Sarah Olney Portrait

Sarah Olney

Liberal Democrat - Richmond Park

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

(since January 2020)

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport)

(since September 2020)
2 APPG memberships (as of 2 Jun 2021)
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Business Owners, Infant Feeding and Inequalities
1 Former APPG membership
Future of Work
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade)
6th Jan 2020 - 7th Sep 2020


Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 24th June 2021
09:15
Public Accounts Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: High Speed 2: Progress at Summer 2021
24 Jun 2021, 9:15 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Bernadette Kelly - Permanent Secretary at Department for Transport
Clive Maxwell - Director General for High Speed Rail at Department for Transport
Mark Thurston - Chief Executive at HS2 Ltd
View calendar
Department Event
Thursday 24th June 2021
09:30
Department for Transport
Oral questions - Main Chamber
24 Jun 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Transport (including Topical Questions)
Save to Calendar
View calendar
Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Select Committee Meeting
Monday 28th June 2021
13:45
Public Accounts Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Progress with defence estate disposals
28 Jun 2021, 1:45 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
David Williams - Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Defence
Graham Dalton - DIO Chief Executive Officer at Ministry of Defence
Air Marshal Richard Knighton CB - Deputy Chief of the Defence staff at Ministry of Defence
Sherin Aminossehe - Director Infrastructure at Ministry of Defence
View calendar
Oral Question
Monday 28th June 2021
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral Question No. 8
What recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to provide British Sign Language with full legal status.
Save to Calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 1st July 2021
09:15
Public Accounts Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Protecting consumers from unsafe products
1 Jul 2021, 9:15 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Sarah Munby - Permanent Secretary at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Graham Russell - Director Office for Product Safety & Standards at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Jaee Samant - Director General for Market Frameworks at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Monday 5th July 2021
13:45
Public Accounts Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Government’s delivery through arm’s-length bodies
5 Jul 2021, 1:45 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Alex Chisholm - Permanent Secretary at Cabinet Office
Tamara Finkelstein - Permanent Secretary at Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Antonia Romeo - Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Justice
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 8th July 2021
09:15
Public Accounts Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Test and Trace 2
8 Jul 2021, 9:15 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Sir Chris Wormald - Permanent Secretary at Department of Health and Social Care
Baroness Dido Harding
Dr Jenny Harries OBE - Chief Executive at UK Health Security Agency
Shona Dunn - Second Permanent Secretary at Department of Health and Social Care
Jonathan Marron - Director General Public Health at Department of Health and Social Care
View calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 11 Liberal Democrat Aye votes vs 0 Liberal Democrat No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Thursday 17th June 2021
Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Australia

The Secretary of State just referred to the fact that Australia is 9,000 miles away compared with the EU markets …

Written Answers
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Corporation Tax
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of an international …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Youth Mobility Scheme
That this House recognises the benefits of the Youth Mobility Scheme which allows young people to live, work and study …
Bills
Monday 21st June 2021
Commercial Rent (Prohibition of Upward-Only Reviews) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to prohibit the use of upward-only rent review clauses in commercial rent agreements; to nullify existing such clauses; …
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
2. (a) Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organisation or indirectly via a central party organisation
Name of donor: Alexander Lourie
Address of donor: private
Amount of donation or nature and value if donation in kind: …
EDM signed
Wednesday 16th June 2021
Higher education funding
That this House calls on the Government to provide financial compensation to university students for lost teaching and rent during …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 3rd March 2020
School Toilets (Access During Lessons) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish guidance for state-funded schools on allowing pupil access to toilets …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Sarah Olney has voted in 263 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Sarah Olney 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
Paul Scully (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(14 debate interactions)
Rachel Maclean (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
(10 debate interactions)
Fleur Anderson (Labour)
Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)
(8 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(23 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(21 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(19 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Sarah Olney's debates

Richmond Park 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 Richmond Park signature proportion
Petitions with most Richmond Park signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

The Government should class in-person interaction with family members and unmarried partners abroad as an essential reason to travel.

The government should allow BTEC students to achieve teacher predicted grades rather than being forced into a system that is unethically downgrading thousands of students grades.

Please don’t send students back until we know we have had the priority groups vaccinated such as the elderly, the extremely clinically vulnerable, and those with underlying health conditions.

Cancel all standardise testing for year 11 and year 12 students in 2021. By replacing tests with smaller amounts of course work and teacher assessment, students would have a fair chance at achieving their target grades and it would relieve stress for teachers and students.

Schools can be a breeding ground for the spread of coronavirus. Children are mingling at schools and returning to families who are potentially vulnerable, keeping rates high.

It's only been since schools opened that infection rates have been high in Kent, and keeping them open may keep it high.

To not decide to scrap free travel for those who are under 18. As a teenager who has relied so much on free travel, it has allowed for me to go to school without the worry of an extra expense and explore around the beautiful city of London also. Destroying free travel would hurt so many of us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Latest EDMs signed by Sarah Olney

22nd June 2021
Sarah Olney signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Tuesday 22nd June 2021

Youth Mobility Scheme

Tabled by: Sarah Olney (Liberal Democrat - Richmond Park)
That this House recognises the benefits of the Youth Mobility Scheme which allows young people to live, work and study in the UK for up to 24 months; notes the importance of that scheme to the development of young people’s understanding of different countries and cultures; further notes that scheme …
1 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Liberal Democrat: 1
21st June 2021
Sarah Olney signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Monday 21st June 2021

Independent Bookshop Week 2021

Tabled by: Sarah Olney (Liberal Democrat - Richmond Park)
That this House celebrates Independent Bookshop Week 2021, which takes place from 19 to 26 June; notes the role of independent bookshops in sustaining and cultivating reading habits and enhancing literary skills; further notes the financial contribution that independent bookshops make to the UK’s creative economy, and acknowledges the flexible …
7 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Liberal Democrat: 2
Labour: 2
Scottish National Party: 1
Independent: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Sarah Olney's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Sarah Olney, 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.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Sarah Olney

Sarah Olney has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Sarah Olney


A Bill to prohibit the use of upward-only rent review clauses in commercial rent agreements; to nullify existing such clauses; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 18th March 2022

A Bill to prohibit anti-abortion protests within 150 metres of abortion clinics; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 11th March 2020

516 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
2 Other Department Questions
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of tailored support for the wraparound childcare sector during the covid-19 outbreak to improve measures to tackle gender inequality.

Wraparound childcare is a Department for Education policy, therefore the Minister for Women and Equalities would not be best-placed to lead discussions on this issue with the Chancellor. The Equality Hub provides evidence and expertise to support cross-government work on economic and social recovery, working closely with the COVID-19 Taskforce and the relevant delivery departments. This includes working with the Department for Education to highlight the pressures faced by those balancing work with childcare, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we know that the majority of these pressures fall on women.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the President of COP26, whether he has had discussions with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on moving the Intersessional Conference taking place prior to the COP26 Summit online.

The UK continues to work closely with the UNFCCC Secretariat, UNFCCC Subsidiary Body Chairs, and COP25 Presidency Chile to ensure we maximise progress ahead of COP26. Decisions regarding the Bonn intersessional will be made by the UNFCCC COP Bureau, where all countries are represented.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to resolve customs delays at the UK-EU border.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 175882 on 28 April 2021.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the length of time in which overseas electors can vote beyond 15 years.

In line with the commitment in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, the Government will scrap the rule that prevents British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from participating in UK parliamentary elections. Many British citizens overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom and it is right that we respect this.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will put in place a mandatory two-week notice period for changing guidelines for marriages and civil partnerships ceremonies.

May I apologise for the delay in answering the question. On 5 November, the Department for Health and Social Care acted swiftly in accordance with growing evidence of virus prevalence to put in place new national COVID-19 restrictions in England. Under these new restrictions, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not permitted to take place, except in exceptional circumstances where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. We recognise that the restrictions may be disappointing for those who are planning such events. However, by their nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together from across the country and sometimes across the world, making them high risk events for transmission of the virus.


For further information on COVID-19 restrictions, please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november. Information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is available on related websites.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure that Article 8 of the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented in full.

The UK government is committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement, including Article 8.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the effect of the UK's departure from the EU on staffing levels in the hospitality industry.

We are in regular dialogue with the hospitality sector to understand how business operating models have been affected by leaving the EU.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he makes of the merits of providing a direct grant of up to £30,000 to each small brewer in England to compensate for the costs of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the impact the pandemic has had on hospitality businesses including breweries. That is why we have provided an unprecedented support package of £352 billion including grants, loans, business rates relief, VAT cuts and the job retention scheme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department plans to extend the scope of Additional Restrictions Grants.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) continues to enable Local Authorities to put in place discretionary business support. Local Authorities are free to provide support that suits their local area including to support those businesses not required to close but which have had their trade severely affected by the restrictions and those businesses that fall outside the business rates system. Local Authorities can use their local expertise to target businesses to support in their local area.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an additional £425m will be made available via The Additional Restrictions Grant, meaning that more than £2bn has been made available to Local Authorities since November 2020.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of installing solar panels on (a) government, (b) commercial and (c) industrial buildings.

The generation of renewable electricity from rooftop solar on commercial, industrial and public sector buildings reduces carbon emissions, helps save money on energy bills, protects against electricity price fluctuations and puts unused roof space to good use. Consuming most of the electricity generated on site can also reduce the amount of electricity lost in networks. Projects can be installed relatively quickly, creating new local jobs and contributing to green recovery.

There is currently around 13.5GW of solar PV in the UK of which up to around 3GW is installed on non-domestic roofs[1]. We will need to see sustained increases in deployment of all types of solar, alongside other renewables, to meet our ambitious net zero targets.

Those installing rooftop solar (and other small scale low carbon technologies) can receive payment for any surplus electricity that is exported to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme launched in October 2020 provides grants to install low carbon energy efficiency and heating solutions, including rooftop solar panels, in government and public sector buildings.

[1] Source: BEIS solar PV deployment statistics (April 2021 ) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/solar-photovoltaics-deployment

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his department is taking to increase the number of signatories to the 2020 Stewardship Code.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) received 162 stewardship reports from asset managers and service providers by the first deadline of 31 March this year and will receive reports from asset owners at the end of April. This is in line with the target of 200 applications for 2021 as a whole. The FRC is currently assessing the quality of these reports and will announce the outcome of this process in late summer 2021. The FRC carried out an early review of reporting in autumn 2020 and was encouraged by how many investors had already started to engage with the spirit of the Code and were using it to review their practices and reporting.

In November 2020, HM Treasury’s Asset Management Taskforce report recommended initiatives to increase the uptake of the Code among pension funds, service providers that support investors, and asset managers. The FRC is supporting these initiatives, including chairing the Stewardship Regulators Group.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to negotiate the automatic mutual recognition of professional qualifications with the EU for (a) architects and (b) other professions.

The recognition of professional qualifications is important for individuals wishing to practise their chosen profession outside the jurisdiction in which they qualified. It is for this reason that UK negotiators worked hard to secure a best-in-class Free Trade Agreement with the EU, which includes a framework for regulators and professional bodies to agree the recognition of professional qualifications for specific professions. It is important that regulators are able to maintain professional standards. In negotiating recognition arrangements such as mutual recognition agreements, it is for UK regulators and professional bodies to decide what arrangements – including, potentially, on automatic recognition - they want to agree with their EU counterparts.

The Government is supporting the Architects Regulation Board (ARB) as they explore recognition arrangements under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement with their European counterparts through the forum of the Architects’ Council of Europe. The ARB also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in December 2020.

The Government has also established a dedicated team to support regulators and professional bodies to enter recognition arrangements with their international counterparts. The team is working with regulators and professional bodies across the UK’s professions and sectors to progress this work.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of reducing the VAT charge on solar panels.

Taxation is a matter for HM Treasury. However, BEIS Ministers are in regular contact with Treasury Ministers to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including options for facilitating deployment of the low- cost renewable technologies needed to help meet our 2050 net zero target.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress OneWeb has made towards being operational by 2022.

OneWeb currently has 110 satellites in orbit, with an additional 36 satellites due to be launched on 25th March. The launch pipeline is planned to complete UK coverage this year, so that commercial service introduction can be commenced in the UK by the end of 2021. Global coverage is planned for 2022.

Amanda Solloway
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, if his Department will extend the bounce back interest free period on loans by an additional six months during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to ensure that the smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000 to help businesses through this difficult period. Under BBLS no repayments are due from the borrower for the first 12 months of the loan, giving businesses the breathing space they need during this difficult time. In addition, the Government covers the first 12 months of interest payments charged to the business by the lender.

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

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

  • Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten.
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan.
  • Once six payments have been made, have the option of a six-month repayment holiday.

On 8th February, the Government announced that these options would be made more generous – removing the requirement to make six payments before accessing the six-month repayment holiday.

Businesses will be able to use these options either individually or in combination with each other. In addition, they have the option to fully repay their loan early and will face no early repayment charges for doing so.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it remains his Department's policy to deliver the £2 billion pledged to the Green Homes Grant as set out in Sustainable Warmth: protecting vulnerable households in England, published on 11 February 2021.

The £2 billion pledged to the Green Homes Grant (GHG) is comprised of £500m of funding for the Local Authority Delivery element and £1.5 billion of funding originally allocated to the Voucher Scheme for use in the 2020/21 financial year. £320 million of funding was announced for the Voucher Scheme for 2021/22 in the November 2020 Spending Review.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to support supply companies within the hospitality sector through mechanisms such as invoice factoring to ensure that suppliers' cashflows are protected when the hospitality sector reopens after the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted and forward payment contracts resume again.

Since the start of the pandemic the government has worked closely with the hospitality sector to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and has responded with a substantial package of business support. We also hold discussions with businesses in the supply chain.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) renewable energy, (b) insulation and (c) glazing installers participating in the Green Homes Grant scheme are paid on time.

The scheme administrator is working to ensure vouchers are paid as quickly as possible. Payment to installers is a four-step process. It requires the customer to confirm the work has been completed, the installer to lodge the work and the scheme administrator to undertake scheme checks before they can proceed to payment. Once it has reached the payment stage, the administrator aims to make payments within five-working days. However, if an inspection is deemed necessary then the process will take longer, especially given the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to issue written guidance to (a) nannies and (b) their employers on working safely during the covid-19 outbreak and lockdown.

As working in other peoples’ homes is an essential part of a nanny’s work, they need to ensure they follow the Safer Working guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.

When nannies need to enter their clients’ homes, they should take appropriate Covid-19 secure precautions such as socially distancing wherever possible, washing their hands often, using a separate towel to dry their hands or making sure there is appropriate ventilation. If the nanny or anyone in the household has Covid-19 symptoms, they must not go to work and they must self-isolate.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the number of new jobs created by the Green Homes Grant scheme to date since its commencement.

The scheme has the capacity to support 80,000 jobs. The extension announced on 18 November 2020 has allowed an extra year to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant, helping tradespeople and households plan their workload and create new jobs in their communities.

We have worked to ensure that jobs are created across the country and there are now, on average, 76 Green Homes Grant installers per local authority area in England. Official scheme statistics will be published in due course.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department is providing for the further development of small anaerobic digestion plants.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which came into force on 1 January 2020, gives small scale low-carbon electricity generators, including from small anaerobic digestion (AD) stations, the right to be paid for the renewable electricity they export to the grid.

AD for heat is currently supported through the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (NDRHI), which provides tariff support for biogas and biomethane plants. The RHI is due to close to new applicants on the 31st March 2021. In November 2020 BEIS published a Government Response detailing changes to the NDRHI to aid non-tariff guarantee eligible projects that were under development prior to the 17th August that may struggle to meet the 31st March 2021 application deadline due to COVID-19 related delays. Eligible projects, including on-site biogas, will be afforded an additional 12 months after scheme closure in which to submit a properly made full application.

The Green Gas Support Scheme, due to launch in Autumn 2021, will provide tariff based support for AD plants producing biomethane for injection into the gas grid. The scheme is due to run for four years.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of redirecting renewable energy subsidies away from biomass to wind and solar power.

Sustainable, low carbon bioenergy has helped us move to a low-carbon energy mix, increase our energy security, and keep costs down for consumers. Bioenergy remains an important part of a diverse energy mix, needed to achieve our Net Zero ambitions. We have introduced mandatory sustainability criteria for biomass for heat and power generation. This is to ensure biomass reduces carbon emissions and is sourced sustainably. Generators only receive subsidies for the electricity output which complies with our sustainability criteria.

In November 2020, we announced that we would make the changes required to exclude coal-to-biomass conversions from future Contract for Difference (CfD) allocation rounds. However, we have no plans to remove support for biomass generating stations that are already supported under the Renewables Obligation (RO) and the CfD. Such generators undertook their investments in establishing their stations under these schemes and have a statutory right to their existing support, as set out in the schemes’ implementing legislation. All support for coal-to-biomass conversions ends in 2027.

In March 2020 we announced that onshore wind and solar projects will be able to bid in the Contracts for Difference allocation round 4. The round will open in late 2021 and aim to deliver up to double the renewable capacity of last year’s successful round, potentially providing enough clean energy for up to 10 million homes.

On 17 November, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out his ambitious ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution – an innovative and ambitious programme of job creation and investment. This includes deploying enough offshore wind to generate more power than every home uses today, quadrupling our generation capacity to 40GW by 2030.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of which EU state-aid rules prevent large retailers from claiming more support from the Government’s £4.6bn emergency covid-19 grant scheme.

Subsidies must instead meet the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) as well as the other Free Trade Agreements we have reached with the rest of the world and our WTO commitments.

The State aid Temporary Framework provisions set out in previous iterations of local authority grant support guidance should still be applied to these schemes until further guidance on domestic subsidy control related to these schemes is issued.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of business support throughout the pandemic. In situations where businesses are not able to access grants, they may be able to access other support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the loan schemes that have been made available.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason his Department's policy is to comply with EU state-aid rules regarding the eligibility of large retailers for the Government’s £4.6bn emergency covid-19 grant scheme.

Subsidies must instead meet the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) as well as the other Free Trade Agreements we have reached with the rest of the world and our WTO commitments.

The State aid Temporary Framework provisions set out in previous iterations of local authority grant support guidance should still be applied to these schemes until further guidance on domestic subsidy control related to these schemes is issued.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of business support throughout the pandemic. In situations where businesses are not able to access grants, they may be able to access other support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the loan schemes that have been made available.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to give local authorities the power to implement noise limits on fireworks.

Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit. Under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015 there are strict labelling requirements. Fireworks are categorised and labelled according to their explosive content and category. The fireworks categories must be marked on the label and give an indication of the noise level and hazard level.

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 limits noise from fireworks available to consumers to a maximum of 120 decibels. These noise limits are GB wide and Local authority Trading Standards officers are responsible for their enforcement.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to require mandatory labelling of firework packaging with information about the noise level of the firework.

Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit. Under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015 there are strict labelling requirements. Fireworks are categorised and labelled according to their explosive content and category. The fireworks categories must be marked on the label and give an indication of the noise level and hazard level.

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 limits noise from fireworks available to consumers to a maximum of 120 decibels. These noise limits are GB wide and Local authority Trading Standards officers are responsible for their enforcement.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the deadline for the Local Authority Delivery Scheme on the development of sustainable jobs and skills.

BEIS estimates the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme will support on average 8,000 jobs per annum over the years 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to use the results of the Local Authority Delivery scheme to assess the effectiveness of local authorities in the future.

BEIS has embedded evaluation into the delivery plans of the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme so that Government can learn about its effectiveness, implement learning into the future of energy efficiency schemes and consider what ongoing role Local Authorities should have in the delivery of such schemes.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of aligning the deadlines for Local Authority Delivery scheme phases 1a, 1b and 2 to the Voucher Scheme deadline of March 2022.

The Local Authority Delivery and Vouchers schemes have been designed to work alongside each other whilst reflecting the differences in delivery methods.

BEIS has allocated Local Authority Delivery funding to 55 projects totalling £74.3m of expenditure for delivery by March 2021, which can play an important role in sustaining and creating jobs in all regions of England.

BEIS anticipates funding in excess of £124m of LAD scheme projects with a delivery date of September 2021, and a further £300m is allocated to the regional Local Energy Hubs for delivery by December 2021.

These staggered dates intend to balance the aim of the scheme to support economic recovery whilst being pragmatic over delivery timescales.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the deadline for delivery of the Local Authority Delivery Scheme 2.

The Green Homes Grant, Local Authority Delivery Scheme is part of a package of measures aimed at providing an urgent stimulus to the economy. BEIS intends to allocate £300m to the regional Local Energy Hubs for delivery by December 2021. This aims to balance the aim of the scheme to support economic recovery whilst being pragmatic over delivery timescales.

These economic stimulus schemes are part of a longer term, sustained investment in the growth of skills and jobs to build the supply chains necessary to achieve net zero. We have recently published the Energy White Paper and we plan to publish a Heat and Building Strategy outlining our approach alongside an updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England, that builds upon the commitments in the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, to extend the Energy Company Obligation and implement the Home Upgrade Grant.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has developed a plan for the future of the UK infrastructure market over the next 30 years to allow regulators to work with a consistent and stable set of priorities.

The Government has set out its strategic objectives and priorities for infrastructure investment in the National Infrastructure Strategy, and the 2018 National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline. The latter includes projects in both the public and private sectors, and there will be an estimated c£600bn of investment over the next decade. The pipeline will be updated in Spring 2021.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of updating the economic regulatory duties that sit with each individual sectoral regulator to (a) reflect the need to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 and (b) support regulators to make transparent trade-offs where necessary.

The Government has established new coordination arrangements since setting the net zero target. This includes two cabinet committees, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to turbo-charge the net zero transition and co-ordinate action. The four main departments with lead responsibility for decarbonising sectors of the economy have also set up boards to oversee delivery of their policies aimed at reducing emissions.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) undertook a study on economic regulation, which the Government responded to alongside the National Infrastructure Strategy. The Government agreed with the NIC that regulator duties should be coherent, covering price, quality, resilience and the environment, and has committed to consider new and existing duties in the round as part of a policy paper in 2021.

The Government supports the work already undertaken by the regulators to deliver net zero, and will continue to review the most appropriate measures, including legislated climate duties, alongside existing duties to ensure regulators make the necessary contributions to achieve legislated net zero targets.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his policy on the EU Withdrawal Agreement is that it obliges the establishment of a central patent court seat in London under the Unified Patent Court Agreement.

The Government will not be participating in the Unified Patent Court (UPC), nor establishing a seat in London, due to the UPC’s links with the EU Court of Justice. Consequently, on 20 July 2020, the UK withdrew its ratification of the UPC Agreement. Withdrawing ratification clarifies the UK’s status in the Agreement and will help facilitate its orderly entry into force for other States, if they so choose. The locations of the central division of the UPC is a matter for the remaining participating states to decide.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to measure the effect of Green Homes Grant scheme funding on the energy performance certificate rating of each home that receives that funding.

Developed to help stimulate economic recovery and support and create tens of thousands of jobs; the scheme provides funding for homeowners to install energy efficiency and low carbon heat measures which give greatest thermal benefits and carbon reductions, but which consumers are typically less likely to install on their own.

In order to ensure installations will be of the highest quality, the scheme requires that all businesses and tradespeople that install measures must be TrustMark registered, as well as MCS certified for heat and PAS certified for energy efficiency. That means they will have been thoroughly vetted for technical competence, customer service and trading practices, and will be operating in accordance with the TrustMark customer charter, and MCS and PAS industry standards.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to paragraph 7.26 of the Spending Review 2020, how much of the over £1 billion to make further progress towards delivering the government’s commitment to invest in the energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation of schools, hospitals and homes will be allocated to the Green Homes Grant scheme.

In the Spending Review 2020, the Government has committed to invest over £1 billion next year into making new and existing homes and public buildings more efficient, including through the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. Paragraph 4.7 of the Spending Review sets out the Government’s intention to extend the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme with £320 million of funding in 2021-22.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Exchequer Secretary to the Environmental Audit Committee of 2 December 2020, on what calculations she based her assessment that it would cost only £3,000 on average to raise each existing English home to an Energy Performance Certificate Band C rating.

The Government is currently consulting on proposals to raise the energy performance standard to EPC Band C for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in England and Wales. This is proposed as a phased trajectory for achieving the improvements, applying to new tenancies only from 2025 and all tenancies from 2028. The consultation proposes a cost cap of £10,000, requiring landlords to spend up to this amount to improve their properties.

Under this cap, the average cost per household for all properties treated under these regulations is £4,700. This includes properties that do not meet the required standard, and is specific to the PRS. Spend towards this cap, to comply with these regulations, can only be counted from 2023. The Green Homes Grant provides vouchers to homeowners in England to cover two thirds of eligible energy efficiency improvements, up to a total government contribution of £5,000. Landlords are eligible to apply for funding through the Green Homes Grant, however this would not count towards the £10,000 cost cap as the scheme ends before 2023.

The £3,000 figure relates to the contribution the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme can make towards a property that requires, on average, the same level of energy efficiency work as those under the PRS analysis above.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 26 November 2020 to Question 119331 on Green Homes Grant Scheme, what the reasons are for the difference in the number of (a) energy efficient jobs that will be created by implementing Point 7 of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan up to 2030 and (b) energy efficiency jobs supported by the Green Homes Grant Scheme in 2020-21.

Further to the response on 26 November to Question 119331, the 50,000 jobs supported by 2030 relate to the package of measures from ‘Point 7: Green Buildings’ outlined in my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan. The 2030 figure is based on the expected additional work required by 2030 in order to align with our plans for buildings to improve their energy efficiency and align with our Carbon Budgets.

The 80,000 jobs supported by the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme relates to the £1.5 billion funding allocated for 2020/21. It is a time-limited scheme to help boost employment and support economic recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason the Answer of 10 November 2020 to Question 908549 on the Green Homes Grant Scheme states that the expected number of jobs supported through the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme was over 80,000 and Point 7 of the Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published in November 2020, states that developing greener buildings could deliver support for around 50,000 jobs by 2030.

