoing, and final budgets are yet to be confirmed. After the event, spend will be reported in the usual way.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what recent steps he has taken to promote tackling biodiversity loss alongside climate action as part of COP26 preparations.

Through our COP26 Nature Campaign, we are advancing work in four core areas: tackling the drivers of deforestation, promoting sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture, mobilising increased and more targeted finance for nature, and driving political ambition on nature.

We have already made good progress. For example, the UK pioneered the ‘Leaders’ Pledge for Nature’, which now has over 80 signatories. The pledge sets out ten urgent actions to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030 and cements the links between biodiversity loss and climate change.

More recently, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will commit at least £3 billion to climate change solutions that protect and restore nature and biodiversity over five years.

We have also established the FACT (Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade) Dialogue to protect forests and biodiversity, while promoting trade.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what recent assessment he has made of progress towards (a) limiting global heating to well below 2°C and (b) limiting heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

We have seen significant momentum on climate ambition in recent months, with the likes of China, Japan and South Korea committing to net zero emissions and over 40 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) being submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to date.

However, it is clear that more needs to be done to close the gap to the Paris Agreement temperature goals. As the incoming COP President, I will continue to press all parties to increase their climate commitments to the highest level of ambition possible.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on tackling online abuse targeted at women.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions across government departments, on a variety of issues, including online abuse targeted at women. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the gov.uk website. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not usually disclosed.

The full government response to the Online Harms White Paper sets out how the proposed legal duty of care on online companies will work in practice. Under the new laws, all companies will need to take swift and effective action against illegal online abuse. If any company fails to tackle illegal content, or if companies providing Category 1 services fail to enforce their terms and conditions, they could face an investigation and enforcement action.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, what plans he has to appoint a Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave on 22 September to my Hon Friend the Hon Member for Romford and the Hon Member for Glasgow North.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to improve mental health support for veterans in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and c) the UK.

The Government is taking a number of measures to improve mental health support for veterans across the UK. From the beginning of service in the Armed Forces, personnel now undergo ‘through-life’ psychological resilience training, and upon leaving they have access to the Defence Transition Service (DTS), launched in October 2019. The DTS provides support for Service leavers and families who are the most likely to face challenges during transition to civilian life, including an impact on their mental health.

Wherever they live in the UK, all veterans are able to receive specialist mental health support if they need it. As healthcare is a devolved matter, further questions regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be addressed to the relevant devolved administration.

As well as the statutory services delivered by the NHS, the Government provides funding to a range of charity and third sector organisations, through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and, most recently, a £6 million emergency COVID-19 Impact Fund. This funding has supported fantastic organisations across the four nations to deliver services to support the mental and physical wellbeing of veterans.

We are also investing in research, to improve our understanding of mental health amongst serving and ex-service personnel. This includes a recent study looking at the impact of COVID-19 on veterans and a long term veterans study examining a range of mental health and wellbeing factors; both of these are led by Kings College. A further two studies will contribute to improving the data and understanding around suicide; the first examining the cause of death, including suicide in members of the Armed Forces who have served since 2001 and a further study looking at the events in the 12 months leading up to known suicides in the last five years of anyone from the Armed Forces community.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The following table sets out the total expenditure on energy (£) by the Government Legal Department (GLD) including HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). These figures are published as part of each Department’s respective annual reports.

Total Expenditure on Energy (£)

Financial year

GLD + HMCPSI

CPS

SFO

2018-19

568,725

757,000

135,000

2019-20

672,193

657,000

174,000

2020-21

333,033

357,000

Awaiting National Audit Office approval

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is unable to provide this information. As published in the HM Procurator General and Treasury Solicitor Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20, ‘The AGO occupies shared accommodation in 5-8 The Sanctuary, London and it is not possible to separately identify their energy or water consumption or recycling of waste’.

The AGO has recently moved, all accommodation interests are now managed through the Government Property Agency (GPA) and that body will publish any sustainability data in relation to the AGOs occupation within 102 Petty France, London.

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the effectiveness of the CPS in prosecuting cases involving domestic violence.

The CPS takes cases of domestic abuse extremely seriously, and is determined to bring perpetrators to justice and provide victims with the greatest possible protection from repeat offending.

In 2019, the CPS – together with the police and HM Court and Tribunals Service – led the implementation of a national domestic abuse best practice framework for magistrates’ court cases. This aims to ensure consistent good practice by criminal justice agencies involved in domestic abuse casework, from investigation through to court. For example, it encourages more timely court listings and the provision of holistic support for victims, so that they are helped through both the criminal justice process and with wider issues, such as housing and finances.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the protection of human rights in the UK.

The United Kingdom has a long tradition of ensuring rights and liberties are protected domestically and of fulfilling its international human rights obligations. The decision to leave the European Union does not change this. We fully intend to maintain our leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what steps the CPS is taking to improve the prosecution rate of people responsible for forced marriages.

The CPS takes the prosecution of forced marriage seriously. Each CPS Area has a lead prosecutor on forced marriage who works closely with the police and other prosecutors. The CPS’s legal guidance on forced marriage assists prosecutors and is reviewed regularly. For example, it was revised last year to address cases where the victim lacks capacity to consent to marriage. Since April 2019, the joint police and CPS forced marriage working group has developed training for prosecutors and agreed a protocol for the investigation and prosecution of forced marriage. The CPS is also working with stakeholders to identify and address the obstacles to the prosecution of forced marriage.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of the Cabinet Office, what his planned timetable is for the conclusion of Sir Stephen Lovegrove's review into the sale of Newport Wafer Fab.

The Government does not comment on national security matters.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

We continually review the waste generated on our estate and work with our commercial colleagues on circular economy principles to reduce the amount of waste that arrives on our sites. Where we can’t avoid this we work with our suppliers to move any waste we generate up the waste hierarchy.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his policy is on rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products in 10 Downing Street; and if he will make a statement.

We continually review the waste generated on our estate and work with our commercial colleagues on circular economy principles to reduce the amount of waste that arrives on our sites. Where we can’t avoid this we work with our suppliers to move any waste we generate up the waste hierarchy.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether any Government Ministers have discussed Government contracts on their private email addresses.

I refer the hon. Member to my response on 28 June 2021.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much was spent from the public purse on settling 75 per cent of the costs of Good Law Project vs Cabinet Office, case CO2437/2020.

Final costs will be determined in due course.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of trading arrangements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given in Oral Questions for the Cabinet Office on 11 February. Guidance and published information are available on gov.uk. (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-02-11/debates/6E3520D6-EB1E-4576-9D40-954A467494C9/TradeUKAndEU)

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the trading arrangements between the UK and the EU.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given in Oral Questions for the Cabinet Office on 11 February. Guidance and published information are available on gov.uk. (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-02-11/debates/6E3520D6-EB1E-4576-9D40-954A467494C9/TradeUKAndEU)

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
23rd 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. Member to the answers given in Oral Questions for the Cabinet Office on 11 February. Guidance and published information are available on gov.uk. (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-02-11/debates/6E3520D6-EB1E-4576-9D40-954A467494C9/TradeUKAndEU)

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
25th Jan 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 UK businesses opening new firms in the EU single market on levels of employment in the UK.

I refer the Hon Member to the response I gave to PQ132802 on 30 December 2020.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to increase funding for unconscious bias training.

There is no central budget for unconscious bias training specifically. Instead, departments are able to access a blend of free at point of access online learning, and learning purchased through current contracts. The information requested on spend is therefore not held centrally.


Further to the statement on 15 December, standalone Unconscious Bias training has been removed from Civil Service learning platforms.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much the Government has spent on unconscious bias training in each of the last 10 years.

There is no central budget for unconscious bias training specifically. Instead, departments are able to access a blend of free at point of access online learning, and learning purchased through current contracts. The information requested on spend is therefore not held centrally.


Further to the statement on 15 December, standalone Unconscious Bias training has been removed from Civil Service learning platforms.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate his Department has made of the number of women who have left the workforce as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to improve electoral registration levels among young voters.

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have statutory responsibility for maintaining complete and accurate registers for their areas. The Government is committed to encouraging democratic engagement amongst all electors, including young people and BAME individuals.

Since 2013/14, the Government has provided more than £27m to fund activities to promote electoral registration and democratic engagement more widely.

The Government is working with the electoral sector, including the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and Public Health England, to identify and resolve challenges involved in delivering the May 2021 elections, including ensuring polling stations are safe and COVID-secure places to vote.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the May 2021 elections can be carried out safely in the event that the covid-19 outbreak is ongoing.

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have statutory responsibility for maintaining complete and accurate registers for their areas. The Government is committed to encouraging democratic engagement amongst all electors, including young people and BAME individuals.

Since 2013/14, the Government has provided more than £27m to fund activities to promote electoral registration and democratic engagement more widely.

The Government is working with the electoral sector, including the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and Public Health England, to identify and resolve challenges involved in delivering the May 2021 elections, including ensuring polling stations are safe and COVID-secure places to vote.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to improve voting levels among Black, Asian and minority ethnic voters.

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have statutory responsibility for maintaining complete and accurate registers for their areas. The Government is committed to encouraging democratic engagement amongst all electors, including young people and BAME individuals.

Since 2013/14, the Government has provided more than £27m to fund activities to promote electoral registration and democratic engagement more widely.

The Government is working with the electoral sector, including the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and Public Health England, to identify and resolve challenges involved in delivering the May 2021 elections, including ensuring polling stations are safe and COVID-secure places to vote.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that civil servants in public-facing roles are able to work safely during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has also been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during Covid-19. In addition, a Workplace Incident Framework, developed with trade unions, sets out the activity that must take place when an individual develops Covid-19.

Departments are working closely with individuals to ensure their personal circumstances are fully factored into decisions about their working arrangements. This includes supporting ethnic minority individuals based on their particular circumstances and ensuring they have the right to challenge a proposed return to the workplace if they have concerns, to have those concerns properly considered and addressed and to not return where they feel this has not been done.

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 for temporary agency workers have been put in place, including a payment scheme to support the pay of temporary agency workers who cannot work for reasons associated with Covid-19 (up to the value of 80% of their salary to a cap of £2,500 per month) and the use of virtual pre-employment screening checks and interviews.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the risk to BAME (a) civil servants and (b) contracted workers working in Government Departments of (i) contracting and (ii) spreading covid-19.

Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has also been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during Covid-19. In addition, a Workplace Incident Framework, developed with trade unions, sets out the activity that must take place when an individual develops Covid-19.

Departments are working closely with individuals to ensure their personal circumstances are fully factored into decisions about their working arrangements. This includes supporting ethnic minority individuals based on their particular circumstances and ensuring they have the right to challenge a proposed return to the workplace if they have concerns, to have those concerns properly considered and addressed and to not return where they feel this has not been done.

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 for temporary agency workers have been put in place, including a payment scheme to support the pay of temporary agency workers who cannot work for reasons associated with Covid-19 (up to the value of 80% of their salary to a cap of £2,500 per month) and the use of virtual pre-employment screening checks and interviews.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent progress the Government has made on negotiating the UK's future relationship with the EU.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 39669 on 4 May 2020.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
1st May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of life expectancy.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the length of the transition period following the outbreak of covid-19 in Europe.

The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law. Our preparations for the end of the transition period continue as normal and remain a priority.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last met with representatives of the Wales Trades Union Congress.

The UK Government is committed to building back better from the pandemic as one United Kingdom. Ministers and officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy engage regularly with the trade unions on a variety of issues.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of Tesco and Sainsbury's continuing to ask shoppers to wear masks in their stores in England after 19 July 2021; and if he will make a statement.

On Monday 5 July, my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister set out the Covid-19 Response: Summer 2021 plan for living with Covid from 19 July. Lifting restrictions does not mean the risks from Covid-19 have disappeared. However, at this new phase of the pandemic response, we are moving to an approach that enables personal risk-based judgments. The Working Safely guidance is clear that wearing a face covering can still help to reduce risk of transmission of the virus. Therefore, we recommend people to continue to wear face coverings once the legal restrictions are lifted, particularly in crowded and enclosed places, when they are likely to come into contact with people they do not normally meet.

Businesses are free to determine their own face coverings policy based on a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of Covid-19 in the workplace and identify control measures to manage that risk. Businesses must take equalities law into account when determining their entry policies. Employees and customers who wish to wear a face covering should be supported to do so.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations (a) he and (b) other member of the Government have received from Chinese Government on the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab.

Ministers engage regularly with their colleagues on a range of issues, such as the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab. The Government does not comment on the content of these conversations.

The Government does not comment on the detail of commercial transactions or of national security assessments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has carried out an impact assessment of the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab; and if he will make a statement.

Ministers engage regularly with their colleagues on a range of issues, such as the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab. The Government does not comment on the content of these conversations.

The Government does not comment on the detail of commercial transactions or of national security assessments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last discussed the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab with the leadership of Newport City Council.

Ministers engage regularly with their colleagues on a range of issues, such as the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab. The Government does not comment on the content of these conversations.

The Government does not comment on the detail of commercial transactions or of national security assessments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last discussed the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab with the Welsh Government.

Ministers engage regularly with their colleagues on a range of issues, such as the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab. The Government does not comment on the content of these conversations.

The Government does not comment on the detail of commercial transactions or of national security assessments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has had discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive on the potential merits of setting a target for marine energy ahead of COP26.

The Department regularly meets with the Northern Ireland Executive to discuss a range of issues.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has had discussions with the Scottish Government on the potential merits of setting a target for marine energy ahead of COP26.

The Department regularly meets with the Scottish Government to discuss a range of issues.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has had discussions with the Welsh Government on the potential merits of setting a target for marine energy ahead of COP26.

The Department regularly meets with the Welsh Government to discuss a range of issues.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

BEIS is committed to reducing our waste and increasing recycling, and has a zero waste to landfill policy. Between 2009/10 and 2019/20 we reduced waste by 30% and increased recycling by 44% at the Department’s headquarters building at 1 Victoria Street, London. Our departmental target is to reduce our overall waste by a further 25% and increase recycling to 70% of total waste by 2024/25.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The table below shows the cost of energy usage at the Department’s headquarters building at 1 Victoria Street, London.

2019

2020

2021a

Gas

£89,678b

£104,480

£84,688

Electricity

£808,418

£623,631

£220,292

The increase in the cost of gas in 2020 reflects a requirement to increase the flow of fresh air into the building as part of our COVID measures.

The increase in fresh air circulation lowered temperatures in the building, which had to be balanced by increased heating.

a 2021 includes energy costs from January to May inclusive

b 2019 gas cost includes an estimate for February

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to phase out unabated natural gas from the power sector.

As we transition to net zero emissions by 2050, our record levels of investment in renewables will meet a large part of the energy demand. Unabated natural gas will continue to provide a reliable and flexible source of energy, ensuring security of supply whilst we develop and deploy low carbon alternatives that can replicate its role in the electricity system.

In order to meet our ambitious decarbonisation targets for the electricity system, we are taking steps to bring forward alternative low carbon technologies which will help us to reduce the reliance on unabated gas-powered electricity generation steadily. For example, in the Energy White Paper (published last year), government announced that it will support the deployment of at least one power plant with carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) to be operational by 2030, and that it will also consult in 2021 on its Carbon Capture and Readiness requirements to ensure that new thermal plants can convert to low-carbon alternatives. Government is developing business models to incentivise the deployment of CCUS in the UK.

Additionally, we are exploring policy frameworks to support the deployment of low carbon hydrogen, as well flexibility tools such as demand reduction, demand side response, and storage, which likewise have the potential to reduce reliance on unabated natural gas in the power sector.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Wales on the potential merits of a new industrial strategy.

We are keen to ensure we build back better in a way that supports the whole economy and delivers for all parts of the UK. Our Plan for Growth sets out the opportunities we will seize across the UK to drive economic growth, create jobs and support British industry as we level-up and build back better out of this pandemic – succeeding the Industrial Strategy published over four years ago.

We want to understand the ideas and priorities of the Devolved Administrations in relation to driving long-term growth and recovery. The Plan for Growth will support our efforts to unite and level up the country: tackling geographic disparities; supporting struggling towns to regenerate; ensuring every region and nation of the UK has at least one globally competitive city; and strengthening the Union.

Over the next 12 months BEIS will follow up the plan for growth with an Innovation Strategy, as well as strategies for net zero, hydrogen and space. We will also develop a vision for high-growth sectors and technologies, putting the UK at the forefront of opportunities and giving businesses the confidence to invest, boost productivity across the UK and enable our transition to net zero.

We are working across government and with our Innovation Expert Group to develop the Innovation Strategy. It will outline our ambitions in innovation and where we want to focus our efforts over the next decade; and the importance of research and innovation to levelling up and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that R&D benefits the economy and society in nations, regions and local areas across the UK. Following the publication of the Strategy, the government will continue engaging in detail with businesses of all types to build our ambitious innovation agenda.

We are working to strengthen the Union to ensure that the institutions and the power of the United Kingdom are used in a way that benefits people in every part of our country. Levelling up represents an important part of the government’s ambitions for R&D and innovation, building on the approach set out in the R&D Roadmap.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to support the steel industry in Wales.

The Government is committed to a UK steel industry and a decarbonised future, supporting local economic growth and our levelling-up agenda. That is why the Government has provided over £500 million to the sector in recent years to help with the costs of electricity as well as announced a £250m Clean Steel Fund to support the sector’s transition to lower carbon iron and steel production. Moreover, our unprecedented package of COVID-19 support remains available to protect jobs and ensure that the industry has the right support during this challenging time.

The Government fully recognises the importance of steelmaking in Wales. In July 2020, the Government provided Celsa with a commercial loan, which secured over 1000 jobs, including more than 800 positions at the company’s main sites in South Wales. We also continue to work closely with Tata as it shapes its business strategy to support the future of high-quality steelmaking in Port Talbot.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last discussed the climate emergency with Ministers in the Welsh Government.

The UK Government and the devolved administrations have established an Inter-ministerial Group that covers Net Zero, Energy and Climate Change. This meets at least bi-monthly and brings together Ministers from the four administrations to discuss emission reduction efforts across the UK. The most recent meeting of the Group was in April.

This intergovernmental engagement on net zero will continue to facilitate collaboration and coordination across devolved and reserved competence, ensuring we are delivering effectively for all parts of the UK.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last discussed the climate emergency with Ministers in the Scottish Government.

The UK Government and the devolved administrations have established an Inter-ministerial Group that covers Net Zero, Energy and Climate Change. This meets at least bi-monthly and brings together Ministers from the four administrations to discuss emission reduction efforts across the UK. The most recent meeting of the Group was in April.

This intergovernmental engagement on net zero will continue to facilitate collaboration and coordination across devolved and reserved competence, ensuring we are delivering effectively for all parts of the UK.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last discussed the climate emergency with Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.

The UK Government and the devolved administrations have established an Inter-ministerial Group that covers Net Zero, Energy and Climate Change. This meets at least bi-monthly and brings together Ministers from the four administrations to discuss emission reduction efforts across the UK. The most recent meeting of the Group in April.

This intergovernmental engagement on net zero will continue to facilitate collaboration and coordination across devolved and reserved competence, ensuring we are delivering effectively for all parts of the UK.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to achieve the net zero emissions target.

The UK has achieved record clean growth - between 1990 and 2019, our economy grew by 78% while our emissions decreased by 44%, this is the fastest rate in the G7. We have built on this, setting out concrete steps to reach net zero by 2050, for instance through my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan which brought together £12 billion of government investment, our Energy White Paper and Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy.

The Government has also laid legislation for the UK’s sixth carbon budget, proposing a target which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, marking a decisive step towards net zero by 2050.

Ahead of COP26, we will bring forward further bold proposals, including a Net Zero Strategy, to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country – going further and faster towards building a stronger, more resilient future and protecting our planet for this generation and those to come.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ringfence levies paid by the steel sector into the EU Research Fund for Coal and Steel and returned from the EU to the public purse for the establishment of a steel innovation fund.

At last year’s Spending Review, we set out plans for Government spending for 2021/22, to prioritise the Government’s response to Covid-19, and our focus on supporting jobs.

The Government recognises the importance of research and innovation in helping to transform the steel sector so that it can play a vital role in developing the UK’s economy. Our on-going support to the sector includes announcing £22m to the Materials Processing Institute in Teesside to deliver a R&D programme of transformative manufacturing, announcing a £250m Clean Steel Fund that to support the transition of the steel sector to new low carbon technologies, providing up to £66m through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help steel and other foundation industries develop radical new technologies and establish innovation centres of excellence in these sectors, and the £315m  Industrial Energy Transformation Fund which supports the development and deployment of technologies to transition to a low carbon future.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the need to support UK manufacturing capacity for vehicle batteries to avoid future tariffs on electric vehicles under the rules of the UK-EU free trade agreement.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for zero tariff zero quota trade, with modern rules of origin for the automotive sector that reflect UK manufacturing and are designed to support the industry through its transition to electrification. The phased approach to rules of origin for batteries gives industry time to localise supply chains for electrified vehicles.

The Government has prioritised securing investment in battery cell gigafactories, which is key for anchoring the mass manufacture of electric vehicles, safeguarding and creating high quality jobs across the UK, and driving emissions to net zero by 2050.

As part of my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, nearly £500m of funding for the Automotive Transformation Fund will be made available in the next four years to build an internationally competitive electric vehicle supply chain. This is a UK-wide programme, and we are welcoming applications for support from businesses and investors across the country.

We continue to work closely with investors to progress plans for manufacturing the batteries that we will need for the next generation of electric vehicles here in the UK.

The Government is also investing £318m, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in the Faraday Battery Challenge, to put the UK at the global forefront of the design, development, manufacturing, and recycling of electric batteries.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to meet the Government's net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

The UK has decarbonised its economy at the fastest rate amongst G20 countries since 2000. My Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution will build on this success and accelerate our path to net zero. Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030, level up regions across the UK, and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs.

Ahead of COP26, we will set out ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy to meet our carbon budgets and net zero. We have recently published the Energy White Paper and the first phase of our Transport Decarbonisation Plan, and will publish the Heat and Building Strategy in due course. We will also publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy setting out the government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to support businesses that have become heavily indebted during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided an unprecedented business support package totalling over £280 billion. This includes billions in loans, grants, and business rates relief. As of 21 February 2021, businesses across the UK have benefitted from over 1.5 million Government-guaranteed loans worth over £72 billion to support their cashflow through the pandemic.

We recognise that some borrowers will benefit from repayment flexibility, that is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures, which give Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans.

We have also enabled lenders to extend the repayment period for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities beyond 6 years (up to a maximum of 10 years), where this is needed in connection with the provision of forbearance. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders. This measure is designed to help businesses that would struggle to repay their CBILS facility on their existing terms, by reducing monthly repayments.

Grant funding has also been made available via Local Authorities to help businesses forced to close due to national and localised restrictions, and for businesses severely impacted by restrictions even if not required to close. This includes the Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP), the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), and the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) schemes.

Businesses can also access tailored advice through the Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through local Growth Hubs in England.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on UK Government support for businesses that have become heavily indebted during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK Government is committed to supporting people, businesses and individuals across the devolved administrations. This includes a total of £19 billion in funding for the devolved administrations since the start of the pandemic, meaning at least £5.9 billion for the Welsh Government. Following discussions with the devolved administrations, additional funding totalling £729m has been provided to allow each of the devolved administrations to provide further support to businesses on a discretionary basis.

The devolved administrations have also benefitted from UK-wide support programmes, including through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and business lending schemes.

As of 21 February 2021, the Government’s UK-wide lending schemes have approved over 1.5 million Government-guaranteed loans worth over £72 billion to support cashflow for businesses across the UK affected by COVID-19.

We recognise that some borrowers will benefit from repayment flexibility, and that is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures, which give Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans.

We have also enabled lenders to extend the repayment period for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities beyond 6 years (up to a maximum of 10 years) where this is needed in connection with the provision of forbearance. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders. This measure is designed to help businesses that would struggle to repay their CBILS facility on their existing terms, by reducing monthly repayments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the resources available to vaccine manufacturers seeking to keep up with emerging variants of covid-19.

The Government is undertaking laboratory work as a priority to better understand the impact of the new Covid-19 variants on the vaccines currently in deployment, in particular the risk of vaccine resistance. We maintain close contact with vaccine developers to understand their efficacy studies of their vaccines on variants and the impact on current supply chain arrangements for their manufacture.

We continue to take a portfolio-based approach that monitors the landscape of Covid-19 vaccine development and we remain confident that the three vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, and Moderna) that we have purchased, which have been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, will continue to be effective against the virus.

The Government has also established a new partnership with the vaccine manufacturer, CureVac, to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new Covid-19 variants, should this be needed. The new agreement will utilise UK expertise on genomics and virus sequencing to allow new varieties of vaccines based on messenger RNA technology to be developed quickly against new strains of Covid-19 if they are needed. An initial order has been made for 50 million doses.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, when he last spoke to An Taoiseach; and if he will make a statement.

This information is available on the gov.uk website.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with the devolved Administrations on the effectiveness of unconscious bias training.

The Government recognises that it is important to tackle bias in workplaces and in wider society. The Government Equalities Office commissioned a review of the evidence on unconscious bias and diversity training. The review showed that there is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality. In 2018 GEO published evidence-based advice for employers on actions they could take to reduce bias within their organisations. The issue has not recently been discussed with the Devolved Administrations.

An internal review decided in January 2020 that unconscious bias training would be phased out in Civil Service departments. The Civil Service will instead integrate principles for inclusion and diversity into mainstream core training and leadership modules in a manner which facilitates positive behaviour change.

The government is making progress in understanding what works to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparities demonstrates this government’s commitment to level up opportunity for everyone, to better understand disparities and their causes, and will be making evidence-based recommendations to address them. Employment and Enterprise is one of the four priority areas for the Commission. Further, our recent work with the large insurer, Zurich, demonstrated a 16% rise in female applicants for all jobs when advertising all jobs available as flexible. This is one of many trials in our Gender and Behavioural Insights Programme that is at the heart of our commitment to build workplace equality through insights and evidence.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the effect of the collapse of the Arcadia Group on employees of that company in Newport West constituency.

We understand this will be deeply worrying news for Arcadia’s employees and their families in the Newport West constituency, and the Government stands ready to support them. BEIS officials met with their counterparts from the Welsh Government on 4th December when the situation at Arcadia was discussed. I want to pay particular tribute to the hard-working staff across the country who have kept these well recognised brands going in difficult times for so long.