Further to the response on 10 November to Question 908549, the 80,000 jobs supported by the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme relates to the £1.5 billion funding allocated for 2020/21.

The 50,000 jobs supported by 2030 are as a result of the package of measures for ‘Point 7: Green Buildings’ outlined in my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan. This figure relates to energy efficiency work done by 2030.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the time required to fully train each apprentice installer of domestic heat pumps.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working closely with industry, the Department for Education the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, to ensure that there are clear routes for new entrants to join the heat pump installation market, through higher education including apprenticeships.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education estimates that the typical duration of an apprenticeship to become a Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician is 48 months.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answers of 7 September 2020 to Question 82123 and of 10 November 2020 to Question 908549, for what reason the estimate of the number of jobs that that funding could support was 140,000 in September and 80,000 in November.

The answer provided on 7 September 2020 to Question 82123 was for the expected number of jobs created by over £3 billion of investment in the green recovery, as announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 July. This included the £2 billion Green Homes Grant Scheme, £1 billion to improve the efficiency of public sector buildings, alongside a £50 million fund to pilot the right approach to decarbonise social housing.

The answer provided on the 10 November 2020 to Question 908459 was for the expected number of jobs created through the £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what process his Department is following in order to independently assess the wider social and economic implications of UKRI’s proposed Open Access policy.

As outlined in the recently published R&D Roadmap, Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research, and to maximise the benefit of public research funding to other researchers, businesses and wider audiences.

As part of the UKRI Open Access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI and BEIS co designed analysis on the social and economic costs and benefits of Open Access, which UKRI commissioned from an independent consultancy. This will assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers, as well as perspectives of users of Open Access publications including businesses. This independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020, now provide the basis for considering the wider social and economic implications.

The UKRI open access review will report in Spring 2021. Together with its final policy, UKRI will publish key pieces of analysis and this will include the assessment of possible implications for stakeholders, and the analysis of consultation responses.

UKRI supported Plan S and joined the coalition because working internationally is important to help achieve open access, and Plan S broadly aligns with UKRI Open Access principles. UKRI is considering the Plan S principles and guidance, including with regards to rights retention, alongside other evidence and inputs within the broader aspects of the Review. The outcomes of the review will determine the decision on the final UKRI Open Access policy.

BEIS continues to work closely with UKRI to ensure that the policy supports economic Open Access models where the fair, transparent and reasonable costs of Open Access publishing are met.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to implement cOAlition S’s Rights Retention Strategy in relation to UKRI's new Open Access policy.

As outlined in the recently published R&D Roadmap, Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research, and to maximise the benefit of public research funding to other researchers, businesses and wider audiences.

As part of the UKRI Open Access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI and BEIS co designed analysis on the social and economic costs and benefits of Open Access, which UKRI commissioned from an independent consultancy. This will assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers, as well as perspectives of users of Open Access publications including businesses. This independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020, now provide the basis for considering the wider social and economic implications.

The UKRI open access review will report in Spring 2021. Together with its final policy, UKRI will publish key pieces of analysis and this will include the assessment of possible implications for stakeholders, and the analysis of consultation responses.

UKRI supported Plan S and joined the coalition because working internationally is important to help achieve open access, and Plan S broadly aligns with UKRI Open Access principles. UKRI is considering the Plan S principles and guidance, including with regards to rights retention, alongside other evidence and inputs within the broader aspects of the Review. The outcomes of the review will determine the decision on the final UKRI Open Access policy.

BEIS continues to work closely with UKRI to ensure that the policy supports economic Open Access models where the fair, transparent and reasonable costs of Open Access publishing are met.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to publish its assessment of the wider social and economic implications of UKRI’s proposed Open Access policy.

As outlined in the recently published R&D Roadmap, Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research, and to maximise the benefit of public research funding to other researchers, businesses and wider audiences.

As part of the UKRI Open Access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI and BEIS co designed analysis on the social and economic costs and benefits of Open Access, which UKRI commissioned from an independent consultancy. This will assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers, as well as perspectives of users of Open Access publications including businesses. This independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020, now provide the basis for considering the wider social and economic implications.

The UKRI open access review will report in Spring 2021. Together with its final policy, UKRI will publish key pieces of analysis and this will include the assessment of possible implications for stakeholders, and the analysis of consultation responses.

UKRI supported Plan S and joined the coalition because working internationally is important to help achieve open access, and Plan S broadly aligns with UKRI Open Access principles. UKRI is considering the Plan S principles and guidance, including with regards to rights retention, alongside other evidence and inputs within the broader aspects of the Review. The outcomes of the review will determine the decision on the final UKRI Open Access policy.

BEIS continues to work closely with UKRI to ensure that the policy supports economic Open Access models where the fair, transparent and reasonable costs of Open Access publishing are met.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the time required to train an installer of (a) insulation for solid walls and (b) domestic heat pumps.

We understand that an increased number of skilled tradespeople will be required to retrofit homes with energy efficiency and low carbon measures as a result of the Green Homes Grant scheme. Presently, an existing builder could take on skilled people and become certified to install solid wall insulation within 14 days, provided they meet the requirements.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has for land currently held by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; and if he will make a statement.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has established a Strategic Land Management Board, comprising members from across the NDA group and wider Government, to consider how to divest or lease NDA land where it becomes surplus to requirements. The Board ensures a consistent and optimal approach is taken when considering options for the reuse of NDA sites, in line with wider commercial and operational objectives for the organisation.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussion he has had with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets on establishing a Right to Local Supply to ensure the costs of supplying energy are proportionate to the size of the supplier.

A key aim for Ofgem is to ensure that customers retain choice and flexibility in the market and get good value and service from their supplier.

Ofgem can award supply licences that are restricted to a geographical area and has just consulted on how to use this facility more effectively to bring forward innovation. Ofgem’s Licence Lite regime also aims to reduce the cost and complexity of entering and operating in the market for suppliers.

Ofgem’s Innovation Link helps innovators navigate the sector’s arrangements and their Energy Regulation Sandbox enables trails and rollout of new products, services, business models and methodologies without some of the usual rules applying.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the consumption of electricity from local, renewable community generation schemes in Greater London.

The Government recognises the valuable contribution that community energy can make in helping to meet our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We have funded the Greater South East Energy Hub to work with Community Energy England to raise the profile of community energy and promote it more widely.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) gives small scale low-carbon electricity generators, including community energy projects, the right to be paid for the renewable electricity they export to the grid. There are currently more than 10 SEG tariffs on offer from electricity suppliers, which small scale generators can choose from.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will expand the Energy Company Obligation to support fuel poor households who are under greater financial pressure as a result of covid-19.

The Government has introduced a number of financial support mechanisms to support households who may be under greater financial pressure due to Covid-19. Specifically, on energy efficiency, around half of the £2 billion Green Homes Grant will be targeted at low income and vulnerable households.

In addition, the Energy Company Obligation is providing support worth around £640 million per year to help fuel poor and low income households stay warm while reducing their energy bills.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of community energy to meeting the fourth and fifth greenhouse gas emissions budgets under the Climate Change Act 2008.

The Government is building on its Clean Growth Strategy and has already made significant progress towards meeting the UK’s net zero target. We have met our first and second carbon budgets that were established under the Climate Change Act 2008, and we are on track for the third.

As a Government, we have supported community energy through the £10m Rural Community Energy Fund, and through extensions for community groups under the Feed in Tariffs to ensure that communities can develop renewable energy projects. We are also working closely with Community Energy England on the Community Energy Hub and in creating a regional network of support for communities getting involved directly in reducing their carbon footprint. This includes developing a new tool for parish councils, as well as the SCATTER tool for local authorities.

Our forthcoming sector strategies on energy, heat and buildings and the environment, and our wider plans to deliver a green economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, will contain further proposals to support us in meeting carbon budgets 4 and 5. Two cabinet committees, chaired by my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister and my Rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, have also been established to turbo-charge the net zero transition and co-ordinate action across Government.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of district heating systems for reducing the number of fuel poor households as part of his Department’s Fuel Poverty Strategy.

District heating systems, or heat networks, have the potential to reduce consumer bills and therefore may contribute to reducing fuel poverty. We will consider the role and potential impact of heat networks as part of our planned update to the Fuel Poverty Strategy for England.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the statement that the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) has value but is not sufficient in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee's report, Energy efficiency: building towards net zero, Twenty-First Report of Session 2017–19, HC 1730, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of widening the scope of the ECO.

The costs of the Energy Company Obligation are ultimately borne by domestic energy customers. Government needs to balance the costs to bill payers alongside the low income and vulnerable households whose homes are upgraded. ECO will work alongside other regulatory policy and direct funding to decarbonise buildings in the transition to net zero.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on reform of Employee Share Ownership schemes.

There have been no recent discussions on reform of the Employee Share Ownership scheme between my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer and my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of (a) the Government's criteria for COP26 sponsors that companies should have set ambitious net zero commitments by 2050 or earlier, with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this and (b) COP26 organisers holding discussions with (i) Equinor, (ii) Shell and (iii) BP on sponsorship of COP26.

The Government has set strict sponsorship criteria for COP26 and will partner with companies who have set ambitious net zero commitments by 2050 or earlier, with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this. The Government will continue to talk to a wide range of companies as part of wider COP26 policy engagement to move the global economy to net zero emissions.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding is available for low-income households to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The Energy Company Obligation, worth £640m per year, is focused on low income and vulnerable households across Great Britain. Our recently launched Green Homes Grant in England will further support customers in making their homes more energy efficient, including up to £10,000 for low income households.

In addition to the available funding to support low-income households with improving the energy efficiency of their homes, we also provide support with energy bills for low income and vulnerable consumers through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments.

We intend to publish an updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England in due course which will provide further information on the range of schemes available to support low income and vulnerable households in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to raise the minimum level of energy efficiency standard for private rented accommodation from band E to band D.

The Department has just launched a consultation on improving the energy performance of privately rented homes in England and Wales. Under the Government’s recommended option, landlords would be required to reach EPC Band C for new tenancies from 1 April 2025 and all tenancies by 1 April 2028. The preferred policy option will deliver 7.9 MtCO2e in carbon emission savings over Carbon Budgets 4 and 5. Landlords are encouraged to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant to fund necessary improvements.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effect of UK Research and Innovation’s proposed Open Access policy.

Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research. Public funding should result in public benefit, and therefore the Government and UKRI support the principle that published outputs of publicly funded research should be widely and freely accessible to all, under conditions that allow for maximum reuse, as recently reiterated in the R&D roadmap.

Understanding the overall economic impact of the Review’s proposed policy is important and UKRI has commissioned independent analysis to assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers. BEIS will consider the wider social and economic implications, using this independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020.

UKRI’s mission is to work in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and Government to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish and to create social and economic impact. The Open Access Review will continue under these principles, with UKRI continuing to conduct further evidence gathering, analysis and stakeholder engagement and the issues raised by the Honourable Member are all being considered by UKRI as part of the ongoing process.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of UK Research and Innovation’s open access policy on research-intensive universities.

Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research. Public funding should result in public benefit, and therefore the Government and UKRI support the principle that published outputs of publicly funded research should be widely and freely accessible to all, under conditions that allow for maximum reuse, as recently reiterated in the R&D roadmap.

Understanding the overall economic impact of the Review’s proposed policy is important and UKRI has commissioned independent analysis to assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers. BEIS will consider the wider social and economic implications, using this independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020.

UKRI’s mission is to work in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and Government to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish and to create social and economic impact. The Open Access Review will continue under these principles, with UKRI continuing to conduct further evidence gathering, analysis and stakeholder engagement and the issues raised by the Honourable Member are all being considered by UKRI as part of the ongoing process.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of UK Research and Innovation’s Open Access policy on international collaboration between UK-based and overseas researchers.

Open Access is central to the Government’s ambitions for research and innovation, with openness being key to world class research. Public funding should result in public benefit, and therefore the Government and UKRI support the principle that published outputs of publicly funded research should be widely and freely accessible to all, under conditions that allow for maximum reuse, as recently reiterated in the R&D roadmap.

Understanding the overall economic impact of the Review’s proposed policy is important and UKRI has commissioned independent analysis to assess the possible implications for various groups such as Learned Societies, Research Organisations, Disciplines and Publishers. BEIS will consider the wider social and economic implications, using this independent evidence on costs and benefits, and the responses to the consultation on the proposed policy run by UKRI from Feb-May 2020.

UKRI’s mission is to work in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and Government to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish and to create social and economic impact. The Open Access Review will continue under these principles, with UKRI continuing to conduct further evidence gathering, analysis and stakeholder engagement and the issues raised by the Honourable Member are all being considered by UKRI as part of the ongoing process.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the 30 person limit for weddings includes staff at the wedding venue.

As set out in COVID-19: Guidance for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations, 30 people is the maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple and guests. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers or security. It does not include staff employed by the venue or third-party catering staff.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department provides for the workplace for (a) employees on the ADHD spectrum and (b) their employers.

The Government appreciates that people with mental health conditions – including those on the ADHD spectrum – may face challenges in the workplace and encourages employers to take appropriate steps to support them.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) produces guidance on supporting mental health in the workplace aimed at both employers and workers: https://www.acas.org.uk/supporting-mental-health-workplace.

Acas has also produced a framework for positive mental health at work and offers training on understanding mental health issues in the workplace: https://archive.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1900.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the skills gap in the workforce required to retrofit the UK’s housing stock with insulation; and if he will take steps to close that gap.

A good supply of skilled workers is essential in order to meet our aspiration for as many UK homes as possible to be EPC Band C by 2035, where practical, cost-effective and affordable. In 2018, the domestic and non-domestic energy efficiency sectors employed 153,600 people, but many more will be required. The Government has sponsored the development of Trustmark and PAS 2035 to ensure high standards among energy efficiency installers. The Government is further funding six local supply chain demonstration pilots to support development and training of the supply chain for home energy retrofit. We will continue to work with installers and training providers in order to grow the sector.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to provide additional support for disabled people during the covid-19 outbreak by enabling disabled people to work flexibly.

The Government is fully committed to supporting disabled people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, including making sure they can continue to work. The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work. For example, Access to Work is continuing to provide support for people with a disability or health condition whether they are working in the workplace or are working from home.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers including making reasonable adjustments to support disabled workers to be able to work.

Currently the Government advice is that people should be working from home where it is possible to do so. Existing employment law gives employees the right to request flexible working, which includes remote working.

.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Queen's Speech of December 2019, what progress has his Department made on investing £9.2 billion to improve the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings.

Tackling climate change and reaching our legally-binding emission reduction targets continue to be a top priority for the Government.

We remain committed to our aspiration for as many homes as possible to reach Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective, and affordable. Improving the energy efficiency of existing homes will play a critical role in delivering our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, including Net Zero by 2050 as well as lifting households out of fuel poverty.

We continue to enable greenhouse gas emission reductions in public buildings through the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, and the fund for England will stand at £385 million by the end of 2020/21.

BEIS remains committed to energy efficiency and decarbonising buildings, in line with the Manifesto commitment to invest £9.2 billion in low carbon buildings. The funding decisions are a matter for my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has encourage the uptake of energy efficiency retrofitting by households to increase private sector investment in that sector.

In the Clean Growth Strategy, we set our aspiration for as many homes as possible to be Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035, where practical, cost-effective and affordable.

The Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy in due course, which will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

These actions include the deployment of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating as part of an ambitious programme of work required to enable key strategic decisions on how we achieve the mass transition to low-carbon heat and set us on a path to decarbonising all homes and buildings.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what steps he is taking to ensure that employees will not be forced to accept (a) zero-hour contracts and (b) other reduced employment conditions, without being given the option of redundancy, when the furlough ends.

An employment contract is a matter between an individual and their employer.

Any changes to an employment contract – including an individual’s working hours – should be made by agreement in a way that is consistent with employment law. This Government is clear that employers must take their employment responsibilities seriously and cannot simply opt out of them.

An employer can decide to make a worker redundant when their furlough ends under certain conditions, if they deem this to be the best course of action to take for their business.

The legal position in relation to redundancy remains the same. Any redundancy process should be fair and reasonable, with appropriate equalities considerations.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to provide local licensing authorities with regulatory powers over public firework displays; and if she will make a statement.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. This includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

21st Jan 2020
What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of business rates on high street businesses.

This Government will conduct a fundamental review of business rates.

My Retail Sector Council industry co-chair and I have already met the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to discuss the Council’s review of the costs retailers face, including business rates.

I will continue to engage with Treasury colleagues as we deliver this important manifesto commitment.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to ensure that professional football clubs have at least 51 per cent fan ownership.

Fans are the beating heart of their clubs and it is vital they have their voices heard.

The Government has launched its fan-led review of football governance, which will be a root-and-branch examination of the big issues facing the national game.

I would not want to pre-judge the recommendations of the review but I can confirm that club ownership, including models found in other countries, will be examined as part of the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to support professional writers.

A thriving UK publishing industry is crucial to support the development of professional writers. We know that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the publishing industry. The Government’s response has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Bounceback Loan Scheme and business rates reliefs. The publishing sector has also benefited from the government's introduction of a zero rate of VAT to e-publications, which will make it clear e-publications are entitled to the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts.

In terms of direct support for authors, Arts Council England’s (ACE) ‘time-to-write’ grants are a vital source of funding that allow authors to dedicate time to the completion of manuscripts. Authors also receive support via ACE's Developing Your Creative Practice Fund, which was designed with the expectation that writers would be among the beneficiaries.

In addition, over the course of the pandemic, ACE contributed £400,000 to the Society of Authors’ ‘Authors Emergency Fund’, in order to ensure that authors whose income had been decimated by the pandemic were able to remain active in their discipline.

The Government also maintains a strong legal framework to protect the rights and interests of writers, including through copyright and the Public Lending Right.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the date by which OneWeb will be able to provide rural broadband for the whole of the UK.

The government is investing £5 billion to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest to reach 20% of premises in the UK. Our approach is technologically neutral but, at present, satellite broadband does not meet the technical specification for funding under the £5 billion programme.

OneWeb was acquired by a consortium led by the UK Government and the Bharti Group in October 2020: both investing $500 million for 42%, creating a $1 billion equity investment. This is not part of the government’s £5 billion investment to deliver gigabit-capable broadband. OneWeb’s LEO satellite constellation will deliver high-speed, low latency internet both in the UK and internationally. This is an opportunity for the UK to promote its interests globally - with access to a global fleet of satellites that have the potential to connect people across the globe, providing broadband from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole. OneWeb has launched a total fleet of 110 satellites in orbit and is currently scheduled to commence commercial services by the end of 2021, with global coverage planned for 2022.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department plans to use satellite technology to complete the UK high capacity broadband network.

The government is investing £5 billion to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest to reach 20% of premises in the UK. Our approach is technologically neutral but, at present, satellite broadband does not meet the technical specification for funding under the £5 billion programme.

Satellites are already providing commercial broadband services in the UK, and these services include the provision of backhaul.

The government recognises that the UK has some very remote places that may be too expensive to build a gigabit-capable broadband networks to, even with substantial public subsidy. Less than 0.3% of the country or less than 100,000 premises are likely to fall into this category. On 19 March, the government launched a call for evidence to explore the barriers to improving the broadband of these premises and how innovative new technologies (such as Low Earth Orbit satellites, high altitude platforms and new terrestrial wireless solutions) could help.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential upload speeds to be attained using satellite enabled broadband in the UK.

The government is exploring new technologies that can provide improved broadband services in the UK. This includes the use of satellites, as well as innovative terrestrial wireless technologies. On 19 March, the government launched a call for evidence to explore the barriers to improving the broadband of very hard to reach premises and how innovative new technologies (including Low Earth Orbit satellites) could help.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the role of satellites is in the delivery of the hardest to reach gigabit connections.

The government is investing £5 billion to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest to reach 20% of premises in the UK. Our approach is technologically neutral but, at present, satellite broadband does not meet the technical specification for funding under the £5 billion programme.

However, the government recognises that the UK has some very remote places that may be too expensive to build a gigabit-capable broadband network to, even with substantial public subsidy. Less than 0.3% of the country or less than 100,000 premises are likely to fall into this category. On 19 March, the government launched a call for evidence to explore the barriers to improving the broadband of these premises and how innovative new technologies (such as Low Earth Orbit satellites) could help.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department will take to support the reopening of the night-time economy.

Many businesses that operate within the nighttime economy, including nightclubs and music venues, have received support via the Government’s wider £280bn business support package, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and grants to businesses forced to close due to Covid-19.

In addition, the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) has also provided support for venues that operate in the nighttime economy, such as nightclubs and music venues. So far, £170m has been awarded from the CRF to over 690 organisations classed as ‘music’. Within that over £54m has been awarded to over 300 music venues specifically. Examples of venues that have received CRF funding so far include Motion, Night People, Village Underground, Ministry of Sound and Fabric.

Additionally, a second round of CRF funding was announced in December 2020 with application portals closing on 26 January 2021. As in round one, night time economy businesses were eligible to apply and we know that many businesses have done so. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications by the end of March 2021.

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, with reference to the Covid19 Response, Spring 2021, published in February 2021, CP 398, whether the Government classifies outdoor riding schools as an outdoor sports facility; and whether outdoor riding schools will be allowed to reopen on 29 March 2021 as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. As part of step 1, from 29 March outdoor sports facilities can reopen, broadening the options for outdoor exercise and recreation. These facilities, such as riding schools, can be used by people in line with the wider social contact limits.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has made an assessment of the effect on public health of Facebook Marketplace sales continuing as normal during the covid-19 lockdown period.

DCMS has made no such assessment.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to update UK international data transfer frameworks to enable onward transfers to other jurisdictions in future free trade agreements.

The UK does not intend for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to provide a legal basis, as a matter of domestic law, for the cross border transfer of personal data. Our domestic adequacy process and international data protection frameworks are separate from, but complementary to, data provisions in FTAs.

The UK's International Transfer Regime (ITR) forms an integral part of our domestic data protection framework. The UK is committed to maintaining high personal data protection standards, including when it is transferred across borders.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Government’s emergency funding package for people working in arts and culture is delivered as soon as possible.

Each Arms Length Body, Arts Council England, Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the British Film Institute, is responsible for delivering the Fund and were chosen due to their long established grant delivery role, and their expertise and understanding of the sectors in which they operate. This has enabled funding to be delivered at pace whilst still ensuring robust due diligence is conducted through the applications and distribution process.

In total, over £500m of the Culture Recovery Fund has been allocated. This is across capital and recovery grants and is in addition to £188m allocated to the devolved administrations as part of the Barnett formula, and £100m for the national cultural institutions and English Heritage Trust.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when payments for all Culture Recovery Fund awards will be made.

Over £500m of the Culture Recovery Fund has been allocated. This is across capital and recovery grants and is in addition to £188m allocated to the devolved administrations as part of the Barnett formula, and £100m for the national cultural institutions and English Heritage Trust.

Repayable finance awards are currently under negotiation, with outcomes expected to be announced in the coming weeks, and part of the £120m capital funding is still to be allocated.

Successful applicants need to formally accept their offer, provide the relevant delivery body with their bank details and request their payment (this includes meeting any payment conditions). Once that’s done and there are no issues, payments take 10-15 working days to process.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the decision of the European Court of Justice of 6 October 2020 on the UK’s retention of data, what steps he is taking to secure a data-sharing agreement with the EU after the end of the transition period.

The European Court of Justice issued a ruling on 6 October on the UK’s bulk communications data regime operated by the UK’s intelligence services and its use for protecting national security.

The ruling relates to a previous power (in the Telecommunications Act 1984) that has since been replaced by provisions in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

The ruling has no immediate direct impact on the work of our security and intelligence agencies as it will now be referred back to the UK courts (the Investigatory Powers Tribunal) for them to consider its effect on the UK’s current bulk communications data regime.

Talks with the EU on our future data sharing relationship (“adequacy decisions”) continue and the process is moving forward. If agreed, these will permit the continued free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK.

The adequacy process involves the European Commission assessing the UK’s data protection framework to assure that we are at least “essentially equivalent” to EU standards. We are considering any implications of the ruling on this process.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the facilitation of an alternative deal that will see ARM become a publicly traded company listed in the London Stock Exchange.

The Government monitors acquisitions and mergers closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take appropriate action. We are examining this deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of placing a legal obligation on Nvidia to keep ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge if the planned sale of ARM to Nvidia goes ahead.

The Government monitors acquisitions and mergers closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take appropriate action. We are examining this deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that UK-EU data transfer can be undertaken legally from 1 January 2021.

The free flow of personal data between the EU and the UK is important to the UK economy and underpins our future trade and security cooperation.

To continue the free flow of data from the EU to the UK, we are seeking adequacy decisions from the EU under both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED), before the end of the transition period. This process is moving forward and talks between the UK and EU have been underway since 11 March. The EU’s adequacy assessment is separate from other UK-EU negotiations.

To continue the free flow of data from the UK to the EU, we have legislated so that personal data for general processing can continue to flow freely, on a transitional basis, from the UK to the 30 EEA States and the EU Institutions after the end of the transition period. We have also ensured that personal data for law enforcement purposes can flow freely, on a transitional basis, to the 27 EU Member States to support cross-border cooperation in preventing crime.

We will keep these arrangements under review and will, in any event, conduct adequacy reviews within four years of them coming into effect (i.e. by 1 January 2025), as required by our law.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether meditation and yoga classes are defined as exercise and education under the rule of six covid-19 regulations.

Sports and physical activity such as yoga play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

Organised sporting or licensed physical activity is allowed to continue in groups of more than six. This can be in any public place – indoors or outdoors – or a private outdoor space like a garden; but not inside a private home. This includes exercise classes, including yoga classes, but social interaction with other participants must be limited.

These activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official license to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Government advice showing the rules for sport and physical exercise can be found on the Gov.UK website on this page

If in doubt, yoga practitioners should ask their national governing body British Wheel of Yoga for any more detailed advice or guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what criteria he is using to assess when it will be safe to allow choirs to recommence rehearsing and performing.

We are committed to getting the performing arts sector fully back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so. It is a priority of my department to work with the arts and cultural sectors to address the challenges of reopening.

The Secretary of State recently revealed a five stage roadmap that the government will work through to get the performing arts sectors back up and running as soon as possible:

  • Stage One - Rehearsal and training (no audiences)

  • Stage Two - Performances for broadcast and recording purposes

  • Stage Three - Performances outdoors with an audience and pilots for indoor performances with a limited socially-distanced audience

  • Stage Four - Performances allowed indoors and outdoors (but with a limited socially-distanced audience indoors)

  • Stage Five - Performances allowed indoors / outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)

On 9 July we published guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants which will help people understand how they can work and take part in the performing arts safely, and keep their audiences safe. This guidance applies to training, rehearsal and pre-production activities, and performances which take place with or without a live audience, wherever these activities occur.

DCMS and PHE are supporting a study looking at C-19 transmission risks associated with singing and playing wind instruments. The PERFORM study involves leading scientists and is working with musicians and representatives from the Royal Opera House and the BBC. Its findings will inform our guidance and approach. that we want to get the performing arts industry fully up and running as soon as it is safe to do so.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the potential effect of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s proposals for older river boats on established river services on the River Thames between Kew and Richmond.

No DCMS ministers have had discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport regarding this matter. However, National Historic Ships UK (NHS-UK, an independent advisory body reporting to DCMS), responded to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's 2019 consultations on behalf of the sector, and discussed the potential impacts of the new requirements on vessels on the National Historic Ships Register, which it maintains. NHS-UK praised the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s inclusive approach.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the catch-up and recovery plan being developed by Sir Kevan Collins is planned to be published.

Sir Kevan Collins, the Education Recovery Commissioner, was not asked to publish a plan but rather to advise the Government on developing its plan. This has been published, through announcements of significant investments in education recovery in June 2021.

The Department will continue to focus on education recovery to make sure that no child is left behind with their education, with over £3 billion committed for catch-up so far. As part of this, the Department recently announced an additional £1 billion for tutoring and £400 million for training to support great teaching, which were both key areas Sir Kevan recommended we pursue.

This comes on top of a £650 million universal catch-up premium for schools, £200 million for face-to-face summer schools this summer, a £302 million recovery premium which will go to schools in the coming year, £18 million to support language development in the early years from next year, and £550 million to fund small group tuition. The recovery premium alone will mean that the average primary school will receive around £6,000 extra funding, and the average secondary school around £22,000 extra funding to further support pupils to catch up.

Education recovery requires a long-term approach. The next step will be a review of the evidence on extending the school day to make sure that any investment here delivers the best education for children.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to take steps in response to the recommendations of the National Secular Society's report entitled Religiosity inspections: the case against faith-based reviews of state schools, including repeal of section 48 of the Education Act 2005.

Section 48 of the Education Act 2005 places a duty on the governing body of maintained schools that are designated as having a religious character, to arrange for the inspection of any denominational education and collective worship. This requirement applies to maintained faith schools and academies (via the funding agreement). In arranging the inspection, the school must consult with the appropriate religious body, specified in regulations. This approach brings a consistency of approach and oversight to the inspections.

The Government greatly values the contribution that faith schools make to the education sector by providing high quality school places and choice for parents. Section 48 inspections provide assurance in relation to the religious education and collective worship provided in these schools. There are no plans to change the current arrangements for the inspection of designated faith schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that young people receive teaching on the climate crisis.

It is important that young people are taught about climate change. For this reason, climate change and related topics such as sustainability are included throughout both the science and geography curricula and GCSEs. In primary science and geography, pupils are given a firm foundation for the further study of the environment in secondary school. For example, in primary science, pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. They are taught about animals’ habitats, including that changes to the environment may pose dangers to living things. In primary geography, pupils are taught about seasonal and daily weather patterns, climate zones and human geography, including land use, economic activity, and the distribution of natural resources.

In secondary science, pupils are taught about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect this has on the climate. This is expanded on in GCSE science where pupils consider the evidence for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change. In secondary geography, pupils look at how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate. As part of GCSE geography, pupils look at the causes, consequences of and responses to extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards.

In 2017, the Department introduced a new environmental science A level. This will enable students to study topics that will support their understanding of climate change and how it can be tackled. Schools and teachers can go beyond the topics set out in the National Curriculum, or do more in-depth teaching of these topic areas, if they so wish.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which member of the Cabinet has responsibility for representing the needs of babies and young children.

Members of the Cabinet have responsibility for representing the needs of babies and young children within their individual department remits. For example, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has responsibility for Childcare and Early Education and children’s social care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support children who have fallen behind in school as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education and are committed to helping pupils make up education lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To address this challenge, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to working with parents, teachers, and education providers to develop a long-term plan to help education settings to support pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament.

In June 2020 we announced a £1 billion catch-up package including a National Tutoring Programme and a Catch-up Premium for this academic year. In February 2021 we committed to further funding of £700 million to fund summer schools, expansion of our tutoring programmes and a Recovery Premium for next academic year. Funding will support pupils across early years settings, schools, and providers of 16 to 19 education.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on the development of the long-term recovery plan. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education. We will share further details in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) primary and (b) secondary school pupils who will not receive pupil premium funding as a result of the eligibility dates changing from January 2021 to October 2020.

The January 2021 census will be used to determine pupil premium eligibility for alternative provision and pupil referral units for the financial year 2021-22. Pupil premium eligibility for mainstream and special schools will be based on the October 2020 census.

Per pupil funding rates will be the same as in 2020-21, which is expected to increase pupil premium funding from £2.4 billion in 2020-21 to more than £2.5 billion in 2021-22 as more children have become eligible for free school meals. In addition to this the Government announced a further £300 million for a one-off Recovery Premium which will be allocated to schools based on the same methodology as the pupil premium. In this way, schools with more disadvantaged pupils will receive larger amounts.

The Department will confirm pupil premium allocations for the financial year 2021-22 in June 2021. This will provide the public with information on the specific amounts that regions, local authorities, and schools are receiving through the pupil premium for 2021-22.

Data on the number of pupils who have become eligible for free school meals since 2 October 2020 is currently being collected in the spring school census and is not yet available.

The Department publishes information on pupil premium allocations and the number of pupils eligible annually. The most recent publicly available figures can be found via this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium-allocations-and-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the evidential basis was for his Department's guidance on pupils in Year 7 and above wearing a face covering in classrooms and during activities during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government Departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. The Department is continuing to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, in order to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effect of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

On 22 February 2021, the Department published “Evidence summary: COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings" which includes a section on face coverings. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-summary-covid-19-children-young-people-and-education-settings.

The Department recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

In addition, the Department published updated guidance on the use of face coverings in education for schools and other education institutions that teach people in Year 7 and above in England. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

Since 8 March 2021, we recommended that face coverings should also be worn by staff and pupils in classrooms and in other learning environments such as workshops and during activities, unless social distancing can be maintained.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19 droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

We recognise that the wearing of face coverings may impact communication, but, on balance, increased use of face coverings will strengthen the current safety measures in place in education settings.

We are recommending these additional precautionary measures for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance as necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the evidential basis is for the decision that students in Year 7 and above should wear a face covering in classrooms and during activities.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government Departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. The Department is continuing to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, in order to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effect of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

On 22 February 2021, the Department published “Evidence summary: COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings" which includes a section on face coverings. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-summary-covid-19-children-young-people-and-education-settings.

The Department recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

In addition, the Department published updated guidance on the use of face coverings in education for schools and other education institutions that teach people in Year 7 and above in England. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

Since 8 March 2021, we recommended that face coverings should also be worn by staff and pupils in classrooms and in other learning environments such as workshops and during activities, unless social distancing can be maintained.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19 droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

We recognise that the wearing of face coverings may impact communication, but, on balance, increased use of face coverings will strengthen the current safety measures in place in education settings.

We are recommending these additional precautionary measures for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance as necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the safety of vulnerable children unable to attend wraparound care during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are committed to ensuring the safety and protection of vulnerable children and young people. Work is being co-ordinated across the government to address the increased needs of vulnerable children and young people and their families. During the period of national lockdown which was announced on 4 January 2021, primary, secondary, alternative provision, special schools and further education providers have remained open to vulnerable children and young people.

Throughout all restrictions to date, children's social care services and early help services have continued to support vulnerable children and young people and their families. There are a range of exemptions to national restrictions which allow key services to operate for these children and young people including childcare, contact between birth parents and children in care, therapy or other forms of support, as well as essential youth services such as 1-1 youth work and support groups.

We recognise the value that the wraparound childcare sector offers to our children and young people, in terms of the enriching activities they provide and the valuable support they provide to our critical worker parents and vulnerable children. That is why we have ensured they have been able to open for all children eligible to attend school for on-site provision and encouraged all local authorities to consider how they could use local grants made available to them by the government to help bolster this part of the childcare sector in their areas, to safeguard sufficient childcare provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This includes the expanded Holiday Activities and Food Programme, comprising of a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities, to provide healthy food and enriching activities over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

We are acutely aware of the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on young people and the vital role our youth services play. That is why more than £60 million of the unprecedented £750 million package for the voluntary and charity sector has been directed towards organisations supporting children and young people. More recently, a Youth COVID-19 Fund has been announced: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-165-million-youth-covid-19-support-fund. The fund will protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations across the country. This is on top of £200 million of government investment in early intervention and prevention support initiatives to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence, made available through the Youth Endowment Fund. This will provide a transformational investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people, so they can access support youth workers and positive activities out of school, including sport and culture.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance he has issued to universities on the effect of face coverings on deaf students during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government expects all higher education (HE) providers to fulfil their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be making reasonable adjustments for all disabled HE students. Wherever possible, disabled students should expect to have their needs met through inclusive learning practices and individual reasonable adjustments made by their HE providers.

On 22 February 2021, we published updated guidance on Students returning to, and starting higher education in Spring Term 2021, available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963446/HE_guidance_spring_term_220221_FINAL.pdf. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity. Face coverings do not need to be worn when outdoors on the premises.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings.

Those who rely on visual signals for communication, or communicate with or provide support to such individuals, are currently exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings.

Face visors or shields should not be worn as an alternative to face coverings. They may protect against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in reducing aerosol transmission when used without an additional face covering. They should only be used after carrying out a risk assessment for the specific situation and should always be cleaned appropriately.

We are now advising providers that they can resume in-person teaching and learning for students who are studying practical or practice-based subjects (including creative arts) and require specialist equipment and facilities from 8 March 2021. Providers should not ask students to return if their course can reasonably be continued online. The government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of the return of remaining students. This review will take account of the latest data and will be a key part of the wider roadmap steps.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the national school curriculum in (a) primary and (b) secondary school is dedicated to learning about food, cooking and nutrition.

The national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects should be taught nor how much time should be spent on each subject. The Department believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach.

Cooking and nutrition education is a discrete strand of the design and technology programme of study within the national curriculum. It is compulsory in state-maintained schools for all Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 (for pupils aged 5 to 14) and can be used as an exemplar for free schools and academies. The curriculum aims to teach children how to cook and how to apply the principles of healthy eating and good nutrition. It recognises that cooking is an important life skill that will help children to feed themselves and others healthy and affordable food. By the end of Key Stage 3, pupils should be able to cook a repertoire of predominantly savoury dishes and be competent in a range of cooking techniques. In September 2016, the Government also introduced a new GCSE in food preparation and nutrition. The new GCSE enables pupils to acquire a proper understanding of the scientific principles behind food and nutrition and use a number of practical techniques to prepare and cook food.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made the profit made by private companies awarded contracts to deliver the free school meals voucher scheme throughout the covid-19 outbreak.

The department do not comment on the commercial arrangements of third parties. However, we can confirm that we have paid no more than the face value of goods received - in this case, vouchers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to encourage universities to deliver high quality learning for students throughout the covid-19 outbreak.

On 13 January, I wrote to the Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for English higher education (HE) providers, outlining the government’s expectations of the higher education sector. Following this, the OfS wrote to HE providers setting out the actions they are taking in connection with providers’ compliance to existing regulatory requirements.

The government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever at the moment, with the vast majority of students studying solely online. The OfS has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.

The OfS has published information for providers providing guidance on how best to ensure students continue to receive a high quality academic experience in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak. This sets out that providers should make all reasonable efforts to provide alternative teaching and support for students that is at least broadly equivalent to the provider’s usual arrangements. The OfS will keep this guidance under review to ensure it remains relevant to the developing circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on teaching and learning. The OfS is actively monitoring providers to ensure that they maintain the quality of their provision, that it is accessible for all, and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year. The OfS is also following up directly with providers where they receive notifications from students, parents or others raising concerns about the quality of teaching on offer and requiring providers to report to them when they are not able to deliver a course or award a qualification. If the OfS has concerns, it will investigate further.

Students have rights under consumer law that they may be able to rely on if they are dissatisfied with their provider’s response to COVID-19. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their issue. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s final response, they should go to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, which has published guidance on this issue.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will (a) require private schools to review their decision to proceed with International GCSEs this summer and (b) ensure that all pupils in England are awarded grades based on teacher assessment.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held this summer in a fair way. The Government has therefore announced that exams for GCSEs, AS and A levels and for many other regulated qualifications should not go ahead this summer as planned.

Together with Ofqual, we launched a consultation on 15 January 2021 on our proposals that in summer 2021, students taking GCSE, AS and A levels regulated by Ofqual should be awarded grades based on teacher assessment. The landscape for other regulated qualifications is diverse and teacher assessment is not appropriate for all vocational, technical and other general qualifications that are not GCSEs, AS or A levels, particularly where the qualification demonstrates occupational competency. The approaches proposed for these other regulated qualifications are set out in the consultation.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the interim chief regulator at Ofqual, Simon Lebus, to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade.

International GCSEs are not regulated by Ofqual and are not part of the arrangements we have put in place for summer 2021 for GCSEs and A/AS levels. We are in contact with the exam boards that provide international GCSEs and understand that they have not yet taken final decisions on whether or not exams should go ahead in England this summer.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support private candidates not affiliated with a school, during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. The Department and Ofqual launched a two week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.

The Department and Ofqual have strongly encouraged all our stakeholders, including private candidates and their parents, to respond. The Department will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) primary and (b) secondary schools will be required to remain open during the February half-term holiday for the children of key workers.

The Department is considering the arrangements for February half term and will give advance notice to schools and colleges.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the cancellation of exams in summer 2021, what his guidance is on payments to exam invigilators employed on zero hour contracts; and if he will publish that guidance.

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

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. Schools have autonomy over these budgets and their employment arrangements and decisions on staffing are made at the local level. The Department is considering what further guidance may be helpful to schools with their workforce planning and schools should continue to check updates to our guidance on restricting attendance in the national lockdown: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/952443/210114_School_national_restrictions_guidance_FINAL_14012021.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will classify construction workers as key workers to allow them to send their children to school.

During this period of national lockdown, schools should allow only vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils should not attend and should learn remotely. The Department has resisted restrictions on attendance at schools since the first lockdown but, in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, we now need to use every lever at our disposal to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible. Limiting attendance is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. The following guidance sets out who is able to attend school to receive face to face education: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.

The document sets out the high-level role types, and the list in the guidance is not exhaustive, but it should offer sufficient information to help parents and carers to identify if their work falls under one of the umbrella groups.

The Department will continue to review the restrictions on schools and will ensure that children and young people return to face to face education as soon as possible.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what resources he has made available to schools which have had to replace teachers who are absent, directly or indirectly due to covid-19.

Getting all children and young people back into school for this academic year has been a national priority, and schools have continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, £4.8 billion in 2021-22, and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. On average, schools are attracting 4.2% more per pupil in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20. As stated in the Department’s guidance for schools on full opening, schools should use these existing resources when making arrangements for this term. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The published guidance sets out the options available for schools seeking to manage staffing capacity and absences as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to using supply teachers and other temporary or peripatetic teachers, schools can also consider using existing staff more flexibly, including support staff and initial teacher training staff, or volunteers, as would usually be the case.

On 27 November 2020, the Government announced a new short-term COVID-19 workforce fund that will fund the costs of teacher absences over a threshold, for those schools with high staff absences that are also facing significant financial pressures: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-schools-and-colleges-during-covid-pandemic. This will help ensure that schools can remain open. The fund will help meet the cost of staff absences experienced during the period from the beginning of November until the end of this term. Guidance on the claims process will be published shortly so schools can have confidence in the costs they can incur and be eligible to reclaim.

Where schools do hire agency workers, we recommend they consider using the Department’s and Crown Commercial Service’s agency supply deal, as this offers a list of preferred suppliers that must be transparent about the rates they charge: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deal-for-schools-hiring-supply-teachers-and-agency-workers.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 9 November 2020 to Question 110928 on Union Learning Fund: Coronavirus, what additional steps his Department is taking to support adults who (a) need to reskill because of the covid-19 outbreak and (b) do not have have essential qualifications.

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. This includes; full funding for learners who need English and maths skills to undertake a range of courses in GCSEs; functional skills and other relevant qualifications from entry level to level 2; and support through courses and qualifications at pre-entry, entry level 1 to 3, level 1 and level 2 for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

The department has also introduced a number of additional measures this year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as through the Plan for Jobs announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2020, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in September. More information about the Plan for Jobs is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is aimed at eligible adults, including those that have become unemployed. As part of this, adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification will be fully funded for their first full level 3 course, enabling participants to access the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. This offer will be funded from the National Skills Funding, established to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future. More information about the National Skills Funding, and other measures to help prepare adults for the economy of the future, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has also announced skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. We are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021, and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

In addition, the recent expansion of The Skills Toolkit means that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetime, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for small and medium sized enterprises taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, regularly meets with the Chancellor of the Exchequer but has not done so specifically to discuss the Union Learning Fund.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the economic merits of the Union Learning Fund.

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. This includes; full funding for learners who need English and maths skills to undertake a range of courses in GCSEs; functional skills and other relevant qualifications from entry level to level 2; and support through courses and qualifications at pre-entry, entry level 1 to 3, level 1 and level 2 for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

The department has also introduced a number of additional measures this year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as through the Plan for Jobs announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2020, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in September. More information about the Plan for Jobs is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is aimed at eligible adults, including those that have become unemployed. As part of this, adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification will be fully funded for their first full level 3 course, enabling participants to access the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. This offer will be funded from the National Skills Funding, established to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future. More information about the National Skills Funding, and other measures to help prepare adults for the economy of the future, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has also announced skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. We are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021, and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

In addition, the recent expansion of The Skills Toolkit means that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetime, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for small and medium sized enterprises taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, regularly meets with the Chancellor of the Exchequer but has not done so specifically to discuss the Union Learning Fund.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling parents to remove their children from school without prosecution during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is vital that pupils continue to attend school for their education, wellbeing and long-term development. Time spent out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children.

Parents have a duty to ensure that any of their children who are of compulsory school age receive a full-time education, either through regular attendance at school or through alternative arrangements, such as home schooling. Where a child is registered at a school, they must attend unless a statutory reason applies (for example, due to sickness, or where a leave of absence has been granted). Where children are not able to attend school as they are following clinical or public health advice related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the absence will not be penalised.

The usual powers to secure high levels of attendance continue to be available to schools and local authorities during the COVID-19 outbreak. These include schools’ and local authorities’ ability to use parental responsibility measures, such as fixed penalty notices, and local authorities’ ability to prosecute as a last resort. Schools should consider concerns from pupils, parents and households who may be reluctant or anxious about attending school, and put the right support in place to address this.

Parents may choose to educate their child at home (elective home education) rather than at a school. If they do so, they must provide a suitable full-time education if the child is of compulsory school age. Where a pupil is withdrawn from school for elective home education, there is no obligation for the school to keep that place open.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the accessibility of counselling and support services for students in higher education.

Protecting the mental health of higher education students is a priority for this government and we continue to work closely with the higher education sector to promote good practice in mental health and wellbeing.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has overall policy responsibility for young people’s mental health and we continue to work closely with them to take significant steps to support the mental health and wellbeing support for young people in higher education settings.

DHSC is committed, through the NHS Long Term Plan, to investing at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year into mental health services by 2023-24. This will see an additional 345,000 children and young people, and adults, able to access support through NHS-funded services.

Higher education providers as autonomous bodies, independent from government, are responsible for their own decisions about how best to support their students. Whilst it is for providers to identify and address the needs of their student body, many providers have boosted their existing welfare and counselling services to ensure support services can be accessed, this is particularly important for those students having to self-isolate or who are affected by local restrictions.

The government has worked closely with Universities UK to embed the Step Change programme within the higher education sector. The strategic framework calls on higher education leaders to adopt mental health as a strategic priority and embed good mental health practices beyond student service teams. The government expects all providers to engage actively with the guidance.

Student Space, funded with £3 million from the Office for Students, provides dedicated support services through a collaborative online platform to help students access vital mental health and wellbeing resources. The platform bridges gaps in support arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and is designed to work alongside existing services.

In addition, higher education providers have been asked to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of students, enabling them to use funding worth up to £23 million per month from April to July this year and £256 million for the academic year 2020-21, starting from August, to go towards student hardship funds and mental health support.

The government has provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via the NHS and online resources from Public Health England, alongside support from the mental health charity Mind.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of requiring secondary school pupils to wear face coverings at all times on school premises.

At each stage of the Department’s response to the pandemic, we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice, and if we think that the guidance should be revised based on further evidence then we will not hesitate to act swiftly and decisively.

On 21 August, the World Health Organisation published a new statement advising that “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.” As a result, the Department revised its guidance on face coverings in schools and colleges, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, in areas of national government intervention, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and pupils in secondary schools when moving around indoors, such as in corridors or communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. All schools nationwide, including primary schools, have the discretion to require the use of face coverings by adults and pupils in year 7 and above in indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed. Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

Based on current evidence, and in light of mitigation measures that schools will have put in place, face coverings are not necessary in the classroom. Face coverings can have a negative impact on teaching and their use in the classroom should be avoided.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to prioritise policy on the mental health and wellbeing of children.

The government is committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has policy responsibility for children and young people’s mental health. We are working closely with them and taking significant steps to support the mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people in education.

We have particularly prioritised children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Getting children and young people back into school and college is itself key to their wellbeing. We have worked hard to ensure that all pupils and learners were able to return to a full high-quality education programme in September. Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, with £650 million shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, is supporting education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place.

To ensure that staff are equipped to support wellbeing as children and young people returned to schools and colleges, we made it a central part of our guidance both on remote education and on the return to school. We supported this with a range of training and materials, including webinars which have been accessed by thousands of education staff and accelerating training on how to teach about mental health as part of the new relationships, sex and health curriculum, so that all pupils can benefit from this long-term requirement.

To continue this support we are investing £8 million in the Wellbeing for Education Return programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The programme is funding expert advisers in every area of England to train and support schools and colleges during the autumn and spring terms. Further information about the Wellbeing for Education Return programme is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wellbeing-for-education-return-grant-s31-grant-determination-letter.

In further education, the department has provided £5.4 million of competitive grant funding through the College Collaboration Fund and 5 of the projects funded support student and staff mental health and wellbeing through online programmes and remote support.

In the long term, we remain committed to our major joint green paper delivery programme with DHSC and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support. Mental health support teams are part of the commitment made in the NHS England Long Term Plan that funding for mental health services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget, creating a new ringfenced local investment fund for all ages worth at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24. This will mean that by 2023-24, at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 years will be able to access support via NHS England funded mental health services.

We are also continuing to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including by supporting the £7 million ‘See, Hear, Respond service’ led by Barnardo’s, in partnership with national children’s charities and local organisations, to support vulnerable children at most risk of harm or having negative experiences on their health and wellbeing. Providing additional support through a £6.5 million COVID-19 Adoption Support Fund scheme to support 61,000 adoptive and special guardianship families and extending our £1 million mental health assessment pilots for looked-after children until March 2021. We will also be considering the issues around provision for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health issues as part of our special educational needs and disabilities review.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that disabled people have access to education in a safe environment during the covid-19 outbreak.

Supporting all children and young people and keeping them safe is the highest priority for the government, especially at this time. That is why, throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, educational settings have been asked to ensure that children and young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans can continue to attend where appropriate and, following a risk assessment, where their needs can be safely met in the educational environment.

Returning to normal educational routines as quickly as possible will be critical for children and young people’s education and wellbeing. From 1 June, we asked special educational settings to welcome back as many children and young people as could be safely catered for in their setting, based on their risk assessment as the primary deciding factor. In mainstream settings, we asked that children and young people with EHC plans in eligible year groups experience the same return to settings as their peers without EHC plans in the same year group, informed by their risk assessments. However, the prevalence of COVID-19 has decreased and the balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of all children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disability (SEND), returning to their educational setting so that they can receive high-quality teaching and specialist professional care.

On 2 July, the government published detailed plans for schools and colleges that set out what is needed to plan for a full return of their pupils and students in September, including for special education settings. We have also updated the guidance for higher education providers on reopening university campuses.

The guidance has been developed with medical experts from Public Health England and we continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that children, young people and staff are as safe as possible. The guidance provides specific advice on approaches for reducing the risk of transmission as well as other operational considerations for educational settings to follow as they prepare for welcoming back all pupils and students with SEND in both mainstream and specialist settings.

The guidance for special educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

The guidance for mainstream settings is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The guidance for further education settings is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

The guidance for higher education settings is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

We will continue to work closely with special education settings, parents and carers, local authorities and other partner organisations ahead of September. For instance, we know that specific transport arrangements for children and young people with SEND will be critical. We will publish guidance for local authorities who provide dedicated school transport shortly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will extend the eligibility of the Education and Skills Funding Agency's post-16 provider relief scheme established in response to the covid-19 outbreak to all apprenticeship providers.

Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Notice 2/20 has allowed us to apply a degree of flexibility to our normal funding arrangements. However, this flexibility only extends to support for organisations with a direct contract for services procured via a process compliant with Public Contract Regulations 2015.

Providers delivering apprenticeship training to employers that pay the apprenticeship levy, or to smaller (non-levy) employers where the training has been arranged through the Apprenticeship Service since 9 January 2020, do not hold a procured contract for services with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to do so, but hold a contract for services with employers for the delivery of training. Therefore, it is not possible to extend eligibility to the Provider Relief Scheme to these providers.

However, we have made significant changes to some aspects of our funding rules training to ensure that providers are able to continue to deliver quality apprenticeships and maintain their income throughout the disruption. Additionally, training providers have in many cases developed effective online learning resources which enables them to retain their apprentices on programme and so to continue to receive funding from ESFA.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequacy of SEN funding.

No child or young person should be held back from reaching their potential, including those with complex special needs. We have announced £780 million of additional high needs funding for 2020-21 financial year. This is an increase of 12% compared to 2019-20, bringing the total amount provided to support those with the most complex needs to £7.2 billion and is the largest year-on-year increase since the high needs funding block was created in 2013.

Richmond upon Thames will receive £27.6 million in high needs funding in 2020-21 which is £2.4 million more than in 2019-20.

We will also invest a total of £365 million through the special provision capital fund from 2018-19 to 2020-21. This funding will help local authorities to create new places and improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Funding for future years will be decided in due course as part of the Spending Review. Richmond upon Thames has been allocated a total of £2.7 million from 2018-19 to 2020-21 through the special provision capital fund.

The response to cost pressures cannot just be about the amount of funding available. We have launched a review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system to see what further improvements are necessary to make sure every child gets the education that is right for them. This review will help us to establish a sustainable and effective SEND system in the future.

We are also working with local authorities that have the largest deficits on their Dedicated schools grant (DSG), including Richmond upon Thames, to make sure that they have realistic recovery plans and that they have the support they need to implement them. The government has recently made clear that DSG deficits must be carried forward from year to year, unless local authorities obtain the Secretary of State’s agreement to pay them off from general funds. We are working with stakeholders to prepare further guidance on this subject.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will increase investment in new forms of finance to fund ocean recovery.

We are at a pivotal moment for ocean recovery, and the Government is supporting ocean protection through appropriate funding, both domestically and internationally. We are extending our Blue Belt initiative with £7 million of funding, which is now on course to provide world-leading marine protection for over 4 million km2 before the end of this year. Additionally, the Government's £80 million Green Recovery Challenge fund is helping environmental organisations start work on projects across England, including marine and coastal projects, to restore nature and tackle climate change. The Government has also launched the £6.1 million Fisheries and Seafood Scheme which will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the English seafood sector and support a thriving marine environment.

The Government has pledged £500 million to create a new Blue Planet Fund to help developing countries reduce poverty, protect and sustainably manage their marine resources and address human-generated threats across four key themes: biodiversity, climate change, marine pollution, and sustainable seafood. Financed from the UK Official Development Assistance Budget, the Fund will be managed by Defra and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and will be launched later this year.

Beyond public investment, this Government also recognises the importance of mobilising private finance for the development of sustainable ocean-based economies, which are particularly dependent on a healthy ocean. Building on experience and growth in climate and green finance over the last ten years, new ocean-specific private finance initiatives (Blue Finance) are beginning to gain global traction across the world, covering topics such as marine biodiversity, blue carbon and marine plastic pollution. We are collaborating with international partnerships to scale up innovative finance solutions and considering how the Blue Planet Fund could support mobilising Blue Finance. This has recently been highlighted in the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers’ Communique, published on 21 May 2021, where the G7 committed to strengthening support to the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, whose purpose is to build resilience in communities most vulnerable to ocean risk, by pioneering finance and insurance products.

Departmental budgets for future years beyond 2021-22 will be set through the Spending Review later this year. Further details, including the envelopes for the Spending Review, will be set out in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps is he taking to remove the internal border for assistance dog owners between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK has been formally ‘listed’ as a ‘Part 2’ third country for the purposes of the EU pet travel regulations, which means that new rules apply to pet movements from Great Britain to the EU and also – under the Northern Ireland Protocol – to the non-commercial movements of pets into Northern Ireland. The health and documentary requirements for such pet travel are set out under the EU Pet Travel Regulations; there are no derogations for assistance dogs under these regulations.

We will continue to press the European Commission on securing Part 1 listed status and in regaining recognition of our freedom from the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, as achieving these would alleviate some of these new requirements for pet owners and assistance dog users. We meet all the animal health requirements for this, and we have one of the most rigorous pet checking regimes in Europe to protect our biosecurity.

The Government is engaging with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to explore means to streamline pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, recognising the high standards of animal health that we share. Current guidance on pet travel to Northern Ireland is available on DAERA’s NIDirect website. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has also written to the European Vice-President seeking to ensure that an agreement can be made to address the barriers imposed on pet travel between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

We are proactively engaging with the assistance dog community and relevant stakeholders on the impacts on dog movements from Great Britain to the EU and to Northern Ireland. We will continue to work closely with assistance dog organisations to share the latest advice and guidance (in accessible formats) with their members on pet travel requirements.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing penalties for dog owners whose dog attacks wildlife.

There are already several potential penalties available to deal with dog owners who do not keep their animals under control.

It is an offence under section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control. Under section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 a magistrates' court may make any Order they consider appropriate to require an owner to ensure that their dog is kept under proper control. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 also includes specific measures to enable the police and local authorities to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.

Defra has also commissioned research in collaboration with Middlesex University to consider the effectiveness of current dog control measures. The report is currently being peer reviewed and will be finalised in light of peer review comments. Our intention is to publish the final report later this year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the timeframe for enactment of the Environment Bill and potential biodiversity targets under that legislation, if he will take steps to help ensure the effectiveness of Aichi targets at the Convention on Biodiversity.

The UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious and transformative framework of international targets under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), which will replace the existing Aichi targets. The new CBD goals and targets are expected to be agreed later this year, at CBD COP15.

Due to exceptional pressure on the parliamentary timetable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environment Bill will be carried over into the Second Parliamentary Session. Key work on implementing the Bill’s measures will continue at pace and the deadline to bring forward targets by October 2022 will remain.

This timing will allow us to set at least one new, long-term, legally binding target for biodiversity under the Environment Bill, reflecting the priorities of the CBD’s global framework as well as our existing priorities set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP).

That does not mean that we will wait until October 2022 to start delivering on our international commitments. The 25 YEP marked a step change in ambition for biodiversity and the wider natural environment in England, addressing many of the emerging themes in the CBD framework, and we are already bringing forward key actions to deliver on that ambition.

We are setting a new legal foundation to improve the environment through the Environment Bill and our strengthened Agriculture and Fisheries Acts. We are investing in nature restoration and in nature-based solutions to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change and to safeguard green jobs, for example through our Nature for Climate and Green Recovery Challenge funds. We are developing a new Environmental Land Management scheme that will reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmental public goods, and we are extending protection on land and sea. We will set out further plans over the coming year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the report entitled Potential role of veterinary flea products in widespread pesticide contamination of English rivers, published in the Science of the Total Environment Journal in January 2021, what steps he is taking to prevent toxic insecticides contaminating rivers across England.

Defra, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Environment Agency (EA) are working closely together to improve our understanding of the risks posed by chemicals in the water environment and to respond appropriately. This includes EA monitoring of rivers for insecticides and other pesticides to enable us to identify and act upon any emerging issues associated with their use and occurrence in the environment.

Parasiticides are used in veterinary medicines for the treatment of fleas and ticks on cats and dogs. It is possible that following their use, some parasiticides may reach the aquatic environment. However, the environmental exposure assessments conducted for such flea products consider the exposure of the aquatic environment to be acceptably low. Recent research has estimated that the contribution of veterinary medicine parasiticides to the levels of these chemicals of concern in UK waterways to be less than 3% of the total. Such products are accompanied by advice, to users, to keep treated animals out of watercourses for 2 to 4 days after treatment and to avoid washing products off into the sewage system. Therefore, existing steps are taken to reduce the exposure of the environment from parasiticides used to treated animals. We urge people to continue to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the safe use and disposal of all veterinary products, including flea treatment products, and their packaging.

Due to concerns and uncertainties raised by previous research and monitoring data, the VMD commissioned research in 2019 to investigate the potential environmental exposure pathways for flea and tick products. This work aims to assess the significance of their use as veterinary medicines on the aquatic environment. This research is due to be completed in March 2023. In addition, parasiticides may also enter the environment from several other sources such as ant/cockroach/fly bait products, products used in greenhouses, and possibly from products used to protect wool, cotton and synthetic materials. The relevance of these exposure routes is yet to be elucidated.

Pending the findings from this commissioned research, and other available evidence, currently the VMD does not intend to change the existing regulatory controls on veterinary medicines, including the use of flea treatments for pets and the existing risk mitigation warnings, which protect animal health, human health and the environment.

Defra will continue to consider the scientific evidence to inform any policy decisions or other interventions.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what restrictions his Department will place on the use of PFAS chemicals to ensure the protection of the UK's health and environment after the transition period.

A number of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are already banned or highly restricted. The UK is a Party to the Stockholm Convention, which has already agreed restrictions on the use of certain PFAS. There are also restrictions in place under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation.

At the end of the transition period the UK will put in place its own domestic chemicals regulatory framework. Existing restrictions under REACH will be brought into UK law. Our commitments under the Stockholm Convention will continue to apply.

Future UK decisions to control the environmental and human health impacts of substances will be taken under our independent regime and will be based on rigorous assessment of the scientific evidence, including looking at approaches taken by chemical regimes across the world. Ensuring the continued effective safe management of chemicals to protect human health and the environment and respond to emerging risks remains our priority.

We are working to improve our understanding of the emissions and risks of PFAS in the UK, and how we manage these chemicals will be considered in our forthcoming Chemicals Strategy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also regularly reviews new PFAS and will be considering the upcoming review by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) of the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) latest scientific opinion on PFAS in food.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the proposed timescale is for bringing forward legislation to phase out the burning of peatland in protected areas.

The Government has always been clear of the need to phase out burning of protected blanket bogs to conserve these vulnerable habitats. We are currently looking at how legislation could achieve this and considering the next steps. Real progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives. We have urged landowners to adopt these and continue to work with them constructively.

The Government is committed to phasing out rotational burning. 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 will set out further plans for peatland restoration and protection in the England Peat Strategy which will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the planned timescale is for the complete phase-out of the burning of peatland in protected areas.

The Government has always been clear of the need to phase out burning of protected blanket bogs to conserve these vulnerable habitats. We are currently looking at how legislation could achieve this and considering the next steps. Real progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives. We have urged landowners to adopt these and continue to work with them constructively.

The Government is committed to phasing out rotational burning. 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 will set out further plans for peatland restoration and protection in the England Peat Strategy which will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to make English and Welsh waterways more accessible after the transition period.

After the transition period, Government policy will continue to recognise that access to waterways brings positive public benefits including health and well-being from exercise and recreation in the open air, as well as connecting communities more widely with the natural environment. Our waterways are enthusiastically used by a range of people with differing interests, including pedestrians, cyclists, anglers, paddle craft, and motorboaters amongst others. We believe it is essential that all interests work together when considering how the accessibility of waterways might be improved. This might include waterside path improvement, which would be led by the navigation or local authority involved. We believe that access to unregulated waterways should be achieved through encouraging voluntary access agreements, between riparian landowners and others with an interest in using the waterway, which take into account local circumstances.

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 steps he is taking to encourage consumers to make more environmentally friendly purchase decisions.

The Government is committed to encouraging consumers to make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions.

In the Resources and Waste Strategy (2018), we committed to incentivise consumers to purchase sustainably, provide consumers with better information on the sustainability of their purchases, and to ban the most problematic plastic products.

The single-use plastic carrier bag charge has been successful in reducing usage by 95% in the main supermarkets to date. Accordingly, we will, from next year, increase the charge to 10p, and extend it to all retailers. We introduced a ban on polluting microbeads in personal care products and have also introduced restrictions from October 2020 on the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers.

We are also seeking powers in our landmark Environment Bill to charge for single-use plastic items, and to introduce requirements for improved labelling and consumer information focused on the resource efficiency of products, for example their repairability and durability and on how to dispose of products at end of life.

We also want to increase the sustainability of the food sector. The UK will work with leading food service sector representatives to develop and consult upon a Sustainable Food Service Sector Action Plan to be published in 2021 and delivered throughout 2022, which will provide information to associations, member companies, customers, and end users on issues relating to forest risk commodities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Environment Agency is taking in relation to Thames Water following reportedly unmonitored sewage spills into the Thames from the Mogden sewage treatment works.

The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed that there have not been any unmonitored discharges into the River Thames from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works (STW).

The EA monitors all discharges to the River Thames from Mogden STW.

Storm sewage discharges occur when sewers or sewage works are overwhelmed by the extra water from rainfall. These outfalls are permitted by the EA and act as relief valves to prevent sewage backing up and flooding property and roads. The EA has powers to investigate non-compliance with permit conditions at Mogden STW and take appropriate action should non-compliance be established

As a regulatory requirement, Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) has been installed on Water Company storm overflows over the last five years. This has been part of the Asset Management Planning process agreed between the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat), the EA and the Water Companies. Further monitoring is planned for the period 2020 to 2025 with more than a 1,000 monitoring installations across the country.

The program of installation was completed in March 2020 and since then the EA has accurate and complete EDM data sets. The data has been published and it has been acknowledged that data sets prior to March 2020 were sometimes incomplete as monitoring equipment was commissioned and data handling and reporting protocols were implemented.

However, protocols in place before and during the installation of the EDM ensured that the EA and the public received notification of all storm discharges from Mogden STW through storm sewage discharge notifications. The notifications include details of times and volumes, and the EA were able to use the data to monitor the site’s discharges within the requirements of their permit.

Although it is not a regulatory requirement, this storm discharge data is made publicly available by Thames Water. The EA continues to receive and assess the data from Mogden STW when it discharges to the river.

A new Storm Overflows Taskforce has been established comprising of Defra, the EA, Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water, Water UK and Blueprint for Water. The Taskforce is meeting regularly to set out clear proposals to reduce the frequency and volume of storm sewage discharges into waterways in extreme weather. The Taskforce is also exploring further short term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress in reducing storm sewage discharges.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure mutual recognition between the UK and EU on organic food certification.

The Government proposed an organics equivalence agreement in its Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) proposals. Organics is currently included in the UK’s proposed CFTA legal text as a technical annex and the negotiations are ongoing.

In addition, the six UK control bodies have applied to the EU for recognition as equivalent for the purpose of trade. We understand that these applications by the individual organic control bodies are progressing.

To ensure a smooth transition process, we will recognise the EU as equivalent for the purpose of trade in organics until 31 December 2021. This temporary measure will give certainty to the organic sector and it remains our objective to negotiate a durable, long-term organics equivalence agreement with the EU.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how disabled people who need plastic straws can access them following the ban on the sale and distribution of single-use plastic items.

Single-use plastic straws can still be purchased from registered pharmacies (both in-store and online) and can be provided in catering establishments on request to any customer, without proof of need. These exemptions will ensure that those that require straws can continue to access them safely and independently.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to issue guidance on food and drink labelling to businesses trading in (a) the EU and (b) Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period.

Ministers meet regularly with food manufacturers, and representatives of other parts of the supply chain, to discuss preparations for the end of the transition period including for food labelling.


The GOV.UK website provides guidance on these matters and is kept under review and updated as appropriate. EU food labelling requirements are a matter for the EU and the EU has set out its position on how food and drink should be labelled where EU rules apply.


We will provide a period of adjustment for labelling changes required at the end of the transition period, wherever this is possible. During this period the changes that UK businesses need to make when selling between different markets will be minimised. We are working to determine the appropriate time industry needs to make changes and will provide guidance as soon as we can do so, to ensure that businesses have clarity and certainty.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the timescale is for phasing out badger culling.

Bovine TB (bTB) is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England faces today. Tackling the reservoir of infection in wildlife, chiefly badgers, is an important element of Defra's bTB eradication strategy for England. Earlier this year, we published our response to the Godfray Review, which sets out the next phase of our strategy to combat bTB. Our response noted that while it is important to retain the ability to introduce new cull zones where epidemiological evidence points to a reservoir of disease in badgers, we envisage that any remaining areas would join the current cull programme in the next few years and that the badger cull phase of the strategy would then wind down by the mid to late 2020s. Culling would, however, remain an option thereafter where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed.

That plan to wind down the current badger culling programme has not changed. As noted in the Government response to the Godfray Review, it is unrealistic to switch immediately to badger vaccination but we are already doing a great deal to make sure the transition happens. In July, we announced that world-leading bTB cattle vaccination trials are set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by government scientists. These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support the development of a vaccine for cattle to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

Developing a TB vaccine for cattle is one of the Government’s priorities. A cattle vaccine could be a game-changer in terms of providing a strong additional tool to help eradicate bovine TB.

In July 2020, we announced that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) had granted permission for field trials of both the candidate Cattle BCG vaccine and the candidate skin test to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (the DIVA skin test).

Like other veterinary medicines, both the Cattle BCG vaccine and the DIVA skin test will need VMD marketing authorisations before they can be deployed.

It is hoped that field trials will provide the evidence required for future marketing authorisations and for the DIVA skin test to be internationally recognised. The aim is to start field trials in 2021 and complete them in 2024.

Provided the field trials go as hoped, and VMD considers the marketing authorisation applications satisfactory with respect to quality, safety and efficacy, the timeline envisages those authorisations being granted in 2025.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to provide additional support for disabled people during the covid-19 outbreak to ensure that disabled people are able to access a weekly shop for essential items.

We know that a large number of disabled people continue to rely on friends, family and wider community support as they face difficulties accessing food. Where that is not possible, there are a number of options available for people to access support. Individuals can request support from a volunteer via NHS Volunteer Responders, who can shop on their behalf.

We continue to work with local authorities, supermarkets and charities to ensure that vulnerable groups get the support they need to access food and other essential supplies. These organisations are able to sign-post people to commercial food delivery options, help them access priority supermarket delivery slots or refer them to the NHS Volunteer Responder programme.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) can also register for support online or via an automated helpline. As part of the registration process, we have asked individuals to indicate whether they have unmet basic care needs, such as social care and social contact needs. Local authorities are best placed to respond to these needs, and we are sharing data with them to ensure vulnerable individuals get the support they need while shielding.

Where people who are CEV have asked for help accessing food, they have been offered centrally provided food boxes and supermarkets have offered priority delivery slots. Boxes will continue until the end of July and seven supermarkets have confirmed that access to priority supermarket delivery slots will continue beyond the end of July for those already signed up for support.

We have also made available an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. Local authorities are already working hard to support those who are vulnerable and this additional funding will contribute to that work.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to designate areas of UK coastal fishing waters as Highly Protected Marine Areas.

We welcome the publication of the review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), which was published on 8 June 2020 and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/highly-protected-marine-areas-hpmas-review-2019. I am grateful to Richard Benyon and the advisory panel for their work. We will consider Richard Benyon's report and issue a formal response to him in due course, recognising our continued priority to support the cross-Government response to Covid-19. From there on, we have an opportunity to develop a programme of work to bring forward highly protected areas for the first time in English waters. We would of course consult widely with the public and stakeholders, including fishers, before any decision to designate an HPMA.

A healthy and sustainable fishing industry in the long-term is dependent on a healthy marine environment, and the Fisheries Bill creates a robust framework for managing our fisheries sustainably in the future. The panel has concluded that HPMA can be a valuable tool to help deliver healthy seas. However, we recognise that some members of the fisheries community may be concerned by the impact of the Review’s recommendations on their livelihoods. The report suggests several ways in which government can reduce the impact on the fishing industry, for example by siting protected areas within existing protected areas and be adopting early, continuous engagement with all stakeholders when considering the location for an HPMA. Extensive consultation will take place before any decisions are made.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
If she will publish an action plan on promoting gender mainstreaming across all her Department's work.

Support for women and girls is part of this government’s mission. I will always champion gender equality in international development because that’s the only way we will create a fairer, safer and more prosperous world, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Next year DFID will publish an implementation plan for its Strategic Vision for Gender Equality to set out our objectives and progress on ensuring women and girls are at the heart of everything DFID and its partners deliver. I’m proud of how far we’ve come but there’s plenty more to do.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made for the implications of her policy of her policies of the report from the UN Group of Experts on Yemen on its decision to resume the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

HM Government is always concerned to learn of allegations such as those contained in the Group of Eminent Experts’ latest report. The United Kingdom urges the parties to the conflict to investigate these allegations, to take action to uphold rights and responsibilities, and to co-operate with the Group in future.

We take our export responsibilities seriously and will continue to assess all export licences in accordance with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the ‘Consolidated Criteria’). We will not issue any export licences where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether her Department has made a further assessment of the evidence of whether UK anti-riot equipment was used during the US Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

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

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

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

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

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she plans to publish guidance on how rules of origin will operate after the end of the transition period.

We have already made our guidance on non-preferential rules of origin publicly available on GOV.UK. The guidance sets out the product specific rules, to determine the origin of imports outside of a preferential agreement.

We are working at pace to progress our discussions with existing and future trading partners and will continue to update our guidance on preferential rules of origin as we agree new provisions with them. Guidance can be found on GOV.UK for those countries with whom we have already signed a Free Trade Agreement.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that UK climate commitments are a priority for the activities of the Board of Trade.

To ensure the UK’s climate commitments are a focus of the Board of Trade, two relevant experts have been appointed as Advisers.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make it her policy not to include investor state dispute settlements in future trade agreements; and will she make a statement

The United Kingdom has already negotiated investment agreements with Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions with over 90 trading partners. The precise details of any future Free Trade Agreement are a matter for formal negotiations, and we would not seek to pre-empt these discussions.

HM Government recognises the important role that investment protections with ISDS can play in protecting British investors abroad – including pensioners across the country through their pension funds, and SMEs. Where ISDS is included in future agreements, we will seek to ensure fair outcomes of claims and high ethical standards for arbitrators, with increased transparency and efficiency of proceedings.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will take steps to ensure that the UK is a global champion of (a) ethical trade and (b) doing business with integrity.

The United Kingdom is a trading nation and global value chains drive prosperity, through specialisation, innovation and cheaper products.

We will continue to work with business to fully understand global supply chains that they are part of – and the opportunities to build in further resilience for the future. Our future trade agreement programme will reduce barriers to trading with new markets, and help provide more resilience in doing so. Alongside this, the United Kingdom will tirelessly fight protectionism and unfair trade practices, including through the G20 and in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Britain’s values are clear. We are committed to working with international partners and businesses to tackle modern?slavery?in global supply chains, as HM Government believes it is vital that trade is not based on the exploitation nor abuse of workers.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking in new trade deals.

The United Kingdom is a trading nation and global value chains drive prosperity, through specialisation, innovation and cheaper products.

We will continue to work with business to fully understand global supply chains that they are part of – and the opportunities to build in further resilience for the future. Our future trade agreement programme will reduce barriers to trading with new markets, and help provide more resilience in doing so. Alongside this, the United Kingdom will tirelessly fight protectionism and unfair trade practices, including through the G20 and in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Britain’s values are clear. We are committed to working with international partners and businesses to tackle modern?slavery?in global supply chains, as HM Government believes it is vital that trade is not based on the exploitation nor abuse of workers.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when and where the first round of negotiations for the UK US free trade deal is due to take place.

Details of the first round of negotiations for the UK US Free Trade Agreement will be made available to Parliament after our negotiating objectives have been published.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when and where the next meeting of the UK US Trade Working Group is due to take place.

The UK-US Trade and Investment Working Groups were focused on strengthening our trade and investment relationship and laying the groundwork for potential free trade agreement before the UK had the left the EU. Now that we have left the EU, we are able to begin negotiating a free trade agreement with the US. Details about the first round of negotiations will be made available to Parliament after our negotiating objectives have been published.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many official meetings the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser has attended with (a) senior UK civil servants and (b) politicians in each of the last 12 months; and what the job title was of each civil servant.

Over the last 12 months the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser has held multiple meetings, almost all of which were attended by a member of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) other than himself.

The Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser meets with Department for International Trade ministers several times a week while parliament is sitting. He has also met with ministers from other government departments, special advisers and MPs.

14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many official meetings she has had with the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser in each of the last 12 months.

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade meets frequently with the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser and has had a number of formal meetings with him since her appointment on 24 July 2019.

14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many official visits abroad have been made by the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser in each of the last 12 months; to which countries those visits were; and which officials accompanied him on those visits.

The Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser has made one official visit abroad in the last year. He visited the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland on 7-8 October 2019 for World Cotton Day. He was accompanied by a Department for International Trade Private Secretary.

Information on senior official visits abroad is publicly available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dit-senior-officials-travel-and-hospitality-and-permanent-secretary-meetings.

16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made on the benefits of a clear pipeline of upcoming work for managing costs in the rail sector.

As is made clear in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, boosting supply chain productivity and line of sight over the future pipelines of work is imperative for an efficient, modern and innovative railway.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Procurement Green Paper, if he will set out a clear pipeline of work for rail enhancement projects.

In line with our policy of providing transparency to the rail enhancements supply chain, we will publish an update to the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline in the coming months.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish an updated Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).

In line with our policy of providing transparency to the rail enhancements supply chain, we will publish an update to the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline in the coming months.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his Department's support for the Rail Supply Group Work Pipeline Visibility Charter, if he will publish an updated Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) list as soon as possible.

In line with our policy of providing transparency to the rail enhancements supply chain, we will publish an update to the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline in the coming months.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to (a) improve awareness among drivers of the harms of idling engines and (b) encourage drivers to turn their engines off where possible.