Whilst no redundancies were announced as a result of the appointment of administrators and stores will continue to trade, we stand ready to support anyone affected by redundancies. If people need financial support quickly, they may be able to claim Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance. We are also doubling the number of frontline Work Coaches across our network of jobcentres to ensure people have access to bespoke support and have launched the £2bn Kickstart scheme to create opportunities for young people.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether her Department plans to issue guidance to employers on the rights of disabled workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has published extensive guidance on employment and safer working throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. This can be found on GOV.UK and through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Further guidance on employment rights and aspects of good practice has been published by other bodies such as ACAS and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Government has also produced guidance around some new situations which have arisen from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example for those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and on self-isolation. This suite of guidance covers the employment rights of disabled people alongside other groups in the workforce.

The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work, including during the Covid-19 outbreak. Through the Disability Confident scheme, we are engaging employers and providing them with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace.? Our new Employer Help site provides advice on recruitment and employment of disabled people, explaining how Disability Confident and Access to Work can help businesses to ensure their practices are fair and inclusive.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will meet with (a) disabled people and (b) representatives of disability organisations to co-produce information for employers on the rights of disabled employees during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has published extensive guidance on employment and safer working throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. This can be found on GOV.UK and through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Further guidance on employment rights and aspects of good practice has been published by other bodies such as ACAS and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Government has also produced guidance around some new situations which have arisen from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example for those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and on self-isolation. This suite of guidance covers the employment rights of disabled people alongside other groups in the workforce.

The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work, including during the Covid-19 outbreak. Through the Disability Confident scheme, we are engaging employers and providing them with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace.? Our new Employer Help site provides advice on recruitment and employment of disabled people, explaining how Disability Confident and Access to Work can help businesses to ensure their practices are fair and inclusive.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to support UK-based manufacturing of (a) renewable and (b) low carbon technologies.

As set out in my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the government will unlock private sector investment to accelerate the deployment of existing technology, such as retrofitting the UK’s building stock and electrification of vehicles, while advancing newer technologies such as carbon capture and low-carbon hydrogen.

Key measures include making significant investment in offshore wind and modern ports and manufacturing infrastructure to expand the share of generation from renewables; providing up to £525 million to bring forward both large-scale nuclear and invest in the development of advanced nuclear technologies; £1 billion to support the establishment of carbon capture and storage in four industrial clusters; and investing £1.3 billion in charging infrastructure to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles ahead of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to support the automotive sector.

The Government is determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for the automotive sector.

We have provided comprehensive support during the pandemic, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the trade credit insurance guarantee, and tax deferrals. In total, we have provided almost £2.5 billion in COVID Corporate Financing Facility support to the automotive sector.

The Government has invested around £1.5 billon to support the research, development, and manufacture of zero and low-emission vehicles to date. This investment has created thousands of jobs in the sector and its supply chain, saved millions of tonnes of CO2, and has helped the UK to lead the charge towards a low carbon automotive future.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently announced in his 10 Point Plan nearly £500 million through the Automotive Transformation Fund over the next four years in order to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies in the UK.

We are also investing around £2.5 billion? to support the roll-out of ultra-low and zero emission vehicles through grants for plug-in cars, vans, HGVs, taxis, and motorcycles. In addition, we are investing in schemes to support the delivery of chargepoint infrastructure to homes, workplaces, on residential streets, and across the wider roads network.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the level of compliance of businesses with payment of the National Living Wage.

The Government is committed to cracking down on employers who fail to pay the minimum wage. We are clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it.

We set out our assessment of non-compliance with the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) in BEIS’ NMW Enforcement and Compliance Report. In 2019, approximately 1.5% of all UK employee jobs were paid below the relevant minimum wage rate. Updated estimates for 2020 will be provided in our next iteration of the report, which will be published in due course.

The Government remains committed to enforcing the minimum wage. We have more than doubled the budget for the minimum wage enforcement and compliance (rising to £27.5 million for 2020/21, up from £13.2 million in 2015/16), and continue to demonstrate good progress in enforcing workers’ entitlement to the minimum wage.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with business representative organisations on the effect on businesses of the covid-19 pandemic.

Ministerial colleagues and I have engaged closely with business representative organisations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue to do so.

Ministers hold regular sector calls with all the industries that BEIS covers, including but not limited to manufacturing, energy, construction, life sciences, professional services, retail and hospitality. Attendees include business representative organisations, trade associations and trade unions. We use these on-going engagements to collect direct intelligence on the impact of Covid-19 on industries and sectors that informs the response from BEIS and other Government departments and ensures the effectiveness of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made on preparations for COP26 in November 2021.

Planning for COP26 is ongoing and we are continuing to work closely with the venues and our delivery partners to ensure that we deliver the facilities and logistics needed for the event, in line with the requirements outlined by the UNFCCC.


Alongside summit preparations, the COP26 President, ministers and senior officials have been engaging with a wide range of UK and international partners.


The UK, UN and France will co-host a Climate Ambition Summit alongside our partners Italy and Chile, on 12th December 2020 on the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement. This will be an opportunity for countries to announce ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and net zero, finance and adaptation commitments.


The recent net zero commitments from China, Japan and South Korea have provided welcome momentum, and we hope that the Ambition Summit provides impetus for further commitments by the end of the year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to help ensure that investment in economic recovery supports meeting the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear our intention to build back greener. We are taking action in every sector of the economy: we announced over £3 billion for decarbonising the UK’s buildings and delivering green jobs; £1 billion for charging infrastructure and extending Plug in-Grants to 2023 for ultra-low emission vehicles; £800 million to capture carbon from power stations and industry; £640 million Nature for Climate Fund; and £100 million R&D into Direct Air Capture.

In March, we published the first phase of our transport decarbonisation plan and will be setting our further plans on energy, heat and buildings and the natural environment later this year and early next year, in the run up to COP26.

We will continue to build on these steps and deliver a stronger, greener, more sustainable economy after this pandemic.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that funding allocated to the economic recovery supports meeting the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear our intention to build back greener. We are taking action in every sector of the economy: we announced over £3 billion for decarbonising the UK’s buildings and delivering green jobs; £1 billion for charging infrastructure and extending Plug in-Grants to 2023 for ultra-low emission vehicles; £800 million to capture carbon from power stations and industry; £640 million Nature for Climate Fund; and £100 million R&D into Direct Air Capture.

In March, we published the first phase of our transport decarbonisation plan and will be setting our further plans on energy, heat and buildings and the natural environment later this year and early next year, in the run up to COP26.

We will continue to build on these steps and deliver a stronger, greener, more sustainable economy after this pandemic.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support research on the long-term health consequences of covid-19.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have announced an £8.4 million project that will investigate the physical and mental health impacts of hospitalised patients. The Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 (PHOSP-COVID) study, led by Professor Chris Brightling from the University of Leicester, aims to recruit 10,000 patients from across the UK. This will make it one of the world’s largest studies into the long-term health consequences of COVID-19. Results from the study will inform the development of new and better measures to treat and rehabilitate patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has for the UK’s future association with the Horizon Europe programme.

It is our ambition to fully associate to Horizon Europe if we can agree a fair and balanced deal, but we will make a final decision once it is clear whether such terms can be reached. The Horizon Europe Programme is currently being negotiated in the EU institutions and has not yet been finalised. The Programme must be adopted by the EU before arrangements for potential UK participation could be finalised.

In tandem with our negotiations, as a responsible government, we are also developing alternative schemes to support international research and innovation collaboration.

If we do not formally associate to Horizon Europe, we will implement ambitious alternatives as quickly as possible from January 2021 and address the funding gap. This includes making funding available to allow UK partners to participate in European schemes open to third countries.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of Post Office Ltd on the operation of post offices as covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

BEIS Ministers and Officials have regular discussions with Post Office Ltd to discuss a range of issues, including the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the Post Office.

The Government announcement on 23 March made it clear that the Government views the services provided by the Post Office as essential and, subject to social distancing guidelines, post offices have been allowed to remain open throughout lockdown. However, for those post offices co-located in a non-essential retailer which therefore had to close for a period, the easing of lockdown measures mean that they can re-start trading. Postmasters, as self-employed businesspeople, will need to consider how best to maintain social distancing at their workplace in line with the latest Government guidance which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches.

This may include restricting the number of customers in a shop at any one time and making this clear to customers and other visitors. Post Office workers who cannot work from home should go to work as soon as it is practical if their workplace is open and follows the safer working guidelines.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department plans to take to support people on zero hour contracts in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and (c) the UK as a result of the outbreak of covid-19.

The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus.

If infected, many people who are on Zero-Hour Contracts will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Those who are not eligible to receive sick pay are able to claim Universal Credit (UC) and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), where they qualify.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover 80% of the wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500, for their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. This scheme aims to support all those employed through the PAYE system regardless of their employment contract, including those on zero-hour contracts.

Businesses and Employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

We continually review the waste generated on our estate and work with our commercial colleagues on circular economy principles to reduce the amount of waste that arrives on our sites. Where we can’t avoid this we work with our suppliers to move any waste we generate up the waste hierarchy.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The Department’s energy is supplied by HMRC, from whom DCMS leases office space. The department has no buildings of its own.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the steps he is taking to protect people from online harms and misinformation in (a) Newport West constituency, (b) Wales and (c) the UK.

The government has now published the draft Online Safety Bill. The new regulatory framework will hold platforms to account for tackling harmful content and behaviours online. Platforms will need to remove and limit the spread of illegal content, and do more to protect children from being exposed to harmful content. The biggest social media companies will need to set out in clear terms and conditions what is acceptable on their services and enforce those terms and conditions consistently and transparently.

The Bill will also require companies to prevent the proliferation of illegal disinformation and misinformation online, and the biggest tech companies will have duties on legal disinformation and misinformation content that may cause significant physical or psychological harm to adults, such as anti-vaccination content and falsehoods about COVID-19.

Internet law and regulation is a reserved policy area, and we intend for this law to apply across the UK. My officials have been working closely with officials in the Devolved Administrations, including in the Welsh Government, throughout the development of our proposals, and will continue to engage throughout the legislative process.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the impact of the re-introduction of roaming charges when travelling to the EU on Newport West constituents.

As the UK is no longer a member of the EU, and therefore no longer part of the Roam Like At Home arrangement, UK mobile operators are able to reintroduce roaming surcharges for travel to the EU.

The Government will consider any announcements made by mobile operators where changes are being made to their current EU roaming charges and will consider all available steps to ensure British consumers are treated fairly when travelling. We advise that consumers check with their operators before travelling.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with Mobile phone operators on the re-introduction of roaming charges for people in (a) Newport West constituency and (b) the UK travelling to the EU.

Ministers have regular discussions with senior representatives of mobile operators on a range of issues, including on the issue of mobile roaming.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the removal of work-permit free travel for musicians and performers to and from the EU on the UK's creative industries.

This Government recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians, performers, other cultural and creative practitioners, and their support staff.

Leaving the EU has always meant that there would be changes to how touring musicians and performers operate in the EU. UK performers and artists are of course still able to tour and perform in the EU, and vice versa. However, they will be required to check domestic immigration rules for each Member State in which they intend to tour.

We understand the concerns about the new arrangements and we are committed to supporting the sectors as they get to grips with the changes to systems and processes. The DCMS-led Working Group on Creative and Cultural Touring brings together sector representatives, other key government departments, and representatives from each of the devolved administrations. The Group is working together to provide clarity regarding the practical steps that need to be taken by touring professionals when touring the EU, and it will explore how these sectors can be supported to work and tour in the EU with confidence when it is safe to do so.

We know that while leaving the EU will bring changes and new processes to touring and working in the EU, it will also bring new opportunities. In all circumstances, we expect our creative industries to continue to be as highly valued in the European Union as they are across the world.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) availability and (b) adequacy of funding for the UK Safer Internet Centre.

The UK Safer Internet Centre plays an important role in improving online safety in the UK, particularly for children. Officials engage regularly with the Centre on its funding position following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Centre has applied for further funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility programme for the calendar year of 2021, for which the government provided a letter of support. We understand the Centre has been successful in its bid for funding but we await formal confirmation from the Centre regarding its outcome.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of lockdowns on participation in arts and culture.

The DCMS Taking Part Web Panel COVID-19 Report, published in September 2020, asked adults about their participation in arts and creative activities in the home. In May 2020, 49% of respondents reported doing creative activities in the home in the previous four weeks, though this dropped to 42% of respondents by July.

Between May -July watching a pre-recorded music or dance performance online was the most popular activity.Watching a live music/dance performance online decreased in popularity from 15% in May to 10% in July.

Since 5 January, restrictions have been in force to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Professionals may continue to rehearse, train and perform for live streaming, broadcast and recording. Venues must close for any other purpose, no performances with an audience can go ahead either indoor or outdoor. Unfortunately non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place at this time.

We are in regular dialogue with the relevant sectors and public health experts to agree a realistic return date for festivals and other large events. However, protecting the public is our first priority. We continue to explore all barriers to reopening, working closely with the industry to understand the challenges they face and support them in developing planning guidance to reopen in a safe way.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish correspondence between the (a) Government and the EU and (b) his Department and other Government departments on work-permit free travel for musicians and other performers.

This Government recognises the importance of the UK’s thriving cultural industries, and that is why it pushed for ambitious arrangements to make it easier for performers and artists to perform across Europe as part of the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU.

This Government proposed to the EU that UK cultural professionals, and their technical staff, be added to the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors in the entry and temporary stay chapter of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This would have allowed UK cultural professionals and their staff to travel and perform in the EU more easily, without needing work-permits. These proposals were rejected by the EU.

Whilst both sides published their draft proposals for the future relationship, with the UK’s available here, neither side published their draft schedules for the services and investment title – which included the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors – prior to the agreement’s conclusion. Publishing correspondence and details exchanged between parties related to the development of legal text for trade agreements during the course of the negotiation would not be appropriate, as both parties exchanged this information in confidence.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) availability and (b) adequacy of funding for the UK Safer Internet Centre after the transition period.

The UK Safer Internet Centre plays an important role in improving online safety in the UK, particularly for children. We are very supportive of the work of the Centre and they are a valued member of the UK Council for Internet Safety, which provides guidance to the government on child safety online.

The Centre has applied for further funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility programme for the calendar year of 2021 and we await formal confirmation from the Centre regarding its outcome.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to replace IPSO with an independent regulator not funded by member publications.

The Government is committed to the self-regulation of the press, independent of government. This is vital to protecting a free press, crucial to a strong and fully functioning democracy where the powerful can be held to account without fear.

There now exists two press regulators, IPSO and IMPRESS. Both regulators are independent of government and we do not intervene in the work of either regulator.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps he has taken to tackle (a) misinformation and (b) disinformation on covid-19.

The Government takes the issue of misinformation and disinformation very seriously. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to be vitally important that the public has accurate information about the virus, and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle misinformation and disinformation.

That is why we stood up the Counter Disinformation Unit up on 5 March to bring together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities. The Unit’s primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and impact of misinformation and disinformation regarding COVID-19 and to work with partners to ensure appropriate action is taken.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been working closely with social media platforms to quickly identify and help them respond to potentially harmful content on their platforms, including removing harmful content in line with their terms and conditions, and promoting authoritative sources of information.

DCMS Secretary of State and DHSC Secretary of State hosted a joint roundtable in November to ask social media platforms to reduce the spread of harmful and misleading narratives, particularly around the potential COVID-19 vaccine. Social media platforms agreed to continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible; to commit to swifter responses to flagged content and to commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit from COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what additional resources the Government plans to allocate to the BBC to help the free TV licence for people aged over 75 in (a) Newport West constituency, (b) Wales and (c) the UK.

The government is deeply disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

In the 2015 funding settlement, the government agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the concession would transfer to the BBC in June 2020. This reform was subject to public discussion and debated extensively during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017 through Parliament. This legislation provides that the future of the concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government.

The BBC must look urgently at how it can use its substantial licence fee income to support older people and deliver for UK audiences of all ages.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will protect free tv licenses for over 75's in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales, and (c) the UK.

The government is deeply disappointed that the BBC has chosen not to extend the over 75 licence fee concession. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

However, the Digital Economy Act, 2017, provides the BBC is responsible for the concession, not the Government. The BBC must look urgently at how it can use its substantial licence fee income to support older people and deliver for UK audiences of all ages.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps his Department has taken to increase mobile and broadband coverage.

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband as soon as possible. This will be done through promoting network competition and commercial investment wherever possible and by intervening with public subsidy where necessary.

To deliver this we are taking action to reduce barriers to commercial deployment including through the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill currently before Parliament. This will make it easier to connect tenanted properties with an unresponsive landlord. At Budget 2020, we also committed to invest £5 billion to deliver gigabit capable deployment to the hardest to reach areas across the UK.

This investment is on top of our existing funding for gigabit broadband, including the £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme. In addition in March 2020 the Government’s broadband Universal Service Obligation went live. This provides everyone in the UK with the legal right to request an upgraded broadband connection that provides a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps and upload speed of 1 Mbps.

With regards to mobile connectivity, the Government announced in March 2020 that it had agreed a £1 billion deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. This will see operators collectively increase mobile phone coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of 2025, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments.

The Government is also committed to being a world leader in 5G technology and providing a 5G signal to a majority of the population by 2027. As a part of this, we have invested millions in a programme of 5G Testbeds and Trials, including the recent £30 million 5G Create competition.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to help improve diversity in the media and telecommunications sector.

The government recognises that the media and telecommunications sectors play a vital role in British society and therefore have an important responsibility to reflect the reality of modern Britain.

Promoting greater diversity is a priority for the government and therefore we welcome the work Ofcom has undertaken - as the independent communications regulator - through their annual diversity reports on broadcasting; as well as the work of Project Diamond, an initiative supported by the broadcasters, which captures diversity data.

The government is committed to working together with industry to support greater diversity and to ensure that everyone regardless of their background should have the same opportunity to be successful and to go as far as their talents and hard work take them.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to help increase diversity in the charity sector.

The Government recognises the importance of diversity within the charity sector at all levels, whether that be trustees, chief executives, staff members or volunteers, in order to meet the needs of the communities the sector serves and it is committed to working with our civil society partners to address this. We welcome the work that sector representative bodies are doing to improve diversity within the sector.

Appointing trustees is a matter for individual charities, but is something the Government takes very seriously. The Government has held a number of conversations with civil society partners to improve understanding of the opportunities and challenges around enabling people from different backgrounds to become involved in trusteeship. The Charity Commission has published resources for charities to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to get involved and make a difference. The Charity Commission also assisted in the creation of the Charity Governance Code, which sets out recommended practice for all charities registered in England and Wales. The Charity Governance Code makes clear the importance of diversity and resulting positive outcomes. We are fully committed to continue working with the charity sector to take action on this issue.

In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials and Ministers have met with a wide range of groups, including women-led organisations and BAME-led civil society organisations to discuss how the Government can engage more with a variety of groups in the sector as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the availability of harmful online material to children.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. The regulator will have strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Our proposals assume a higher level of protection for children than for the typical adult user.

We expect companies to use a proportionate range of tools, including age assurance and age verification technologies, to prevent children accessing age-inappropriate content and to protect them from other harms.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

The Department contributes to, and works within the parameters of, the Government Greening Commitments (GGC) on recycling rates. The last annual report publication, from April 2018 to March 2019, shows that 85% of waste was recycled by the Department.

The Department has committed to increasing the rate of recycled waste, whilst reducing the overall amount of waste generated in line with the next GGC which runs from 2021 to 2025.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

Details of the Department’s energy usage for financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20 are available in the consolidated annual report and accounts publications, which are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dfe-annual-reports.

The annual report for financial year 2020/21 will be published later in the year, which will include details on the cost of energy for that period.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of schools that are located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organisation; and what steps he is taking to protect pupils from air pollution.

The Department has made no such specific estimate as local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans.

If there was concern about the air quality in a school building, it would fall to the body responsible for the school to check and establish what measures needed to be taken to improve air quality. This would generally be the local authority, academy trust or governing body.

In 2018, the Department published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), establishing 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.

The Department is collaborating with other government departments and several academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, when he last had discussions with the First Minister of Wales; and if he will make a statement.

My Rt Hon Friends the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Secretary of State for Wales and I have had multiple discussions with the First Minister about Covid-19 and other matters.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, when he last had discussions with the First Minister of Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

My Rt Hon Friends the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have had multiple discussions with the First and deputy First Minister about Covid-19 and other matters.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The Department’s energy costs over the last three years are detailed below.

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Total energy costs ('000£)

17,238

17,145

17,122

This information will be available in our Annual report and Accounts which will be published shortly.

The Department is defined as comprising the following bodies:

Defra Core Department

Executive Agencies

  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Rural Payments Agency
  • Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Non-Departmental Public Bodies

  • Environment Agency
  • Marine Management Organisation
  • Natural England
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Forestry Commission

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

We continually review the waste generated on our estate and work with our commercial colleagues on circular economy principles to reduce the amount of waste that arrives on our sites. Where we cannot avoid this, we work with our suppliers to move any waste we generate up the waste hierarchy.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to reduce resource consumption in the UK.

Our plans for reducing resource consumption and preventing waste in England were set out in our draft Waste Prevention Programme for England - Towards a Resource Efficient Economy, which we consulted on between March and June this year. This builds on the measures set out in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy and includes designing products which last longer and that can be reused, repaired or remanufactured, coupled with supporting systems and business models to keep goods and materials in circulation for longer.

As part of this we are exploring ways to help consumers and producers make more sustainable decisions for instance through information and labelling, incentives such as the carrier bag charge, introducing producer responsibility schemes, and looking at how the Government and local authorities can support reuse and repair as well as alternative models such as renting and sharing.

The devolved administrations were aware of our consultation on a new Waste Prevention Programme, and the policy proposals it contains are being discussed at official level.

The responses to the public consultation are now being analysed and we plan to publish a new Waste Prevention Programme for England in the autumn.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for this policies on air pollution of the Prevention of Future Deaths report on Ella Kissi-Debrah, published on 21 April 2021; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has carefully considered the three matters of concern set out by the Coroner in the Prevention of Future Deaths report for Ella Kissi-Debrah and sent its response to the Coroner on the 17th of June 2021.

The Government will launch a public consultation on new legal targets for PM2.5 early next year with the aim of setting new targets in legislation by October 2022. As well as a simple concentration target, the Government is also developing a population exposure reduction target, aiming to drive reductions not just in pollution "hotspots", but in all areas. In setting these new targets, there will also be a commitment to significantly increase the monitoring network to capture more detailed air quality information across the country.

We will also take action to increase public awareness about air pollution. This will include a review of existing sources of information, encompassing the UK Air website and the Daily Air Quality Index, and an expansion of the funding available to local authorities as part of the Air Quality Grant Scheme.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of Schedule 6: Resource efficiency information of the Environment Bill on the (a) environmental impact of single-use nappies and (b) uptake of reusable alternatives.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 23 June 2020, PQ UIN 16219.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Air Quality Grant scheme.

Defra's annual Air Quality Grant scheme provides funding to local authorities to carry out projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions affecting schools, businesses and residents. It has awarded nearly £70 million in funding to a variety of projects since it started in 1997, which has helped local authorities make air quality improvements. This year additional funding of £9 million has been allocated for the grant scheme.

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 – emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 32% and are at their lowest level since records began, and we know we must do more to continue this trend. Local authorities have a key role to play delivering targeted pollution reduction measures at a local level. They are best placed to understand the diverse needs of their local area so the grant is designed to enable flexibility. Applicants are required to demonstrate deliverability, policy alignment, value for money and have in place plans to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their interventions; these elements are evaluated as part of the competitive award process.

The objectives of the grant are reviewed annually to encourage applications for measures that will be most effective in delivering air quality improvements or positive behaviour change. This autumn, applications will be encouraged for measures that deliver air quality improvements, measures that deal with particulate matter; the pollutant most harmful to human health, and measures that improve air quality information and public awareness and accessibility to sources of information.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the merits of a standalone Clean Air Act.

In the 2019 Clean Air Strategy we outlined our plans to bring forward new primary legislation on air quality and the Environment Bill delivers on this commitment.

The Bill makes a clear commitment to set a new target for fine particulate matter, the pollutant of most harm to health, alongside at least one further long-term air quality target. It also ensures that local authorities have a clear framework and simple to use powers for tackling air pollution in their areas, and it addresses a crucial regulation gap by providing the Government with new powers to enforce environmental standards for vehicles and non-road mobile machinery.

Alongside this, we have brought forward secondary legislation - the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) Regulations 2020 to phase out the sale of the most polluting fuels starting 1 May 2021, helping to tackle a major source of fine particulate matter emissions in the UK. We have also recently brought forward the Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which will enable us to keep our Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) legislation up to date with any technical, scientific or international Protocol advances.

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 – emissions of nitrogen oxides are at their lowest level since records began. However, we know that we must continue to work to tackle air pollution. The Environment Bill also establishes a new statutory cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting, which comprises annual reports by the Government to Parliament on progress against targets, including those on air quality, regular scrutiny from the Office for Environmental Protection, and five-yearly reviews and updates of the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP). An EIP must set out the steps the Government intends to take to improve the natural environment, which we would expect to include measures needed to meet its long term and interim targets.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect of air pollution on children’s health.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care work closely together on issues related to air pollution, which poses the biggest environmental threat to public health. Children are particularly vulnerable to its effects.

Defra officials have also had extensive discussions with their counterparts at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) on the relationship between air quality and health, including child health.

Defra officials will continue to engage regularly with DHSC, PHE, the research community and others on this matter. The improvement of air quality remains a top priority for the government.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of public awareness of the sources of information on national and local pollution levels.

On 10 June 2021, Defra published its latest research on the needs for air quality data and information. The research found that the majority of the public do not actively seek air quality information, but those who do so are more likely to have health vulnerabilities. When prompted, the public identified a need for clear, actionable information to be available regularly and at a local level. A need for tailored health advice to help manage the effects of poor air quality on health was also identified. Those surveyed also expressed an interest in receiving information as part of a weather forecast and being able to access health advice online.

The findings from this research have already been used to influence the design and content of the Clean Air Hub website and as part our continued work with media organisations to make air quality information more readily accessible.

The Government is committed to doing much more to improve public awareness of air pollution and in our response to the Coroners Prevention of Future Deaths report, following the inquest related to Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah, we have set out the immediate actions we will take to improve the provision of air quality data and information. This includes a comprehensive review of the UK-Air website and the Daily Air Quality Index. We will be increasing the funding pot available to local authorities in this years Local Authority Air Quality Grant by £6M. A large proportion of this additional funding will be targeted to support further action to improve public awareness in their communities.

Alongside this, we will continue to engage with broadcasters, social media companies, and other media outlets, to look at ways to improve communication on air quality. We will also continue to work with a range of stakeholders and partners, including Global Action Plan, the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership, and the British Heart Foundation to provide clear messages about the risks of air pollution and the actions people can take in response to high levels of air pollution.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on tackling toxic air.

The UK is a Party to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and regularly engages with other parties, including the EU, on tackling air pollution.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of Schedule 6 on Resource efficiency information of the Environment Bill on the (a) environmental impact of single-use nappies and (b) uptake of reusable alternatives.

At this stage we have not carried out a specific assessment of the potential to use Schedule 6 of the Environment Bill to address the environmental impact of single-use nappies or the uptake of reusable alternatives. The powers being sought through the Environment Bill would enable us to introduce eco-design and consumer information requirements for a range of products, including nappies, to drive the market towards more sustainable goods. However, we have not considered to date whether there are strong grounds for using those powers in relation to nappies. As with any new policy, if a proposal were to be developed, this would be subject to consultation and a full assessment of the costs and benefits.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to establish clear environmental standards for nappies marketed as biodegradable, compostable, eco-friendly and other similar terms.

In line with the 25 Year Environment Plan, and our Resources and Waste Strategy, we are considering the best approach to minimise the environmental impact of a range of products, including nappies, taking on board the environmental and social impacts of the options available.

Potential additional policy measures include standards, consumer information and encouraging voluntary action by business. We are seeking powers, through the Environment Bill, that will enable us to, where appropriate and subject to consultation, introduce eco-design and consumer information requirements. This could include labelling schemes that provide accurate information to consumers, to drive the market towards more sustainable products.

We are also funding an environmental assessment of disposable and washable absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) with the primary focus on nappies. This is looking at the waste and energy impacts of washable and disposable products, disposal to landfill or incineration, and recycling options. The research will be published later this year, following peer review, and will help inform possible future action on nappies by Government and industry.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the environmental impact of single-use nappies.

In line with the 25 Year Environment Plan, and our Resources and Waste Strategy, we are considering the best approach to minimise the environmental impact of a range of products, including nappies, taking on board the environmental and social impacts of the options available.

Potential additional policy measures include standards, consumer information and encouraging voluntary action by business. We are seeking powers, through the Environment Bill, that will enable us to, where appropriate and subject to consultation, introduce eco-design and consumer information requirements. This could include labelling schemes that provide accurate information to consumers, to drive the market towards more sustainable products.

We are also funding an environmental assessment of disposable and washable absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) with the primary focus on nappies. This is looking at the waste and energy impacts of washable and disposable products, disposal to landfill or incineration, and recycling options. The research will be published later this year, following peer review, and will help inform possible future action on nappies by Government and industry.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department’s Resources and Waste Strategy, how his Department’s proposals to introduce extended producer responsibility for packaging will (a) promote resource efficiency, (b) move towards a circular economy and (c) minimise the residual waste produced.

In the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy we set out our ambitions of doubling resource productivity and eliminating avoidable waste by 2050. Extended Producer Responsibility is an established policy approach adopted in many countries around the world. It gives producers an incentive to make better, more sustainable decisions at the product design stage, as well as placing the financial cost for managing these products once they become waste, on producers. To be more efficient in the way we use our stock of natural resources we need to rethink how we design and make products and invoke the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

The implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging will see the introduction of modulated fees for producers placing packaging on the market. These fees will be varied, with higher costs placed on producers using packaging that is less easily recycled, helping to ensure more circularity within the system, more recycling, and less waste going to the residual waste stream. The shift in the cost of managing packaging waste produced by households from the public purse onto producers will also incentivise producers to consider if a packaging item is necessary, encouraging packaging reduction and a more efficient use of resources. Producers will also be required to meet ambitious recycling targets.

In certain circumstances, fees could be modulated to deliver funding to support additional collections and upgrading of infrastructure to allow recycling of currently unrecyclable materials. To meet ambitious recycling targets across all materials, producers will need to invest in the infrastructure required to enable these targets to be met. We also consulted on the introduction of reuse targets within Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging, which will help encourage circularity, a more efficient use of resources, and prevent waste entering the residual waste stream.

The second consultation on the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging closed on 4 June 2021 and we are currently analysing the responses.

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, what assessment he has made of consumer research on existing recycling labels, including (a) the effect of a multiplicity of labels on recycling rates and (b) recognition rates of existing labels; and how he plans to take account of that research in the (i) development and (ii) implementation of mandatory recycling labelling as part of extended producer responsibility.

As set out in our recent consultation on extended producer responsibility for packaging (which closed on 4 June 2021), our preferred approach to implement mandatory recyclability labelling for packaging includes that labels must meet criteria set in regulations and will have to be approved by the Government or the regulator prior to use. This will ensure a clear and consistent approach to mandatory recyclability labelling for packaging. Our preferred approach provides flexibility for existing recycling labels to continue to be used subject to meeting the criteria set in regulations and approved by the Government or the regulator.

The Government recognises that a variety of labels can cause consumer confusion. However, alongside mandatory recyclability labelling there will be producer-led communication campaigns which will help to raise consumer awareness regarding what packaging can and cannot be recycled.

Last year, Defra commissioned the Waste and Resources Action Programme to review the available evidence regarding the social impact of labelling in the context of extended producer responsibility schemes and to provide an analysis of the current available evidence of on-pack labelling on consumer disposal behaviour. Key findings of the review include that consumer recycling behaviour can be influenced by a well-designed label along with recommendations regarding what the best performing label would look like. Findings in this review will be taken into consideration when developing and implementing mandatory recycling labelling as part of extended producer responsibility for packaging.

In addition, the Competition and Markets Authority is currently consulting on draft guidance on environmental claims on goods and services. This includes guidance on recyclability claims made on labels.

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, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Environment Bill’s mandatory recycling labelling provisions will be aligned with best in class existing clear and well-recognised consumers recycling labels.

As set out in our recent consultation on extended producer responsibility for packaging (which closed on 4 June 2021), our preferred approach to implement mandatory recyclability labelling for packaging includes that labels must meet criteria set in regulations and will have to be approved by the Government or the regulator prior to use. This will ensure a clear and consistent approach to mandatory recyclability labelling for packaging. Our preferred approach provides flexibility for existing recycling labels to continue to be used subject to meeting the criteria set in regulations and approved by the Government or the regulator.

The Government recognises that a variety of labels can cause consumer confusion. However, alongside mandatory recyclability labelling there will be producer-led communication campaigns which will help to raise consumer awareness regarding what packaging can and cannot be recycled.

Last year, Defra commissioned the Waste and Resources Action Programme to review the available evidence regarding the social impact of labelling in the context of extended producer responsibility schemes and to provide an analysis of the current available evidence of on-pack labelling on consumer disposal behaviour. Key findings of the review include that consumer recycling behaviour can be influenced by a well-designed label along with recommendations regarding what the best performing label would look like. Findings in this review will be taken into consideration when developing and implementing mandatory recycling labelling as part of extended producer responsibility for packaging.

In addition, the Competition and Markets Authority is currently consulting on draft guidance on environmental claims on goods and services. This includes guidance on recyclability claims made on labels.

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, what support he is offering (a) producers and (b) retailers that are obligated under the extended producer responsibility regime to understand how recyclability will be determined; and what steps he is taking to (i) advise businesses to make decisions on packaging design and (ii) help businesses to adopt new definitions of recyclability ahead of launch in 2023.

The UK Government, the Devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and three industry trade bodies are jointly running a project to look at how producer fees for the packaging extended producer responsibility scheme could be modulated (varied) depending on the recyclability of packaging. At the core of this project is stakeholder engagement and stakeholders have expressed their views on, and discussed, the role of recyclability assessments in informing modulated fees and labelling. This project is due to complete by the end of 2021.

There has also been direct engagement with bodies who have developed or are developing recyclability assessment methodologies.

In the recent consultation on the introduction of packaging extended producer responsibility, the Government set out its proposal that the Scheme Administrator should develop or procure the recyclability assessment methodology on behalf of its members. This to provide producers with a common methodology to determine whether for individual items of packaging the combination of components, materials, and design, meets the recyclability criteria. This approach would also underpin labelling for recyclability.

I understand the need for businesses to gain clarity about the new packaging extended producer responsibility scheme as early as possible. We want to be transparent and to provide clarity as soon as we can for each element of the scheme as this will help producers with the design decisions they need to make. However, it will not be for Government to advise businesses on specific packaging design decisions. In the recent consultation the Government set out proposed timelines, including for labelling and invited feedback. We will consider these responses as we finalise our proposals.

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, what engagement the Government (a) has had and (b) is planning with industry bodies to gain expert input into the process for determining recyclability as part of the implementation of the extended producer responsibility regime and mandatory recycling labelling.

The UK Government, the Devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and three industry trade bodies are jointly running a project to look at how producer fees for the packaging extended producer responsibility scheme could be modulated (varied) depending on the recyclability of packaging. At the core of this project is stakeholder engagement and stakeholders have expressed their views on, and discussed, the role of recyclability assessments in informing modulated fees and labelling. This project is due to complete by the end of 2021.

There has also been direct engagement with bodies who have developed or are developing recyclability assessment methodologies.

In the recent consultation on the introduction of packaging extended producer responsibility, the Government set out its proposal that the Scheme Administrator should develop or procure the recyclability assessment methodology on behalf of its members. This to provide producers with a common methodology to determine whether for individual items of packaging the combination of components, materials, and design, meets the recyclability criteria. This approach would also underpin labelling for recyclability.

I understand the need for businesses to gain clarity about the new packaging extended producer responsibility scheme as early as possible. We want to be transparent and to provide clarity as soon as we can for each element of the scheme as this will help producers with the design decisions they need to make. However, it will not be for Government to advise businesses on specific packaging design decisions. In the recent consultation the Government set out proposed timelines, including for labelling and invited feedback. We will consider these responses as we finalise our proposals.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward stand alone legislative proposals on clean air.

One of the key commitments in our Clean Air Strategy was to bring forward new legislation on air quality, and the Environment Bill – the first Environment Bill in over 20 years - is a key part of delivering this.

The air quality chapter in the Bill makes a clear commitment to set a new target for fine particulate matter, the pollutant of most harm to health, alongside at least one further long-term air quality target. It also ensures that local authorities have a clear framework and simple to use powers for tackling air pollution in their areas, and it addresses a crucial regulation gap by providing government with new powers to enforce environmental standards for vehicles and non-road mobile machinery.

Alongside this, we recently passed legislation to phase out the sale of the most polluting fuels, helping to tackle a major source of fine particulate matter emissions in the UK. We have also recently brought forward the Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which will enable us to keep our Pollutant Release and Transfer Register legislation up to date with any technical, scientific or international Protocol advances.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of financial support allocated to local authorities in England to help tackle toxic air.

Local authorities receive grant in aid funding to carry out their statutory local air quality duties. Any new burdens placed on local authorities through the air quality measures in the Environment Bill will be funded by Defra as per the new burdens principle.

In addition, Defra’s Air Quality Grant programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution. The Government has awarded nearly £70 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997.

To tackle local nitrogen dioxide exceedances, we are providing £880 million to help local authorities develop and implement local air quality plans and to support those impacted by these plans. We have supported the retrofit of over 3,000 buses with cleaner engines and recently oversaw the launch of the first clean air zone in Bath. We are committed to ensuring that local authorities have access to a wide range of options as they develop plans to address roadside pollution in a way that meets the needs of their communities.

A £2 billion package of funding for active travel, which is the largest amount of funding ever committed to increasing cycling and walking in this country, was announced by the Secretary of State for Transport on 9 May 2020. The first £250 million of the £2 billion was allocated in 2020/21 to “quick wins” including the Active Travel Fund and the Fix your Bike voucher scheme.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the recent fires in the Mourne Mountains.

My department is committed to working closely with our counterparts in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and there are regular discussions between the Secretary of State and his counterpart in the Executive covering issues of mutual interest to them both.

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, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies of the research from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation on the number of schools and colleges located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, if he will publish the Government’s evidence to the coroner in the case of Ella Kissi-Debrah.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, if he will fund a national public health campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, what steps he is taking to improve the (a) accessibility and (b) usability of air pollution information and data published by his Department.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, what steps his Department is taking to improve public awareness of the sources of information on national and local pollution levels.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, with reference to the recommendations of the coroner in the Prevention of future deaths report in the case of Ella Kissi-Debrah, if he will take steps to ensure that the WHO’s guidelines on particulate matter are used as minimum requirements in the setting of targets on tackling air pollution.

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.

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, what estimate he has made of the number of care homes that are located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organisation; what steps he is taking to protect care home residents from air pollution.

We have not made such estimations. However, we recognise that air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to public health and is a particular threat to vulnerable groups, including the elderly, the very young, and those with existing health issues.

That is why through the Environment Bill we are committing to set new air quality targets, including a new concentration target for PM2.5 which will act as a minimum standard across the country. Setting and subsequently meeting these ambitious targets will deliver very significant public health benefits.

Additionally, as we review our Local Air Quality Management Framework, we will outline specific measures to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of air pollutants.

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, what estimate his Department has made of the number of medical centres that are located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organisation; and what steps he is taking to protect patients and healthcare professionals using and working in those centres.

We have not made such estimations. However, we recognise that air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to public health and is a particular threat to vulnerable groups, including the elderly, the very young, and those with existing health issues.

That is why through the Environment Bill we are committing to set new air quality targets, including a new concentration target for PM2.5 which will act as a minimum standard across the country. Setting and subsequently meeting these ambitious targets will deliver very significant public health benefits.

Additionally, as we review our Local Air Quality Management Framework, we will outline specific measures to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of air pollutants.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the England's tree planting programme.

We are committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this parliament.

Through new funding and policy changes we are working hard to ensure our ambitious planting programme is a success. An England Trees Action Plan will be published this spring and set out plans for achieving an unprecedented increase in woodland creation in England, supported over this Parliament by the £640 million Nature for Climate Fund.

The England Trees Action Plan has been developed through significant engagement with the public, businesses, experts and charities, and responses to the England Tree Strategy Consultation, ministerial roundtables and stakeholder webinars. We will work with partners to monitor and evaluate effective delivery of the actions it contains over this parliament and beyond.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency analysis on which EU restrictions the European Chemicals Agency has adopted an opinion on were prioritised for consideration by UK REACH in its first year.

HSE and the Environment Agency used a wide range of sources of information to identify priorities for initial restriction proposals under UK REACH. They will continue to keep this analysis under review in considering priorities for future years.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when UK REACH plans to initiate restrictions on each of the 11 hazardous substances on which opinions have been adopted by the European Chemicals Agency, that will not be initiated by UK REACH in its first year.

The UK REACH Work Programme will be published annually, setting out the Health & Safety Executive’s priorities, including work on restrictions. We will continue to identify further measures to safeguard human health and the environment based on robust science and the best available evidence, including considering evidence developed by the European Chemicals Agency. Restriction dossiers that we ask the Health & Safety Executive to prepare in future Work Programmes will address issues that we consider to be most pressing in Great Britain.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the environmental effect of the emergency authorisation of a neonicotinoid product as a seed treatment on sugar beet.

Emergency authorisation applications for pesticides are considered based on a scientific assessment by the Health and Safety Executive and the independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides following established procedures. The emergency authorisation decision considers the need for authorisation, the risks to human and animal health and the environment from use of the product. Applicants must also demonstrate that use will be limited and controlled and that there are special circumstances, which may include work that is being undertaken to find alternative solutions to use of the requested product.

In the case of the emergency authorisation this year for Cruiser SB (containing thiamethoxam) on sugar beet, strict conditions were attached to ensure that potential risks to pollinators and the environment would be minimised. One of these was to ensure that the product would only be used if the pest pressure was predicted to pass a certain threshold. Ultimately, the threshold for usage was not met and so the neonicotinoid will not be used on sugar beet crops planted in 2021.

The UK is a world leader in developing greener farming practices and upholds the highest standards of environmental and health protection. The Government is developing the revised National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which sets out the ambition to further minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment. We are equally committed to protecting pollinators, and our National Pollinator Strategy sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of pollinating insect species in England.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the implications of the continued burning of peat on the UK’s effectiveness as host of COP26.

We have always been clear of the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats. There is an established scientific consensus that burning of vegetation on such sites is damaging and that is why we are taking action to prevent further damage by bringing forward legislation that will limit burning of vegetation on protected deep peat.

This legislation represents a crucial step in meeting the Government’s nature and climate change mitigation and adaptation targets, including the legally binding commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to prevent the dumping of chemical products on the UK market that do not meet EU standards and protections.

The domestic legislation we have put in place since leaving the EU provides for the safe management and control of chemicals, and enables us to respond to emerging risks. The UK is committed to maintaining an effective regulatory system which safeguards human health and the environment. This commitment is supported by the Environment Bill and the Government's ambition to leave our environment in a better state than when we inherited it.

The action we are taking at a domestic level will be underpinned by our continued commitment to international agreements concerning chemicals, including the Rotterdam, Basel, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Environment Agency's annual budget.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effectiveness of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the effectiveness of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the effectiveness of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the effectiveness of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) celebrated its first anniversary in January. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting some of its activities, it has delivered significant benefits in taking a UK-wide approach with its partners to tackle serious and organised criminality affecting the waste sector. Regulators from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fully integrated into the Unit and are members of its Oversight Board and Defra is also represented. Defra officials hold discussions with colleagues in other Government departments as needed on tackling serious and organised crime in the waste sector.

In its first year, across the UK, it has led 28 multi-agency investigations and taken part in 34 days of action and raids with other partners, including the Metropolitan Police's largest ever armed raid. The Unit has developed intelligence links and sharing arrangements with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors including law enforcement agencies, infrastructure providers and the financial services sector. The coordination that has been brought to dealing with this aspect of serious criminality in society has proved its worth and helped law enforcement agencies arrest a number of suspects and disrupt criminal activity that damages the environment, the economy and communities.

The business planning round for 2021-22 included an assessment of the funding required by each of the department’s arms-length bodies, including the Environment Agency, to deliver its priorities and statutory obligations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many publicly accessible bridleways there are in England.

Most recent figures estimate that there are in the region of 32,000km of bridleway in England although horse riders can also use over 6,000km of byways (restricted byways and Byways Open to All Traffic). These figures are not fully confirmed by the Government.

Local authorities are responsible for the management and maintenance of public rights of way. They are required to keep a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) to plan improvements to the rights of way network in their area to provide a better experience for a range of users including horse riders.

Consideration is being given to how the Environmental Land Management scheme could fund the creation of new paths, such as footpaths and bridleways, providing greater access for horse riders.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many meetings the independent expert groups on Environment Bill targets have held with stakeholders to date.

The Government is committed to setting targets through a robust, evidence-led process that seeks independent expert advice, provides a role for stakeholders and the public, as well as scrutiny from Parliament. We are working with stakeholders and will keep them appraised of the work of the independent experts as proposed targets develop.

We have recently set up groups of independent experts, where they did not already exist for the priority areas set out in the Bill, to provide impartial advice on the analytical methods and evidence base being used to develop targets. We plan to publish the full list of independent experts, along with high level details of their work, such as terms of references and information on meetings in due course. Defra’s Science Advisory Committee and Economic Advisory Panel also play a part in advising on the target-setting process.

The Government is in regular discussion with its independent expert groups, and some independent expert groups have met with stakeholders.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish a list of the members of the independent expert groups on Environment Bill air quality, water, biodiversity and waste and resources targets.

The Government is committed to setting targets through a robust, evidence-led process that seeks independent expert advice, provides a role for stakeholders and the public, as well as scrutiny from Parliament. We are working with stakeholders and will keep them appraised of the work of the independent experts as proposed targets develop.

We have recently set up groups of independent experts, where they did not already exist for the priority areas set out in the Bill, to provide impartial advice on the analytical methods and evidence base being used to develop targets. We plan to publish the full list of independent experts, along with high level details of their work, such as terms of references and information on meetings in due course. Defra’s Science Advisory Committee and Economic Advisory Panel also play a part in advising on the target-setting process.

The Government is in regular discussion with its independent expert groups, and some independent expert groups have met with stakeholders.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to publish guidance on the interpretation of the significant improvement test set out in Clause 6 of the Environment Bill.

The requirements for the significant improvement test are laid out in Clause 6 of the Environment Bill. The Government must periodically review its targets by carrying out the significant improvement test at least every five years. The Secretary of State must consider whether meeting the long-term targets and the PM 2.5 target set under the Environment Bill, together with any other relevant statutory environmental targets, would significantly improve the natural environment in England. The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament, and publish, a report on its conclusions and, if it considers that the test is not met, set out how it plans to use its target-setting powers to close the gap.

The Government is considering how to implement the significant improvement test and the first iteration will be conducted by 31 January 2023. In our policy paper published in August 2020, we outlined that, when we are developing targets, we will consider how they will inform the Significant Improvement Test.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the timetable for public consultation on targets to be set under Clause 1 of the Environment Bill.

We expect to carry out a public consultation on proposed targets set under the Environment Bill in early 2022. This consultation will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share their views on the ambition, evidence and achievability of target proposals. The Government will then decide the final targets to be set. Target statutory instruments will be laid before Parliament by 31 October 2022 and come into force once approved.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the volume of flexible packaging that would be diverted from landfill in the event that such material was collected for recycling from households in England from 2023.

In our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy we committed to taking actions to help stimulate private investment in reprocessing and recycling infrastructure, as this will help to meet the target of 65% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2035.

In 2019 we consulted on such actions. Namely, a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers, extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and consistency in recycling collections, which will be legislated for using primary powers granted by the Environment Bill. These measures will stimulate investment in improved collection and sorting, increasing the supply of higher quality materials needed to support investment in domestic reprocessing infrastructure. In addition, HM Treasury's Plastic Packaging Tax will increase the demand for recycled plastic, further stimulating investment in domestic reprocessing.

We plan to undertake second consultations on a DRS for drinks containers, packaging EPR, and consistency in recycling collections this spring.

Flexible packaging will be considered as part of EPR and consistency consultations. Initial analysis suggests flexible packaging could make an important contribution to plastic packaging recycling rates, and therefore reduce the amount of this material that would otherwise be sent to landfill or energy from waste facilities. We will be setting out our policy proposals and supporting analysis in relation to flexible packaging in these consultations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) increase the quantity of flexible packaging being recycled and (b) improve recycling infrastructure.

In our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy we committed to taking actions to help stimulate private investment in reprocessing and recycling infrastructure, as this will help to meet the target of 65% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2035.

In 2019 we consulted on such actions. Namely, a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers, extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and consistency in recycling collections, which will be legislated for using primary powers granted by the Environment Bill. These measures will stimulate investment in improved collection and sorting, increasing the supply of higher quality materials needed to support investment in domestic reprocessing infrastructure. In addition, HM Treasury's Plastic Packaging Tax will increase the demand for recycled plastic, further stimulating investment in domestic reprocessing.

We plan to undertake second consultations on a DRS for drinks containers, packaging EPR, and consistency in recycling collections this spring.

Flexible packaging will be considered as part of EPR and consistency consultations. Initial analysis suggests flexible packaging could make an important contribution to plastic packaging recycling rates, and therefore reduce the amount of this material that would otherwise be sent to landfill or energy from waste facilities. We will be setting out our policy proposals and supporting analysis in relation to flexible packaging in these consultations.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to add flexible packaging to the proposed core list of materials required to be collected for recycling from households and businesses in England from 2023.

We want to see recycling of plastic film increased. The Environment Bill states that waste collection authorities in England must arrange for the collection of a core set of materials, including plastics, from households and businesses.

We are launching a consultation in Spring 2021 on proposals to introduce plastic films into kerbside collections as part of the plastic recyclable waste stream. The inclusion of plastic films will simplify recycling for householders and will contribute to achieving the ambitious plastic packaging targets that will be placed on producers through our proposal for Extended Producer Responsibility.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps Natural England has taken to ensure that the five Stop Notices in respect of which Completion Certificates have not been issued according to Natural England’s Register of Enforcement are complied with.

In response to the 50 enforcement undertakings that Natural England has accepted relating to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Natural England has issued 2 completion certificates.

In response to non-compliance with enforcement undertakings relating to SSSIs, Natural England has not served any civil sanctions or undertaken any criminal proceedings. Natural England is nevertheless planning to undertake comprehensive compliance/success monitoring of their enforcement undertaking outcomes in the forthcoming field season. COVID-19 restrictions may impact this work but where necessary enforcement visits will continue to ensure that our protected sites are looked after in an appropriate manner.

In monitoring compliance with stop notices, Natural England takes a risk based approach. Where non-compliance has been suspected this has been subject to further investigation. In regard to the five Stop Notices in respect of which completion certificates have not been issued, further enforcement action was not found to be necessary. In the one case where non-compliance was discovered, the offender was able to be swiftly brought back into compliance through advice.

Information on Natural England enforcement action is available on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-enforcement-action-taken-by-natural-england).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many times Natural England has (a) served a (i) variable monetary penalty notice, (ii) compliance notice, (iii) restoration notice and (b) brought criminal proceedings in response to non-compliance with Enforcement Undertakings relating to SSSIs.

In response to the 50 enforcement undertakings that Natural England has accepted relating to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Natural England has issued 2 completion certificates.

In response to non-compliance with enforcement undertakings relating to SSSIs, Natural England has not served any civil sanctions or undertaken any criminal proceedings. Natural England is nevertheless planning to undertake comprehensive compliance/success monitoring of their enforcement undertaking outcomes in the forthcoming field season. COVID-19 restrictions may impact this work but where necessary enforcement visits will continue to ensure that our protected sites are looked after in an appropriate manner.

In monitoring compliance with stop notices, Natural England takes a risk based approach. Where non-compliance has been suspected this has been subject to further investigation. In regard to the five Stop Notices in respect of which completion certificates have not been issued, further enforcement action was not found to be necessary. In the one case where non-compliance was discovered, the offender was able to be swiftly brought back into compliance through advice.

Information on Natural England enforcement action is available on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-enforcement-action-taken-by-natural-england).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many Compliance Certificates have been issued under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 to the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 discharging the 50 Enforcement Undertakings that Natural England has accepted relating to SSSIs.

In response to the 50 enforcement undertakings that Natural England has accepted relating to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Natural England has issued 2 completion certificates.

In response to non-compliance with enforcement undertakings relating to SSSIs, Natural England has not served any civil sanctions or undertaken any criminal proceedings. Natural England is nevertheless planning to undertake comprehensive compliance/success monitoring of their enforcement undertaking outcomes in the forthcoming field season. COVID-19 restrictions may impact this work but where necessary enforcement visits will continue to ensure that our protected sites are looked after in an appropriate manner.