Unnecessary vehicle idling is already an offence under The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002, with equivalent devolved powers. It is also the subject of rule 123 of the Highway Code, which drivers are required to learn and observe.

Local Authorities, which are responsible for enforcement, are free to take other measures to discourage engine idling, including additional signage at specific locations. The Department for Transport has authorised the use of such signs by some traffic authorities where required.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many employees have left his Department to work at Heathrow Airport in each of the last three years.

The Department and its Executive Agencies do not store information in employee records regarding what organisations staff join upon leaving the Department.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of particulate and plastic pollution from (a) brakes, (b) tyres and (c) road wear on human health; and what steps the Government is taking to tackle that matter.

The Department for Transport has not conducted an assessment of the potential effect of particulate and plastic pollution from brake, tyre and road wear (collectively referred to as ‘non-exhaust emissions’) on human health. However, in 2020 the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) reviewed and published a statement on the existing evidence on the subject.

In February, the Department for Transport commenced a significant research project to understand better the measurement techniques, materials properties and control parameters of brake and tyre wear emissions from road vehicles. The project will report in 2023 and will be used to inform policy decisions and any potential legislation that may be required to control and reduce these emissions. The Department is also taking a leading role within the UNECE Particle Measurement Programme (PMP), which is developing an internationally recognised test procedure for measuring non-exhaust particle emissions from vehicles.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his Department's policy is on the proportion of seats that can be safely occupied on a train; and how that matter is being enforced in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

In line with the Government’s guidance on social distancing and safer transport, train operators have taken significant measures on their vehicles to support social distancing. All train operators are expected to carry out their own risk assessments on the most appropriate action to take, taking account of factors such as the design of different types of rolling stock. Some operators of long-distance services have limited capacity by selling only a set number of seats and requiring reservations. In addition, train operators have increased services levels as we move through the roadmap to provide additional capacity as demand increases.

Passengers are urged to check before they travel and to plan ahead, as transport services and roads are likely to be busier as restrictions ease. They are reminded to follow safer travel guidance when they travel, including wearing a face covering unless exempt, sanitising their hands regularly and keeping their distance where possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason there can only be two train timetable changes per year.

It is important for passengers that the timetable is as stable as possible so they can plan their journeys effectively. Timetables are also highly complex and need meticulous planning to be able to operate reliably. The rail industry responded rapidly to re-plan services during the pandemic and as we recover it will be important to balance this flexible response to demand changes with the clear need to provide stability to passengers and to plan changes in a robust way.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the effect of a reduction in subsidies to the rail industry on the frequency of services provided.

The amount of Government support to the rail industry and what the rail industry must do for the travelling public in return for that money is regularly reviewed at Spending Reviews (for passenger services) and regular Periodic Reviews (which set rail infrastructure funding for a set 5-year period, with the next one due in 2023). While frequency is one factor in train service provision, other factors, such as reliability and on-board capacity are equally important, and are balanced to provide an appropriate total service for passengers. Factors such as improved working practices in the industry and total passenger revenue, in addition to Government support, all impact the total funding to the industry. All these factors will be balanced when considering rail services, of which frequency is one aspect.

It should be noted that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Department put in place emergency measures to support all operators holding franchise contracts with the UK government. The total costs of these measures in 2020/21 is estimated to be around £8.5 billion in Government support.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his Answer of 5 March 2021 to Question 158995, when Network Rail plans to deliver a costed plan for a wider roll out of platform edge tactiles for stations, where tactiles are not being delivered under another programme; and what assessment he has made of whether a faster roll out of tactiles at stations is possible.

We are working with Network Rail to potentially accelerate the roll out of tactile edge paving, including a funding plan by autumn 2021.

Tactiles will be installed on over 100 accessible routes as part of Access for All programme by 2024. Whenever the industry installs, replaces or renews platform infrastructure, it must install tactiles.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the total level of expenditure on Emergency Recovering Measures Agreements for train operating companies is since October 2020.

Train operators provide management accounts to government, and are paid by government, once per rail period and there are 13 such periods in each financial year. Reliable data therefore cannot be produced from 1 October exactly as the accounting dates do not align.

However, periodic data on operational support payments made to each franchised operator from 1 March 2020 to 6 February 2021, is published at the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dft-payments-to-passenger-rail-operators-under-emergency-agreements

Financial Year 2020-21 Rail Period 7 started on 20 September 2020, and 1 October 2020 fell within it.

The nine ERMA train operators include: C2C (Essex Thameside), South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia (East Anglia), GTR (Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern), Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Railways, and Avanti West Coast (West Coast Partnership).

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that transport infrastructure contracts are awarded to British companies.

The Department for Transport buys goods and services in line with government procurement policy and the current legislative framework. My Department aims to take full benefit of the flexibilities afforded by our departure from the EU to reform procurement legislation. We are working with wider government to review and reshape our procurement regulations, to ensure they drive social, environmental and economic benefits across the country.

With regards to transport infrastructure, steel is one strategic area in which the DfT is working across government and with industry to ensure that UK producers have the best possible chance of competing for and winning contracts, through the newly formed Steel Procurement Taskforce.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to support the tourism industry in the next three months.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances facing the aviation industry and wider tourism sector because of Covid-19. Firms experiencing difficulties can draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor.

In total, we estimate that as of the end of April 2021 the air transport sector benefited from around £7bn of Government support since the start of the pandemic. The extension of Government-backed loans and furlough payments announced at the budget build on this and will help ensure this vital and vibrant part of the UK economy is ready to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic.

As set out in the Global Travel Taskforce report, the Government will publish a Tourism Recovery Plan, outlining the longer-term recovery of the sector. The Government will set out proposals soon, including plans for a marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring airlines to check passengers' coronavirus paperwork and to ensure they have booked testing packages for their return to the UK.

It is already a legal requirement for carriers to check these measures have been complied with, and there are financial penalties for operators and passengers for non-compliance.

We are working closely with airlines to ensure passengers are compliant with the requirements of passage to the United Kingdom. Airlines are in an excellent position to assist in ensuring compliance with the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) away from the border, facilitating a smoother arrivals process in UK ports. They are able to communicate with passengers at various stages of the journey, from booking passage to departure, ensuring passengers comply with their requirement to complete the PLF and that the relevant testing packages have been booked.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of the (a) London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and (b) Port of London Authority on legal responsibility for the closure of the River Thames at Hammersmith Bridge.

As asset owners, London Borough Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) are responsible for the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. In August 2020, LBHF instructed the Port of London Authority (PLA) to close the river under the bridge.

LBHF and PLA are both members of the Government-led Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce. Within this forum, discussion on the closure of Hammersmith Bridge is ongoing. To date, the Taskforce has met 14 times. Our continued leadership through the Taskforce has meant that the Case for Continued Safe Operation Board accepted PLA’s proposal to allow limited and controlled river transits when there are no workers on the bridge; this is only for vessels which cannot carry out their activity elsewhere on the river.

Discussions continue at officials’ level between the Department, LBHF and the PLA. DfT engineers have also extensively engaged with their counterparts at LBHF to offer support in evaluating the condition of the bridge

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his policy is on dedicating sections of roads for use as bus and cycle lanes.

The Department has made no such estimate on the removal of bus lanes. Local authorities are responsible for managing their roads, including provision of bus lanes and cycling infrastructure. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation.

The Department has issued guidance for local authorities on reallocating road space in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes bus and cycle-only corridors as one measure local authorities may consider. This can be accessed at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities.

In July 2020, the Department also published Local Transport Note 1/20: Cycle Infrastructure Design. This provides good practice advice on designing high-quality cycling infrastructure and includes advice on bus and cycle lanes.

Bus lanes are open to cyclists by default, and whilst not specifically a cycle facility, bus lanes can offer some degree of segregation for cyclists as they significantly reduce the amount of interaction with motor traffic. Local Transport Note 1.20 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-infrastructure-design-ltn-120

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance he has issued to local transport bodies on the removal of bus lanes to enable the creation of sections of road dedicated to cyclists.

The Department has made no such estimate on the removal of bus lanes. Local authorities are responsible for managing their roads, including provision of bus lanes and cycling infrastructure. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation.

The Department has issued guidance for local authorities on reallocating road space in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes bus and cycle-only corridors as one measure local authorities may consider. This can be accessed at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities.

In July 2020, the Department also published Local Transport Note 1/20: Cycle Infrastructure Design. This provides good practice advice on designing high-quality cycling infrastructure and includes advice on bus and cycle lanes.

Bus lanes are open to cyclists by default, and whilst not specifically a cycle facility, bus lanes can offer some degree of segregation for cyclists as they significantly reduce the amount of interaction with motor traffic. Local Transport Note 1.20 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-infrastructure-design-ltn-120

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) length of bus lanes removed between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 to (i) provide more space for motorists and (ii) create sections of road dedicated to cyclists; and if he will list the locations where those lanes have been removed.

The Department has made no such estimate on the removal of bus lanes. Local authorities are responsible for managing their roads, including provision of bus lanes and cycling infrastructure. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation.

The Department has issued guidance for local authorities on reallocating road space in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes bus and cycle-only corridors as one measure local authorities may consider. This can be accessed at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities.

In July 2020, the Department also published Local Transport Note 1/20: Cycle Infrastructure Design. This provides good practice advice on designing high-quality cycling infrastructure and includes advice on bus and cycle lanes.

Bus lanes are open to cyclists by default, and whilst not specifically a cycle facility, bus lanes can offer some degree of segregation for cyclists as they significantly reduce the amount of interaction with motor traffic. Local Transport Note 1.20 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-infrastructure-design-ltn-120

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost to the public purse was of the KPMG report examining Transport for London’s finances that was commissioned in June 2020.

Costs associated with the Government Led Review of Transport for London’s financial position totalled £1,216,107. This expenditure is critical to providing evidence to support Government’s policy making, including the funding settlement with TfL from October 2020, worth up to £1.7 billion. This is part of the overall extraordinary government support of up to £3.3 billion for TfL to date.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department has spent on costs associated with KPMG's report on the Government-led financial review of Transport for London, commissioned by his Department in June 2020.

Costs associated with the Government Led Review of Transport for London’s financial position totalled £1,216,107. This expenditure is critical to providing evidence to support Government’s policy making, including the funding settlement with TfL from October 2020, worth up to £1.7 billion. This is part of the overall extraordinary government support of up to £3.3 billion for TfL to date.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has made to the Port of London Authority to re-open the River Thames at Hammersmith Bridge for commercial traffic to support the river economy, jobs and businesses.

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, as the bridge owner, took the decision to close Hammersmith Bridge to river traffic in August 2020, as advised within the Case for Continued Safe Operation. The Government wants to see the bridge reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.

For some time, the Department for Transport and the Port of London Authority have been in discussion with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham on the possibility of revisiting the Case for Continued Safe Operation to allow river traffic when engineers are not working on the bridge. Controlled transits are now allowed at specific times every Sunday, and discussion continues on how a greater number of transits can be permitted, in line with increased demand as the river community emerges from both winter and COVID-19 lockdown.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many bridges in the London region are substandard; and what assessment he has made of the economic effect of the reduced carrying capacity of those bridges.

Ownership of bridges in London is varied and owners include Transport for London, Network Rail and individual London Boroughs. Local transport infrastructure maintenance is a devolved matter. Therefore, it is the owners’ responsibility to ensure that their asset is maintained to the appropriate standard. The Department does not hold specific information on the condition of each individual structure. As such, the Department does not assess the economic effect of any reduced carrying capacity on London bridges.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage Network Rail and Train Operator Companies to install tactile paving and other accessibility features when renewal works are taking place.

The Department expects the industry to meet current accessibility requirements whenever it installs, renews or replaces station infrastructure.

Failure to do so can lead to enforcement action by the Office of Rail and Roads.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will ensure that the decision making process for new and transferred trains includes an assessment to ensure that step gaps at stations are not increased as a result of those trains.

When introducing new or cascaded trains, it is a matter for operators to undertake risk assessments at each station to ensure that platforms conform to relevant standards before the trains are approved for entry into service. The platforms have to pass a design test and a practical physical test, demonstrating compliance.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to financially support local authorities in repairing substandard bridges to their full carrying capacity within the next five years.

The Department will allocate over £1.1 billion capital funding for local highways maintenance, including bridge repair, to local highway authorities in England, outside London, during 2021/21. The Department will work with HM Treasury on a multi-year settlement for areas, including local highways maintenance, at the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the mutual recognition of qualifications for tour guides accompanying tours into the EU will cover registered driver guides using their own car to conduct tours.

Now the Transition Period is over, the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive no longer applies to UK nationals. This means that if a UK national wishes to practice a regulated profession in the EU, they will need to meet the legal requirements of the relevant EU Member State. Professionals should consult the European Commission Regulated Professionals Database to understand whether the profession in question is regulated, and secondly, what other licenses or authorisations they may need to work in that profession. It is important to note that the recognition of a professional qualification does not automatically cover the licences to operate vehicles in the EU.

The Government is committed to establishing arrangements with EU countries that facilitate motoring with the minimum of bureaucracy. In 2020, all EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have confirmed recognition of UK driving licences which means that International Driving Permits will not be required by visiting UK motorists with photocard driving licences from 1 January 2021.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason ferry trips are not included in the Government's refund guarantee for cancelled Christmas rail and coach trips.

The preparations and communications the Department made for Christmas travel were focussed towards road and rail passengers as these sectors were deemed at greatest risk of possible congestion. They were explicitly encouraged to pre-book, unlike the ferry sector where, on domestic routes, it is less likely to require pre-booking.

For international ferry routes, the existing compensation requirements under EU law applied where services had been cancelled by the operator and passengers should have been offered either a rebooking or a refund. For domestic ferry routes, existing compensation requirements also applied which we expect operators have honoured.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the level of (a) income generation and (b) Treasury funding of the introduction of flexible season tickets on the railways.

Passenger demand has fallen dramatically over the last year and its recovery is uncertain. Due to this and a potential shift in passenger behaviours, rail income in the future is also uncertain. Any flexible season ticket products will aim to encourage and support passengers returning to the railway when it is safe to do so. We are continuing to work closely with industry to develop a solution and will provide further details in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure recognition of UK driving licences with EU countries.

The Government is committed to establishing arrangements with EU countries that facilitate private motoring with the minimum of bureaucracy In 2020, all EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have confirmed recognition of UK driving licences which means that International Driving Permits will not be required by UK visitors with photocard driving licences from 1 January 2021.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the review into Transport for London’s future financial position and future financial structure being conducted by KPMG and as set out in the extraordinary funding and financing agreement of 14 May 2020 will be published in full.

The Government’s review into Transport for London’s future financial position continues to be a matter of live policymaking. Ministers continue to monitor the public interest test for when publication is appropriate.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the average cost of reinstating one mile of rail track on a disused line where the track bed remains available.

The Department has made no such estimate. The Government is progressing work on a number of rail reinstatement schemes through its Restoring Your Railway programme. Each scheme will have unique characteristics in terms of the works required to deliver the desired train service outputs.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the award of a 9,000-ton contract for steel plate for bridges on the HS2 route by joint venture Eiffage-Kier-Ferrovial-Bam to a French subsidiary of Eiffage, what steps he is taking to ensure that such contracts are awarded to UK companies.

The Government’s guidance on the procurement of steel was published in November 2015 and subsequently updated in December 2016. All major government projects are required to take cognisance of the Crown Commercial Service Procurement Policy Note 11/16: “Procuring Steel in Major Projects - Revised Guidance” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-1116-procuring-steel-in-major-projects-revised-guidance ).

Whilst HS2 Ltd. does not directly buy steel, it does apply a strategic and transparent approach to the sourcing of steel for the HS2 Programme through its Tier 1 contractors and their supply chains. HS2 Ltd is governed by the Utility Contract Regulations and ensures a fair procurement process which complies the with UK procurement law and the Government policy on the procurement of steel. I can confirm that the UK steel industry is already delivering for HS2 including 1,130 tonnes from Darlington-based Cleveland Bridge. Celsa Steel in Cardiff for 1,800 tonnes of loose steel and rebar. Caunton Engineering in Nottinghamshire for 2,400 tonnes of structural steel.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of The Times investigation which recently found that 4,000 of about 9,000 bridges and large culverts on motorways or A-roads showed evidence of defects or damage that may significantly affect their capacity.

All bridges and structures on the Strategic Road Network are regularly inspected by Highways England to ensure that they remain safe to operate. Through regular inspection, Highways England is also able to plan maintenance works in a way that minimises disruption for road users.

Identification of damage or defects, which can include cosmetic defects, does not mean a structure is unsafe. Where defects or damage is detected, further detailed engineering inspections are undertaken to determine the cause and whether maintenance is required. If repairs are needed, they will be appropriately prioritised and included in Highways England’s ongoing maintenance programme.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will (a) outline the criteria his Department used to determine which stations were chosen for funding under the Access for All scheme and (b) publish the assessment of the extent to which Kew Gardens Rail Station meets those criteria.

Selection criteria included taking into account the priorities of the rail industry, and targeting stations with no existing step free access. The programme was heavily over-subscribed and as Kew Gardens was not nominated by the train operating company, and has some step free access, it was not selected for the programme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his tweet of 27 November 2020 stating that stabilisation works on Hammersmith Bridge will begin in the week commencing 30 November 2020, whether it is his policy that those works will commence in the week commencing 30 November 2020; and what source will be providing the funding for those works.

The Department is pleased that, following the latest Taskforce meeting, contractors have commenced working on-site at Hammersmith Bridge from this week on mitigation and stabilisation work to get it re-opened for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic.

The funding for this work comes from the fixed contribution that TfL committed to make this Financial Year towards the stabilisation and repair of the Bridge, as per the extraordinary funding and financing package agreed with Government on 31 October 2020.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to introduce further restrictions on night time flights at UK airports.

The Department has today launched a consultation which will inform future decisions on night flight restrictions.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) introducing subsidies for and (b) increasing the availability of adaptable or non-standard bicycles for people with mobility issues who require adapted models.

It is essential that as wide a range of people as possible have the opportunity to take up cycling, in all its forms. On 28 July the Prime Minister launched ambitious plans to boost cycling and walking which included a £2 billion package of funding for active travel over the next 5 years. The Plan includes a commitment to increasing access to e-cycles (including adapted e-cycles) by setting up a new national e-cycle support programme, to help those who are older, have to travel longer distances, or are less able to take up conventional pedal cycling.

On 18 November the Department also announced a £1m E-Cycle Extension fund which will support programmes to increase the use of e-cycles, including adapted e-cycles, within a number of local authority areas over the coming months, as a way of helping to inform decisions on the national programme.

These measures are part of a broader approach which includes ensuring that cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone. This will help bring non-traditional groups to cycling, including older and disabled people. The Department’s guidance on the Cycle to Work scheme was also revised in 2019 to make clear that more expensive cycles, including adapted cycles, could be supported under the scheme.

The Department will keep under review the case for further support for adapted and non-standard bicycles.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) the provision of fewer parking spaces and (b) other provisions to encourage people to drive less do not adversely affect the (i) independence and (ii) confidence of people with mobility issues.

The Active Travel Fund was announced on 9 May and provided £225m of funding for local authorities to enable them to reallocate road space and make changes to road layouts in response to COVID-19.

Alongside the funding, the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act 2004. This provides advice on the changes that Government expects them to make to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. It is for local authorities to decide what specific measures are appropriate on their roads to achieve this. They are responsible for ensuring that their actions are within the law and are accountable to local people for their decisions and their performance.

The updated guidance reiterates what consultation requirements apply, and that the needs of disabled people must be taken into account and that an Equalities Impact Assessment should be carried out for proposed changes. It also makes clear that any changes to Blue Badge parking provision must be carefully considered and that local groups representing disabled people should be consulted.

The guidance is available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with Network Rail on improving the ability of wheelchair users to communicate with train managers and drivers.

On-board communication between wheelchair users and the train managers and drivers is a matter for train operators not Network Rail. On the overwhelming majority of trains there is space for wheelchair users that includes the ability to communicate with train managers and drivers. Trains that are not fully compliant with accessibility regulations are in the process of being replaced with new trains that will feature communication equipment required under the relevant accessibility regulations.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of directly refunding passengers in the event of flight disruption to help ensure that airlines do not collapse during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Chancellor has already announced a host of measures to help businesses in this period with £330bn worth of Government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses. The Government has no current plans to either create a scheme specifically to issue refunds on behalf of businesses, or assess the potential benefits of such a scheme. The Government has been clear that airlines and travel agents should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund if it is requested, and this should be done in a timely manner.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing (a) bailout funding or (b) loans to airlines that (i) would or (ii) would not be contingent on commitments to reduce emissions to ensure that airlines can continue to operate during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances facing the aviation industry as a result of Covid-19 and firms experiencing difficulties can draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including schemes to raise capital and flexibilities with tax bills.

In the Chancellor’s letter to the aviation sector on 24 March 2020, he made it clear that the Government would consider bespoke financial support for firms as a last resort, once all other options had been exhausted. This means firms must have exhausted the comprehensive package of economy-wide measures we have put in place and all other funding options, including with shareholders and commercial debt providers. In order to protect the interests of taxpayers, any support would need to represent value for money. Companies receiving support also need to agree to appropriate conditions, including conditions relating to tax, supplier payment terms, climate change and corporate governance.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to increase rail (a) capacity, (b) staffing and (c) funding over the Christmas 2020 period to ensure people travelling are able to follow social distancing guidance.

We have been clear that our priority remains the safety of staff and passengers. Rail operators are running the maximum level of services that can be resourced reliably, in a context of rising staff absence caused by COVID-19. The government recognises that public transport, including rail transport, is instrumental in keeping the country moving. This is why we have made sufficient funding available to rail operators to ensure services can run, so those who need to travel can do so with confidence. We continue to support the rail industry in providing crucial rail services, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic.

Operators seek to provide as much capacity as possible so that those who need to travel can observe social distancing, and continue to deploy additional staff at stations to manage passenger flows, provide advice and guide passengers. Measures implemented to promote social distancing include messaging at trains and stations to remind people to keep apart, floor stickers and one-way systems to control passenger flows, and regular reminders to encourage passengers to use the whole length of the train when boarding.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on ensuring rail capacity is increased over the Christmas 2020 period.

Decisions concerning service levels in each of the four nations is a matter for each country’s respective government. Cross-border operators continue to consider guidance published by each government when planning services, as well as expected passenger demand and the level of service that can be resourced within existing staffing constraints.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of a moratorium on non-essential engineering works over the Christmas 2020 period to reduce travel disruption.

Carrying out engineering works is essential to ensure that the railway remains safe for passengers and staff, and that changes can be made to improve passenger journeys. Network Rail and train operators take all possible measures to minimise the impact this essential work has on passengers. This includes diverting trains from their usual routes, and planning engineering works in a way that preserves connectivity, and providing alternative transport by road where needed.

This winter, engineering works will involve upgrades and routine maintenance around Britain. Most of the railway will stay open for business as usual, but passengers should check their journeys in advance if they are planning to travel during this time. Operators will also provide passengers with advance notice, so they know how their journeys will be affected and what alternatives are available.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that airlines are providing swift refunds to passengers in the event of disruption due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The Department has been clear that airlines and travel agents should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund, if it is requested and this should be done in a timely manner. The Civil Aviation Authority is routinely reviewing the refund policies and practices of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The CAA has utilised its review to influence airlines to change their processes and practices in order to improve performance in providing refunds. The CAA’s actions have led to an improved quality of service and performance from most airlines. The CAA continues to work with carriers to drive down waiting times, while recognising the challenges businesses are facing.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to release the next wave of Fix your Bike Scheme vouchers.

The Department plans to do this very shortly. The release of vouchers has been staggered in order to prevent repairers from being overwhelmed. The first release was a small pilot to allow the Department to monitor the scheme’s impact and adapt it as necessary. Further details will be announced in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting people from covid-19 quarantine rules who due to contractual obligations must travel fortnightly to the EU.

There is an exemption for people who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week. It is for the individual to assess whether they qualify for an exemption and to ensure they can evidence the criteria as required for the exemption. As with all measures, this list of exemptions remains under regular review.

The full list of exemptions is available on gov.uk at the link below: full list here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department holds on the number of his Department’s bike repair vouchers that have been used by low-income households.

The Department holds no information on this. Applicants for the first pilot tranche of vouchers were not asked for details of their household income. To date, 62,101 vouchers have been issued in the pilot release.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department’s plans for further provision of bike repair schemes will target people on the lowest incomes.

The Department has no current plans to target bike repair vouchers at low income households for the remainder of the pilot phase, but will keep this under review for future releases. The Department will also be working with a national cycling charity for the next release to ensure that a portion of vouchers reach people with disabilities.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much of the £2 billion active travel fund announced on 9 May 2020 has been spent in each local authority.

£225 million has been allocated to local authorities via the Emergency Active Travel Fund in 2020-21. £42 million was provided to local authorities in tranche 1, and most authorities have now spent these funds on scheme delivery. The Department intends to announce tranche 2 allocations shortly. Final allocations for tranche 1 and indicative allocations for tranche 2 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emergency-active-travel-fund-local-transport-authority-allocations/emergency-active-travel-fund-total-indicative-allocations Decisions on allocating the remainder of the £2 billion, due to be spent during this parliament, are subject to the Spending Review.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an estimate of how many miles of rail could be reinstated if half the Government's £27 billion road building programme is used instead for that purpose.

We have a £10.4bn budget for rail enhancements in Control Period 6 (2019-2024), £500m of which is available for Restoring Your Railway schemes. All rail enhancement schemes are assessed on a case by case basis and have unique costs and benefits.