In monitoring compliance with stop notices, Natural England takes a risk based approach. Where non-compliance has been suspected this has been subject to further investigation. In regard to the five Stop Notices in respect of which completion certificates have not been issued, further enforcement action was not found to be necessary. In the one case where non-compliance was discovered, the offender was able to be swiftly brought back into compliance through advice.

Information on Natural England enforcement action is available on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-enforcement-action-taken-by-natural-england).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of Sites of Special Scientific Interest have not received an assessment by Natural England in the last six years.

3,230 Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (78% of the total number) have not had a visit to determine their condition in the last six years (since 11 February 2015), recorded on Natural England’s internal systems. Sites are visited for other purposes, such as agri-environment scheme management and to agree onsite activities such as necessary management.

In 2010 Natural England adopted a risk-based approach rather than a fixed six-year cycle. Natural England is also developing an approach to the monitoring of SSSIs which will make better use of new technologies, such as remote sensing, and greater partnership involvement, including supporting and encouraging partners in the work they themselves do to undertake SSSI condition assessments.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many times Natural England has used the statutory powers provided by (a) Management Schemes under section 28J of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, (b) Management Notices under section 28K of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, (c) Compulsory Purchase under section 28N of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and (d) Byelaws under section 28R of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to conserve Sites of Special Scientific Interest since those powers came into force on 31 January 2001.

Since the 31 January 2001, Natural England has used the statutory powers provided by management schemes under section 28J of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the Act) on nine occasions; management notices under section 28K of the Act have been used on one occasion; compulsory purchase under section 28N and byelaws under section 28R of the Act have not been used.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to appointments of new members to England's National Park Authorities and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Boards in July 2020, what proportion of (a) applicants, (b) interviewees, (c) candidates shortlisted for the Secretary of State’s consideration and (d) appointees had (i) had skills and experience in nature conservation, (ii) were female, (iii) were under 65, (iv) identified as members of a black, Asian or minority ethnicity and (v) considered themselves disabled.

186 applications were received for the 18 National Park Authorities and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Board public appointments made in July 2020. The candidate field is summarised in the table below.

Percentage with characteristic

Applicants %

Interviewees %

Candidates shortlisted for the Secretary of State’s consideration %

Appointees %

Skills and experience in nature conservation

16%

26%

27%

28%

Female

37%

48%

50%

50%

Under 65

74%

75%

88%

83%

Identified as a black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME)

3%

*

*

0%

Declared a disability

6%

8%

*

*

* Where the numbers are less than five, data is withheld, since with small numbers individuals could be identified. This is in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. Applicants that identified as BAME and declared a disability were shortlisted for the Secretary of State’s consideration. No BAME candidates were appointed.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to avian influenza, what steps he has taken to ensure gamebird breeders (a) register captive gamebird flocks and (b) comply with all other relevant aspects of legislation.

Defra encourages all keepers to register their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and keep contact details up to date, so APHA can contact them quickly if there is a disease outbreak in their area and they need to take action.

If keepers have more than 50 birds, they are legally required to register their flock within one month of their arrival at their premises. If the keeper has less than 50 birds, including pet birds, they are still strongly encouraged to register.

Mandatory requirements to register kept gamebirds can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/poultry-including-game-birds-registration-rules-and-forms.

The public can register with the APHA alerts service to receive email and text alerts for exotic notifiable diseases, which includes Avian influenza (AI).

AI is a notifiable animal disease. If a bird keeper or the public suspect any type of AI in poultry or captive birds they must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline. Failure to do so is an offence and enforced by local authorities.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in England (whether they have pet birds, captive gamebirds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions including from the 14 December 2020 keeping their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances.

Further details of the measures that apply in the AIPZ including biosecurity guidance and housing measures can be found on GOV.UK.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the annual budget is for UK REACH for the financial year 2021-22.

We anticipate spending £20 million this financial year on the new regulatory system. This includes the development, operation and maintenance of the Comply with UK REACH IT service and staff resourcing across Defra, HSE and EA. The budget for the 2021-22 spend is still being finalised.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the proportion of residual waste sent to landfill, incineration and transfer stations that could have been recycled in England in 2020.

The proportion of residual waste sent to landfill, incineration and transfer stations that could have been recycled in England in 2020 is not available.

Reporting of waste and recycling data for Local Authorities in England for the year 2020, while subject to delays due to Covid 19, will not be complete until later in 2021.

However, it will not be possible to provide detailed information on the amount of waste in the residual waste stream that could be recycled as data on waste arisings are not structured around the material composition of waste streams.

The Resources and Waste Strategy set out the government's intention to introduce three major waste reforms; consistency in recycling, extended producer responsibility and a deposit return scheme. These commitments will be delivered through the Environment Bill and will ensure that less recyclable waste will be sent to landfill or incineration in the future.

In October 2020 as part of the Circular Economy Package we legislated to include a permit condition for landfill and incineration operators, meaning they cannot accept separately collected paper, metal, glass or plastic for landfill or incineration unless it has gone through some form of treatment process first and is the best environmental outcome.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost to the UK chemicals industry of the new UK REACH system.

The main costs to the GB chemicals industry in transitioning to UK REACH will result from obtaining the data needed to support registrations for the GB market. These costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which will be a matter of commercial negotiation. We agree with industry that the costs may be substantial, though until business discussions to access REACH data start in earnest, we cannot firm up an estimate of the likely costs.

These costs could have been mitigated in part through an agreement with the EU on an arrangement to share EU REACH registration data held by the European Chemicals Agency. While the UK was successful in agreeing a chemicals annex as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, the EU did not wish to progress the UK proposal on REACH registration data within that annex.


To help mitigate the costs of the transition to UK REACH we have recently extended the deadlines for businesses to provide the full registration data, allowing industry more time to adapt to the new compliance obligations and spread costs over a longer period


The cost to Government in establishing UK REACH includes establishing the new Comply with UK REACH service and putting in place the capacity in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency and Defra to operate the new regime. We anticipate spending around £20 million this financial year on the development, operation and maintenance of the REACH IT system and staff resourcing.

Ministers from Defra, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and HSE have an established forum for engagement with the chemicals sector through the Chemicals EU Exit and Trade Group, which meets on a regular basis. Defra has firmly established relationships with a large number of Trade Associations and industry representatives. We have closely engaged with industry throughout the development of UK REACH, listening to concerns and, where feasible, adapting policy in response in order to help manage the transition in a pragmatic way.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the new UK REACH system.

The main costs to the GB chemicals industry in transitioning to UK REACH will result from obtaining the data needed to support registrations for the GB market. These costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which will be a matter of commercial negotiation. We agree with industry that the costs may be substantial, though until business discussions to access REACH data start in earnest, we cannot firm up an estimate of the likely costs.

These costs could have been mitigated in part through an agreement with the EU on an arrangement to share EU REACH registration data held by the European Chemicals Agency. While the UK was successful in agreeing a chemicals annex as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, the EU did not wish to progress the UK proposal on REACH registration data within that annex.


To help mitigate the costs of the transition to UK REACH we have recently extended the deadlines for businesses to provide the full registration data, allowing industry more time to adapt to the new compliance obligations and spread costs over a longer period


The cost to Government in establishing UK REACH includes establishing the new Comply with UK REACH service and putting in place the capacity in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency and Defra to operate the new regime. We anticipate spending around £20 million this financial year on the development, operation and maintenance of the REACH IT system and staff resourcing.

Ministers from Defra, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and HSE have an established forum for engagement with the chemicals sector through the Chemicals EU Exit and Trade Group, which meets on a regular basis. Defra has firmly established relationships with a large number of Trade Associations and industry representatives. We have closely engaged with industry throughout the development of UK REACH, listening to concerns and, where feasible, adapting policy in response in order to help manage the transition in a pragmatic way.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the UK chemicals industry.

The main costs to the GB chemicals industry in transitioning to UK REACH will result from obtaining the data needed to support registrations for the GB market. These costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which will be a matter of commercial negotiation. We agree with industry that the costs may be substantial, though until business discussions to access REACH data start in earnest, we cannot firm up an estimate of the likely costs.

These costs could have been mitigated in part through an agreement with the EU on an arrangement to share EU REACH registration data held by the European Chemicals Agency. While the UK was successful in agreeing a chemicals annex as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, the EU did not wish to progress the UK proposal on REACH registration data within that annex.


To help mitigate the costs of the transition to UK REACH we have recently extended the deadlines for businesses to provide the full registration data, allowing industry more time to adapt to the new compliance obligations and spread costs over a longer period


The cost to Government in establishing UK REACH includes establishing the new Comply with UK REACH service and putting in place the capacity in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency and Defra to operate the new regime. We anticipate spending around £20 million this financial year on the development, operation and maintenance of the REACH IT system and staff resourcing.

Ministers from Defra, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and HSE have an established forum for engagement with the chemicals sector through the Chemicals EU Exit and Trade Group, which meets on a regular basis. Defra has firmly established relationships with a large number of Trade Associations and industry representatives. We have closely engaged with industry throughout the development of UK REACH, listening to concerns and, where feasible, adapting policy in response in order to help manage the transition in a pragmatic way.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost of sharing chemical data with the EU after the transition period.

The main costs to the GB chemicals industry in transitioning to UK REACH will result from obtaining the data needed to support registrations for the GB market. These costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which will be a matter of commercial negotiation. We agree with industry that the costs may be substantial, though until business discussions to access REACH data start in earnest, we cannot firm up an estimate of the likely costs.

These costs could have been mitigated in part through an agreement with the EU on an arrangement to share EU REACH registration data held by the European Chemicals Agency. While the UK was successful in agreeing a chemicals annex as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, the EU did not wish to progress the UK proposal on REACH registration data within that annex.


To help mitigate the costs of the transition to UK REACH we have recently extended the deadlines for businesses to provide the full registration data, allowing industry more time to adapt to the new compliance obligations and spread costs over a longer period


The cost to Government in establishing UK REACH includes establishing the new Comply with UK REACH service and putting in place the capacity in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency and Defra to operate the new regime. We anticipate spending around £20 million this financial year on the development, operation and maintenance of the REACH IT system and staff resourcing.

Ministers from Defra, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and HSE have an established forum for engagement with the chemicals sector through the Chemicals EU Exit and Trade Group, which meets on a regular basis. Defra has firmly established relationships with a large number of Trade Associations and industry representatives. We have closely engaged with industry throughout the development of UK REACH, listening to concerns and, where feasible, adapting policy in response in order to help manage the transition in a pragmatic way.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of domestic wood burners on levels of particle pollution.

National Statistics regarding emissions of air pollutants in the UK are published annually at the following URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/emissions-of-air-pollutants

The latest statistics estimated 38 per cent of primary emissions of PM 2.5 in the UK came from domestic wood burning sources in 2018. There is an increasing trend in emissions from this source over time. Defra also publishes national statistics on air quality as measured by the national network of air quality monitoring stations; the latest statistics report gives domestic solid fuel burning as a reason for the greatest concentrations of PM 2.5 recorded in the evenings and at weekends. The URL for these statistics is: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/air-quality-statistics

Defra recently published final reports from research to understand burning in UK homes and gardens, which expands the evidence base on solid fuel appliances and how households operate them. The research is published at the following URL: http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20159&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=AQ1017&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle climate change.

The UK is committed to taking ambitious, far-reaching action to tackle climate change and meet net zero; this legally binding target requires the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Defra is playing its part in contributing to this.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy leads across Government on climate change mitigation and net zero and Defra is the Government lead for climate change adaptation. Defra is responsible for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the following sectors: agriculture, waste, land-use and fluorinated gases (F-gases). It also has responsibility for promoting forestry in order to capture carbon.

The ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP) committed to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. Mitigating and adapting to climate change is one of the ten goals in the 25 YEP. Actions include:

  • The Clean Growth Strategy and 25 YEP set out a range of specific commitments to reduce emissions from agriculture. Defra is also looking at going further; considering ways to reduce agricultural emissions controlled directly within the farm boundary and looking at a broad range of measures including improvements in on-farm efficiency.
  • Our manifesto set a high ambition for trees, to increase planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025, aligning with the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to increase planting to reach net zero. In last year’s budget we announced £640 million of funding for tree planting and peatland restoration to support these ambitions.
  • Peatland restoration is a key component of the Government's Nature for Climate Fund that will lead to the restoration of 35,000 ha of peatland over the next five years.
  • We are delivering on our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, including plans to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and the GHG emissions associated with the breakdown of biodegradable waste.
  • We have committed to an 85% cut in the use of the main type of F-gas by 2036. We have continued to cut F-gas consumption in the UK at a faster pace than required under our international commitments, reducing levels by over 37% since 2015.

However, adapting to the inevitable changes in our climate is also vital. Whilst we continue to reduce our contribution to climate change, we are also taking robust action to improve the resilience of our people, economy and environment, this includes:

  • The second National Adaptation Programme (NAP). This was published in 2018 and sets out how we will address priority climate risks, as identified in the 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment.
  • Adaptation is rightly integrated throughout the policies and programmes of government. The NAP includes actions in a broad range of areas, including the natural environment, infrastructure, people and the built environment, business and industry, and local government.
  • We engage with key national stakeholders on climate resilience, supporting organisations reporting under the Climate Change Act's Adaptation Reporting Power. Over 90 organisations have committed to report by the end of 2021 on actions they are taking to strengthen preparedness for climate risks.
  • In November 2018 we published, with the Met Office, a new set of UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18), which include global and regional scenarios. In September 2019 local projections were launched, which provide locally relevant climate change information on a similar resolution to that of weather forecast models (2.2km). The Government will make use of UKCP18 to inform its planning and decision-making, and the Projections will also help businesses and individuals to take action to improve resilience.
Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the UK's ability to tackle organised waste crime.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement delivers a comprehensive package of capabilities that will ensure we can work with counterparts across the EU to tackle serious crime. The Agreement ensures streamlined co-operation on law enforcement to continue to ensure we continue to effectively tackle serious organised crime, including serious crime associated with the illegitimate waste industry.

Waste crime damages the environment, is a blight on local communities and the government is committed to tackling this criminal activity. Our primary objective is to protect human health and the environment. Permits and licences will still apply and the waste industry is expected to meet the high standards of protection for people and the environment and work to sound waste management practices.

The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out an ambitious package of reforms to modernise the way waste is regulated, clamping down on illegal operators and improving performance across the sector. Some of these commitments are being taken forward in the Environment Bill, including measures to further strengthen regulator powers when dealing with criminal operators.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish the England Peat Strategy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, we committed to publishing an England Peat Strategy to create and deliver a new ambitious framework for peat restoration in England. It will set out a holistic plan for the management, protection and restoration of our upland and lowland peatlands so that they deliver benefits for climate and nature. We expect to publish the strategy in early 2021.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to publish a summary of the business case for the Office for Environmental Protection.

Yes, Defra intends to publish a summary of the business case for the Office for Environmental Protection following Royal Assent of the Environment Bill.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the day one operating capability for the Office for Environmental Protection will be least 50 full-time equivalent staff.

We are working with the newly appointed OEP chair-designate Dame Glenys Stacey who now has oversight of this work. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot confirm precisely the amount of staff the OEP will have from the day that it is established, but we are working to have up to 50 full-time equivalents in post in time for vesting. We are currently completing work to determine these initial key posts for the OEP to fulfil its duties as set out in the Environment Bill. We will ensure that the OEP will have all of its statutory powers and duties within three months following Royal Assent.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect of air quality on the severity of covid-19 symptoms.

Defra continues to work with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) regarding the relationship between air quality and health, recently considering the specific relationship between Covid-19 deaths and air quality. I met with Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DHSC, to discuss this important issue on 13 November 2020. We will continue working closely on this issue, as our understanding of the role air quality has to play in the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, taking into account the many other factors influencing health inequalities.

Officials and appointed experts from Defra, Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics delivered a project to describe this relationship. The results and methodology were shared with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and a summary of the findings were published in August 2020 at the following URL:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ons-air-pollution-and-covid-19-mortality-rates-in-england-6-august-2020

The methodology used in this analysis project was also published at the following URL:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/methodologies/coronaviruscovid19relatedmortalityratesandtheeffectsofairpollutioninengland

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of progress on meeting the target of 11 million trees planted in England by 2022.

The Forestry Commission produces Official Statistics on new planting of woodland. The previous government set a target to plant 11 million trees with central government support in England in the period from 2017 to 2022, and the latest interim report shows that 5,036 hectares of land, equating to about 8,286,000 trees, were newly planted in the 3.5 years from April 2017 to September 2020, on track to achieve that target. The statistics are available here: Government supported new planting of trees in England: Interim update for the half year April to September 2020

The current government has committed to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025, across the whole UK. This is in line with the rate recommended by the Climate Change Committee and reflects the role trees can play in combating climate change.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with stakeholders on the development of the England Peat Strategy.

The Government has worked closely with stakeholders in the development of the England Peat Strategy over the past two years. In the Summer, we launched a targeted online questionnaire requesting responses to our policy discussion document. We also held a series of roundtable discussions across a broad range of stakeholders. The feedback received through these exercises is being incorporated into the Strategy.

We announced the imminent launch of the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force in December, which will bring together stakeholders across the agricultural and environmental sector, to deliver recommendations for a more sustainable future for lowland peatlands under agricultural management.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish the draft policy statement on environmental principles for public consultation.

We plan to publish a draft version of the Environmental Principles Policy Statement for consultation in early 2021. We expect this consultation to last 12 weeks.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the scope of legislative proposals needed to end the burning of important peatland habitats.

The Government is committed to phasing out rotational burning on protected blanket bog. We recognise the debate on both sides, and we are considering all the evidence to ensure that any legislation is effective. The considerations are complex, and it is important that we take the right steps to restore and protect this valuable habitat.

We do recognise that there will sometimes be circumstances where vegetation management is necessary and where burning may be the only practicable technique available and we will consider the views of landowners, managers and other stakeholders when assessing the scope of any future restrictions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to provide financial support to wildlife trusts and nature reserves whose income has reduced as a result of the Tier 4 covid-19 restrictions in England.

My department constantly keeps under review the financial health of Defra-related sectors, including in relation to how sectors are faring in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In December 2020, the Government announced the successful applicants to round 1 of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which brought forward up to £40 million for environmental charities and their partners to kick-start a pipeline of nature-based projects while creating and retaining jobs in the sector. A list of the 68 successful projects can be found on the National Lottery Heritage Fund website.

The Government has committed a further £40 million to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund in 2021/22, and my department will be announcing further details of a second round in the coming weeks.

Environmental charities have also been able to benefit from wider government financial support for businesses during Covid-19, particularly the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak aligns with the Government's long-term targets on climate and biodiversity.

While the world is rightly focussed on tackling the immediate threat of coronavirus, other great global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss have not gone away. This government remains committed to being a world leader on tackling the environmental crises we face.

The government’s work to conserve and enhance the environment is guided by two overarching objectives; the urgent need to reverse biodiversity loss, and our legally binding objective to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050. Our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan sets the overarching and long-term framework for much of this work, showing how we will improve the environment over a generation; by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality, and curbing plastic in the world’s oceans.

New measures announced in the 10 point-plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will help us deliver on this ambition. We will safeguard our cherished landscapes through the creation of new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; create the equivalent of well over 30,000 football pitches of wildlife rich habitat through 10 Landscape Recovery projects over the next four years, and run a £40 million second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to enable a range of nature conservation and restoration projects across England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he last spoke to the family of the late Ella Kissi-Debrah.

Our thoughts remain with Ella's family and friends. I will be meeting with Rosamund Kissi-Debrah to discuss air quality issues in the near future.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the Government's preparations for the COP26 meeting.

The UK is committed to taking ambitious, far-reaching action to tackle climate change. We are therefore delighted to be hosting COP26 in Glasgow, in partnership with Italy. Delivering success at COP26 is a top international priority for the UK.

Nature, including nature-based solutions to climate change, will be a key focus of COP26. This is in recognition of the fact that climate change and biodiversity loss are interlinked and mutually reinforcing problems that must be addressed together. My department also supports the climate adaptation campaign for COP26 as domestic policy owner.

In this vein, Defra is working extremely closely with colleagues across the whole of Government to put the ambitious COP26 ‘Nature campaign’ into action. This of course includes close collaboration between myself and my right hon. Friend, COP President Designate Alok Sharma, including a recent fruitful discussion on COP26 priorities in November.

We will continue this strong collaboration over the coming months as we prepare for COP26.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Affairs on taking diplomatic steps to create a legally binding international extinction loss and nature preservation target.

Biodiversity loss is a global problem that needs a global solution.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the main international forum devoted to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s biodiversity. At CBD COP15, to be held in 2021, the 196 Parties to the Convention are set to adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework which will set global targets to combat biodiversity loss.

The UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global framework. Our key objective is to agree a framework that spurs the global action needed by supporting ambitious and practical targets, including on species extinction and protected areas, and strengthened coherent implementation mechanisms which are commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

Biodiversity loss cannot be addressed in isolation and is part of a bigger set of interlinked challenges including climate change and development. As such, the new framework must be fit for all, not just environment ministries. We are working across government, including with FCDO, in the lead up to CBD COP15 to ensure these synergies, and the opportunities we have to address them, are best capitalised on. This approach is supported by our ongoing work with FCDO through relevant programmes such as the Darwin Initiative and on joined-up diplomatic outreach on UK nature priorities.

Additionally, we are working with FCDO to leverage transformative action through the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which the UK co-created and has been signed by over 80 countries. This Pledge includes a commitment to develop an ambitious post-2020 framework, including targets to halt human-induced species extinction and increase protected areas.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has of the effect of global nature conservation on the outbreak of pandemics.

My department has not made an independent assessment of the effect of global nature conservation on the outbreak of pandemics. However, as an issue of global concern, we work closely with our international partners to better understand and address the environmental drivers of pandemics and the spread of zoonotic diseases, including by reversing global biodiversity loss, tackling both unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade, and improving standards in food production and food safety around the world.

The UK played a leading role in the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on biodiversity and ecosystem services which highlighted the link between the destruction of biodiversity and habitats as a factor potentially exacerbating the emergence of infectious diseases in wildlife, domestic animals and people. IPBES subsequently, in October 2020, published a report of an expert workshop on pandemics and biodiversity which further contributes to our evidence base. The UK also enabled the production of the Global Biodiversity Assessment 5, published in September 2020, which reflected on the emergence of Covid-19. We will continue to assess those findings and the findings of other international assessments, to inform our response and to enable a green recovery from the pandemic.

We will continue to actively consider the complex links between infectious diseases and the destruction of natural habitats, adopting a One Health approach to ensure the interdependencies between human, animal, plant and environmental health are given appropriate focus and supporting swift policy interventions where these are shown to be effective in mitigating risk.

IBES Pandemic and Biodiversity report: https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-12/IPBES%20Workshop%20on%20Biodiversity%20and%20Pandemics%20Report_0.pdf

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the UK's ability to tackle organised waste crime.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement delivers a comprehensive package of capabilities that will ensure we can work with counterparts across the EU to tackle serious crime. The Agreement ensures streamlined co-operation on law enforcement to continue to ensure we continue to effectively tackle serious organised crime, including serious crime associated with the illegitimate waste industry.

Waste crime damages the environment, is a blight on local communities and the government is committed to tackling this criminal activity. Our primary objective is to protect human health and the environment. Permits and licences will still apply and the waste industry is expected to meet the high standards of protection for people and the environment and work to sound waste management practices.

The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out an ambitious package of reforms to modernise the way waste is regulated, clamping down on illegal operators and improving performance across the sector. Some of these commitments are being taken forward in the Environment Bill, including measures to further strengthen regulator powers when dealing with criminal operators.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has for a consultation on decisions made by the UK's independent chemicals regulator that deviate from controls and restrictions developed under EU REACH.

From 1 January, we will operate UK REACH. It will retain the fundamental approach and core principles of EU REACH and continue to provide high levels of protection for human health and the environment.


We will have the freedom to take our own decisions based on the scientific evidence and tailored to the needs of businesses, but this does not mean taking divergent decisions for the sake of it, nor reducing standards and levels of protection.

The legal framework for UK REACH provides for the input of external scientific advice to the UK Agency, so policy decisions on chemicals are supported by robust evidence and analysis. The UK Agency must then publish its opinions. This will ensure that there is transparency in the UK Agency’s opinion-making processes.

We will keep the same level of transparency and stakeholder engagement in the opinion forming processes as our EU equivalent and be able to draw from a pool of scientific experts as required. This will ensure that the regulatory processes can be properly held to account. By ensuring sufficient transparency of scientific discussions we will mirror ECHA’s approach to appointing accredited stakeholder organisations to observe ECHA Committee meetings.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what decisions to deviate from EU REACH controls after the transition period will be open to challenge in the event that stakeholders identify risks to society, the economy, human health or the environment.

From 1 January, we will operate UK REACH. It will retain the fundamental approach and core principles of EU REACH and continue to provide high levels of protection for human health and the environment.


We will have the freedom to take our own decisions based on the scientific evidence and tailored to the needs of businesses, but this does not mean taking divergent decisions for the sake of it, nor reducing standards and levels of protection.

The legal framework for UK REACH provides for the input of external scientific advice to the UK Agency, so policy decisions on chemicals are supported by robust evidence and analysis. The UK Agency must then publish its opinions. This will ensure that there is transparency in the UK Agency’s opinion-making processes.

We will keep the same level of transparency and stakeholder engagement in the opinion forming processes as our EU equivalent and be able to draw from a pool of scientific experts as required. This will ensure that the regulatory processes can be properly held to account. By ensuring sufficient transparency of scientific discussions we will mirror ECHA’s approach to appointing accredited stakeholder organisations to observe ECHA Committee meetings.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to maintain current (a) controls and (b) restrictions on chemicals in the first year of the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory regime.

Under UK REACH, all existing EU REACH authorisations and restrictions will be carried over into UK law at the end of the transition period. There will therefore be no change in protection from dangerous chemicals that are currently prohibited from use.

From 1 January, the processes for the evaluation, authorisation and restriction under UK REACH will mirror the processes under EU REACH and will be used to assess and manage risks from chemicals in the same way. While we will not take divergent decisions for the sake of it, it would not be appropriate to automatically implement decisions that are taken by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) after the end of the transition period. This is because the impact of decisions on the UK will no longer be being considered. We can take ECHA’s decisions into account, but we will need to consider, in each case, whether they are right for the UK.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will operate as the UK’s Regulatory Agency. It is building capacity and capability to ensure that we have a robust and effective regulator in place from the point of transition. Recruitment of 130 additional staff, inclusive of scientists, administrators, occupational hygienists and socio-economists, is taking place in preparation for its expanded regulatory role on REACH and other chemicals regimes. This is the largest recruitment exercise ever undertaken in this area and underlines the importance and priority of chemical regulation to HSE. This recruitment and subsequent training, builds on the existing expertise HSE holds, having worked on some of the most complex dossiers under EU REACH.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what resources his Department has allocated to the Health and Safety Executive to ensure it has capacity to consider whether (a) decisions and (b) developments in the European Chemicals Agency on hazardous chemicals should be implemented in UK REACH.

Under UK REACH, all existing EU REACH authorisations and restrictions will be carried over into UK law at the end of the transition period. There will therefore be no change in protection from dangerous chemicals that are currently prohibited from use.

From 1 January, the processes for the evaluation, authorisation and restriction under UK REACH will mirror the processes under EU REACH and will be used to assess and manage risks from chemicals in the same way. While we will not take divergent decisions for the sake of it, it would not be appropriate to automatically implement decisions that are taken by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) after the end of the transition period. This is because the impact of decisions on the UK will no longer be being considered. We can take ECHA’s decisions into account, but we will need to consider, in each case, whether they are right for the UK.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will operate as the UK’s Regulatory Agency. It is building capacity and capability to ensure that we have a robust and effective regulator in place from the point of transition. Recruitment of 130 additional staff, inclusive of scientists, administrators, occupational hygienists and socio-economists, is taking place in preparation for its expanded regulatory role on REACH and other chemicals regimes. This is the largest recruitment exercise ever undertaken in this area and underlines the importance and priority of chemical regulation to HSE. This recruitment and subsequent training, builds on the existing expertise HSE holds, having worked on some of the most complex dossiers under EU REACH.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Edwin Poots MLA on Government assistance to Northern Ireland in its environmental policy preparation for the end of the transition period.

The Secretary of State met with Lesley Griffiths and Fergus Ewing on 2 November, 16 November and 7 December and with Edwin Poots on 2 November and 16 November at the Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Preparations for the end of the transition period were discussed including progress on the common frameworks being developed on a range of environmental policy issues. Communiques from the meetings are published at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/communique-from-the-inter-ministerial-group-for-environment-food-and-rural-affairs

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Fergus Ewing MSP on Government assistance to Scotland in its environmental policy preparation for the end of the transition period.

The Secretary of State met with Lesley Griffiths and Fergus Ewing on 2 November, 16 November and 7 December and with Edwin Poots on 2 November and 16 November at the Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Preparations for the end of the transition period were discussed including progress on the common frameworks being developed on a range of environmental policy issues. Communiques from the meetings are published at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/communique-from-the-inter-ministerial-group-for-environment-food-and-rural-affairs

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of the UK seeking associate membership of the European Chemicals Agency after the end of the transition period.

The Government's position is that we will not remain within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, so we are not seeking to remain part of EU REACH or to participate in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).


In May the Government published its proposal for a chemicals annex, with inclusion of data sharing mechanisms with the EU and the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Health and Safety Executive and ECHA to facilitate regulator to regulator co-operation.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on ensuring that UK chemicals regulations after the transition period do not enable chemicals which do not meet EU regulations to be exported to the UK for sale and processing.

After the end of the transition period, the UK will establish its own independent chemicals regulatory framework for Great Britain, UK REACH. UK REACH will retain both the fundamental approach and key principles of EU REACH, with its aims of ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment. All restrictions (and other measures) that are in force in EU REACH at the end of the transition period will be automatically carried over into UK law.

UK REACH will retain the “no data, no market” principle, which underpins effective chemicals management by industry and regulator. This means that under UK REACH, every manufacturer or importer will be responsible for ensuring that the chemicals they produce and use do not adversely affect human health of the environment and will need to supply the Health and Safety Executive, the regulator, with the necessary information on a chemical’s properties and hazards, and how it can be used safely


The provisions for UK REACH were drawn up in close co-operation with the Devolved Administrations and the Administrations have given their formal consent to a single GB-wide set of regulations.


We have also engaged closely with representatives from British businesses on this issue and other issues through our extensive stakeholder network of trade associations, representative organisations and individual companies.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the European Union on the implications for UK chemicals policy of Northern Ireland remaining part of the EU REACH regime after 31 December 2020.

For the duration of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland will remain part of the EU regulatory systems for chemicals to ensure frictionless movement of goods within the island of Ireland, whilst remaining within the UK customs territory.

The Government is committed to providing unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses, as set out in the July Command Paper, and subsequent business guidance. The provisions we have made through the REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 concerning chemicals moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain reflect this.

Chemicals that are, or are in, qualifying Northern Ireland goods being placed on the GB market will not be required to have a full REACH registration. Instead, there will be a light touch notification process to ensure the Health and Safety Executive knows what chemicals are being placed on the GB market. Information necessary to ensure safe use must also still be passed down the supply chain.

Substances of very high concern entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland will still need a UK REACH authorisation. This is needed to manage the risk from these hazardous chemicals to GB consumers, workers and the environment. This simply replicates the current approach to placing these substances on the EU market where the authorisation process makes sure account is taken of local environmental and other factors. We will ensure that this happens where these chemicals are being placed on the market and used within Great Britain.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of British business on ensuring that UK chemicals regulations do not enable chemicals which do not meet EU regulations to be exported to the UK for sale and processing.

After the end of the transition period, the UK will establish its own independent chemicals regulatory framework for Great Britain, UK REACH. UK REACH will retain both the fundamental approach and key principles of EU REACH, with its aims of ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment. All restrictions (and other measures) that are in force in EU REACH at the end of the transition period will be automatically carried over into UK law.

UK REACH will retain the “no data, no market” principle, which underpins effective chemicals management by industry and regulator. This means that under UK REACH, every manufacturer or importer will be responsible for ensuring that the chemicals they produce and use do not adversely affect human health of the environment and will need to supply the Health and Safety Executive, the regulator, with the necessary information on a chemical’s properties and hazards, and how it can be used safely


The provisions for UK REACH were drawn up in close co-operation with the Devolved Administrations and the Administrations have given their formal consent to a single GB-wide set of regulations.


We have also engaged closely with representatives from British businesses on this issue and other issues through our extensive stakeholder network of trade associations, representative organisations and individual companies.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to prevent the stockpiling of waste in the event that the UK and EU do not reach an agreement on their future relationship at the end of the transition period.

The Government has been planning a number of contingency measures in the event of disruption at ports. In the event of disruption, our immediate focus is to keep waste away from the affected ports and instead closer to points of production. Our primary objective is to protect human health and the environment and waste holders are legally expected to manage waste to achieve that aim in line with waste regulations and legislation.

We are working closely with local authorities and the waste industry to ensure the continued provision of key waste services. People who commit a waste-related crime remain liable to prosecution. We all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and people must work together to support their communities during this challenging time. We expect all waste operators to adhere to their permits. We are encouraging businesses who export waste to consider and continue to plan alternative options in case of disruption at borders. Permits and licences will still apply and the waste industry is expected to meet the high standards of protection for people and the environment and work to sound waste management practices.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to prevent an increase in waste related crimes in the event that the UK and EU do not reach an agreement on their future relationship at the end of the transition period.

The Government has been planning a number of contingency measures in the event of disruption at ports. In the event of disruption, our immediate focus is to keep waste away from the affected ports and instead closer to points of production. Our primary objective is to protect human health and the environment and waste holders are legally expected to manage waste to achieve that aim in line with waste regulations and legislation.

We are working closely with local authorities and the waste industry to ensure the continued provision of key waste services. People who commit a waste-related crime remain liable to prosecution. We all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and people must work together to support their communities during this challenging time. We expect all waste operators to adhere to their permits. We are encouraging businesses who export waste to consider and continue to plan alternative options in case of disruption at borders. Permits and licences will still apply and the waste industry is expected to meet the high standards of protection for people and the environment and work to sound waste management practices.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Lesley Griffiths MS Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

The Secretary of State met with Lesley Griffiths and Fergus Ewing on 2 November, 16 November and 7 December and with Edwin Poots on 2 November and 16 November at the Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Preparations for the end of the transition period were discussed including progress on the common frameworks being developed on a range of environmental policy issues. Communiques from the meetings are published at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/communique-from-the-inter-ministerial-group-for-environment-food-and-rural-affairs

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that the UK leaving the EU REACH will not result in an increase in animal testing.

Under UK REACH, we will recognise the validity of any animal tests on products that have already been undertaken and so avoid the need for further testing. The grandfathering of all existing GB-held EU REACH registrations into the UK system will further avoid the need to duplicate animal testing associated with re-registration.


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


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

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the financial cost to businesses of compliance with UK REACH regulations.

We recognise that businesses may incur additional costs as a result of the transition to an independent UK regime, and to maintain their access to EU markets.

The main costs for business will be accessing the data they need to support a registration for the GB market. These costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which will be a matter of commercial negotiation. It is therefore difficult to put a single meaningful estimate on these costs, though our estimates broadly align with those of industry.

The extension to the deadlines for data submission we recently announced allows industry more time to adapt and comply with UK REACH. This is particularly beneficial to SMEs who are more likely to have smaller tonnages, giving them up to 6 years and 300 days to supply the data. If the extra time does not enable industry to agree data access at lower cost, it will enable the costs to be spread over a longer period and reduce the need for companies to redirect resources onto REACH compliance.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many of his Department's staff have been redeployed since 1 July 2020 to work on (a) covid-19 response and (b) the transition period following the departure of the UK from the EU.

The Government is committed to delivering its manifesto and policy commitments while preparing for the end of the transition period and responding to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have established a central team to co-ordinate our Covid-19 response and preparations for the end of transition. 36 staff have moved since 1 July to bolster teams working on these priorities. These teams have been supplemented by cross-Government moves and external recruitment.

Moving staff to meet our priorities is normal practice and in line with usual business planning.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which workstreams in his Department have been paused or suspended to prioritise covid-19 response or exiting the EU transition work since 1 July 2020.

The Government is committed to delivering its manifesto and policy commitments while preparing for the end of the transition period and responding to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have established a central team to co-ordinate our Covid-19 response and preparations for the end of transition. 36 staff have moved since 1 July to bolster teams working on these priorities. These teams have been supplemented by cross-Government moves and external recruitment.

Moving staff to meet our priorities is normal practice and in line with usual business planning.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) within (a) National Parks and (b) AONBs have favourable conservation status.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only. Natural England monitors the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England. Based on data from November 2020, the proportion, by area, of SSSI in National Parks that is in favourable condition is 25.5%. The proportion of SSSI in AONBs that is in favourable condition is 33.5%.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of whether the UK's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty meet the standards for category 1 or 2 environmentally protected areas as set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

We consider that National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England are most closely aligned with the definition of category 5 protected areas (Protected Landscapes) as set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and they are identified as such in our national reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In implementing the proposals set out in the Landscapes Review published in 2019 we intend to support our National Parks and AONBs to become exemplars of the IUCN’s category 5 landscapes.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to increase the regular monitoring of protected land to ensure it is in good condition and contributing to nature’s recovery.

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

Defra is investing in a Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) which is a long-term programme to understand the state and condition of biodiversity, ecosystems and natural capital assets in England. This is being piloted with £5m of funding in 2020/21 by a partnership including Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Forest Research. Data from this programme will inform the annual Monitoring Environmental Outcomes in Protected Landscapes (MEOPL), which records how protected landscapes in England are changing and provides a broad indication of how they are performing with respect to the criteria for which they are designated.

Natural England is developing a new approach to monitoring protected sites, which include Sites of Special Scientific Interest and European sites. This includes the use of new technologies such as remote sensing and greater partnership involvement. Natural England's 5-year strategy for investment in monitoring the natural environment and its benefits across England's land and sea was published in 2019:

http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/5752753379082240

The statutory purposes of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are enshrined in legislation and are primarily to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of those areas. The management of these protected landscapes is informed by statutory management plans, which set out the agreed policies and objectives to help deliver their statutory purposes. These documents, including monitoring reports, are publicly available online via:

https://www.nationalparksengland.org.uk/national-park-management-plans/the-ten-english-national-park-management-plans

https://landscapesforlife.org.uk/about-aonbs/aonbs/overview

The Landscape Review, led by Julian Glover and published in September 2019, recommended that management plans should be strengthened and set clear priorities and actions for nature recovery. We are carefully considering all the recommendations of the review and will respond in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his European counterparts to ensure people with assistance dogs are able to travel to the EU after the transition period.

Defra is proactively and positively engaging with the assistance dog community and relevant stakeholders on the impacts on dog movements to the EU. We will continue to closely work with assistance dog organisations to share the latest advice and guidance (in accessible formats) with their members on pet travel requirements as this is updated. The Department submitted an application to the EU Commission to become a ‘Part I’ listed third country in relation to non-commercial movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets from the UK into the EU. Acceptance of this application would mean very similar documentation and health requirements to those now for pet owners and users of assistance dogs travelling to the EU. The Commission is now considering our application and the Government is continuing to engage with the them on this point. We will not be changing our requirements for pet travel into GB in the short term, in order to make the movements of pet travellers and users of assistance dogs as frictionless as possible. Any future review of the pet travel rules will take into consideration the needs of assistance dog users as a priority.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the level of air pollution from motor vehicles since covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased in August 2020.

NO2 levels have risen again following the initial period of lockdown as traffic levels increased. We continue taking urgent action to curb the impact air pollution has on communities across England through our ambitious Clean Air Strategy and our £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution. The Government continues to engage with local authorities to help them deliver interventions such as Clean Air Zones. Our landmark Environment Bill will enable greater local action for tackling air pollution and deliver key parts of the Clean Air Strategy by establishing a duty to set a target on PM2.5 alongside a further long-term target on air quality as part of the wider framework for setting legally binding environmental targets.

Air quality is a devolved matter. Each of the devolved administrations has or is currently developing a strategy which, like the Clean Air Strategy in England, will provide a robust framework to contribute delivery of UK national emission ceilings.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Sri Lankan counterpart on the 21 containers of waste returned to the UK from that country in September 2020.

The Environment Agency (EA), as the competent authority for waste shipments for England, is proactively engaging with the authorities in Sri Lanka on these containers and is leading the response on this matter.

The 21 containers arrived back in England on Wednesday 28 October. The containers, which were shipped to Sri Lanka in 2017, were found by Sri Lankan authorities to contain illegal materials described as mattresses and carpets which had been exported for recycling. With the shipment now back on English soil, EA enforcement officers will seek to confirm the types of waste shipped, who exported it and the producer of the waste. Those responsible could face a custodial sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine, and the recovery of money and assets gained through the course of their criminal activity.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the financial viability of wildlife trusts and nature reserves.

My department constantly keeps under review the financial health of Defra-related sectors, including in relation to how sectors are faring in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to engage with Defra-related sectors on this.

In September, the Government launched the Green Recovery Challenge Fund which brings forward up to £40 million for environmental charities and their partners to kick-start a pipeline of nature-based projects while creating and retaining jobs in the sector. The funding is being made available quickly for projects that are ready to deliver, providing investment when the sector most needs it as part of our green recovery from Covid-19.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many applications have been made to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund; and what amount of that funding has been applied for to date.

The £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a short-term competitive fund that will kick-start environmental renewal whilst creating and retaining jobs in the conservation sector across England. The fund was launched on 14 September and is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. There are separate application processes for grants of over £250,000 and grants of under £250,000. Applicants for the larger grants were required to submit an Expression of Interest in advance of a full application.

We have received 202 Expressions of Interest, totalling £270.6 million. 56 of these, totalling £72.1 million, have been invited to submit full applications for the larger grant size. For the smaller grant size, 565 applications were received, totalling £97.4 million.

I am very pleased that the fund has received such a high level of interest. Defra, National Lottery Heritage Fund and our ALBs are working very hard to complete the assessment process and ensure this money is made available as soon as possible to kick start projects on the ground this winter. This will support our ambitions for a green recovery, delivering nature and climate projects while creating and retaining jobs across the country.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on what schemes the £3.8 billion allocated to mitigating air pollution is being spent; when each element of that funding is planned to be spent; and what funding has been disbursed to date.

We have put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and deliver cleaner transport. This includes:

  • Nearly £1.5 billion between April 2015 and March 2021 to support the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles. Spending to date includes:

o Over £900 million in vehicle grant support to bring ULEV cars and vans onto UK roads, supporting over 240,000 claims

o Over £400 million in grants delivered through Innovate UK into ultra-low and zero emission technologies

o £130 million invested to support the purchase of over 1,700 low emission buses and supporting infrastructure through the Green Bus Fund* and the Low Emission Bus Scheme

o £40 million in Go Ultra Low Cities with ambitious plans to become global exemplars of ultra low emission vehicle uptake

o Over £20 million across 27 local authorities, to install chargepoint infrastructure dedicated to electric taxis and PHVs

  • £1.2 billion for the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to increase cycling and walking and make our roads safer for vulnerable users. Details are in the Report to Parliament (see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-cwis-report-to-parliament).
  • £880 million to help local authorities develop and implement local air quality plans and to support those impacted by these plans. Of this, £394 million has been allocated to local authorities, the remainder will be used to support ongoing development and delivery of local plans.
  • £80 million to support bus retrofit, this funding has been allocated to local authorities
  • £14 million on the air quality grant, this funding has been allocated to local authorities.
  • £75 million to improve air quality on the Strategic Road Network in the Road Investment Strategy. £39 million of this has so far been spent, with a further £21 million planned to be spent before April 2021.

In addition to the £3.8 billion referred to, Government has committed a further £2.5 billion to support a number of cities improve their local transport systems through the Transforming Cities Fund; a number of these projects will help deliver air quality improvements. A further £5 billion has also been announced by the Prime Minister to deliver cleaner buses and improved services and to boost cycling and walking. This funding will help improve air quality.

To accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles a further £1 billion was announced at March Budget to extend plug in vehicle grants to 2023 and support the roll out of Electric Vehicles infrastructure over the next five years.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the fishing industry of the covid-19 outbreak.

The closure of export markets, and the domestic hospitality sector, has affected the fishing sector. This is evidenced in statistics published by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on fishing activity in April, the first full month of lockdown in the UK. These statistics show that landings by UK vessels in April 2020 were down by 35% compared to a year ago. The value of these landings was down more steeply by 54%. The MMO has published statistics for March and April. The MMO's ad hoc COVID-19 impact statistics will be published monthly, on the final Tuesday of the subsequent month, while the impact of the pandemic on fisheries continues to be acute.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on communities recovering from the 2019 winter floods.

The Secretary of State recognises the impact of COVID-19 on flood-affected householders and businesses and sympathises with those affected.

Flood recovery is a devolved matter and in England the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the lead Government department for recovery.

In response to the flood events of 2019 and 2020, the Government activated the Flood Recovery Framework in England. This framework aims to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Defra leads on two recovery schemes: the Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Scheme and the Farming Recovery Fund (FRF). The PFR fund enables eligible flood-affected properties to receive up to £5,000 to improve their resilience to future flooding. Both the November 2019 and February 2020 schemes remain open despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra officials are working closely with local authorities to monitor the situation and provide support if necessary.

Officials are also in close contact with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to understand the progress insurers are making within the recovery process in light of COVID-19. In general, insurers are stepping up their use of technology to work around the need to be in properties in person. They have access to the required protective equipment where needed, and suitable accommodation is being found where required. The ABI has been active in providing customers with regular updates and keeping officials informed of the progress on the ground.

The FRF was opened to support the recovery from the June and July 2019 floods in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This was extended to cover the further flooding in parts of South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and the Midlands in November 2019. Delivery is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish the UK’s negotiating position on a future fisheries agreement with the EU.

The Government published its approach to fisheries negotiations on 27 February and has since published its draft Fisheries Framework Agreement legal text, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement laid before the House on 19 May.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to support coastal communities affected by coastal erosion during the covid-19 lockdown.

Local Authorities are best placed to manage their coastline and develop appropriate approaches to manage risks from coastal change.

Local Resilience Forums identify risks in their areas and develop plans with partners, including local authorities, to manage these risks. This forward planning will ensure appropriate and timely responses to an emergency event.

We also expect Local Authorities to have well established contingency arrangements to respond and support their local communities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government plans to provide support for owners with mortgages on fishing boats in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England during the covid-19 outbreak.

Mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19), including through payment holidays, among other options. Vessel owners across the UK can contact their lender directly to discuss whether a mortgage payment holiday or other arrangement would be suitable for their particular situation.

Fisheries management is a devolved matter and each Devolved Authority is responsible for determining and delivering appropriate financial interventions in their region. Each of the Devolved Administrations has now announced financial schemes to assist vessel owners meet their fixed costs. The appropriate authority should be contacted for further information on the financial assistance available in their area.

In England, a £10 million fund has been created to help the fishing industry during this period. Of this fund, £9 million in grants will be available to vessel owners and aquaculture businesses to help them meet the fixed-costs of maintaining their business. This includes interest on loans and mortgages, but not the capital cost of the loan itself.

In England, the level of financial assistance to vessel owners will be determined by the vessel length. The Marine Management Organisation has begun the process of contacting eligible owners. Further details of the scheme may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-financial-support-for-englands-fishing-businesses.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans the Government has to provide support for fishers facing difficulties paying their boat mortgages in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) Engand during the covid-19 outbreak.

Mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19), including through payment holidays, among other options. Vessel owners across the UK can contact their lender directly to discuss whether a mortgage payment holiday or other arrangement would be suitable for their particular situation.

Fisheries management is a devolved matter and each Devolved Authority is responsible for determining and delivering appropriate financial interventions in their region. Each of the Devolved Administrations has now announced financial schemes to assist vessel owners meet their fixed costs. The appropriate authority should be contacted for further information on the financial assistance available in their area.

In England, a £10 million fund has been created to help the fishing industry during this period. Of this fund, £9 million in grants will be available to vessel owners and aquaculture businesses to help them meet the fixed-costs of maintaining their business. This includes interest on loans and mortgages, but not the capital cost of the loan itself.

In England, the level of financial assistance to vessel owners will be determined by the vessel length. The Marine Management Organisation has begun the process of contacting eligible owners. Further details of the scheme may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-financial-support-for-englands-fishing-businesses.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether there will be checks and controls for (a) people and (b) goods entering the island of Ireland from Great Britain after the UK leaves the EU.

Regarding the movement of people, the UK and Irish governments have made firm commitments to protect Common Travel Area arrangements, including the associated rights of British and Irish citizens in each other's state. Article 3 of the revised Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland allows the UK and Ireland to continue these arrangements after EU Exit.

Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s single customs territory.The Prime Minister has been clear that, beyond the limited changes introduced by the Northern Ireland Protocol, there will be no changes to GB-NI trade in goods.

Under the terms of the Protocol no tariffs will be paid on goods moving within the United Kingdom unless they are destined to enter the EU via the Republic of Ireland.

Once we leave the EU, the UK will cease to be a Member State. Movements of goods from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland will be subject to the arrangements concluded by the UK and the EU as part of the future relationship. We are aiming for an ambitious agreement with the EU with zero tariffs and quotas which could, depending on what is agreed, replace the Protocol.

In the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, both sides have committed to use their best endeavours to negotiate that agreement by the end of this year.

Most importantly, the special arrangements provided for in the Protocol are subject to the democratic consent of the people of Northern Ireland, ensuring that if they find the arrangements of the Protocol unsatisfactory for any reason they have the choice to bring those arrangements to an end.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will introduce mandatory training for her Department’s staff in Nigeria on (a) patterns of discrimination and (b) conflict on grounds of religious characteristics and (c) how religion and religious actors interact with the societal context.

Our staff are encouraged to?develop?an understanding of religion and its role within society,?including in conflict situations and in countries like Nigeria where?religion is important to most people's identity. Specific training on religion is available to DFID staff through the FCO’s Diplomatic Academy. DFID’s cadre of Social Development Advisers specialise in understanding religious diversity and religious freedom and provide support across the DFID Nigeria office. In addition, our Nigerian local staff provide first-hand insight into the role of religion and religious actors within Nigerian society, including conflicts affecting the country. DFID also use expertise from the FCO’s Africa Research Group and conflict-prevention experts.

We are now working on an enhanced training offer related to religion as part of our commitment to implement the recommendations made in the Bishop of Truro's independent review. This work is being led by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what her policy is on her Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) continually review the waste generated on the estate and work with commercial colleagues on circular economy principles to reduce the amount of waste that arrives on its sites.

Further information on Greening Government Commitments can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883779/ggc-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of her Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The Department’s expenditure on energy during 2020/21 was £428k.

For previous financial years please see the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts:

2018-2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-for-international-trade-annual-report-and-accounts-2018-to-2019

2019-2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-for-international-trade-annual-report-and-accounts-2019-to-2020

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she last met representatives of the Southern African Development Community.

The Secretary of State met with representatives of several Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States at the signing of the UK-South African Customs Union and Mozambique Economic Partnership Agreement in October 2019. She also met the Honourable Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius, at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January 2020.

The British High Commissioner in Gaborone (as the UK Special Representative to the SADC) and her team engage regularly with the SADC Secretariat on a range of economic, climate, and political issues – most recently, in June 2021.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she last met her New Zealand counterpart; and if she will make a statement.

New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor concluded a day of detailed talks on June 17 in London with the Secretary of State for International Trade.

The UK and New Zealand held constructive and productive discussions towards the conclusion of a high-quality and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that will support sustainable and inclusive trade. Both countries are confident that the remaining issues will be resolved, with talks on track to deliver an ambitious Free Trade Agreement, bringing both strategic and economic benefits to the United Kingdom.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she last met representatives of CARICOM.

Ministers regularly engage with their Caribbean Community (CARICOM) counterparts.

I last discussed trade with my counterparts, including the new Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)-United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement, in March 2021.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had with the Scottish Government on her Department's trade priorities for the upcoming G7 summit.

The trade priorities for the upcoming G7 leaders’ summit are to champion free and fair trade, advance the modernisation of international trade, and support the reform and strengthening of the World Trade Organization. Free and Fair Trade is essential to long-term prosperity and the Government will use its G7 Presidency to unite the G7 to help tackle practices that undermine this. The Government has been engaging with officials from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit, and will continue to do so in the run up to the Summit and throughout the Presidency.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had with the Welsh Government on her Department's trade priorities for the upcoming G7 summit.

The trade priorities for the upcoming G7 leaders’ summit are to champion free and fair trade, advance the modernisation of international trade, and support the reform and strengthening of the World Trade Organization. Free and Fair Trade is essential to long-term prosperity and the Government will use its G7 Presidency to unite the G7 to help tackle practices that undermine this. The Government has been engaging with officials from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit, and will continue to do so in the run up to the Summit and throughout the Presidency.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what her trade priorities are for the upcoming G7 summit.