Through the second Road Investment Strategy, the Government is investing £27.4 billion in the operation, maintenance, renewal and enhancement of England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) between 2020 and 2025. This investment focuses on both making journeys safer and more reliable, and minimising the SRN’s effects on adjacent local communities and environments.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding (a) has been allocated since July 2019 and (b) he plans to allocate from 5 October 2020 to 31 December 2020 to contingency ferries in the event that the UK does not reach an agreement on future trading relations with the EU.

For the period since July 2019 £13,769,940 has been spent on additional freight capacity. The Government is currently procuring additional freight capacity for the period from December 31st 2020 to June 2021. Once this process is concluded the value of the contracts will be placed in the public domain.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Government's £27 billion road building programme on (a) overall road traffic volumes and (b) congestion on unimproved roads linked to roads funded under that programme.

Through the second Road Investment Strategy, the Government is investing £27.4 billion in the operation, maintenance, renewal and enhancement of England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) between 2020 and 2025. This investment focuses on both making journeys safer and more reliable, and minimising the SRN’s effects on adjacent local communities and environments.

The impact of enhancements on future traffic flows in an area is considered on a scheme by scheme basis as options are assessed and developed, including through consultation with local highway authorities and other interested parties. World-leading traffic models that provide a consistent approach to traffic modelling of the SRN have been developed and used by Highways England to forecast how traffic flows and speeds change following infrastructure investment. They take account of the latest evidence on how increased road capacity impacts on traffic volumes and economic welfare (the concept of ‘induced demand’). They include a representation of not just the SRN but also the local road network to model wider impacts, such as congestion.

We continue to build on our evidence base to ensure that we have the most robust methodology possible for assessing the induced effects of increasing road capacity.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the Government's response to the Williams Rail Review consultation which closed on 31 May 2019.

The Government is committed to reforms that deliver a passenger-focused railway, with reliable and safe services. We have now ended the franchising system, paving the way for the wider reforms which will be set out in the upcoming Williams Review White Paper. The Government wants to make progress as quickly as it can, but the impact of Covid-19 has posed challenges. We will publish this as soon as the course of the Covid-19 pandemic allows.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with railway operators on making the price of a single rail journey equivalent of a return ticket for that journey.

The Department launched a trial of Single Leg Pricing with LNER on 2 January 2020, removing return tickets for journeys between London King’s Cross and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Removing returns has simplified the fares structure, with flexible single fares purchased just before travel now costing around half of the old return fare and no more singles priced at £1 less than the return. Passengers are able to mix and match tickets much more easily, providing better value for money, tickets that suit their travel plans and cheaper journeys overall.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with rail operators on plans to make (a) three-day (b) other part-time season tickets available to rail passengers across England.

Government recognises that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a fundamental change in working patterns and that this could have long-term effects on commuter behaviours.

In response, the Department for Transport has proactively worked with the rail industry, and is currently considering proposals received from train operators, to try to ensure better value and convenience for part-time and flexible commuters.

These are unprecedented times and our immediate focus is on ensuring that we keep the railway available and safe for those who rely upon it.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the speed limit for mobility scooters on UK roads to that in the EU.

The Government has not made an assessment of increasing the speed limits of mobility scooters for use on the roads. The safety of all road users is a key priority for the Government and the current speed limit for mobility scooters is based on both safety and mobility considerations and balances the interests of all road users.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what evidence-based assessment he has made of the effectiveness of quarantine measures for people coming in to the UK from abroad in containing covid-19.

Throughout the outbreak, we have brought in the right measures at the right time based on scientific advice. Scientific advice can give us estimates of the incidence of coronavirus internationally and domestically, and ministers decide how to respond to the risk of imported cases based on this advice.

The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, imported cases represent a small amount of the overall total and they make no significant difference to the epidemic. However, this can change when the domestic transmission/rate of infection is low, and people are arriving from countries with a higher rate of infection. Requiring arrivals to the UK to self-isolate for 14 days will reduce the risk of transmission from this group.

These measures are to be subject to review every 28 days, to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential for disruption to travel corridors after the end of the transition period.

Travel corridors are a global approach to managing health risks from travel. We keep this approach under constant review.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to mitigate the disruption caused by the closing of travel corridors; and what steps his Department is taking to avoid quarantine measures in the future.

We have consistently advised travellers that travel corridors can, and do change quickly.

As the Secretary of State set out in the House on 07/09/2020 – there is a tension between bringing in to force regulations at pace which are designed to protect the health of the public and allowing travellers and operators the chance to consider incoming regulations. Our current approach, a Thursday announcement followed by a Saturday coming in to force date tries to straddle those concerns. It is also an approach that has been agreed across the four nations, and takes on board operational considerations at the border. However, we reserve the right to bring regulations in to force quicker if their strong public health rationale to do so.

While it is right that we continue to ask individuals to self-isolate if they have visited a high risk destination, we are working actively on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation in fewer than 14 days.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) provide the public with the information necessary to confidently plan travel and holidays while staying safe during the covid-19 pandemic; and (b) communicate that information in a timely and accessible manner.

As we have consistently made clear, Covid-19 has profoundly changed the nature of international travel, and those who chose to travel should do so with their eyes open. It is right that we prioritise the health of the public.

There is a tension between bringing in to force regulations at pace which are designed to protect the health of the public and allowing travellers and operators the chance to consider incoming regulations. Our current approach, a Thursday announcement followed by a Saturday coming in to force date tries to straddle those concerns. It is also an approach that has been agreed across the four nations, and takes on board operational considerations at the border. However, we reserve the right to bring regulations in to force quicker if their strong public health rationale to do so.

Travel advice is available here:

[https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus]

Advice on travel corridors is available here:

[https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors]

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to allocate financial support for the travel industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the travel sector as a result of COVID-19. The sector is crucial to the UK’s economy and businesses across the industry will be able to draw on the unprecedented package of economic measures we have put in place during this time.

This includes a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which facilitates access to finance for businesses affected by the outbreak. Firms are also able to access ‘Time to Pay’ scheme which eases restrictions with tax bills and VAT deferrals.

The Government is also ensuring financial support for employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covering 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, alongside the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions. If employees have exhausted all other avenues, they should write to the Transport Secretary.

The Department for Transport is in close contact with the travel sector ensuring that the Government is kept fully aware of the latest developments with all firms and to understand where additional policy measures and address specific industry issues.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to introduce covid-19 testing for departures and arrivals at airports.

We are actively working on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation earlier than 14 days. Department officials are working with health experts with the aim of cutting the self-isolation period without adding to infection risk or infringing on our overall NHS test capacity.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his time frame is for responding to requests for Government funding to provide for a temporary bridge and repairs to Hammersmith bridge.

The Department wants to see the Hammersmith Bridge opened as soon as safely possible, so that – at a minimum – people can cycle and walk across the bridge.

We recognise the situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible for the benefit of commuters and local residents.

To ensure progress is made quickly we are working with all relevant stakeholders to enable us to move forward.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support the Government is providing to the British cruise ship industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department have been working in close partnership with the British cruise industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to have regular discussions on a wide range of operational and other challenges.

The British Cruise industry, as with all parts of the economy, has been able to apply for, and access, the full range of the HMG business support measures.

I am eager to see a swift return to operations as soon as it is safe to do so. I have been working in collaboration across government, with the cruise industry, to review and enhance protocols to ensure a COVID-19 safe environment. These collective efforts will, I hope, allow the safe resumption of cruise operations in due course, and I support them in their efforts to rebuild public confidence.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many complaints the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency received on smoky vehicles relating to (a) lorries, and (b) buses.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has received 2051 complaints about smoky vehicles during 2020. It does not hold separate data for lorries and buses.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reasons the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency does not accept reports on excessively smoky vehicles other than lorries and buses.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has no statutory powers to act on reports of excessively smoky vehicles other than lorries and buses.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential (a) archaeological effect and (b) effect on Stonehenge's status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of the proposed upgrade to the A303.

Highway England’s Development Consent Order application for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme is currently with the Secretary of State for determination. In making his decision, the Secretary of State will consider carefully the findings of the Examining Authority regarding the impacts of the scheme, and the representations received since the close of the examination, including those made in response to consultation following the recent archaeological discovery at the site in June 2020. I am unable to comment further on this live planning application.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of operational railways platforms that are (a) owned and (b) managed by Network Rail that do not have tactile warnings installed to warn visually-impaired people of the platform edge.

Data on the facilities available at stations is collected and held by the Rail Delivery Group, who you can contact using info@raildeliverygroup.com.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, by what date his Department plans for every operational platform that is (a) owned and (b) managed by Network Rail will meet the European Technical Specification for Interoperability covering Persons of Reduced Mobility of the provision of tactile warnings installed to warn visually-impaired people of the platform edge.

The Department expects the industry to meet current accessibility requirements whenever it installs, renews or replaces station infrastructure. In addition, by 2030, we envisage equal access for disabled people using the transport system, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to enable two people from different households to share a car following the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will put in place plans for disabled people who rely on other people to drive them.

Our priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to keep people safe by minimising the risk of transmission. This is why we continue to recommend that people should consider walking, cycling or using their own vehicle rather than sharing a vehicle with people from other households or support bubbles.

We appreciate that this will not be an option for everyone and recognise the importance of car sharing for people with disabilities. Our Safer Travel Guidance for Passengers outlines clear steps that people should attempt to follow if they have to travel in the same vehicle with people outside their household or support bubble (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers).

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that Train Operating Companies provide training to their staff on responding effectively to the disability and accessibility needs of train users.

All train operators are required by the Office of Rail and Road to provide disability awareness training to all frontline staff, and all new staff including senior and key managers, as a condition of their licence. The Office of Rail and Road is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the delivery of disability training by train operators.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of e-scooters on blind people.

The Department has carried out a preliminary assessment of the impacts of e-scooters on blind people. We recognise that people with disabilities, in particular blind or visually-impaired people, may be more affected by some of the negative impacts of e-scooter use. However, there is limited evidence available. Trials have been designed to enable us to gather robust evidence of the impact of e-scooters on all road users. We have attempted to minimise the impacts on pedestrians during trials, for example by not allowing e-scooter use on pavements and asking local areas to consider in their trail plans ways to avoid scooters creating an obstruction when not in use.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has carried out an impact assessment on the effects of the easing of restrictions on the use of e-scooters on blind people.

The Department has carried out a preliminary assessment of the impacts of e-scooters on blind people. We recognise that people with disabilities, in particular blind or visually-impaired people, may be more affected by some of the negative impacts of e-scooter use. However, there is limited evidence available. Trials have been designed to enable us to gather robust evidence of the impact of e-scooters on all road users. We have attempted to minimise the impacts on pedestrians during trials, for example by not allowing e-scooter use on pavements and asking local areas to consider in their trial plans ways to avoid scooters creating an obstruction when not in use.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will hold discussions with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) Transport for London on increasing funding to the Education and Skills Funding Agency to increase the 16-19 bursary in London to cover travel costs after the end of free travel for under-18s in London.

The Department for Transport is working closely with Transport for London and the Department for Education on how the temporary suspension of free bus travel for under 18s can be operationalised. This includes considering whether there are further categories of children, in addition to those eligible under the Education Act 1996, that should receive free transport.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will extend the expiry period for driving theory tests during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve the time taken by the DVLA to (a) renew driving licences and (b) respond to queries.

The quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence is to do so online. All the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) online services are available and working as normal. Postal applications have to be dealt with in person and will therefore take longer to process as the DVLA has a reduced number of staff on-site to comply with social distancing requirements and ensure staff safety.

All photocard driving licences expiring between 1 February and 31 August have been extended by seven months. Drivers do not need to take any action to benefit from this change and the DVLA will write to them when their licence is due for renewal.

The DVLA’s contact centre is open for all customers Monday to Friday 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 7pm, and Saturday 8am to 2pm.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of relaxing the 14-day timeline for refunds within the Package Travel Regulations.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial (BEIS) Strategy has legislative responsibility for the Package Travel Regulations. My officials are in close contact with BEIS on this, but any changes to the Package Travel Regulations would be a decision for BEIS.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to ensure that airlines to meet their legal obligations to refund customers within seven days.

There have been no changes to consumer law, and airlines are expected to abide by this and honour consumer rights. We have been clear with industry that when consumers are entitled to a refund and ask for one, refunds must be paid, and the process should not be unduly difficult for consumers.

Airlines are expected to provide cash refunds to consumers who have requested one in a timely manner, but we recognise that this is placing unprecedented demand on their systems and processes, which means there are some delays in these refunds being processed.

The department is in regular conversation with UK airlines and wider membership bodies, and is working closely with the sector, the regulator and consumer groups to help ensure airlines deliver on their commitments. The Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for enforcing European Regulation 261/2004. Despite current pressures, they have also been clear that they expect airlines to continue to act in a way which best serves the interests of their customers.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he undertook an equality impact assessment of the suspension of free travel for under-18s in London.

The Department for Transport is working with Transport for London to identify how the temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s in London can be implemented. This includes undertaking an equality impact assessment of the proposal.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his letter to the Mayor on London of 3 June 2020 on ending of free travel for under 18 year olds in London, if he will place in the Library a copy of the academic research referred to in concluding that young people using the free travel concession made up half of all bus users during the morning rush hour, many of them for extremely short journeys which would not have been made had they not been free.

The Government set a number of conditions alongside the funding provided to Transport for London to reduce demand on public transport so that those who need to use services can do so safely. The temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s in London is one of those measures. The academic research to which the Secretary of State referred in his letter of 3 June 2020 is a study called ‘On the buses: a mixed-method evaluation of the impact of free bus travel for young people on the public health’ (full reference below). This makes clear that before the crisis, young people using the free travel concession made up half of all bus users during the morning rush hour, many of them for extremely short journeys which would not have been made had they not been free.

Research reference

Green J, Steinbach R, Jones A, et al.

Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2014 Feb

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK263964/

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made with the Mayor of London on the effect of social distancing requirements during the covid-19 outbreak on train capacity in Kingston; and what plans the Government has to provide financial support to local authority leaders in Kingston to encourage sustainable modes of travel to work.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, capacity across public transport networks is constrained to allow social distancing. The Government’s message is clear that public transport should only be used for essential journeys and passengers should, wherever possible, find alternative methods of travel.

The London Borough of Kingston upon Thames has recently been allocated an indicative £100,000 from the Emergency Active-Travel Fund to help the borough fund pop-up and temporary interventions to create an environment for safe walking and cycling in the borough.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to reduced train capacity in the event that social distancing measures are enforced, what plans he has to prevent a significant increase in the use of private cars by commuters.

Guidance to passengers has been clear that they should stay local and walk or cycle where possible. This message is being reinforced across government, for example to children returning to school and their carers. The government has also released £250m for schemes to support increased walking and cycling in England. At the same time, services on public transport will continue to increase.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the Government's policy is during the covid-19 outbreak on approved driving instructors who cannot work from home but cannot follow social distancing rules while working.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends that, currently, approved driving instructors (ADI) should only provide lessons to candidates who have an essential need. ADIs should ask pupils to bring appropriate identification to demonstrate the need for the lesson: a payslip, letter or identification badge should suffice.

When providing driving lessons, all ADIs should put in place appropriate measures, in line with the latest Public Heath England and Cabinet Office guidance, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It is the responsibility of the ADI and the pupil to consider the risks to their health and to decide if the driving lesson is essential.

ADIs whose registration lapses in the next three months, and who are observing government guidelines not to work, can delay renewing their registration until restrictions are lifted. Legislation provides that ADIs have one year in which to apply to re-register without having to take the qualification tests again.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to direct the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency to reopen motorcycle training schools for CBT certification to enable (a) businesses to get back to work and (b) people to travel with out the need to use public transport.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has suspended most motorcycle tests to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But it is continuing to provide emergency tests for those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response.

Motorcycle approved training bodies (ATB) can continue to provide compulsory basic training (CBT) for critical workers.

Trainers should ask their pupils to bring appropriate ID with them to demonstrate the need for the training – for example, an ID badge, payslip or letter from their employer.

It is the responsibility of the trainer, and the pupil, to consider the risks to their health before deciding if the training is essential.

All ATBs should put in place appropriate measures, in line with the latest Public Health England and Cabinet Office guidance, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Motorcycle manoeuvring areas will be available for any essential training. The DVSA will contact ATBs who have a module 1 motorcycle test booked.

CBT, direct access scheme (DAS) or DVSA enhanced rider scheme instructor registration certificates that are due to expire before the end of June 2020, will automatically be renewed.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to undertake a review of the Airports National Policy Statement under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008.

On 27 February 2020 the Court of Appeal ruled that, when designating the Airports National Policy Statement, the previous government did not take account of the Paris Agreement, non-CO2 emissions and emissions post-2050. As part of its judgment, the Court has declared that the Airports National Policy Statement is of no legal effect unless and until the Government carries out a review under the Planning Act 2008.

The Government has taken the decision not to appeal the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

The Court’s judgment is complex and requires careful consideration. The Government will set out its next steps in due course.

25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what parties have written to his Department requesting a review of the airports national policy statement.

The Department has received requests from six parties to review the Airports National Policy Statement. The requests have come from Plan B Earth, Heathrow Hub Limited, the Mayor of London, a joint request from five London Boroughs (the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead) with Greenpeace and two individuals.

25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an updated assessment of the economic effect of Heathrow expansion as a result of new proposals to phase the delivery of additional capacity.

The Court of Appeal ruled on 27 February that when designating the Airports National Policy Statement, which was backed by Parliament, the previous Government did not take account of the Paris Agreement, non-CO2 emissions and emissions post 2050. We have always been clear that Heathrow expansion is a private sector project which must meet strict criteria on air quality, noise and climate change, as well as being privately financed, affordable, and delivered in the best interest of consumers. The Government has taken the decision not to appeal this judgment. The promoters of the scheme will be able to seek permission from the Supreme Court to appeal if they wish.

As part of its judgment, the Court has declared that the Airports National Policy Statement is of no legal effect unless and until the government carries out a review under the Planning Act 2008. The Court’s judgment is complex and requires careful consideration. We will set out our next steps in due course.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has undertaken to ensure that the expansion of Heathrow by over 700 aircraft each day is compatible with the Government’s policy on achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Government is committed to setting a clear ambition for the aviation sector and is carefully considering the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

We are planning to consult shortly on an update to the Government’s position on aviation and climate change. It is critical that we consider how the sector can play its part in delivering our net zero ambitions, while continuing to thrive.

The Airports National Policy Statement guarantees that a new Northwest runway at Heathrow will only be built if an applicant for development consent can demonstrate that any increase in carbon emissions from the scheme will not materially impact the government’s ability to meet its carbon reduction targets.

4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps have been taken in relation to Heathrow’s planned alternation policy since the 2019 consultation.

Following a vote in Parliament, the Airports National Policy Statement was designated as government policy in June 2018. It sets out a number of requirements that an applicant for development consent must meet – these include an expectation of a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled night flights and predictable respite from aircraft noise.

Expansion is a private sector project. It is for an applicant to submit an application for development consent. Heathrow Airport Limited consulted on its proposed application between 18 June – 13 September 2019, and it has also said that it will consult again in April of this year.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Transport for London on the potential effect of proposals made by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on established river boat services between Kew and Richmond.

Two public consultations were carried out on the proposals. The first between 6 November 2018 and 29 January 2019 and the second between 29 May and 10 July 2019.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Chief Executive and an MCA Director met with members of the London Assembly on 16 July 2019 to discuss the proposals.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his policy is on (a) low carbon river transport in London and (b) the role of older passenger boats on the River Thames in transporting tourists to attractions at (a) Kew, (b) Richmond and (c) Hampton Court.

Transport in London is devolved and the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport for London. It is for the Mayor to take decisions relating to River Thames operations and transport services.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he last met with operators of older passenger boats on the River Thames to discuss the proposals made by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the use of those boats.

Officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) last met with London Operators on 24 October 2019, which was the most recent occurrence of the routine biannual London Operator’s meeting.

The MCA has also held 5 Workshops on the proposals since 2016, supplemented by updates and discussions at the regular Domestic Passenger Ship Steering Group which includes industry representation from across the UK.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the updated impact assessment from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on its proposals for older passenger boats.

The updated Impact Assessment will be published when the Regulations are laid in Parliament in accordance with the Government’s usual legislative process.

The earlier version of the Impact Assessment was published for comment during public consultation between 6 November 2018 and 29 January 2019.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if the Government will recognise British Sign Language as an official language.

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Existing equality legislation already means employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the needs of all those with protected characteristics.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that workplaces promote and facilitate the use of British Sign Language.

Provision for accessing services by users of British Sign Language (BSL) are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty. Equality legislation means that employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, when carrying out their functions, to have due regard to the needs of a range of protected characteristics, including disability.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to remedy the winter fuel allowance payment letters that were sent out with incorrect information and ensure that people who are entitled to that payment receive it.

This problem has been rectified.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to encourage businesses to use a gateway for the Kickstart scheme.

We encourage any employer looking to access the scheme, who needs support in the application process or delivering employability support, to apply for funding through one of the Kickstart gateways. Guidance on finding a Kickstart Gateway, including a list of many approved Gateways that continues to be updated, can be found on the Kickstart scheme website.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support the work provided by gateways in the Kickstart scheme.

I refer the honourable member to PQ 145148.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has responded to recent representations from the Canadian Government on proposals for a reciprocal social security agreement that covers the uprating of pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions has not had any recent discussions on this issue with the Government of Canada. The Department plans to respond shortly to the request from Canada for a reciprocal social security agreement.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people (a) applied to and (b) benefitted from the Access the Work scheme from March to October 2020.

The information requested past March is intended for future release in the 2020/21 Official Statistics publication.

The number of applications and beneficiaries for the period April 2019 to March 2020 is available in the latest Access to Work statistics publication but this is not broken down by month. Data on a monthly basis would not be exact as the number of people applying to and benefitting from certain Access to Work elements will not be captured within a month’s time frame. Hence, we generally choose to aggregate at a yearly level to avoid data inconsistencies.

The latest Access to Work official statistics can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics

Background

Access to Work

Access to Work (ATW) is a demand-led, discretionary grant to de-risk the recruitment and retention of disabled people for employers. The grant contributes to the disability related extra costs of working faced by disabled people and those with a health condition that are beyond reasonable adjustment, but it does not replace an employer’s duty under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments. The grant provides personalised support and can provide workplace assessments, travel to/in work, support workers, specialist aids and equipment for individuals to enable disabled people and those with a health condition to move into or retain employment. And can fund up to £60,700 worth of flexible, personalised support per person per year.

During the pandemic Access to Work has continued to provide support whether disabled people were working in the workplace or working from home. Acknowledging the challenges Coronavirus had for disabled people, Access to Work introduced a series of measures.

  • Prioritising new applications from key workers and those with jobs starting within the next 4 weeks;
  • Adapting existing awards to meet new working environments. Such as, switching from face to face British Sign Language Interpreting to Video Remote Interpreting services where possible as well as making greater use of assistive technology and software;
  • Accepting e mail claim forms from customers who request this as a reasonable adjustment
  • Extending the timeframe customers have to submit payment claim forms to 9 months;
  • Accepting employer and support worker signatures via email;
  • Extending Support Worker awards that are coming to an end by 6 months;
  • Adapting the way our assessments are undertaken to support customers who don’t know what support they need and/or where coping strategies are required as part of the Mental Health Support Service;
  • Supporting furloughed employees who need mental health support, by flexing access to the Mental Health Support Service;
  • Providing support for deaf Access to Work customers to maintain work readiness whilst on furlough; and
  • Funding Personal Protective Equipment for Access to Work customers who employ their own support workers.

Recognising the challenges Covid-19 has for employers and disabled people, Access to Work has introduced a new more flexible offer to support disabled people to move into and retain employment. The new offer complements support provided by employers and contains a flexible mix of support that can be adapted to meet the needs of new Covid-19 working arrangements. The offer includes:

  • support to work from more than one location,
  • a package of home working support which can be blended with workplace support,
  • mental health wellbeing support for people returning to work after a period of furlough or shielding,
  • travel-to-work support for those who may no longer be able to safely travel by public transport due to the nature of their disability, and
  • prioritising Access to Work applications from disabled people in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group.

The 2019/20 AtW statistics illustrate the increase in support provided by Access to Work, with over 43,000, the highest ever number of people with disabilities and health conditions receiving tailored and flexible support to do their job.

Access to Work has continued reaching out to underrepresented groups including those with Mental Health conditions, seeing the highest ever number of people approved for Access to Work, 8,710 people, almost double the number of people compared to the previous year.

AtW is helping more people:

– In 2019/20 the highest ever number of people received payments – 43,400 up 20% on 18/19.

– In 2019/20 over 37,000 people received an award for an Access to Work grant up 25% on 2018/19

Expenditure increased to £141.7 million, a new record amount, equating to an 8% increase in real terms expenditure on 18/19.

Further information can be found in the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2020/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2020

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to encourage employers to provide adaptive technology for employees with mobility issues who are working from home during the covid-19 outbreak.

Access to Work (AtW) encourages employers to provide assistive technology for disabled employees by waiving employer contributions meaning employers are more incentivised to try assistive technology providing the disabled person with the support they need.

Atw also provides specialist aides and equipment for disabled people within the workplace whilst supporting employers by providing advice and guidance on what support maybe available. This support includes assistive technology which employers can discuss with their employees and where agreed AtW will provide grant funding for this technology.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department’s strategy is on retraining and reskilling people over the age of 60 who have become unemployed since the start of the covid-19 outbreak and who may struggle to find employment again.

The Government’s Plan for Jobs provides new funding to ensure more people, including older workers, get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to help them find work and build the skills they need to get into work. This includes doubling the number of Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches, increasing the number of sector-based work academy placements which support unemployed claimants of all ages through training and work experience to find a job, and a new online job finding support service.

DWP launched an online mid-life MOT in 2019, which aims to engage individuals more actively in health, finance and skills planning. The MOT directs individuals to the National Careers Service which offers a universal service for adults in England including people aged 50 years and over who are unemployed or at risk of unemployment. This should be of particular benefit for those out of work due to COVID-19 who may need to retrain or pivot career.