The trade priorities for the upcoming G7 leaders’ summit are to champion free and fair trade, advance the modernisation of international trade, and support the reform and strengthening of the World Trade Organization. Free and Fair Trade is essential to long-term prosperity and the Government will use its G7 Presidency to unite the G7 to help tackle practices that undermine this. The Government has been engaging with officials from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit, and will continue to do so in the run up to the Summit and throughout the Presidency.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had with representatives of UK business on the effect on them of the UK leaving the EU.

My Department has undertaken a wide range of engagement with UK business since the end of the Transition Period. This has included individual support to business, and through wider groups and webinars.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether it is her Department’s policy to encourage British businesses to register new firms in the EU single market.

This is not Government policy. The Cabinet Office has issued guidance, available at gov.uk/transition, which we encourage all businesses to follow.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the UK's commitment to human rights.

The United Kingdom has long promoted her values globally. We are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of our values. While our approach to agreements will vary between partners, it will always allow HM Government to have open discussions on issues, including rights and responsibilities. The Secretary of State continues to engage with a wide range of colleagues, including Cabinet, on issues across our Department’s work.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the advice provided by trade experts in her Department to UK businesses.

International Trade Advisors (ITAs) help businesses to identify target export markets, conduct research, test market readiness and find solutions to barriers to entry. ITAs undergo a broad range of appropriate training and have access to clear lines on government policy to ensure they provide businesses with timely and accurate advice on exporting. The Department conducts an independent annual survey with approximately 6000 businesses. Of the businesses that used the ITA service between April 2018 and March 2019, 76% were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’, 84% rated staff knowledge positively and 67% said the service was good at meeting their needs.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the likelihood of a trade deal with New Zealand being completed by 31 December 2020.

The UK and New Zealand are both committed to negotiating an ambitious agreement at pace. The first round of talks – which took place between 13th and 24th July 2020- have laid the groundwork for greater progress. The Government will make its next statement on progress following the second round of talks, which is currently planned to take place in October.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential for a trade deal with Australia being completed by 31 December 2020.

The UK and Australia are both committed to negotiating an ambitious agreement at pace. The first round of talks – which took place between 29 June and 10 July 2020 - have laid the groundwork for greater progress. The Government will make its next statement on progress following the second round of talks, which will take place later this month.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress she has made with her (a) Australian and (b) New Zealand counterpart on trade deals after the UK leaves the EU.

The UK is committed to negotiating ambitious free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand once we have left the European Union. My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Trade Ministers of Australia and New Zealand are in regular contact and have a shared ambition to move quickly to agree high-quality and comprehensive free trade agreements which set a high benchmark globally. The UK continues to engage with both countries in preparation for the launch of negotiations.

16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to support exports from the renewable energy sector.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) undertakes a range of promotion activities to support exports from the renewable energy sector, including those under the ‘GREAT’ campaign, further information about which can be found on DIT’s website. Engagement with UK exporters forms part of the work of DIT’s sector teams – one of which specifically focuses on renewable energy technologies – as well as our international network of trade and investment advisors, with renewable energy and clean growth key themes.

For example, last year the Department worked closely with Taiwan which included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to open up Taiwan’s offshore wind opportunities for UK companies. The offshore wind sector deal commits DIT and industry to increase offshore wind exports fivefold to £2.6 billion by 2030.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Black and ethnic minority staff are employed by his Department.

The number of staff employed by the department who have declared themselves to be Black and ethnic minority is 1125 as of the 30th June 2021.

The breakdown between the central Department and the Executive Agencies is as follows:

DfTc

665

DVLA

106

DVSA

234

MCA

102

VCA

18

Total

1125

Note that the figures for black and ethnic minority staff do not include members of staff who have chosen either not to interact with the voluntary declaration system, or those who have chosen to interact but have declared that they prefer not to say.

The current declaration rate for ethnicity for the department is currently 86.61%.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has made a formal commitment to increase its rates of recycling through the Greening Government Commitments (GGCs).

The GGCs for 2016-2020, which have been extended to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, ask departments to “continue to improve our waste management by reducing the overall amount of waste generated and increasing the proportion which is recycled.”

Between 2016 and 2021 DfT has delivered on these targets, reducing the total waste generated and increasing the percentage of waste recycled year-on-year, as outlined in the table below:

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Total Waste (tonnes)

4,522

4,403

3,955

3,010

2,110

% Recycled

46%

48%

50%

64%

65%


A new phase of GGCs for 2021-2025 is due to be published by Defra, which will set out updated recycling targets, which the Department for Transport will commit to deliver.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

Information on the total energy expenditure for the Department for Transport is available in the Annual Report and Accounts here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936346/DfT-Annual-Report-and-Accounts-2019-20-web-accessible.pdf

(a) The Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020-21 will be published in mid-September.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of introducing an international vaccine passport.

We have equipped people with the ability to prove their vaccination status using the NHS app, which is already used by some countries to allow British passengers to enter with fewer restrictions. Our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate when travelling from amber list countries nor take a test on day 8. We expect this to occur in phases, starting with people who have had their COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. We continue to engage with international partners bilaterally and multilaterally to shape our policy on vaccine certification.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the UK aviation sector makes a strong recovery once the domestic economy opens up as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The report of the Global Travel Taskforce, published on 9 April, clearly sets out how, when the time is right, we will be able to restart international travel safely while managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern. It has been created following extensive engagement with the international travel and tourism industries, and we are grateful for their valuable contributions to the development of the report’s recommendations.

The government is also currently developing a strategic framework for the recovery of the aviation sector, which will focus on how the sector can build back better to deliver a world leading aviation sector for the UK. We expect to publish this framework later this year.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating a seafarer job creation target for new UK Ratings and Officers.

The Maritime 2050 strategy has made recommendations on promoting and increasing employment and training but no targets have been set.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to help ensure the safety of rail workers as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the safety of all rail workers and passengers continues to be our priority. We have issued comprehensive guidance to train operators on the steps they need to take to protect staff in line with Public Health England advice, as well as safer travel guidance for passengers, both of which are regularly reviewed and updated.

Operators are planning to increase service levels in line with the roadmap and the levels of demand observed on the network, alongside taking active steps to encourage social distancing and manage passenger flows with crowd management plans and ability to draw on additional staff if needed.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to support jobs in the aviation sector in (a) Newport West constituency and (b) the UK.

The Government fully recognises the impact that COVID-19 is having on the aviation sector. The sector is important to the UK economy and can draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, designed to ensure that companies of any size receive the help they need to get through this difficult time.

We have extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until 30 September 2021. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their current salary until that date (up to £2,500). 52% of passenger air transport employees were furloughed using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) as of 31 January 2021. We estimate the wider air transport sector will have received around £1 billion in support through CJRS up to the end of April 2021.

Constituents in Newport West, including in the aviation sector, have similarly benefited from this support. By 15 March 2021, 13,100 workers in Newport West had been furloughed using the CJRS.

In addition, the Department for Transport launched the Aviation Skills Retention Platform in February to support skills retention in the sector. This allows aviation sector workers who are currently out of work to register their skills, so they can be matched with relevant jobs opportunities, advice and upskilling opportunities.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of restrictions imposed on UK hauliers operating in the EU on the haulage sector since the end of the transition period.

Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU, UK hauliers can continue to undertake unrestricted bilateral journeys to and from the EU, and transit journeys to a non-EU country. The TCA also allows UK hauliers to undertake up to 2 additional laden journeys within the EU after a laden international journey from the UK (either cabotage or cross-trade, with a maximum of one cabotage movement – i.e. two cross-trade, or one cabotage and one cross-trade).

The Department for Transport’s assessment is that the TCA will allow for the vast majority of UK haulage operations to and from the EU to continue exactly as they did before the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to a partially-sighted man being struck by a train after falling on the tracks from a platform without tactile edging, what steps he is taking to make all railway platforms in England safe for blind and partially sighted people.

This was a tragic incident and we fully accept the recommendations in the Rail Accident Investigation Board's Report. Whenever industry installs, replaces or renews platform infrastructure they are required to install tactiles. I have asked Network Rail to work up a costed plan for a wider roll out of tactiles for stations where tactiles are not being delivered as part of an existing enhancements or renewal project.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, when he last spoke to Chancellor Merkel of Germany; and if he will make a statement.

This information is available on the gov.uk website.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures to protect lifeline ferry services in the UK from the economic effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

The emergency package of up to £10.5m granted by the Government on 24 April has safeguarded vital lifeline services in Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly during the Covid-19 outbreak. The package has ensured the continued access for these communities to healthcare services on the mainland and protected the flow of critical supplies to these regions.

I am grateful for the continued efforts by lifeline operators in running their crucial services throughout the global pandemic. We continue to work closely with the providers of these services and all relevant local stakeholders.

Officials and I also liaise with our counterparts in the Devolved Administrations on the support they are providing to lifeline services in other parts of the UK.

9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The government welcomes the resumption of passenger services between airports in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. In May the Government announced a £5.7million funding package of measures,?temporarily supporting?two airlinks,?from Belfast and Londonderry to London,?and associated airport services at City of Derry Airport and Belfast City Airport. The funding package ensured that lifeline connectivity services continued to both Belfast and Londonderry during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recognise that the impacts of COVID-19 on the civil aviation sector will continue for some time. The Department speaks regularly to the Northern Ireland Executive, airlines and airports as part of our engagement on restart and recovery in the sector and will continue to do so as we look to rebuild regional connectivity throughout the UK.

9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps the Government has taken to help ensure the safety of people (a) travelling to airports, (b) in airports and (c) on aircraft.

The Government has published transport guidance for passengers and operators on safer travel during the coronavirus outbreak. This guidance will enable passengers to take the necessary measures to protect themselves and others on the forms transport most commonly used for travelling to airports (including private cars, taxis, buses, and trains).

The Government has also published guidance specifically for aviation operators and for air passengers on safer travel during the coronavirus outbreak. This guidance maps out the measures passengers can take to protect themselves and others in airports and on board aircraft, and includes advice on hygiene measures, face coverings, and social distancing in aviation settings. The Government expects all airport operators and airlines to manage the risks of coronavirus as far as possible in order to provide safer workplaces and services for workers and passengers.

It is also important to note that wearing face coverings on public transport (including on board aircraft) is now mandatory in England and Scotland.

9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government has taken to help ensure the safety of (a) passengers and (b) crew on ferries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials and I have engaged all parts of the maritime sector throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do so. The Government has produced a wide range of guidance for the safety of passengers and crew. We have also worked closely with Public Health England and the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure ferry operators have access to guidance that provides advice on reducing the risk for passengers and crew helping to ensure their safety. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also provided a range of advice and measures to support the ongoing safe operation of lifeline and other ferry services.

The Department also welcomes the recent publication of guidance by the UK Chamber of Shipping which provides further industry led advice on how passenger ferries can continue to operate safely during the phased lifting of restrictions.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the cost of rail fares.

The Government has frozen regulated rail fares in line with inflation for the seventh year in a row. In addition, we have already cut costs for thousands of young people with the 16-17 Saver railcard, will be rolling out a new Veteran’s Railcard to give over 830,000 former service personnel, who do not otherwise benefit from discounted rail travel, up to a third off their rail costs. We have announced our intention to establish a new fares trials fund to explore the benefits and costs of a clearer, more flexible and fairer fares system. Fares revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and the massive upgrade programme we are delivering, all of which benefit passengers.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her policy is on her Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

As mandated by Cabinet Office, the Department support the Greening Government Commitments and report publicly on waste management targets. Significant efforts have been afforded to reducing and recycling waste across the Department Estate, to reduce the overall amount of waste generated.

One initiative is the phased installation of new recycling bins to the largest waste producing sites and associated signage/awareness campaigns. The bins provide an opportunity to separate out Dry Mixed Recyclables, which includes paper and plastic waste.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of her Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The Information requested is available for financial years (April-March) only.

2019/20 – £23,473,955 (£27,822,378 incl. VAT)

2020/21 – £22,821,828 (£27,332,777 incl. VAT)

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps she has taken with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the unemployment gap for Black, Asian and ethnic minority people in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and (c) the UK.

The Government is committed to supporting people from all backgrounds, including those from ethnic minorities, to move into work. It provides a national offer of support ensuring that no matter where they live, all customers receive the help they need, when they need it.

Our Job Centre Plus network offers tailored interventions which allow Work Coaches to adapt their approach to suit each customer’s needs. Our Plan for Jobs Programme protects, supports and creates jobs, targeting young people, the long term unemployed, and those in need of new training and skills. It includes the Kickstart Scheme, an expanded youth offer, and the expansion of the Work and Health Programme, all offering new support to jobseekers, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

We also have a national programme of mentoring circles, involving employers offering specialised support to unemployed, ethnic minority jobseekers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps her Department has taken to support UK citizens overseas through the welfare system.

Certain UK benefits can be paid overseas, some for temporary periods and others for longer depending on whether the UK has a social security agreement with a country. Generally, benefit abroad rules apply regardless of nationality, with some exceptions as in the case of the common travel area. For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/claim-benefits-abroad

Updated guidance for UK nationals in the EEA and Switzerland can be found at the following page:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/benefits-and-pensions-for-uk-nationals-in-the-eea-or-switzerland

Country specific advice can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-living-in-guides

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of recent trends in the level of employment in (a) Newport West and (b) Wales.

The information requested is published and available at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/default.asp

Guidance for users can be found at: https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/home/newuser.asp

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what safeguards are in place to ensure that the secretariat of the REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool operates with adequate independence from the rest of the Health and Safety Executive.

As set out in the statement on use of independent scientific knowledge and advice (Agency statement on transparency and the use of independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) (hse.gov.uk)) the secretariat for the REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool (RISEP) will be provided by the HSE. However, the work of this secretariat is limited to organisation, and support of RISEP experts in administration and protocol matters. Agendas and notes of Challenge Panels involving RISEP members will be made public, with accredited stakeholders also in attendance to ensure transparency.

In establishing independent scientific knowledge and advice within the UK REACH system, experts from HSE (as the Agency with UK REACH) and the Environment Agency (EA) used experience and “hands-on” knowledge of their work within the EU REACH scientific expert process (on the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC)). This enabled HSE to define the skills and experience necessary to ensure robust independent scrutiny and challenge to produce high-quality opinions, to inform decisions by the Secretary of State for Defra with the consent of Ministers for Wales and Scotland. The REACH SI mandates the Agency to include information about the qualifications or relevant experience that are suitable in order to provide knowledge and advice to the Agency within the statement produced on the use of independent scientific knowledge and advice (Agency statement on transparency and the use of independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) (hse.gov.uk)).

The actual composition of experts used to help the Agency produce specific opinions will be dependent on the type of dossier – for instance for an environmentally driven restriction any Challenge Panel would be made up of more independent environmental scientists than human health. All opinions will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. We have not set a minimum number of experts, but as a contingency we have ensured that we are able to co-opt members of other committees should we need to so. However, due to the large response we have had to the recruitment it is thought that this will not be required.

HSE was also able to use discussions with stakeholders and prioritisation exercises with Defra, and officials from the Scottish and Welsh governments to inform decisions around the number of experts required within the process on the basis of estimates of the numbers of restrictions and applications for authorisation expected.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is the Health and Safety Executive's policy not to initiate a restriction on a substance on which an opinion has been adopted by the European Chemicals Agency.

An annual UK REACH Work Programme will be developed and published; this will include activity on new restrictions. Working with the Environment Agency, Defra and relevant officials from the Scottish and Welsh governments, HSE will identify priorities for restriction. These may include restrictions already addressed by the European Chemicals Agency. The preparation of restriction dossiers by HSE will address concerns deemed to be the most pressing for Great Britain, and any further measures taken to safeguard human health and the environment will be based on the best available evidence and robust science.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how the Health and Safety Executive plans to obtain independent scientific knowledge and advice on chemicals in advance of the establishment of the REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool.

The UK REACH legislation specifically highlights that the commissioning of independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) should be considered in the formation of opinions on restrictions and applications for authorisation.

HSE is currently recruiting independent experts for the REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool (RISEP) and expects this process to be complete next month. Recruitment was planned to ensure RISEP is in place before being needed in the restriction and applications for authorisation process.

In line with UK REACH legislative requirements, the Agency has published a statement on the HSE REACH website (https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/reach-independent-scientific-expert-pool.htm ) on how it will take account of ISA in the UK REACH process.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps the Government has taken to help protect disabled people from the effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to employment support, disability benefits, financial support, food, medicines, as well as accessible communications and updated guidance.

We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The Government will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the change in the level of employment in the UK.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces labour market statistics from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which is a survey of people resident in households in the UK.

Due to the impact of Covid-19 on the LFS, the ONS advise that current estimates of employment levels and changes in these levels should be used with caution, however employment rates are considered to remain robust.

An overview of the latest Labour Market Statistics is available from ONS at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/february2021

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of the benefits payments process on claimants’ mental health.

We continually review our processes to ensure that benefits payments are accessible and supportive to all customers, including those with mental health conditions. We introduced mental health training in 2017 to better equip staff to signpost vulnerable customers to experts who are qualified to support them, especially when people are making new claims or being re-assessed for existing claims.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of self-reported reductions in paying parent income in February 2020 on payments made by the Child Maintenance Service.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) made temporary changes to its services to support wider departmental efforts through the Covid19 pandemic whilst remaining committed that over time everyone pays or receives the right amount of child maintenance.

During the early stages of the pandemic, the CMS began accepting on a temporary basis verbal evidence of a reduction in income and advised paying parents to reduce their payments and then retrospectively reviewed the calculation. This gave rise to the normal appeal rights for both parents.

The CMS has now restored most of its full capacity with new digital services. The Service has reverted to normal methods of evidence and are checking, reviewing and backdating income changes, ensuring the correct maintenance is being paid to the children.

The Service continued to ensure compliance where possible through Deductions from earnings orders and as a result, in the quarter ending March 2020, £28 million was collected via this method. Other substantial enforcement action relies on third parties, including Her Majesty’s courts, bailiffs and the banks, which were not in a position to support further enforcement action during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. The Service is now working with these parties to re-establish enforcement activity, where necessary.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the Access to Work fast track assessment process is available to all disabled workers to enable them to work during the covid-19 outbreak.

Access to Work continues to provide support for disabled people to move into and retain employment. To enable support to be put in place at the earliest opportunity, Access to Work has adapted the way holistic assessments are undertaken and enabled disabled people to choose how their assessments are carried out, including virtually or face-to-face. This has very often enabled a quicker service to be provided.

The assessment providers have reported that the virtual assessments can be arranged and delivered more rapidly than the face to face assessments and that the freed up time enables them to spend more time in consultation with the customer.

Access to Work prioritises applications from disabled people who have a job to start within 4 weeks of their application. Recognising the impact Covid has had on disabled people, Access to Work has expanded the prioritisation to include those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group and keyworkers.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to integrate the Access to Work fast track assessment process into the Job Entry Targeted Support scheme.

I refer the honourable lady to the answer I gave to the Member for Ceredigion on 30th November 2020 to question 120975.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to integrate the Access to Work fast track scheme into the Kickstart scheme.

I refer my Honourable friend to the answer given for PQ 120974.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the Access to Work fast track assessment process is available to all disabled workers to enable them to work during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the honourable lady to the answer I gave to her to UIN 134140 on 13th January 2021.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect on the level of food poverty of ending the £20 uplift to universal credit in (a) Newport West and (b) Wales.

No assessment has been made.

Throughout this pandemic, this Government has delivered an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses and, for those in most need, injected billions into the welfare system. The new Covid Winter Grant Scheme builds on that support with an additional £170m for local authorities in England, to support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent representations she has received from the Secretary of State for Wales on the effect of ending the £20 uplift to universal credit.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support people, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing time-bound targets for increasing Pension Credit uptake.

No such assessment has been made.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase Pension Credit uptake through public awareness campaigns.

In February last year we launched a national campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit and help dispel some of the misconceptions that people might have about Pension Credit eligibility.

DWP have reviewed both internal guidance for customer-facing colleagues and external communications products across a wide range of DWP benefits and services for citizens at or approaching Pension Credit age. We have identified changes that could be made subject to user research and testing. Further work is also under way that aims to improve the cross-promotion of benefits over the longer term.

DWP also continues to work closely with stakeholders such as Age Concern, the CAB, Independent Age, Money Saving Expert and the Money and Pension Service, as this is the most effect way to reach likely Pension Credit claimants. We would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for Pension Credit to visit gov.uk.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on support for people in sectors worst affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

We are working with colleagues across government to support all jobseekers, including those in sectors most impacted by COVID-19. Across Government we are developing policies to provide people with employment and skills support that will help them back into the labour market, including measures set out in our Plan for Jobs.

In 2020, the Chancellor announced our Plan for Jobs, which puts DWP at the heart of providing employment support to all, from the newly unemployed to those who are less connected with the labour market. Many people will be job-ready and will require less intensive support, utilising programmes such as Job Finding Support (light touch support within the first 13 weeks of unemployment) and Job Entry: Targeted Support (provision for people 13 weeks to 12 months unemployed). Jobcentres are engaging with both new and existing claimants, supported by the additional 13,500 new work coaches currently being recruited.

Our Sector-based Work Academy Programmes will help people of all ages to move in to new sectors through training, a work placement and a guaranteed job interview. The government is also investing £2.9 billion in the Restart programme over 3 years. Restart will provide intensive and tailored support to over a million people who have been unemployed for over 12 months in England and Wales to help them find work.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the level of pensions paid to former ASW steelworkers.

The Financial Assistance Scheme was created by previous governments and intended to give financial assistance to relevant scheme members, not to provide a complete replacement of any lost pensions.

There are no plans to change the level of financial assistance provided by the Financial Assistance Scheme.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the Access to Work fast-track assessment process is available to all disabled workers to enable them to work during the covid-19 outbreak.

Access to Work continues to provide support for disabled people to move into and retain employment. To enable support to be put in place at the earliest opportunity, Access to Work has adapted the way holistic assessments are undertaken and enabled disabled people to choose how their assessments are carried out, including virtually or face-to-face. This has very often enabled a quicker service to be provided.

The assessment providers have reported that the virtual assessments can be arranged and delivered more rapidly than the face to face assessments and that the freed up time enables them to spend more time in consultation with the customer.

Access to Work prioritises applications from disabled people who have a job to start within 4 weeks of their application. Recognising the impact Covid has had on disabled people, Access to Work has expanded the prioritisation to include those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group and keyworkers.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps her Department has taken to (a) investigate and (b) rectify errors made in the payment of the state pension to retired women.

We are aware of a number of cases where individuals have been underpaid Category BL basic State Pension. We are checking for further cases, and if any are found awards will also be reviewed and any arrears paid in accordance with the law.

As soon as any underpayments are identified the individuals affected are reimbursed and their records corrected. Any individual who believes they are being underpaid State Pension should contact the Department on the Freephone number 0800 731 0469. Further details on how to do this through the Pension Service are available on the gov.uk website.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect on disabled people of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is publishing a rolling programme of data and articles relating to the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, with specific outputs on disabled people in Great Britain.

The Department has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organisations and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the support needed.

The Government is ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to employment support, disability benefits, financial support; food, medicines, as well as accessible communications and updated guidance.

The Government continues to provide disability employment support through initiatives such as Access to Work, Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, and other forms of support that disabled people need to retain, adapt and move into employment.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19. We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps her Department has taken to improve the timeliness of initial payments for universal credit.

Despite unprecedented strain on the system, payment timeliness remains high, with over 98% of all claims receiving their payment in full and on time for the assessment period covering 11 June to 9 July 2020 (last published data).

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the monthly assessment period for universal credit takes into account a claimant’s fluctuating income.

Unlike the legacy benefit system, Universal Credit takes income and earnings into account in a way that is fair and transparent. The amount of Universal Credit paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household for each monthly assessment period, including any income and/or earnings reported by the employer during that period.

Monthly reporting allows Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly basis, which ensures that if a claimant's income falls, which results in a rise in their Universal Credit award, they will not have to wait several months to receive it.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of sanctions and conditionality on claimants of social security on (a) the health and well-being and (b) their ability to enter employment.

In response to the pandemic while we focused on a huge surge in claims ensuring we got money to those in need in a timely manner, we suspended the requirements of the claimant commitment. With the interventions and safeguards this Government has put in place, we were able to reintroduce Claimant Commitments from July. Any work related activity agreed by a claimant with their Work Coach as part of this Commitment, continues to be tailored in light of their circumstances. A range of factors, including people’s physical and mental health, are always taken into full consideration to ensure it is reasonable and increases their chances of moving into work, if they are able, and if it is safe for them to do so.

We have not undertaken a recent assessment however our approach is flexible and responsive to the current climate and is regularly reviewed.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of in-work poverty.

Statistics on the number and percentage of people living in low income households over time, including children and those in work, are set out in the annual "Households Below Average Income" publication available here:


https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-199495-to-201819

For children, this publication also shows trends in combined low income and material deprivation and combined severe low income and material deprivation

Published statistics cover the period from 1994/5 to 2018/19. National statistics covering the year 2019/20 are due to be published in March 2021. Pre-pandemic, in 2018/19, there were 100,000 fewer children in absolute low income than in 2009/10.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of child poverty.

Statistics on the number and percentage of people living in low income households over time, including children and those in work, are set out in the annual "Households Below Average Income" publication available here:


https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-199495-to-201819

For children, this publication also shows trends in combined low income and material deprivation and combined severe low income and material deprivation

Published statistics cover the period from 1994/5 to 2018/19. National statistics covering the year 2019/20 are due to be published in March 2021. Pre-pandemic, in 2018/19, there were 100,000 fewer children in absolute low income than in 2009/10.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the cumulative financial effect on disabled people of social security changes since 2010.

In 2020/21 DWP is forecast to spend £16.2 billion more on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions than was spent in 2010/11. This is an increase of over £8 billion in real terms, using 2019/20 prices.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had on social security co-ordination between the UK and EU member states after December 31st 2020.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the existing EU regulations on social security coordination will continue to apply after 31 December 2020 for individuals in scope of the Agreement. This includes UK nationals living or working in the EU by that date.

Negotiations with the EU on social security coordination for individuals who are not in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, such as UK nationals moving to the EU on or after 1 January 2021, are continuing.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on disabled people of the decision to convert the severe disability premium transitional payment into a transitional element.

SDP transitional payments are part of the wider transitional protection framework. It had always been the intention to convert SDP transitional payments in this way as soon as we had developed the capability to do so safely and effectively. The aim is to create fairness between those former SDP recipients who have moved or will move to UC via natural migration and those who will move to UC later under managed migration, as well as to create a single, consistent system of transitional protection.

When the SDP transitional payment is converted to a transitional element, the additional money received by claimants will be the same amount. It will then be subject to change in the same way as transitional protection for those claimants moved to UC under managed migration. This moves these claimants towards the same level of financial entitlement as new UC claimants in the same position.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families with children are affected by the benefit cap in Newport West constituency.

The available information on the number of households, receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, who are subject to the Benefit Cap, by Family Type and Parliamentary Constituency, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families are affected by the two-child limit on social security benefits in Newport West constituency.

In Newport West there were 160 families (or 9% of all households on Universal Credit with at least one child) affected by the policy in April 2020.

Notes:

1. Families affected means households on Universal Credit reporting a third or subsequent child on or after 6 April 2017 and not receiving a child element/amount.

2. This data is for households that had an open Universal Credit claim in April 2020, as included in this year’s Two Child Policy Publication.

3. Percentages rounded to nearest percent and number of families rounded to nearest 10

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families with children received the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit standard allowance payments, announced on 20 March 2020, in Newport West in each month since it was introduced.

The available information on the number of households with children with Universal Credit in payment, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the economic effect of self-isolation on people who are (a) reliant on and (b) ineligible for statutory sick pay.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are off work sick. SSP should not be looked at in isolation. Where an employee’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, for example where they are not eligible for SSP, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on individual circumstances.

Background

SSP is paid at a flat level of £95.85 per week.

Where an individual receives both SSP and Universal Credit, SSP will be taken into account when calculating the Universal Credit payment.

An estimated 2 million individuals do not qualify for SSP because they earn below the Lower Earnings Limit (£120 per week).

From 28 September 2020 a new £500 Test and Trace Support payment will be introduced for working people who are on low incomes and cannot work from home who are required by NHS Test and Trace to remain at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service.

737,600 children are covered by Child Maintenance Service arrangements; the majority of cases use Direct Pay, where parents arrange maintenance payments between themselves.

During the quarter ending March 2020, £243.1 million in child maintenance was paid through the Collect & Pay service, or due to be paid through Direct Pay.

When measuring the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service, the Service collects data on the rate of compliance. The most recent quarterly statistics show that 68 per cent of all paying parents cleared some of their child maintenance through the Collect & Pay service.

At the end of March 2020, 49,200 Paying Parents on the Collect & Pay service had a Deduction from Earnings Order / Request in force. £28.0m was collected from these Paying Parents during the quarter. In the quarter ending March 2020, £2.6m was deducted directly from Paying Parents’ bank accounts.

These figures are published quarterly as part of the Child Maintenance Service experimental statistics, which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-march-2020-experimental/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-march-2020-experimental

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the conclusions of the NAO report on Universal Credit: Getting to First Payment.

The Department is considering the findings of the report in the normal way.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of her policy on pensions uprating on people eligible for a state pension who reside in a Commonwealth country.

The policy on the up-rating of UK State Pensions paid to recipients living in a Commonwealth country is clear and is a long-standing policy of successive post-war Governments that has been in place for over 70 years. The annual index-linked increases are paid to UK State Pension recipients where there is a legal requirement to do so. For example, where UK State Pension recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for the uprating of the UK State Pension. The Government has no plans to change this policy.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of recent trends in the average levels of household debt for people in receipt of universal credit.

Claimants may find themselves in debt for a variety of reasons, many of which can pre-date their claim to Universal Credit. The Department encourages people out of work, or on a low income, to consider whether claiming Universal Credit could provide them with additional support before issues, such as debt, spiral out of control. We promote Universal Credit through various external channels, including through the ‘Understanding Universal Credit’ website, to help people navigate the range of support available and provide information about how to apply.

Work Coaches are trained to gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first contact and can refer them to more specialist support for personal budgeting, money guidance and debt advice if required, including through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). MaPS has a statutory responsibility to deliver free and impartial money and pensions guidance and debt advice to anyone that needs it. It is also required to have regard to the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances.

Our own analysis shows that Universal Credit in fact reduces debts such as rent arrears. Supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs, shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of incidences of (a) stress, (b) anxiety and (c) depression for those in work.

The information requested is not available.

The Government recognises the need to monitor trends in mental health and work as the UK responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department is actively reviewing available information on mental health and work, which will enable examination of trends in due course, and intends to examine changes in mental health for people in work as data becomes available.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to increase legacy benefits in line with recent increases in universal credit.

The Government has announced a suite of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised to benefit those facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the monthly assessment period for universal credit takes into account a claimant's fluctuating income.

Universal Credit replaced a highly complex system of multiple benefits with a single monthly payment and introduced a simple taper system to ensure that claimants were better off in work keeping more of what they earn compared to the Legacy system

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the implications for her policies of Muscular Dystrophy UK's report entitled, Below standard: MDUK’s assessment of the benefits system, published on 28 February 2020.

The Department places a strong emphasis on engaging with stakeholders to inform health and disability policy to ensure we are addressing the right problems in the welfare system. Muscular Dystrophy UK’s report entitled ‘Below standard: MDUK’s assessment of the benefits system’ offers insights into the challenges faced by people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

Government will reflect carefully on these findings in the DWP Green Paper on health and disability benefits and support.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of universal credit on the financial circumstances of disabled claimants.

The Government has made a commitment to publish a new National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020, focusing on removing barriers to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fully participate in British society. The strategy will be developed with disabled people, disability organisations and charities, and will support disabled people in all aspects and phases of their lives, including housing, education, transport and jobs.

Millions of people who move onto Universal Credit from legacy benefits are better off, including around a million disabled households who will gain on average around £100 per month.

The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants, and wants the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible, ensuring that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. We have listened to feedback on how we can improve Universal Credit to support our claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as extending advances, removing waiting days, and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to those who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) gateway has been in place for over a year to prevent those claimants entitled to the SDP as part of their legacy benefit from claiming Universal Credit. We have successfully identified eligible former SDP claimants who have already moved to Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances, providing them with monthly payments and a lump sum in arrears, where appropriate.

As of 17 January 2020, 15,397 claims have been paid an SDP transitional payment. The median value of the lump sum payments is £2,280. To date, over £51.5m has been disbursed to support former SDP claimants, including the recurring payments that have now commenced.

Through our network of Jobcentres, the Department is taking a range of action to support disadvantaged groups, working closely with employers and partners in their local community to provide opportunities to help them move closer and into employment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on low-income families of the roll-out of universal credit in (a) Newport West constituency and (b) Wales.

Universal Credit will provide an extra £2.1bn a year once full rolled out, compared to the legacy benefits it replaces. Claimants receive better support to prepare for work, move into work, or to increase earnings. The Universal Credit Work Allowance was increased by £1,000 in April 2019 and means that 2.4m households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the (a) accuracy and (b) efficiency of contracted out health assessments for (i) employment and support allowance and (ii) personal independence payment.

The department is committed to ensuring individuals receive an efficient and quality service from our Assessment Providers. We work extensively with Providers to improve guidance, training and quality assurance procedures, ensuring quality is continuously improving. All Assessment Providers are exceeding their Claimant Satisfaction targets set by the department.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of employment support available for people with epilepsy, and whether her Department plans to introduce new measures to improve the employment rate of people with epilepsy.

The Government supports disabled people, including people with epilepsy, to enter employment and stay in work through programmes such as the Work and Health Programme and Access to Work.

The latest statistics for The Work and Health Programme were published in November 2019, covering the period up to August 2019. They showed that 73% of starts to the programme were for people with a health condition or disability. The figures are not disaggregated by health condition or disability, so we cannot say how many participants had epilepsy.

The latest Access to Work statistics, published in August 2019 and covering the period up to March 2019, show that around 2.5% of people supported by the scheme give ‘Epilepsy’ as their primary medical condition.

In December 2019 we launched the Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme. This is a new, voluntary, contracted employment provision designed to help disabled people with complex needs or barriers, including those with fluctuating conditions like epilepsy, who want to work but also require specialist support to achieve their goal of sustained employment.

We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020. This will look at ways to improve opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs. The health and disability benefit system aspects of the strategy will be considered in a separate Green Paper. This will look at how we can further improve our support for people with disabilities and health conditions, supporting people into work where possible and enabling people to live independent lives.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the disability employment gap for people with epilepsy.

The Government is committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027. We support disabled people, including people with epilepsy, to enter employment and stay in work through a range of programmes such as the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and the Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme.

To support disabled people to stay in work and progress, we published a voluntary reporting framework on disability, mental ill health and wellbeing in November 2018. This is aimed at large employers (with over 250 employees) and it is recommended that they publically report on the pay and progression of disabled people at regular intervals. The framework can also be used to support smaller employers who are keen to drive greater transparency in their organisation or industry.

From April 2019, Jobcentre Plus introduced an enhanced Disability Employment Adviser and a new Disability Employment Adviser Leader role, putting in place more than 800 staff who support their colleagues to provide high quality services to disabled people and those with health conditions. Universal Credit provides us with the opportunity to support people who are in work to progress and increase their earnings.

We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020. This will look at ways to improve opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs. The health and disability benefit system aspects of the strategy will be considered in a separate Green Paper. This will look at how we can further improve our support for people with disabilities and health conditions, supporting people into work where possible and enabling people to live independent lives.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the disability pay gap for people with epilepsy.

The Government is committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027. We support disabled people, including people with epilepsy, to enter employment and stay in work through a range of programmes such as the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and the Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme.

To support disabled people to stay in work and progress, we published a voluntary reporting framework on disability, mental ill health and wellbeing in November 2018. This is aimed at large employers (with over 250 employees) and it is recommended that they publically report on the pay and progression of disabled people at regular intervals. The framework can also be used to support smaller employers who are keen to drive greater transparency in their organisation or industry.

From April 2019, Jobcentre Plus introduced an enhanced Disability Employment Adviser and a new Disability Employment Adviser Leader role, putting in place more than 800 staff who support their colleagues to provide high quality services to disabled people and those with health conditions. Universal Credit provides us with the opportunity to support people who are in work to progress and increase their earnings.

We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020. This will look at ways to improve opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs. The health and disability benefit system aspects of the strategy will be considered in a separate Green Paper. This will look at how we can further improve our support for people with disabilities and health conditions, supporting people into work where possible and enabling people to live independent lives.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of people with epilepsy that are in employment.

There are around 60,000 working age disabled people with epilepsy in employment in the UK, including around 40,000 who report epilepsy as their main health condition.

Source: Annual Population Survey, April 2018 to March 2019.

Notes:

  • Data is subject to sampling variation and precision is limited by small sample sizes. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 5,000 people.
  • Figures are for the working age population, comprised of people aged 16 to 64.
  • Disability status is defined according to the Government Statistical Service harmonised standard, in line with the Equality Act 2010 core definition.
  • 'Main health condition' refers to the health condition that the survey respondent considers their main condition
Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the Access to Work scheme is adequately funded so that people with epilepsy can access their full entitlement.

Access to Work is a demand-led discretionary grant scheme that offers up to £59,200 funding per year for in-work support for people whose disability or health condition affects the way they do their job. In 2018/19, the Access to Work expenditure increased to £129.1 million, a new record amount, equating to a 14% increase in real terms expenditure on 2017/18.

The amount an individual receives from Access to Work is based on their individual in-work support requirements. The latest Access to Work statistics, published in August 2019 and covering the period up to March 2019, show that around 2.5% of people supported by the scheme give ‘Epilepsy’ as their primary medical condition

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has for social security co-ordination between the UK and EU member states after the UK leaves the EU.

During the Implementation Period the Government will be negotiating a future relationship with the EU. As set out in the Political Declaration published on 19 October 2019, both Parties have agreed to consider addressing social security coordination in the light of future movement of persons.

The Withdrawal Agreement provisions on social security coordination will apply to those in scope of that agreement.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the monthly assessment period for universal credit takes into account a claimant’s fluctuating income.

Universal Credit takes earnings into account in a way that is fair and transparent. The amount paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. This includes any earnings reported by an employer or claimant during the assessment period, regardless of when they were paid, or which month they relate to.

Assessment periods allow for Universal Credit awards to be adjusted on a monthly basis, ensuring that if claimants’ incomes fall, they do not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit award.

Information is available for claimants about earnings patterns and how they may affect award of Universal Credit and is published on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-different-earning-patterns-and-your-payments/universal-credit-different-earning-patterns-and-your-payments-payment-cycles

Claimants can discuss queries with their case manager or work coach, who can signpost to services appropriate to individual circumstances, including those delivered through the Money and Pensions Service.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the freeze in working-age social security benefits on levels of poverty.

The Benefit Freeze was designed to put welfare on a sustainable footing, incentivising work and making welfare fairer.

The Government conducted a number of assessments of the impact of the benefit freeze as set out in the analysis of the measures in the Welfare Reform and Work Act, published at the time of the Summer Budget 2015.

https://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA15-006C.pdf

30% of households were then estimated to be affected by this policy, and no one faced a cash loss as a result of the freeze.

The benefit freeze will come to an end in April 2020.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions her Department has had with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on employment and skills support to be provided through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The government’s manifesto committed to replace European structural funds with a UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a proportion of which will be targeted to ensure disadvantaged people gain the skills they need to make a success of life. We are continuing to work with government departments – including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the design and priorities of the new fund.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is committed to improving its rates of recycling in line with the current Greening Government Commitments waste targets.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

Energy costs for electricity and natural gas for the Department’s buildings in 2019/20 and 2020/21 are shown in the following table. Data for 2021/22 is not yet available.

Year

Gas £

Electricity £

2019/20

134,172

1,398,290

2020/21

217,130

1,661,198

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that air pollution and its health effects are covered in (a) undergraduate and (b) postgraduate level medical education.

The Department continues to engage with organisations such as Health Education England and the Royal Colleges to ensure that healthcare professionals are equipped to provide information and advice to those vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution. The Chief Medical Officer has also discussed this matter with the Royal Colleges during a recent meeting. This will allow patients and their carers to take steps to reduce their exposure to air pollution and give them greater power to manage their condition.

The NHS Long Term Plan committed to improve outcomes asthma outcomes for children and young people. The Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme has asked local systems to prioritise local improvements in asthma care. This will include supporting clinicians to discuss the short and long-term adverse effects of air pollution in children with asthma and any mitigation strategies.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to communicate the effects of air pollution on health to patients and their carers.

The Department continues to engage with organisations such as Health Education England and the Royal Colleges to ensure that healthcare professionals are equipped to provide information and advice to those vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution. The Chief Medical Officer has also discussed this matter with the Royal Colleges during a recent meeting. This will allow patients and their carers to take steps to reduce their exposure to air pollution and give them greater power to manage their condition.

The NHS Long Term Plan committed to improve outcomes asthma outcomes for children and young people. The Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme has asked local systems to prioritise local improvements in asthma care. This will include supporting clinicians to discuss the short and long-term adverse effects of air pollution in children with asthma and any mitigation strategies.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the First Minister of Scotland on the potential exemption of maritime key workers from covid-19 quarantine restrictions, in line with previous exemptions granted.

The Government continues to work closely with devolved administrations to implement border measures and has discussed the seamen, masters, inspectors and surveyors of ships exemption. We have introduced an exemption from managed quarantine for seamen, masters, inspectors and surveyors of ships to ensure that vital services through freight routes and supply chains can continue, as well as providing for crew welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the First Minister of Northern Ireland on the potential exemption of maritime key workers from covid-19 quarantine restrictions, in line with previous exemptions granted.

The Government continues to work closely with devolved administrations to implement border measures and has discussed the seamen, masters, inspectors and surveyors of ships exemption. We have introduced an exemption from managed quarantine for seamen, masters, inspectors and surveyors of ships to ensure that vital services through freight routes and supply chains can continue, as well as providing for crew welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to monitor the effectiveness of existing covid-19 vaccines against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Public Health England has published early estimates of vaccine effectiveness which includes the United Kingdom variant of concern which is available at the following link:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.01.21252652v1

The 2021 Budget included £28 million to increase the United Kingdom’s capacity for vaccine testing, support for clinical trials and improve the UK’s ability to rapidly acquire samples of new variants of COVID-19. In addition, £22 million has been allocated to a world-leading study to test the effectiveness of combinations of different vaccines and fund the world’s first study assessing the effectiveness of a third dose of vaccine to improve the response against current and future variants of COVID-19. A further £5 million investment in clinical-scale mRNA manufacturing has been provided to create a ‘library’ of vaccines to work against COVID-19 variants for possible rapid response deployment.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to implement a long term study of immune responses in people vaccinated against covid-19.

Public Heath England’s surveillance strategy will monitor how effective the vaccine is at protecting against a range of outcomes, including infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisations, mortality and onward transmission. The surveillance strategy is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccine-surveillance-strategy.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), are jointly funding the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) to address key questions around the immune system’s response to COVID-19. The NIHR’s Health Protection Research Unit in Respiratory Infections is also looking at the size and longevity of the immune response.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of vaccine passports.

The Government announced on 22 February that it will review whether COVID-19 status certification could play a role in reopening the economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety. This will include assessing to what extent certification would be effective in reducing risk and the potential uses to enable access to settings or a relaxation of COVID-19 secure mitigations. The Government will also consider the ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects of this approach and what limits, if any, should be placed on organisations using certification. It will draw on external advice to develop recommendations that take into account any social and economic impacts, and implications for disproportionately impacted groups and individuals’ privacy and security.

We are also working closely with partner countries on a range of issues relating to COVID-19 and international travel and we are committed to ensuring an approach that is internationally recognised.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what immediate plans he has to monitor the effectiveness of different covid-19 vaccines in different age groups.

Public Health England (PHE) is monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccines, including in different age groups.

Public Health England have undertaken their first analysis of the early effects of COVID-19 vaccination on older adults using routine testing and vaccination data across England. This data, published in a preprint on 1 March 2021, provides early evidence that both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are having a significant effect on the reduction of COVID-19 infection, hospitalisations and deaths in those over 70 years old across England. The analysis is available at the following link:

https://khub.net/documents/135939561/430986542/Early+effectiveness+of+COVID+vaccines.pdf/ffd7161c-b255-8e88-c2dc-88979fc2cc1b?t=1614617945615

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a covid-19 vaccine passport.

We have no plans to introduce COVID-19 vaccine passports. As with other vaccination programmes, vaccine record cards are issued to patients with the relevant details about the vaccine including the date of their vaccination and their vaccine type. This does not constitute an immunity passport and will not be used as a form of identification.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the effect of the Government’s covid-19 (a) health restrictions and (b) economic measures on people aged over 75.

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on communities across the UK, and indeed across the world. The Government’s health measures have been guided by science, and aim to save lives and protect the NHS. To support these, the Government has put in place an unprecedented economic support package of over £200 billion.

The Government has due regard to the equality impacts of its policy decisions relating to the Covid-19 outbreak, including explicit consideration of impacts related to age. This reflects the Government’s commitment to promoting equality and ensures that Ministers comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of unconscious bias training.

The Government recognises that it is important to tackle bias in workplaces and in wider society. The Government Equalities Office commissioned a review of the evidence on unconscious bias and diversity training. The review showed that there is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality. In 2018 GEO published evidence-based advice for employers on actions they could take to reduce bias within their organisations. The issue has not recently been discussed with the Devolved Administrations.

An internal review decided in January 2020 that unconscious bias training would be phased out in Civil Service departments. The Civil Service will instead integrate principles for inclusion and diversity into mainstream core training and leadership modules in a manner which facilitates positive behaviour change.

The government is making progress in understanding what works to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparities demonstrates this government’s commitment to level up opportunity for everyone, to better understand disparities and their causes, and will be making evidence-based recommendations to address them. Employment and Enterprise is one of the four priority areas for the Commission. Further, our recent work with the large insurer, Zurich, demonstrated a 16% rise in female applicants for all jobs when advertising all jobs available as flexible. This is one of many trials in our Gender and Behavioural Insights Programme that is at the heart of our commitment to build workplace equality through insights and evidence.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Sep 2020
What assessment he has made of the effect on the NHS of the long-term health consequences of covid-19.

Leicester Biomedical Research Centre is leading our research into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. This includes a study of 10,000 patients who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19, which will give us valuable information about the longer-term effects of the disease and how we can best support recovery.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to maximise the take up of the influenza vaccine in 2020.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with local areas to ensure that regional teams have plans in place to increase coverage of the flu vaccination this winter. In addition to developing the existing system of providing vaccinations through general practice, community pharmacies, schools, community and other National Health Service settings to reach new cohorts and increase uptake in existing cohorts; new models of delivery have been shared with regional commissioning teams to encourage innovative thinking such as mobile and mass vaccination models to allow for increases in uptake safely whilst observing social distancing and personal protective equipment requirements.

Additional flu vaccine has been purchased by the Department which will be available to providers to facilitate expansion of the programme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on his Department's ability to meet immunisation targets.

The impact of COVID-19 on immunisation targets has been variable. Preliminary data suggests that, whilst there was an initial decrease in the number of pre-school vaccinations delivered in primary care during the early weeks of the pandemic compared with the same period in 2019, the situation rapidly stabilised and recovered. In contrast, school-aged immunisation programmes were more impacted as a result of school closures. Providers have been working with schools to catch-up those programmes as schools have re-opened.

Due to the public health advice on social distancing and shielding, general practices were not expected to offer the opportunistic shingles vaccine to those aged 70, unless the patient was already in the general practitioner practice for another reason. Coverage among those turning 70 or 78 during quarter 4 – who were vaccinated up to the end of June 2020 - achieved lower coverage (9.3% and 10.4%, respectively) than among those who turned 70 or 78 after the same eligibility interval in previous quarters.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to publish the proposed vaccine strategy.

Publication of England’s draft Vaccine Strategy has been delayed as we have rightly been focusing on responding to the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic.

We will keep the Vaccine Strategy under review in light of the ongoing pandemic response. Our current ambition is to update and refresh the strategy in 2021 to reflect the changing landscape and investment in vaccine development through the Vaccines Taskforce.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to prepare for a potential second wave of covid-19 during winter 2020-21.

To prepare the National Health Service for winter, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding. This includes funding to allow the NHS to maintain the Nightingale surge capacity and continue to use the extra hospital capacity available within the independent sector.

Effective local management of any outbreaks is the first line of protection against a second wave that might overwhelm the NHS. To support local authorities, we made £300 million available and they already have robust plans in place to respond to outbreaks.

We have also made significant strides in our Test and Trace service. We have established one of the world’s largest testing programmes, with capacity at around 350,000 tests every day and we have already traced around 250,000 people who may have unknowingly spread the virus.

NHS winter preparations include delivering a very significantly expanded seasonal flu vaccination programme for priority groups.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the Government's policy is on publishing the terms of bilateral agreements with (a) AstraZeneca and (b) other pharmaceutical companies for the development of covid-19 vaccines.

The United Kingdom Government is committed to transparency across its operations to enable the public to hold public bodies and politicians to account, including commitments relating to public procurement. Central Government buyers publish all contract information on Contracts Finder where the value of the contract is over £10,000. This will include contracts in relation to COVID-19 vaccines. The Contracts Finder is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder

There are measures in places to identify, assess and protect information that is sensitive and should therefore be redacted (removed and not published). We will use the exemptions set out by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as the criteria for assessing what information should be redacted.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the disproportionate effect on BAME communities of covid-19 in (a) Newport West, (b) Wales and the (c) UK.

As healthcare is devolved, the Welsh Government would be responsible for such an assessment in relation to Wales. The Office for National Statistics release ‘All data related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by ethnic group, England and Wales’ only provides the combined ethnic group breakdown for England and Wales combined. Unfortunately, the breakdown for this data is not available for comparison. This release is available at the following link:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronavirusrelateddeathsbyethnicgroupenglandandwales/2march2020to10april2020/relateddata

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of personal protective equipment procured by the Government during the covid-19 outbreak has been manufactured by UK businesses.

There has been limited domestic manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) to date. Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture PPE for the health and social care sectors. We have identified opportunities and sourced new supply channels for materials to make PPE at pace, enabling new manufacturing to commence. The Government is also working to support the scale-up of engineering efforts for small companies capable of contributing to supplies.

The Government has signed contracts to manufacture over 2 billion items of PPE through United Kingdom-based manufacturers, including aprons, facemasks, visors and gowns and has already taken delivery of products from new, certified UK manufacturers. These will contribute to the national effort to meet the unprecedented demand for PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) political, (b) economic and (c) security situation in South Africa.

The UK is concerned by the outbreak of violence and looting in South Africa in recent days, which has sadly resulted in loss of life, injuries, and substantial damage to buildings and businesses. We strongly support President Ramaphosa's emphasis on the importance of the rule of law and the government's determination to restore calm. As a long-standing friend of South Africa, the UK partners closely with the South African Government, business and civil society on a shared agenda of security, health, economic and social issues.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the legacy of the late former President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

The UK is mourning with Zambia the loss of their Founding Father, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, an African icon and respected statesman. He was someone who did so much for his country and for the region, and was renowned for bringing people together. Kaunda came to power following independence from the UK in 1964 and he stayed in power until 1991. He was a leading member of the Non-Aligned Movement and a tireless campaigner for Southern Rhodesian independence and against Apartheid. After retiring from politics Kaunda was active in raising awareness about HIV. As a leader of the "liberation struggle" (and the last survivor of the generation of Africans who led their countries to independence from Britain in the 1960s), his death will be mourned across southern Africa. To honour his legacy, I attended his state funeral on 2 July, meeting with his family beforehand at the family home, and I delivered a national address of condolences on behalf of HMG at the funeral. During my visit, I also met with Zambian Church leaders who are helping to preserve Dr Kaunda's legacy in their call for unity and peace at this difficult time.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

We are committed to improving the environmental sustainability of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's operations, in line with the Greening Government Commitments, we aim to reduce the amount of waste we produce and increase the proportion of waste we recycle. The most recent published information relating to our commitments to waste and recycling can both be found on the gov.uk website in the FCO Sustainability Report 2019/20 (beginning on page 14) and in the DFID Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20, beginning on page 74.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The most recent published summary of the FCDO UK energy costs are available in FCO and DFID annual report and accounts:-

FCO - 2018/19 (page 73) and 2019/20 (page 30). (In line with our Government Greening Commitment (GGC) scope, apportioned FCO Services' wider market costs are deducted from the FCDO total figures). These figures can also be found in FCO Sustainability Reports which are also on gov.uk

DFID - 2018/19 (page 63) and 2019/20 (page 71)

2020/21 figures will be published the FCDO annual report and accounts on 22 September 2021.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the access to clean and safe water for the citizens of Harare.