Adult skills?are?key in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage and we are working with the Department for Education who are continuing to invest £1.34 billion in 2020/21 in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB). The principal purpose of the AEB is to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. From 1 August 2019, adults with limited digital skills can get access to fully funded specified digital skills qualifications. The AEB also funds learning in the workplace, where a learner has a statutory entitlement to full funding.

On 29 September, the Prime Minister also announced the launch of new digital bootcamps, in six areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, the Department for Education are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase the uptake of pension credit over the next five years.

While over 1.5 million pensioners currently receive Pension Credit, the Government wants to make sure that all pensioners eligible can claim the Pension Credit to which they are rightly entitled.

In February we launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit and help dispel some of the misconceptions that people might have about Pension Credit eligibility.

We are also continuing to work with our stakeholders to help spread the messages from the campaign.

Our online Pension Credit toolkit (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit) has been updated with the recent awareness campaign materials to supplement the resources it already contains for those working with pensioners, such as guides and information designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit.

In May this year we launched an online claim service for Pension Credit to supplement the existing telephone and postal claim services (https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit). The online service enables pensioners to apply for Pension Credit at a time that best suits them.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to support universal credit claimants who are shielding due to disability and long-term health conditions as benefit sanctions are reintroduced as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

A claimant’s work related requirements are agreed in discussion with their Work Coach and tailored to their individual capability, capacity and specific circumstances, ensuring they are realistic and achievable. Claimants will not be asked to do anything unreasonable in light of the impact of their health condition, and any work related requirements will be compatible with public health guidelines.

Where a claimant has failed to meet their requirements, we will look at any evidence of good reason, including individual circumstances and health considerations, such as shielding, when considering if a sanction is warranted.

An equality analysis has been undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions on the reinstatement of conditionality across affected benefits, and provided to the Secretary of State so she can fulfil her Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) responsibilities. The reintroduction of conditionality and sanctions represents a return to business as usual and not a change in policy which requires direct consultation. The operation of these policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis through consultation with stakeholders.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the reintroduction of benefit sanctions in July 2020 effect on universal credit claimants who are still shielding due to (a) disability or (b) long-term health conditions.

A claimant’s work related requirements are agreed in discussion with their Work Coach and tailored to their individual capability, capacity and specific circumstances, ensuring they are realistic and achievable. Claimants will not be asked to do anything unreasonable in light of the impact of their health condition, and any work related requirements will be compatible with public health guidelines.

Where a claimant has failed to meet their requirements, we will look at any evidence of good reason, including individual circumstances and health considerations, such as shielding, when considering if a sanction is warranted.

An equality analysis has been undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions on the reinstatement of conditionality across affected benefits, and provided to the Secretary of State so she can fulfil her Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) responsibilities. The reintroduction of conditionality and sanctions represents a return to business as usual and not a change in policy which requires direct consultation. The operation of these policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis through consultation with stakeholders.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to provide additional statutory maternity pay to mothers who are unable to find childcare to enable their return to work during the covid-19 outbreak.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Maternity Allowance (MA) provide a measure of earnings replacement to help women who have worked during or close to their pregnancies to stop working towards the end of their pregnancy and in the months after childbirth, in the interests of their own and their babies' health and wellbeing.

We currently have no plans to extend maternity pay or allowance. If SMP or MA entitlement ends, Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance are available to claim for people unable to work because they are directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating according to Government advice.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to answer to question 5226, tabled on 21 May 2021, what data is mandatorily held by (a) health services and (b) his Department on the provision of joint replacement treatment.

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

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many Health Visiting training places were available in the year 2019-2020.

In 2019-20, Health Education England funded 517 training places on the health visiting programme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the answer of 25 May 2021 to Question 1148 on Early Years Healthy Development Review: Finance, whether the recommendations outlined in the Early Years Healthy Development Review are Government policy.

The Early Years Healthy Development Review, published The Best Start for Life: A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days on 25 March 2021. This sets out a vision for ensuring families with babies are supported in the period from conception to age two. The vision is Government policy and the Department is currently working towards implementation of the commitments made in the Review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to review the role of pharmacy and adjust the funding structure for pharmacy to enable that sector to play a bigger part in primary care provision.

In 2019, the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement, with support from HM Treasury, agreed the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) 2019-24 five-year deal with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC). The CPCF commits £2.592 billion annually to the sector. There are ongoing discussions with HM Treasury about the delivery of the CPCF.

The five-year deal sets out how it is planned to further integrate, community pharmacy into the National Health Service, delivering more clinical services and embedding their role in providing advice on medicines and preventing ill health.

NHS111 can now refer patients to a community pharmacist for minor illnesses or the urgent supply of a prescribed medicine. At the end of 2020, we extended this service to general practitioner surgeries, who can now also formally refer patients to community pharmacy for consultation. Earlier this year, we introduced the Discharge Medicines Service with referrals from hospitals to community pharmacies to support patients with their medicines following discharge. We expect to introduce more clinical services in community pharmacy to relieve pressure on other parts of the NHS and play a larger role in primary care provision.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on delivering more sustainable funding for community pharmacies.

In 2019, the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement, with support from HM Treasury, agreed the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) 2019-24 five-year deal with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC). The CPCF commits £2.592 billion annually to the sector. There are ongoing discussions with HM Treasury about the delivery of the CPCF.

The five-year deal sets out how it is planned to further integrate, community pharmacy into the National Health Service, delivering more clinical services and embedding their role in providing advice on medicines and preventing ill health.

NHS111 can now refer patients to a community pharmacist for minor illnesses or the urgent supply of a prescribed medicine. At the end of 2020, we extended this service to general practitioner surgeries, who can now also formally refer patients to community pharmacy for consultation. Earlier this year, we introduced the Discharge Medicines Service with referrals from hospitals to community pharmacies to support patients with their medicines following discharge. We expect to introduce more clinical services in community pharmacy to relieve pressure on other parts of the NHS and play a larger role in primary care provision.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 17 May 2021 to question 824 on Babies: Coronavirus, if his Department will allocate further ring-fenced funding to local authorities to support them to meet local demand for increased services for babies.

There are currently no plans to do so. Local authorities receive funding through the public health grant to commission services for babies. The public health grant to local authorities in England will increase from £3.279 billion in 2020/21 to £3.324 billion in 2021/22, an increase of 1% in cash terms.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant the Answer of 17 May 2021 to Question 822 on Children: Coronavirus, if his Department will make an assessment of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the development of children aged two years and under.

Health visitors assess child development through universal health and wellbeing reviews, with a formal development assessment completed at the two to two and a half year review. Currently there are no plans for further assessments of child development.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 17 May 2021 to Question 821 on Children, for what reason there is no single Cabinet minister responsible for the needs of babies and young children.

The needs of babies and young children are covered by multiple Government departments and represented by Cabinet Ministers from those departments. The Government recognises the importance of these earliest years. In March 2021, the Government published “The Best Start for Life: A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days”. This document set out a commitment to nominate a Cabinet Minister to ensure Start for Life is kept at the heart of decision-making across Government. The Prime Minister will decide who fulfils this role in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many hospitals in England provide joint replacement treatment within the 18 week target time.

The data is not held in the format requested.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the evidential basis is for the guidance issued his Department on the use of facemasks in gyms.

There is some evidence that wearing face coverings while taking part in exercise may be harmful to health, especially for people who have underlying heart or lung conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that people should not wear face coverings during strenuous physical activity. The WHO’s advice ‘Mask use in the context of COVID-19: Interim guidance’ is available at the following link:

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/337199/WHO-2019-nCov-IPC_Masks-2020.5-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that joint replacement surgeries are prioritised in the NHS.

The Department is taking steps to ensure the National Health Service can treat patients safely as quickly as possible. Joint replacement is being prioritised through the High Volume, Low Complexity programme and the Getting It Right First Time programme. These programmes will provide best practice examples to help improve and joint replacement surgeries across the NHS.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason only six people are allowed to sing non-professionally indoors under covid-19 restrictions.

The Government has no plans to amend regulations to allow more than six people to sing non-professionally indoors. In general, limiting mixing indoors, where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much higher, is critical to halting the spread of the virus. Singing is considered a high-risk activity because it increases the risk of transmission through small viral particles in the air and droplets.

The Government keeps these and other COVID-19 restrictions under continual review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will amend covid-19 regulations to allow more than six people to sing non-professionally indoors.

The Government has no plans to amend regulations to allow more than six people to sing non-professionally indoors. In general, limiting mixing indoors, where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much higher, is critical to halting the spread of the virus. Singing is considered a high-risk activity because it increases the risk of transmission through small viral particles in the air and droplets.

The Government keeps these and other COVID-19 restrictions under continual review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish clearer guidance on the (a) collection and (b) distribution of milk formulas at food banks.

Food banks are independent, charitable organisations and the Government does not have any role in their operation. Decisions about which donations to accept and make available to food bank users are therefore a matter for food bank providers. There is strict legislation currently in place in the form of the overarching Food for Specific Groups legislation (Retained Regulation No 609/2013) and specifically Retained Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/127. They regulate, labelling and marketing of infant formulae and follow-on formulae.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a Cabinet minister with responsibility for the needs of babies and young children.

The Prime Minister will nominate a Cabinet Minister who will have responsibility for the ‘Start for Life’ period. A decision on who fulfils this role will be made in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the funds needed to implement the recommendations in the early years Leadsom review have been secured.

The implementation phase of the Early Years Healthy Development Review is being funded by the Department. During this phase the team will work with local leaders and HM Treasury to understand efficiencies and to build the economic case for further investment in the Start for Life. The vision document and the areas for action it describes, do not pre-empt any future spending events.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the development of children aged 2 years and under.

No such assessment has been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will fund catch-up support targeted at babies born (a) during and (b) soon before the outbreak of covid-19 to (i) enable additional contact with families with very young babies, (ii) fulfil health visitor and GP appointments that have been missed and (iii) identify risks, issues and offer support.

Local authorities are responsible for commissioning early years public health services to meet local needs, which can include such catch-up support.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential long-term economic merits of increasing core funding for (a) local authorities and (b) Clinical Commissioning Groups for services that support families from conception to age two.

We have made no recent assessment.

Local authorities receive funding to commission services that provide support to families from conception to the age of two. The public health grant to local authorities in England will increase from £3.279 billion in 2020/21 to £3.324 billion in 2021/22, an increase of 1% in cash terms. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are allocated funding from NHS England using the CCG funding allocation formula, which takes into consideration attributes of its local population to assess the level of need.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to reduce the cost of PCR tests required for travel.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of expediting publication of the Early Years Healthy Development Review.

While the exact date of publication is not yet confirmed, we expect to publish the Review shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the Government's planned timeframe is for the publication of the Early Years Healthy Development Review.

While the exact date of publication is not yet confirmed, we expect to publish the Review shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many NHS midwives there were aged 70 or older in each of the last 10 years.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services workforce statistics. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but not staff working in primary care, general practice surgeries, local authorities or other providers.

The following table shows the number of National Health Service.

Midwives aged 70 years old and over in NHS trusts and CCGs in England, as at 30 November each year, 2010 to 2020, headcount.

Date

Midwives aged 70 years old and over

November 2010

10

November 2011

6

November 2012

9

November 2013

12

November 2014

15

November 2015

15

November 2016

17

November 2017

19

November 2018

24

November 2019

21

November 2020

28

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the age profile is of NHS midwives; and how many NHS midwives in each age category are (a) UK nationals, (b) nationals of an EU member state, (c) nationals of other states and (d) midwives for whom nationality is not recorded.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) workforce statistics. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but not staff working in primary care, general practice surgeries, local authorities or other providers.

The following table shows the age profile and nationality of National Health Service midwives by age band and nationality group, in NHS trusts and CCGs in England, as at 30 November 2020, headcount.

Age band

United Kingdom

European Union

European Economic Area

Rest of world

Unknown

Under 25 years old

1,811

56

2

6

20

25 to 34 years old

6,980

561

3

44

97

35 to 44 years old

6,193

329

4

108

172

45 to 54 years old

5,739

202

4

172

258

55 to 64 years old

3,934

141

-

105

195

65 years old and over

233

19

-

22

8

As nationality is self-reported the value entered by an individual may reflect their cultural heritage rather than their country of birth. Therefore, these figures do not necessarily equate to migrants from other countries.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many midwives, expressed as a headcount, were employed by each NHS trust in England (a) in total and (b) who were nationals of an EU member state, at the most recent date for which figures are available.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services workforce statistics. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups, but not staff working in primary care, general practice surgeries, local authorities or other providers.

A table showing the total number of midwives and the number of those midwives who have self-reported their nationality as from the European Union employed by each National Health Service trust as at 30 November 2020, headcount, is attached.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what provisions his Department has made for people travelling to England from a country on the banned travel list who cannot afford to pay for the mandatory covid-19 hotel quarantine package.

For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of the charge, there is an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. We have set out how to apply for this on GOV.UK, in particular for individuals who receive income related benefits.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will publish the proportion of care home (a) residents and (b) staff offered each covid-19 vaccine dose to date; and what proportion of (a) residents and (b) staff have refused that vaccine.

Data on those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine is not collected.

NHS England and NHS Improvement publish weekly data on in England. This includes breakdowns of vaccinations by residents and staff in older adult care homes; the social care workforce; and National Health Service trust health care workers in the Electronic Staff Record.

The weekly publication is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of replacing the covid-19 hotel quarantine system with a PCR test to allow entry into the UK.

All international arrivals to England are already required to take a test within the 72 before arriving in England and present a negative test certificate to their carrier. Due to the increased risk of new variants entering the United Kingdom, introducing mandatory testing on days two and eight for all international arrivals and managed quarantine facilities for those arriving from high-risk countries safeguards public health, reduces transmission of the virus and protects the vaccine programme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the findings of the Institute of Health Visiting's December 2020 report, State of Health Visiting in England, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the projected 20 per cent shortfall in the health visiting workforce in England due to retirements and attrition.

We recognise the valuable role that Health Visitors play in providing advice and support to families. Local authorities received more than £3 billion to commission public health services in the financial year 2020/21. A specialist community and public health nurse apprenticeship is currently being developed to offer an alternative route directly into the health visiting profession and there are nursing apprenticeship pathways currently in place.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for NHS dental care to ensure that people who cannot afford the cost of private dental treatment can access (a) routine and (b) emergency care when necessary.

Dental practices have been able to open for face to face care from 8 June 2020, with urgent provision supported by over 600 urgent dental care centres across the country. NHS England and NHS Improvement have set out guidance that dentists should focus on care that is urgent, care to vulnerable groups and then overdue routine appointments.

A steady increase in dental activity has been made possible following updated Infection Prevention and Control guidance issued by Public Health England. Contractual arrangements for quarter four have been introduced by NHS England and NHS Improvement requiring dental practices to deliver 45% of contracted units of dental activity from 1 January to 31 March 2021 to be deemed to have delivered the full contractual volume. This is expected to increase available National Health Service dental care for patients and reduce waiting times. The Department is working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of service, as fast as is safely possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the finding by Healthwatch England in the update to its report on Dentistry and the impact of covid-19 dated 8 February 2021, that access to dentistry remains difficult for more than seven in 10 people, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of that finding; and what steps his Department is taking to improve access to dentistry.

The Department is working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of service, as fast as is safely possible. Dental practices have been able to open for face to face care from 8 June, supported by over 600 urgent dental care centres across the country. NHS England and NHS Improvement have set out guidance that dentists should focus on care that is urgent, care to vulnerable groups and then overdue routine appointments. In circumstances where patients are unable to access an urgent dental appointment directly through a National Health Service dental practice, they should contact NHS 111 for assistance.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2021 to Question 138005, on Dental Services: Mothers, what estimate his Department has made of the number of new mothers that have missed out on receiving dental services exempt from charge during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has made no such estimate.

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, pursuant to Answer of 23 October 2020 to Question 99072, for what reason the Food Standards Agency has banned the conduction of remote hygiene inspections when Ofsted has carried out all planned inspection remotely.

Inspections for assessing compliance with food hygiene law are not directly comparable with the inspections that Ofsted undertake.

The Food Standards Agency and local authorities continue to use remote assessment techniques, where appropriate, to reduce footfall and the spread of COVID-19. Onsite visits continue where there is a need to assess and address public health risks.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has provided to facilities administering covid-19 vaccines on the efficacy of those vaccines for people on immunosuppressant medicines.

Guidance on the administration of COVID-19 vaccines has been given to healthcare professionals in all facilities offering vaccinations. It includes information on the possible reduced efficacy on patients with immunosuppression and those on or starting a course of immunosuppressant medicine.

Specialists may advise their patients based on their knowledge and understanding of their immune status and likely immune response to vaccination but should also consider the risk from COVID-19 and the patient’s likelihood of exposure.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to include nannies in the same covid-19 vaccination phase as (a) teachers and (b) other key workers.

For phase two of the vaccination programme, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s interim advice sets out that the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age, not occupation. This is because age is assessed to be the strongest factor linked to mortality, morbidity and hospitalisations.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the £19 million spent in capital in 2020 on central programmes to support mental health services was spent on schemes to deliver Perinatal Mental Health Mother and Baby Units.

Between 2017/18-2018/19, £14.8 million central capital funding was provided to four trusts as part of our programme for perinatal mental health mother and baby units. The units provide in-patient support for women and their babies with the most complex and severe needs that require hospital care, who are experiencing severe mental health crisis including very serious conditions like post-partum psychosis.

Capital spending figures for 2019/20 will be included in the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts, to be published shortly on GOV.UK.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the transmission of covid-19 of exempting arrivals to the UK who have received a covid-19 vaccine from quarantine restrictions.

At this stage of vaccination, the Government cannot fully assess any impact that COVID-19 vaccines may have on transmission of the virus. Once more information regarding transmission is available, the Government will be able to assess the potential effects of quarantine for those who have already received a vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons the rate of the rollout of the vaccine in London has decreased when compared to the rate in England.

Vaccines are being distributed fairly across the United Kingdom to ensure the most vulnerable are immunised first. Some parts of the country have made very significant progress and are putting more supply into areas that have more to do. We also have more than one hundred vaccination sites up and running across the capital, including at the London Nightingale hospital, the vaccination centre at the Olympic Office Centre in Wembley and more to open in due course.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of classifying staff of school students with special needs as frontline health and care staff for the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be to reduce COVID-19 mortality and protect the health and social care staff and systems. As a result, they have based their prioritisation largely on age and those with clinical risk factors aged 16 years old and above.

The Department is continuing to work with its partners to understand what this means for teachers and staff working in special needs schools. The current advice states that if someone is regularly working with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals or those who have underlying health conditions, they should receive the vaccine in line with social care workers. The local authority Director of Adult Social Services should have ultimate responsibility for identifying eligible social care workers, underlined by the principle aim of achieving high rates of vaccination amongst frontline social care workers who work closely and regularly with those who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the entitlements granted under the Maternity Exemption Certificate by six months to enable new mothers to access NHS dental treatment missed during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to extend the period of qualification for exemption from dental patient charges on the basis of maternity. NHS England and NHS Improvement have issued guidance setting out the priority order in which patients should be seen – focusing on urgent treatment, particularly for vulnerable groups, followed by routine care which is overdue. New mothers should therefore contact their dental practice where needed to access treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the covid-19 lockdown rules that allow children to move between households in the UK in order to see their parents, whether parents who live abroad need to self-isolate to see their children.

Parents who live abroad must self-isolate when they enter the United Kingdom from any country except Ireland, unless they have a valid exemption. If they need to self-isolate, they may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test which may reduce the self-isolation period.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government is taking steps to help ensure that foreign nationals in the UK on a visa who are over 80 can access covid-19 vaccinations.

If someone is living in the United Kingdom (UK), they will be entitled to the vaccine regardless of their immigration status. If they are registered with a general practitioner (GP), then they will be invited to receive the vaccine free of charge in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation cohorts in order of priority. Most people already resident in the UK will be contacted by their GP to book their vaccine via an online or telephony system however if they are not registered with a GP, NHS Regional teams (working with various appropriate local systems) will reach out to unregistered people to ensure they are offered the vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on the potential merits of exempting travel for medical procedures from the international travel restrictions during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care works closely with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and other Cabinet colleagues on how best to protect the public from COVID-19.

The current lockdown restricts travel including international travel, however there is an exemption for travel for medical reasons.

An individual who had travelled abroad for medical reasons would, on arrival in England, be required to self-isolate for ten days. If eligible they may choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test under the Test to Release scheme after five days. If the result is negative, they would then be able to stop self-isolating.

Individuals arriving to attend pre-arranged treatment, when receiving that treatment in the United Kingdom, are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate whilst they are attending a place to receive that healthcare or travelling directly between that place and the place where they are self-isolating.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to help ensure that fees paid to the Royal College of Nursing may be waived or reimbursed to nurses for this year in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Nurses are not required to be members of the Royal College of Nursing. As a trade union, membership is voluntary.

It is a decision for the Royal College of Nursing whether they wish to waive or reimburse fees paid to them by their members. Tax relief can be claimed by members of the Royal College of Nursing on their annual subscription and other costs. Further information can be found on the College’s website at the following link:

https://www.rcn.org.uk/membership/membership-fees/tax-relief

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether a child under the age of five can accompany their parent on a walk with another adult from a different household, who is not in the support bubble of the parent and child, under the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Children under the age of five do not count towards the two-person gathering limit for outdoor exercise under the current national lockdown restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ban virginity testing in the UK.

We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable women and girls. The World Health Organization (WHO) is clear that virginity testing is a violation of the victim’s human rights and can have an adverse impact on their physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The WHO also state that such tests have no scientific merit or clinical indication.

The General Medical Council advise that doctors are not required to provide intimate examinations that they have assessed as not clinically appropriate. If the examination is for a child or young person, doctors must assess their capacity to consent to the examination and must promptly raise concerns with an appropriate authority if they think a child or young person is at risk of or suffering abuse.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Lord Bethell's answer in the other place of 23 January 2020, Official report volume 801, column 1154, further to what steps he is taking to progress of the review into hymenoplasty.

Earlier this year the Government committed to a review of hymenoplasty and other forms of female genital cosmetic surgery. This review is currently paused due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The Government is committed to ensuring that female genital cosmetic surgery procedures including hymenoplasty are both safe and appropriate and that women undergoing this type of treatment are not doing so due to violence or coercion.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the BMJ Case Report of 13 October 2020 on Sudden irreversible hearing loss post covid-19, if he will make it his policy to prioritise partially deaf people for receipt of the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who provide advice to the Government on which groups to prioritise. The Committee has stated in their advice that Phase 1 roll out of a vaccine will have the prevention of mortality at the forefront of its objectives, as well as to support the National Health Service and social care system.

For the first phase, the JVCI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Included are those with underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the annual budget is for the Workforce Development Fund for (a) 2020-21 and (b) 2021-22.

The Workforce Development Fund (WDF) is agreed annually as part of the Department’s funding for Skills for Care’s core revenue grant from the Department. In 2020-21 it is anticipated that the WDF will be funded with £11.82 million from this core funding.

As the WDF is funded from annual grant funding, the allocation for 2021-22 will be confirmed following confirmation of the Departmental budgets for that year.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to provide support for people who are suffering potentially life-changing health conditions as a result of a lack of access to screening and routine appointments at the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Health Service will continue to deliver non-COVID-19 services as far as possible, making full use of available capacity both in the NHS and in contracted independent hospitals. Hospitals are carrying out more than a million routine appointments and operations per week, with around three times the levels of elective patients admitted to hospital than in April. All screening programmes are operational and sending invitations for appointments, with priority given to those at highest risk. The backlog of people waiting for an appointment due to the disruption to screening services caused by the first wave of COVID-19 is steadily reducing.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the £1 billion from the Spending Review 2020 for tackling the health screening backlog will be used to increase the number of NHS staff working on breast cancer.

The Spending Review 2020 provides £260 million to continue to grow the National Health Service workforce and support commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan, including continuing to take forward the cancer workforce plan phase one. Full details on funding allocations towards NHS workforce budgets, including Health Education England, in 2021-22 will be subject to a detailed financial planning exercise and finalised in due course.

We have confirmed an additional £3 billion for the NHS next year to support the recovery from the impact of COVID-19. This includes around £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog, around £500 million for mental health services and investment in the NHS workforce and around £1.5 billion to help ease existing pressures caused by COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making the wearing of face coverings at nurseries compulsory.

Public Health England advises that for health and safety reasons, face coverings should not be used for children under three. In addition, misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission and there may also be negative effects on communication and thus children’s development.

Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a face covering. This is a practical recognition of the fact that it is difficult to get children of primary school age to wear a face covering properly for a prolonged period.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will prioritise domiciliary care workers for weekly covid-19 tests.

On 23 November 2020, we began offering Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered domiciliary care organisations access to regular, weekly COVID-19 testing for their carers looking after people in their own homes.

Those working for CQC-registered organisations are able to access weekly polymerase chain reaction tests to administer at home, which will help identify more asymptomatic cases and protect care recipients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Proactively testing asymptomatic carers helps to identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enables those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate. This is crucial to break the chains of transmission of the virus.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of expanding the rule of six for Christmas day 2020.

It is too early to determine what restrictions will be required or put in place during the Christmas period. The scientific data will determine what rules should be in place including any provisions for Christmas.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will exempt the practice of peaceful protest from covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 place necessary and proportionate restrictions on movement, gatherings and businesses. They do not restrict anyone’s right to hold or express their views, or to do so in a way that could be construed as a protest, provided these Regulations are adhered to. Similarly, picketing is permitted, provided the statutory restrictions and code of practice on picketing are followed, as well as the Coronavirus Regulations.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of permitting the Food Standards Agency to conduct food hygiene inspections remotely during the covid-19 outbreak to help ensure the safety of food inspectors and food business owners.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has responsibility for hygiene inspections and other interventions – official controls - in abattoirs and meat plants. Local authorities have this responsibility in respect of most other food businesses.