The UK is concerned about the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe which includes a lack of access to clean and safe water for Zimbabweans. Out of an estimated daily demand of 800 mega litres, the City of Harare produces approximately 500 mega litres. We are also worried about the vast leakages in the water system due to old and ill-maintained infrastructure, and the diminishing water quality.

Through a multi-donor trust fund called ZIMFUND, the UK has, since 2010, supported the rehabilitation of water supply infrastructure to improve waste water treatment capacity and water supply to some areas. Through UNICEF we are supporting the City of Harare with repairing water infrastructures and boreholes in cholera prone areas. In early 2020, the UK adapted existing programmes to support Zimbabwe's Covid-19 response which included access to clean and safe water for Zimbabweans. The UK also allocated £5 million to UNICEF for cholera prevention and emergency response.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the covid-19 situation in Myanmar.

Myanmar has reported its highest daily increase in Covid cases since the February coup and international concern is growing because of the country's collapsed health system and the junta's continued crackdown on medics. We are concerned about the impact of Covid on Myanmar's population, and particularly the increased vulnerability to the disease of people who have been internally displaced as a result of the coup. Protecting access to basic healthcare remains a UK priority, and we are ensuring that UK aid continues to support life-saving service delivery.

The UK has provided £35.5 million for the COVID response in Myanmar to date, which is being delivered via Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and UN organisations. We have also re-orientated our wider aid portfolio to mitigate the effects of COVID, prioritising support for health and humanitarian support. UK aid is supporting COVID prevention and providing essential access to clean water, food, sanitation and medical services. We are working with civil society organisations in conflict-affected areas not controlled by the government to improve risk communication within communities and expand testing. We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our partners to respond.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the covid-19 situation in Sri Lanka.

The UK Government is concerned about the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka, and is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan authorities and representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Sri Lanka. Daily case numbers remain high, a number of variants have been detected, and some travel restrictions are in place. Sri Lanka's vaccination programme is underway, including in areas beyond Colombo and the Western Province. The Minister of State for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed the situation with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena, on 17 June.

The UK Prime Minister announced on 11 June that the UK will donate 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines within the next year, with 30 million of those donated by the end of 2021. 80% of the vaccines donated will go to COVAX, the multilateral mechanism set up to support international co-operation on vaccines. So far, COVAX has helped deliver over 81 million doses to 129 countries and territories, including Sri Lanka.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the covid-19 situation in South Africa.

South Africa is currently experiencing its third wave of COVID-19, with new cases currently averaging over 10,000 a day. On 15 June President Ramaphosa increased lockdown restrictions, including a longer curfew and some limitations on alcohol retail hours. South Africa has started a vaccination programme, and 2.1 million people have received their first dose.

The UK has provided almost £4 million to South Africa's Solidarity Fund including £1.8 million to support the vaccine rollout. A further £2.2 million of support has helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups such as women and children, and migrant workers.

On 6 May the Foreign Secretary met the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and they agreed a broad and deep range of bilateral cooperation for the next two years on issues including in health, climate, trade, science and foreign policy. The Prime Minister met with the South African President at the G7 in Cornwall, where they discussed the need to expand COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity globally, and the UK's commitment to donate 100 million surplus vaccines in the next year.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the covid-19 situation in Zimbabwe.

We are concerned by the sharp increase in new cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe. Whilst the Government has been proactive around lockdowns and encouraging public health measures, the health system is still incredibly vulnerable. It is vital that the Government does not use the Covid-19 lockdown to crackdown on the opposition and undermine the rights enshrined in Zimbabwe's constitution.

Zimbabwe's vaccine rollout is now underway, and currently has the third highest number of people vaccinated with two doses in Africa. To date, 4.7% of the population has received their first dose and 2.9% has been fully vaccinated. Zimbabwe has been confirmed as a participant for the COVAX facility, but when and how Zimbabwe will take up these vaccines is still under discussion.

In early 2020, the UK reprogrammed £21.24 million through existing programmes to provide critical support to primary health care ensuring vital services continue such as immunisations, pre and post-natal care and treatment for malnutrition. This support also provides community messaging, support for frontline workers, water sanitation and hygiene improvement in schools and health facilities, and humanitarian food and cash aid to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the situation in South East Nigeria in the context of reports by the Igbo Elders Council that over 5,000 Igbo youth have been killed and over 10,000 others are detained arbitrarily in camps and reports from civilians of ongoing mistreatment as a result of an ongoing special security operation in that region.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of violence in Nigeria. We are concerned by the increasing levels of violence in the South East. We encourage reconciliation and constructive dialogue between the many ethnic groups and communities that make up and contribute to the strength and diversity of Nigeria, and for all to play their part in stopping rising insecurity and violence. We are working in Nigeria to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue, and continue to call for solutions that address the underlying causes of violence. During my visit to Nigeria in April, I met the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and the Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss insecurity. I raised the importance of protecting all communities across Nigeria.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans he has to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel; and if he will make a statement.

We are proud to enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship with Israel. We welcome the formation of a new government, and look forward to working together closely to ensure the relationship goes from strength to strength. We engage frequently with the Government of Israel, and will continue to do so.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the allocation of UK aid to sub-Saharan Southern Africa.

All UK aid spend is closely monitored and evaluated, with published annual reviews to assess programme performance. Final 2020-21 spend will be published in Statistics on International Development in the autumn this year and will contain detailed breakdowns of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend for that period. The former Department for International Development's 2019-20 departmental report sets out the effectiveness of UK aid for that period, including in Africa. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact also exists to scrutinise aid spending.

In 2021-22 we have prioritised our aid to be more strategic and remain a force for good across the world. Following a thorough review, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's (FCDO) aid budget has been allocated in accordance with UK strategic priorities against a challenging financial climate of COVID-19. FCDO will spend around half its bilateral ODA budget in Africa, where need is most acute, continuing to provide essential humanitarian assistance, including to those worst affected by conflict and COVID-19. We will support African countries to tackle climate change, deliver improvements to education, promote economic development, undertake conflict resolution and stabilisation, and develop more open, inclusive societies.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effectiveness of the policies agreed at the G7 Summit in June 2021 in tackling global poverty.

Outcomes from the G7 Summit and G7 Ministerial meetings reflect the UK's commitment to using our G7 Presidency to tackle global poverty. The G7 has agreed to share at least 870 million vaccine doses over the next year, taking its total commitment to one billion doses since our first UK Presidency meeting. On girls' education and opportunities for women, the G7 agreed two ambitious global targets: 40 million more girls in school, and 20 million more girls reading by age 10 or the end of primary school, in low and lower middle-income countries, by 2026. The G7 committed at least $2.75 billion funding over the next 5 years for the Global Partnership for Education, and a $15 billion investment target to improve economic opportunities for women in developing countries. To help vulnerable countries adapt to the impact of climate change, G7 Leaders committed to provide new financing for early action, disaster risk and insurance. The G7 has also agreed a Famine Prevention Compact, helping protect over 34 million people at imminent risk and committing $7 billion - the largest collective contribution to the humanitarian system this year.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Iran.

We regularly assess the political situation in Iran, including through our British Embassy in Tehran. We also closely follow key events, such as the upcoming Presidential elections.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he last spoke to President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

The Foreign Secretary has not spoken with President Mnangagwa. In November 2017, the then Minister for Africa became the first UK minister to meet a Zimbabwean President in over 18 years, meeting with President Mnangagwa at his inauguration when hopes of political and economic reform in Zimbabwe were high. In April 2018, when he was Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) met the then Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo to urge him to ensure Zimbabwe's 2018 elections were free and fair.

FCDO Ministers and officials continue to take all opportunities to press for political and economic reform in Zimbabwe and to insist that human rights are respected. The UK sanctioned four senior security officials in February 2021 for their part in human rights abuses.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his French counterpart on the recent events in Chad.

We are working closely with France and other partners at all levels to encourage the Transitional Military Council to deliver an inclusive, timely, civilian-led transition to constitutional rule. These principles were set out in the communiqué issued on 5 May by the Foreign Secretary, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs and their other G7 counterparts. G7 Foreign Ministers also expressed their support for African Union-led efforts, condemned the recent repression protests and stressed the importance of respect for human rights.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Burkina Faso; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel, including in Burkina Faso. There were more deaths by violence in the Sahel in 2020 than in any previous year in the past decade. I discussed regional insecurity and its impact on Burkina Faso with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in January.

Through our recent deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and our programmatic support for stabilisation and conflict resolution, the UK is committed to building long-term peace and stability in the Sahel. We also use our humanitarian assistance to support those worst affected by conflict. I am saddened by recent incidents in Burkina Faso, including the destruction by landmine explosion of an ambulance carrying six people in March 2021, and the attack in April 2021 which killed a number of people involved in an anti-poaching project in eastern Burkina Faso. I condemn these attacks and urge the Burkinabe authorities to bring their perpetrators to justice.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Chad.

The UK is deeply concerned by the situation in Chad. The Foreign Secretary and I have publicly condemned the killing of President Déby, the broader violence in Chad and the recent repression of protests. In support of the African Union, we encourage the Transitional Military Council to deliver an inclusive, timely, civilian-led transition to constitutional rule. The recent appointment of a civilian government is a step in this direction.

Regarding the human rights situation, the UK remains concerned by reports of increasing human rights abuses and violations across the Sahel, including Chad. We condemn the violence and repression of protesters in Chad over recent weeks, and are deeply concerned by allegations of the use of live ammunition against civilians. Recent events underline the need for an inclusive transition to help build a peaceful and stable future for the Chadian people. The UK ambassador designate will be returning to Chad imminently and will, in due course, present his credentials to the Chadian transitional government. More widely, the UK also uses our humanitarian assistance to support those worst affected by conflict in Chad and we have been pressing in the UN Security Council and in the region for renewed efforts to tackle impunity for human rights abuses and violations across the Sahel.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Chad.

The UK is deeply concerned by the situation in Chad. The Foreign Secretary and I have publicly condemned the killing of President Déby, the broader violence in Chad and the recent repression of protests. In support of the African Union, we encourage the Transitional Military Council to deliver an inclusive, timely, civilian-led transition to constitutional rule. The recent appointment of a civilian government is a step in this direction.

Regarding the human rights situation, the UK remains concerned by reports of increasing human rights abuses and violations across the Sahel, including Chad. We condemn the violence and repression of protesters in Chad over recent weeks, and are deeply concerned by allegations of the use of live ammunition against civilians. Recent events underline the need for an inclusive transition to help build a peaceful and stable future for the Chadian people. The UK ambassador designate will be returning to Chad imminently and will, in due course, present his credentials to the Chadian transitional government. More widely, the UK also uses our humanitarian assistance to support those worst affected by conflict in Chad and we have been pressing in the UN Security Council and in the region for renewed efforts to tackle impunity for human rights abuses and violations across the Sahel.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when officials of his Department last made representations to their Indian counterparts on the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

We regularly raise Mr Johal's case directly with the Government of India at official and Ministerial level. The Foreign Secretary raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on 6 May. The Secretary of State for International Trade raised the case with the Indian Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on 5 February. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy and with Minister Prasad on 15 March during his visit to India. Lord Ahmad also raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian High Commissioner on 16 April. On 7 April, officials at the British High Commission in New Delhi wrote to the Indian Government, raising Mr Johal's allegation that he was threatened with torture in police custody in January 2021, and emphasising the need for a prompt and independent investigation. This Government will continue to look to raise our concerns about Mr Johal's case at all appropriate opportunities.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when officials in his Department last made representations to their Indian counterparts on the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

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

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his French counterpart on the recent events in Chad.

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

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Burkina Faso; and if he will make a statement.

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

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Chad.

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

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Chad.

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

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department is taking steps to compensate poorer countries for the effects of climate change resulting from carbon emissions from wealthier nations.

Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is an international priority for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and we are calling for significantly increased action to support the most vulnerable to adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. The UK has pledged to double its International Climate Finance to £11.6 billion from 2021-26 and we are using our COP26 and G7 Presidencies to urge all other donors to be equally ambitious in their commitments.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has with the leadership of the Arab League.

The UK Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and Red Sea met with League of Arab States representatives to discuss developments in East Africa during his visit to Egypt in January. British Embassy officials in Cairo regularly engage with the League of Arab States secretariat on a wide range of regional issues. As stated in a UN Security Council session in January, the UK supports the League's efforts to promote regional peace and security.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the leadership of the Southern African Development Community.

The UK regularly engages with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on a range of political, economic and climate-related issues. The British High Commissioner to Gaborone, in her role as the UK's Special Representative to SADC, most recently engaged with the SADC Executive Secretary in February 2021 to update her on the UK's autonomous sanctions regime. The British High Commissioner to Maputo met with President Nyusi of Mozambique, the current Chair of SADC, on 1 April 2021 to offer our continued cooperation on peace and security in the Southern Africa region, in light of the recent attacks in Palma, northeast Mozambique.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in northern Mozambique.

The UK is deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in northern Mozambique, and the increasing attacks by groups with links to Islamic extremism. As I [Minister Duddridge] made clear publicly on 26 and 28 March, we condemn the appalling recent attacks in Palma, Cabo Delgado and we stand with the people of Mozambique against terrorism. To date, the insurgency has claimed over 2,000 lives and displaced over 700,000 people.

We are working with the Government of Mozambique to address the root drivers of conflict and instability, including through engagement with the Government of Mozambique's regional development authority in Cabo Delgado, and by providing targeted assistance under the framework of a Defence Memorandum of Understanding. The UK also co-chairs, with Ireland, the International Community Crisis Taskforce, which brings together the Mozambican government and the international community in high-level discussion about humanitarian and other crises, including the ongoing crisis in Cabo Delgado. UK Aid has provided £20m of humanitarian and development support to people in northeast Mozambique, ensuring they have access to food, shelter and basic healthcare.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the Iranian Government on the cases of (a) Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and (b) Anoosheh Ashoori.

We remain committed to securing the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, so that they can be returned to the UK.

The Foreign Secretary continues to raise the UK's serious concerns about Iran's practice of detaining foreign and dual nationals directly with Foreign Minister Zarif, most recently on 3rd April, and the Prime Minister has raised the issue with President Rouhani, most recently on 10 March. The ambassador in Tehran consistently raises the dual national detainees with the Iran authorities.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Irish counterpart; and if he will make a statement.

The Foreign Secretary met Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Thursday 15 April 2021. They discussed collaboration on foreign policy priorities following their previous call in February and Northern Ireland.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Colombian counterpart on the recent killing of trade unionists in that country.

UK ministers and senior officials regularly raise human rights issues with their Colombian counterparts. Most recently, the UK's Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, raised our concerns around killings of human rights defenders, media freedom, and sexual violence, on a virtual visit to Colombia in February.

We continue to support efforts to improve the security and protection of human rights defenders, including through the UK's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

The Foreign Secretary last met the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the virtual Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM), which he chaired on 14 October 2020. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, regularly engages with the Secretary-General in Commonwealth meetings, including the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Meeting CMAG, which last met on 24 March 2021. The UK Commonwealth Envoy regularly takes part in meetings with the Secretary-General, in his capacity as a Governor of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

We are monitoring the situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines closely and our thoughts are with those affected by the eruption. An estimated 16-20,000 people are directly affected, with just over 3,700 currently in shelters. Infrastructure and agriculture have also been badly hit and ash fall is significant and causing problems with the movement of people, as well as impacting electricity and water supplies.

To address the immediate needs over the weekend we pledged an initial £200,000 to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to help address the immediate humanitarian impact of the volcano eruption. This will be used for emergency supplies and other requirements. Urgently needed technical experts will support relief efforts on the ground, support emergency telecommunications, and restore critical lifeline facilities. We have provided advice from the UK Government Office of Science (GO Science) and the British Geological Survey on how to deal with the significant ash fall (including on its impact on livestock). Finally the UK is also a contributor to the International Federation of the Red Cross Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) which has allocated funding of some £209,000 to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross response.

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, spoke to the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and his High Commissioner to the UK on 14 April. They discussed initial and ongoing UK support for the recovery following the volcanic eruption.

We will continue to work with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and other appropriate agencies to provide further support.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the leadership of the United Nations.

The Foreign Secretary and UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres had a bilateral meeting on 11 January 2021, during the UNSG's virtual visit to the UK. The UNSG was accompanied by the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed; Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock; Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo; and his Chief of Staff, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti. During this meeting, they identified areas of common interest for further collaboration, ranging from COP26 to COVID-19.

More recently, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed participated in the Climate and Development Ministerial meeting co-chaired by the Foreign Secretary and COP President-Designate on 31 March. They were joined by Ministers from 35 climate vulnerable and donor countries, and representatives from institutions and civil society, to focus on implementation of the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in those countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the prospects for a negotiated peace settlement in Yemen.

We fully support the peace process led by the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, and urge the parties to engage constructively with this process. An inclusive political settlement is the only way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and to address the worsening humanitarian crisis.

We welcome the Saudi announcement on 22 March of a new peace initiative, which includes a nationwide ceasefire, the opening of Sana'a airport and Hodeidah port, and a return to formal peace talks between the Government and the Houthis. We urge the Houthis to engage constructively with the UN Special Envoy to end this horrific conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the public disorder in Northern Ireland.

The Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken speak regularly on a broad range of issues, including Northern Ireland. Our Embassy in Washington regularly engages with the US Administration and Congress on Northern Ireland. The Government wants to work with all our partners in the United States, the European Union and Ireland to ensure that Northern Ireland can continue to prosper.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is providing to strengthen health systems in low income countries to respond to the covid-19 pandemic.

The Integrated Review, published on 16 March 2021, sets out UK priorities for global health, including support to strengthen health systems around the world. Strong, resilient, and accessible health systems are essential to our aims of ending the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening global health security, and ending preventable deaths.

COVID-19 has severely disrupted health systems. The UK has committed up to £1.3 billion towards the international response to the pandemic, supporting the direct response to COVID-19, and tackling the broader health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts. UK funding to the Global Fund, Gavi, and the Global Financing Facility has has helped keep essential health services running during the pandemic, as have the UK's bilateral health programme. Additionally, our core voluntary funding to World Health Organisation (WHO) of £34 million over the next four years will help to strengthen health systems in vulnerable countries.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Brazil.

The Foreign Secretary has congratulated Foreign Minister França on his appointment. The UK and Brazil have a close dialogue on bilateral and global issues, including the environment, science, and trade. We expect to continue deepening this cooperation regardless of the recent political changes.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2021.

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth), the UK Commonwealth Envoy and the British High Commissioner to Rwanda are in regular touch with the Government of Rwanda (GoR) and the Commonwealth Secretariat on preparations for the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Thanks to the GoR, in March 2021, our High Commission in Kigali participated in an Advance Visit Programme, alongside other member states. As outgoing Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, we have been working closely with the GoR and the Commonwealth Secretariat to share all aspects of our experience of hosting the CHOGM in 2018.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on the UK agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

The UK is actively participating in formal preparations for the upcoming 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). We are working closely with Government of Rwanda (who will host the CHOGM and take over from us the role of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office), the other member states and the Commonwealth Secretariat. We are looking to secure outcomes which build on the commitments and aspirations of the London CHOGM in 2018, and which respond top new shared challenges. Priorities include, for example, climate change, sustainability, education and health. We hope that Commonwealth leaders will take the opportunity to boost momentum towards COP26. On education, we are encouraging Leaders' reaffirmation of their commitment to ensure that all girls and boys get 12 years of quality education.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation affecting the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

The UK Government remains concerned about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including the issues faced by the Muslim community. This includes the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the mainstream and digital media in Sri Lanka; a proposal to ban facial coverings and close some madrasas across the country; and the impact on Muslim and other religious communities of the policy of forced cremations of those deceased due to COVID-19, enforced from March 2020 until February 2021.

The Minister for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, set out the UK's concerns in a statement at the UNHRC on 25 February. Lord Ahmad has also raised the importance of minority rights with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister and Sri Lankan High Commissioner, most recently during calls in January and February respectively.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in El Salvador.

The UK Government welcomes the fact that the legislative and municipal elections in El Salvador on 28 February were largely peaceful, and that the results appear to reflect the will of the people. However, we were concerned at the shrinking of political and media space in the run up to the elections.

The UK is keen to strengthen its bilateral relationship with El Salvador, and will continue to follow post-election developments closely. Our Embassy in San Salvador regularly engages with the Government of El Salvador and other partners on areas of shared interest, including human rights, governance, climate change, and implementation of the new UK-Central America Association Agreement. I also raised a number of these issues with the El Salvador Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexandra Hill, when we spoke in October 2020.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Ethiopia.

We are deeply concerned at the mounting evidence of human rights abuses and violations in Ethiopia. All parties to the conflict must respect human rights and avoid civilian loss of life at all costs. We have raised our concerns with Ethiopian Ministers, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. In a joint statement on Ethiopia with 41 other countries at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, we condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians and acts of sexual violence. We continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations, and unfettered access to Tigray - points the Foreign Secretary discussed with Prime Minister Abiy in Addis Ababa on 22 January. We also continue to call for the perpetrators of those incidents to be held to account, whoever they may be and we encourage the Government of Ethiopia to invite an independent UN fact finding mission to support their current accountability effort on international law compliance. I [Minister Duddridge] re-enforced the urgency of the need for humanitarian access when I [Minister Duddridge] spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Hong Kong.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and has declared two breaches of the Joint Declaration in the last nine months. In response to the imposition of the National Security Law on 1 July 2020, the Government put in place a new bespoke immigration path for British Nationals Overseas passport holders (BN(O)s), suspended our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and extended our arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong. On 13 November, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress issued a decision that removed elected pro-democracy legislators arbitrarily from their positions in Hong Kong's Legislative Council. The FCDO Permanent Under-Secretary summoned the Chinese Ambassador to explain why this was a further breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and to call on China to uphold its international obligations.

The recent decision by the authorities in Hong Kong to charge 47 Hong Kong politicians and activists for conspiracy to commit subversion under the National Security Law is another deeply disturbing step. It demonstrates in the starkest way the use of the law to stifle any political dissent, rather than restore security which was the claimed intention of the legislation. The National Security Law violates the Joint Declaration, and its use in this way contradicts the promises made by the Chinese government and can only further undermine confidence that it will keep its word on such sensitive issues. We continue to bring together our international partners to stand up for the people of Hong Kong, to call out the violation of their freedoms, and to hold China to its international obligations.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department allocates aid to projects that are focused on poverty.

We remain firmly committed to helping the world's poorest people. Our aid budget will continue to serve the primary aim of reducing poverty in developing countries. The new strategic approach to ODA will ensure every penny we spend goes as far as possible and makes a world-leading difference. The Foreign Secretary has set out how we will deliver better results for the world's poorest as well as for the UK through focusing on seven global challenges where the UK can make the most difference.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps the Government has taken to help achieve gender equality in the Global South.

Promoting gender equality and advancing women and girls' rights around the world is a priority for the UK Government. Between 2015 and 2020, we supported 8.1 million girls gain access to a decent education. In 2019-20 alone we provided 25.4 million women and girls with modern methods of family planning, saving 8,100 women's lives.

Our leadership on gender equality has become increasingly vital as we work with partners to build back better and more inclusively after COVID-19. We are preparing to take full advantage of the many opportunities that 2021 offers to advance gender equality in the Global South. We are putting gender equality at the heart of our G7 Presidency, co-leading the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, hosting the Global Partnership for Education and recognising the importance of gender to be effective in the fight against climate change.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what most recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on health systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

COVID-19 continues to result in health systems disruptions and reduced demand for health and nutrition services globally, including in Africa. Analysis by the Africa CDC shows that over 40% of those needing health services during the pandemic missed or delayed their care, due to fear of contracting COVID-19 or reduced availability of services. Over half of countries that responded to a WHO survey reported that they had implemented policies to scale back service provision in response to COVID-19. FCDO continues to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on health and nutrition and we are working with UNICEF and other partners to strengthen data collection and analysis.

The UK's diplomacy, programmes and funding are playing a vital role in mitigating these indirect impacts of the pandemic. The UK has committed up to £1.3bn of UK Aid for the international response to the pandemic, supporting the direct response to COVID-19 and tackling the broader health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts. The UK has increased funding to WHO, contributing £340m in core voluntary funding over the next four years. This will help to strengthen health systems in vulnerable countries, together with our bilateral health programmes and funding to other partnerships such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking ahead of COP26 to work with partners in the global south on tackling climate change.

As host of COP26, securing greater global ambition to address climate change is a priority for this Government. The Foreign Secretary and FCDO ministers regularly raise the subject in their engagements with a wide range of governments. On 31 March, COP President-Designate Alok Sharma and the Foreign Secretary will host the Climate Development Ministerial which will bring together countries and partners including in the global South to identify practical solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing vulnerable countries.

Since 2011 we have helped over 66m people cope with the effects of climate change and natural disasters, and provided 33m people with improved access to clean energy. We actively encourage countries to commit financial support for developing countries most vulnerable to climate change. The UK leads by example - the Prime Minister committed to doubling UK International Climate Finance to £11.6bn over the next 5 years. On 25 January the UK launched an Adaptation Action Coalition to mobilise action on adaptation and galvanise momentum ahead of COP. This was a joint initiative with Egypt, Malawi, St Lucia, Bangladesh, Netherlands and the UN Development Programme.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what most recent representations he has made to the Government of Myanmar on the recent election in that country.

The UK is clear that the results of the November 2020 election should be respected. We will continue to reiterate to the military regime that they should hand back power to the democratically elected government and release all those detained arbitrarily.

I [Minister Adams] formally summoned the Myanmar Ambassador on 1 and 22 February, and reiterated that the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected, those detained arbitrarily be released, peaceful protest permitted and the elected National Assembly peacefully re-convened. Additionally, HMA Yangon attended an Ambassadors' briefing with the military appointed Foreign Minister. He used this opportunity to unequivocally condemn the coup and call for the release of those in arbitrary detention.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Myanmar.

We are deeply concerned about the security situation in Myanmar which has deteriorated significantly since the coup. We urgently convened the UN Security Council following the coup and secured a unanimous statement expressing concern at the situation. The UK condemns the military coup in Myanmar and the detention of members of the civilian Government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, civil society and foreign nationals. The UK firmly condemns the violent crackdown by Myanmar's military on peaceful protests. We urge the military to exercise utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law, and are clear that the right to peaceful protest must be protected.

We are concerned about the recent internet blackouts, which have made information flo