Legislation requires an FSA presence in abattoirs at all times of operation to ensure food safety, and this has continued during the pandemic. In other meat establishments, the FSA is using remote/semi-remote assessment, but onsite visits continue at high-risk businesses.

Local authorities are similarly continuing to conduct onsite visits for high-risk and poorly compliant businesses but can use initial remote assessment to minimise the time onsite.

This approach aims to protect inspectors and those working in food businesses and minimise the spread of the disease while ensuring public health protection in relation to food.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the (a) mental and (b) physical health of those unable to attend addiction recovery groups as a result of 14 September 2020 covid-19 restrictions on meeting in groups of more than six people.

From 14 September 2020, social gatherings both indoors and outdoors must be limited to six people. However, there are several exemptions to the legal gatherings limit, including for support groups which meet the qualifying conditions.

Support groups can take place in groups of up to 15 people in a COVID-19 secure setting, if the support group is organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support to its members or those who attend its meetings. This includes, but is not limited to, providing support to those with, or recovering from, addictions including alcohol, narcotics or other substance addictions or addictive patterns of behaviour. Further guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do#can-i-go-to-my-support-grouphttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do#can-i-go-to-my-support-group

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) effectiveness of existing legislation to regulate practitioners and premises providing (i) special treatments (ii) other non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

The Government is committed to improving the safety of cosmetic procedures through better training for practitioners, and clear information so that people can make informed decisions about their care.

The Department is exploring the regulation of premises, practitioners, products and consumer safeguards. This includes an assessment of the regulation of practitioners and whether additional measures are required to improve patient safety.

The Government expects providers of cosmetic procedures to operate responsibly by conducting a pre-treatment consultation and ensuring they hold the requisite knowledge and skills to safely deliver the treatments they offer.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulation of (a) special treatments (b) other non-surgical cosmetic treatments; and whether he plans to propose further regulations relating to these procedures.

The Government is committed to improving the safety of cosmetic procedures through better training for practitioners, and clear information so that people can make informed decisions about their care.

The Department is exploring the regulation of premises, practitioners, products and consumer safeguards. This includes an assessment of the regulation of practitioners and whether additional measures are required to improve patient safety.

The Government expects providers of cosmetic procedures to operate responsibly by conducting a pre-treatment consultation and ensuring they hold the requisite knowledge and skills to safely deliver the treatments they offer.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to bring forward legislative proposals to improve the consistency of requirements for practitioners and premises providing special treatments.

The Government is committed to improving the safety of cosmetic procedures through better training for practitioners, and clear information so that people can make informed decisions about their care.

The Department is exploring the regulation of premises, practitioners, products and consumer safeguards. This includes an assessment of the regulation of practitioners and whether additional measures are required to improve patient safety.

The Government expects providers of cosmetic procedures to operate responsibly by conducting a pre-treatment consultation and ensuring they hold the requisite knowledge and skills to safely deliver the treatments they offer.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the (a) mental and (b) physical health of new mothers during covid-19 restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet in a group from 14 September 2020.

Health visitors as leaders of the Healthy Child Programme work closely with children and families and are well placed to address issues relating to mental and physical health. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Health visiting services remained in contact with families either through face to face visits (with personal protective equipment) where clinically indicated, or virtually. Priority contacts included vulnerable families, providing support to perinatal mental health and physical health and wellbeing of mother and baby. Other key priority contacts were the antenatal and new baby scheduled contacts.

Public Health England worked with NHS England on guidance to reinstate the six to eight weeks contact and prioritised caseload contacts at the earliest opportunity. This can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/covid-19-prioritisation-within-community-health-services-with-annex_19-march-2020/

Support for parents is also available through Start4Life and the Information Service for Parents at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pregnancy/

Support for professionals can be found through the Early Years High Impact Areas at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/commissioning-of-public-health-services-for-children

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of exempting children from covid-19 restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet in a group from 14 September 2020.

It is illegal to gather socially in a group of more than six in England. The rule of six includes children so it applies to people of all ages.

We have set out a clear and consistent limit of six people of any age in all settings to make the rules easier to understand for the public and easier to enforce by the police and public health officials.

The Government keeps social distancing restrictions under continual review and will make changes if the data and science supports it.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase the availability to the public of the scientific evidence base for the covid-19 restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet in a group from 14 September 2020.

We have taken swift action to limit the gathering group size to six people, against the backdrop of an increase in cases and infection levels across the country.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides Ministers and officials with evidence-based scientific advice in emergencies based on a range of sources. SAGE already publishes the statements and the accompanying evidence to demonstrate how our understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data merges, including the role that social interaction plays in transmission.

This data by SAGE is also supported by the work of the Joint Biosecurity Centre and the wider Test and Trace system to identify outbreaks and trends of COVID-19. Data on COVID-19 is published daily at the following link:

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support working carers with assets above the £23,450 upper threshold who wish to provide care for a family member while also maintaining a career and other family commitments.

We published a cross-Government Carers Action Plan 2018-2020, which included a range of actions to increase identification, recognition and support for unpaid carers. It is an essential step towards realising the Government’s commitment to valuing, recognising and supporting unpaid carers to provide care in a way that protects their own health and wellbeing, employment and life chances.

We are committed to examining further actions that will help support working carers with balancing their employment and caring responsibilities. We recently consulted on proposals to introduce a new employment right to one week of additional leave for unpaid carers and have committed to further encouraging flexible working, which we know has benefits for employers and their employees, including those with caring responsibilities.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to update visiting arrangements in care homes to allow for closer interaction between residents and their visitors while maintaining the health and safety of care workers and residents as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes, and this means that visiting policy should still be restricted with alternatives sought wherever possible.

However, we are aware that limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families and residents who want to see their loved ones. The decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances will be for the relevant Director of Public Health and managers of each individual setting to make. Care homes will be supported by local infection control leads in making decisions about visiting, to ensure that the balance of risks and benefits is appropriately considered. Advice for residents and families should be set out in the visiting policy of the care home and shared with them. All our guidance is designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed.

The latest guidance on visiting arrangements in care homes is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus/update-on-policies-for-visiting-arrangements-in-care-homes

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase public awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Public Health England (PHE) has run several Be Clear on Cancer (BCOC) campaigns to help improve early detection of cancer. In 2014 PHE ran a regional ovarian cancer campaign and, in 2017, a pilot which focussed on a range of abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating and discomfort that can be indicative of several cancers, including ovarian cancer.

PHE has undertaken data analysis and new research to determine the future direction of BCOC campaign activity and will also take into consideration the outcomes of these campaigns. Further information on the BCOC campaigns can be viewed at the following link:

http://www.ncin.org.uk/cancer_type_and_topic_specific_work/topic_specific_work/be_clear_on_cancer/

Decisions on which cancers BCOC campaigns should focus on are informed by a steering group with representatives from PHE, the Department, NHS England and NHS Improvement, primary and secondary care clinicians, and key voluntary sector organisations. These decisions are under constant review, informed by the available data and medical information resources.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the scientific evidence used to inform his decision to end shielding for the extremely vulnerable during the covid-19 outbreak on 1 August 2020.

The decision to pause shielding was taken based on the falling prevalence of the disease in the community. As of 22 June 2020, the infection rate in the community had fallen from 1 in 500 people to 1 in 1,700 people (Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey). The rates of the virus are now low enough to allow for our advice to be carefully and safely eased and relax shielding.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals on reform the Mental Health Act 1983; and whether the needs of children will be included in those proposals.

We have committed to publishing a White Paper which will set out the Government’s response to Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and pave the way for reform of the Act.

We will publish our White Paper as soon as it is possible to do so. We will consult publicly on our proposals and will bring forward a Bill to amend the Act when parliamentary time allows.

The Independent Review made a number of recommendations around how the law works for children and young people. The Government will respond to these in the White Paper.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what procurement procedures were undertaken prior to personal protection equipment contracts being awarded to (a) Aventis Solutions and (b) Ayanda Capital Ltd.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to coronavirus was published on 18 March at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0120-responding-to-covid-19

Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015

Over 1,000 contracts have been awarded to suppliers for COVID-19 related work, the majority through a direct award, including those for Ayanda Capital Ltd and Aventis Solutions. There is no single consideration such as previous experience as to whether a supplier is added to the supply chain. The supplier will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve the accuracy of the data reported to the public on the number of covid-19 (a) deaths (b) infections and (c) tests carried out.

The NHS Test and Trace weekly statistics have been produced in response to developing world events. The Office for Statistics Regulation, on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, has reviewed them against several important aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics and regards them as consistent with the Code’s three pillars of trustworthiness, quality and value.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that disabled people have access to safe social care during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government’s number one priority for adult social care is that everyone who relies on care gets the safe care they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have set out a comprehensive action plan to support the adult social care sector in England throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including ramping up testing, overhauling the way personal protective equipment is being delivered to care homes and helping to minimise the spread of the virus to keep people safe.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timescale is for reopening (a) alternative and (b) complementary medicine practices during the covid-19 outbreak.

Alternative and complementary medicine services in England reopened from Monday 13 July 2020, subject to them following the COVID-secure guidelines.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many private hospital beds have been used since the start of the covid-19 outbreak; and what the cost is of each of those beds per night.

National Health Service patients are benefitting from an unprecedented partnership with private hospitals in the United Kingdom as we battle the COVID-19 outbreak. The NHS is accessing these facilities at cost, with those costs judged by an independent auditor. Reimbursements to the independent sector will be for reasonable and narrowly-defined costs only.

The latest collected information shows that over 215,000 patient contacts had taken place under the contract. As lockdown eases and elective activity starts to resume utilisation of the contract is increasing. It is currently not possible to estimate the cost to the public purse.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to permit dentists to reopen.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working to ensure appropriate services are in place for all who need them.

National Health Service dentistry was reorganised in late March along with other NHS primary care services to minimise face to face care to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic. Dentists were asked to suspend all routine treatment and instead to offer urgent advice and, where required, prescriptions for antibiotics by telephone. Urgent treatment was made available through urgent dental centres (UDCs) set up in each NHS region.

As of 25 May there are currently over 550 UDCs open across England. Patients are triaged into UDCs by their own dentistry or through NHS 111. The UDCs are expected to provide, where urgently needed, the full range of dental treatment normally available on the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside UDCs will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety.

A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason he has advised people to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres but not ordered their closure.

On 20 March the Prime Minister announced that cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants in the United Kingdom are to close as soon as they reasonably can and not to open again until the Government announces that it is safe to do so. Venues that provide food are still able to offer a take away service.

Nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been told to close to the same timescale. The Government will review this situation each month until it is deemed safe to relax these measures.

On 23 March the Prime Minister reiterated the message for people to stay at home and continue social distancing. He also announced the closure of shops selling non-essential goods, libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Stay at home guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Guidance has also been published on social distancing for everyone in the United Kingdom and protecting older people and vulnerable persons. This guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will ensure that high standards of practice are enforced for social care services subcontracted to independent social care agencies.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. All providers of regulated activities, including National Health Service and independent providers, have to register with the CQC and follow a set of fundamental standards of safety and quality below which care should never fall.

In a commissioning/contracting/sub-contracting arrangement, there are some scenarios in which the CQC does not have visibility or powers due to how it registers providers.

The CQC’s approach is currently to seek to identify one party for registration, where it can, rather than seek to regulate multiple parties for the same activity – this is usually the party closest to care delivery rather than parties higher up contractual or corporate structures.

The CQC has plans to address registration of multiple parties through its Registration Transformation work.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to prevent copycat EHIC websites from charging applicants for European Health Insurance Cards.

Internet search engines are repeatedly reviewed for copycat websites, with data reported to relevant parties and subsequent removal of the copycat websites. Government Digital Service leads on a cross Government group investing in tackling phishing and scamming activities across public services. We also collaborate with other organisations that are able to take action against the owners of these sites and provide evidence to the National Trading Standards Board e-crime unit to assist with on-going prosecutions.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government has plans to maintain the 18-week waiting time for referral to treatment for joint replacement surgeries.

A maximum waiting time of 18 weeks from referral to elective treatment, including for joint replacement surgery, is the existing National Health Service access standard.

A clinically-led review of NHS access standards is ongoing. NHS England and NHS Improvement’s final recommendations to the Government are due by the spring and the Government will carefully consider these recommendations.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for primary healthcare services.

The Government is committed to improving access to general practice which is why we have committed to delivering 50 million additional appointments in general practice within the next five years. To ensure we can deliver the additional appointments, we have committed to growing the workforce by 6,000 more doctors in general practice and increasing the skills mix with 26,000 more primary care professionals.

NHS England, working with stakeholders, is undertaking a national review of access to general practice services. The main objectives of the review are to consider improving patient access both in hours and at evenings and weekends and to reduce the variations in patient experiences around the country and the inequalities in access for specific groups in society. Initial actions arising from the review were published in the updated general practitioner (GP) contract agreement 2020/21 - the review will complete in 2020, to inform contract discussions in 2020/21.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help prevent further shortages of HRT products.

We are aware of ongoing supply issues with some hormone replacement therapy (HRT) preparations due to a range of issues including manufacturing issues, regulatory issues and problems accessing the raw pharmaceutical ingredient as well as commercial decisions made by some companies to divest these products. Although some HRT products are affected by supply issues, supplies of other alternative HRT products remain available.

We have been working closely with all suppliers of HRT preparations to maintain overall supply to patients, and we anticipate the supply situation will improve from the end of this month.

On 4 October 2019, we also added HRT products to the to the list of medicines that cannot be parallel exported from the United Kingdom market.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to end the preventable deaths of mothers, children and newborns by 2030.

The UK Government remains committed to supporting maternal and child health interventions as part of our manifesto commitment to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, and children by 2030.

Globally, we are working with agencies such as the World Health Organisation, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents to support governments in strengthening health systems in affected countries, providing technical assistance, improving quality of care, and immunising children.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking in response to the military trial, detention and reported ill-treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.

We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the treatment of Palestinian children. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv last raised the issue of Palestinian children in detention on 19 March with the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

We continue to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population, in particular the need to protect children.

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, what recent representations he has made to his Chinese counterpart on the persecution of followers and practitioners of Falun Gong.

We remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practice, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. We regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation with the Chinese authorities, and will continue to do so.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans he has to improve support and protection for human rights defenders across the world.

The UK strongly supports Human Rights Defenders worldwide to enable them to carry out their work safely and without fear. In 2019, the Minister of State responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, launched the document 'UK support for Human Rights Defenders' which was drawn up with significant and important input from relevant stakeholders, including Amnesty International, and which sets out how the UK Government engages with Human Rights Defenders to advance the human rights agenda globally.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will place sanctions on Russian businessman Mikhail Gutseriev in response to his funding of the Belarussian regime and president Alexander Lukashenko.

The UK has been at the forefront of the international response towards the fraudulent election and human rights violations in Belarus. Alongside Canada, we led on implementing sanctions against Lukashenko and his inner circle under the UK's Global Human Rights Regime. We have also carried over the EU's Belarus sanctions regime into UK law. We are aware of reported links between Mr Gutseriev and the Lukashenko regime but to preserve the integrity of the sanctions process, it would be inappropriate to speculate publicly on future designations.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans he has for continuing engagement on the Platform for Girls’ Education when the role of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office is handed over to Rwanda in June 2021.

Girls' education continues to be a top priority for the UK, and at CHOGM 2021 we will encourage Commonwealth member states to continue their commitment to providing the opportunity for 12 years of quality education and learning for all girls and boys by 2030. We will use our G7 Presidency and CHOGM this year to rally the international community in stepping up support for girls' education, and will co-host the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025, with Kenya.

The Foreign Secretary has been proud to co-chair the Platform for Girls' Education with Kenyan Minister Amina Mohamed, while the UK has been Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth. The Platform has issued policy papers that have been well-received by the international community, focusing on girls' education in the Commonwealth, gender-responsive education sector plans, and the importance of political leadership in driving change for girls' education. The papers included recommendations for action by policymakers and governments, which the Platform Members have promoted.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to help end conflicts in the Middle East.

The UK is a leading diplomatic actor and humanitarian donor in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As announced in the Integrated Review in March 2021, the UK will establish a more integrated approach to government work on conflict and instability, including in MENA. We will work with partners to manage the internal tensions that might lead to conflict, to increase their resilience to external interference, to mitigate the humanitarian and human rights impacts of existing conflicts, and to reduce the threats to our security that conflicts can cause - always in ways that are in concert with the international system and compliant with international humanitarian law. We use our UN Security Council seat and global partnerships to push for resolution to conflict, including those in Yemen, Libya and Syria. The UK's longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process is also clear: we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.

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 steps the Government is taking to support Palestinians forcibly transferred from their homes.

We regularly make clear our concerns about the evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to all occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, prohibits demolitions or forced evictions absent military necessity.

The UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv raised ongoing demolitions with the Israeli Authorities in a meeting alongside like-minded partners on 25 February 2021. I raised the issue of evictions of Palestinians from their homes with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 29 October 2020, and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv raises this issue regularly with the Israeli authorities. UK officials from the British Consulate in Jerusalem have made regular visits to areas at risk of demolition and eviction to reiterate UK support for those communities.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department is able to negotiate the extension of the 90 day period that UK citizens can stay in EU and EEA countries without getting a visa or travel permit.

During negotiations with the EU, the Government discussed arrangements for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as third-country nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens are able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

British Citizens planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State(s). This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe is available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU notes that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law, reflecting the UK's position as a non-EU Member State. Negotiations with the EU have concluded and the Government is focused on the smooth, robust and effective implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel.

The ending of the free movement of persons between the UK and the EU is a consequence of the UK's exit from the EU. The Government made clear that free movement of persons would end once the UK ceased to be a Member State of the EU, and left the EU single market. This fulfilled the Government's commitment to the British public to take back control of our borders and introduce a single, global immigration system.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the maximum period of 90 days that UK citizens can stay in any 180-day period in EU and EEA countries without getting a visa or travel permit.

During negotiations with the EU, the Government discussed arrangements for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as third-country nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens are able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

British Citizens planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State(s). This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe is available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU notes that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law, reflecting the UK's position as a non-EU Member State. Negotiations with the EU have concluded and the Government is focused on the smooth, robust and effective implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel.

The ending of the free movement of persons between the UK and the EU is a consequence of the UK's exit from the EU. The Government made clear that free movement of persons would end once the UK ceased to be a Member State of the EU, and left the EU single market. This fulfilled the Government's commitment to the British public to take back control of our borders and introduce a single, global immigration system.

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 discussions he has had with the US administration on the closure of Guantanamo Bay since the election of President Biden.

The UK Government's long-standing position remains that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should close. We will continue to engage with the US Government on this issue, as we do on a range of national security issues, and in the context of our joint determination to tackle international terrorism and combat violent extremism.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that Turkey complies with the European Court of Human Rights judgment on the release of Selahattin Demirtaş.

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

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when the Shawcross Report on UK victims of Qadhafi-sponsored IRA terrorism will be published.

The report produced by Mr Shawcross is an internal scoping paper. The Government is considering how best to address the sensitive issues raised in the report.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will hold discussions with his European counterparts on amending covid-19 travel restrictions to allow UK citizens to travel to continue courses of IVF already begun overseas.

Covid-19 border restrictions continue to be in force across Europe. Under an EU Recommendation on travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, only essential travel may take place from the UK to EU Member States. British Citizens looking to travel should consult the relevant Member State authorities for information on the rules that will apply to them, including entry requirements. We are in regular touch with our European counterparts on public health measures at the border. Current guidance in the UK is for people not to travel abroad unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the demands of Syrians and active Syrian civil society groups are taken into account when formulating its policies on Syria for 2021.

HMG regularly engages with Syrian civil society groups to ensure their views are taken into account when developing Syria policy, at both official and Ministerial level. On 7 December, I discussed the UK's Syria policy with UK-based members of Syrian civil society. The previous week I met Syrians affected by the conflict and scholars of our Chevening scheme during my visit to Lebanon. The UK Syria Envoy hosted a virtual roundtable on 9 December with over 10 UK-based Syrian Civil Society groups and NGOs. Additionally the UK is clear that civil society, women and minorities must play a role in the UN-facilitated political process to reach a lasting settlement to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the Government's list of sanctions against Belarus officials to all institutions which are assisting the funding of the Belarus regime.

On 29 September, with Canada, the UK implemented sanctions on Alexander?Lukashenko, his son and six other members of the Belarusian senior leadership under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime for serious human rights violations linked to the presidential election in August.?? We welcomed the EU's decision to impose sanctions on other linked officials and will transfer the existing EU Belarus sanctions regime into an autonomous UK sanctions regime at the end of the Transition Period.? We remain concerned by the situation in Belarus and are considering future designations carefully, guided by the evidence and objectives of the sanctions regime. It is not appropriate to speculate on future designations.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene in the overseas development budget.

The Government is taking steps to prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene in the overseas aid budget. The UK is on track to help over 60 million people gain access to a water supply or basic sanitation by the end of 2020. This builds on the achievement of our earlier targets which involved reaching 64.7 million people with water or sanitation by 2015. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has funded new programmes across a wide range of countries, including partnership with the private sector, on improving hand hygiene to help tackle COVID-19. We will look to build on this experience in the COVID-19 recovery phase.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to progress the discussions between the UK Government and the EU on the expansion of visa-free travel between the UK and the EU.

The Government has discussed arrangements with the EU for UK nationals travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU has consistently maintained that UK nationals will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. UK nationals will only be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that the EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

UK nationals planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe after the transition period is available on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the demolition of the Ras At-Tin school in the West Bank.

The UK is seriously concerned by the possible demolition of a Palestinian school in Ras Al-Tin by Israeli authorities. I raised UK concern about the planned demolition of humanitarian structures, as well as the wider demolition of Palestinian infrastructure, with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 29 October. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concern with the Government of Israel on 13 October, alongside European partners. Officials also visited the school on 16 October. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. We recognise that Palestinians face severe difficulty in securing building permissions for homes and infrastructure in East Jerusalem and Area C. We continue to urge the Government of Israel to develop improved mechanisms for zoning, planning and permitting in Area C for the benefit of the Palestinian population, including by facilitating local Palestinian participation in such processes.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations his Department has made to the US Administration on disruption to US postal services.

Domestic affairs - including US postal services - are matters for the US Government.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps, other than making an assessment of the potential merits of implementing coordinated sanctions with allies, his Department is taking to hold the Chinese authorities to account for the detainment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China.

The UK has taken a leading international role in holding China to account for its gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and will continue to do so. Most recently, on 6 October, the UK and 38 other countries joined a statement at the UN Third Committee in New York expressing deep concern at the situation in Xinjiang, including the mass detention of Uyghurs in political re-education camps. This growing caucus reflects UK diplomatic leadership in raising the issue with a wide range of partners. On 28 July, the Foreign Secretary raised our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking in response to reports of the detention and ill-treatment by Saudi authorities of people accused of cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the United Nations.

We are monitoring the situation closely. We have expressed concern about reports of continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. In July, I met with the Head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Dr Awwad al-Awwad, to discuss our human rights concerns. Lord Ahmad also discussed our concerns with Dr al-Awwad in June. The Foreign Secretary raised human rights during his visit in March this year. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September. It called for the release of all political detainees, and noted concern over reports of torture and arbitrary detention. Saudi Arabia remains a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office human rights priority country.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that gender equality in respect of girls’ education remains a strategic priority of his Department.

Advancing gender equality and women's and girls' rights are a core part of this Government's mission and Global Britain's role as a force for good in the world, including fulfilling every girl's right to 12 years of quality education. The Government remains steadfast in its commitment to this agenda.

The UK outlined our commitment to gender equality and girls' education through our intervention at the High-Level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women at UNGA at the beginning of the month. Next year we will be co-hosting the Global Partnership for Education Replenishment which will be a key step in ensuring every girl receives a quality education. We will also use our G7 Presidency to rally the international community around girls' education.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans he has to update DFID’s Economic Development Strategy to promote greater consultation with civil society and tackle the structural inequalities faced by women and girls.

No decision has been taken on whether to update DFID's Economic Development Strategy in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The former DFID's Economic Development Strategy put women and girls at the heart of the UK's approach to economic development. This included working closely with a range of civil society organisations, including local women rights groups across a range of countries. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will take advantage of our newly merged diplomatic and development capability, harnessing our strategic engagement with civil society to ensure we continue to tackle the deep structural inequities that need to be overcome so that women and girls can reach their full economic potential, including gaining equitable access to quality jobs.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what financial support his Department has provided to Lebanon since the explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020 to assist (a) search and rescue, (b) treating survivors and (c) the rebuilding of that city.

The UK remains committed to supporting the Lebanese people deal with the tragic explosion in Beirut Port. The UK was one of the biggest donors to the crisis. Our £25 million aid package is helping support the most vulnerable people in Lebanon to meet their immediate survival needs. A British team of medics specialising in trauma, emergency nursing and rehabilitation flew out on 7 August, and we also provided medical equipment for Lebanese hospitals and clinics. In addition, the UK gave medical, strategic air transport, engineering and communications support to the Lebanese Armed Forces as they responded to the explosion and its aftermath, and UK ship HMS Enterprise was deployed to survey the damage to the Port.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that the UK Government upholds the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

As a signatory to the Rome Statute Her Majesty's Government is bound to uphold its provisions, and introduced the International Criminal Court (ICC) Act in 2001 to incorporate the statute into UK Law. Beyond our support for the work of the Court in holding to account the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern, we also provide both practical and financial support to the ICC and are campaigning for the election of a UK judge to ICC Judiciary.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the welfare of Paul Whelan; and what representations he has made to his Russian counterpart on his trial or release.

Whilst I am unable to go into the details of the case I can confirm that consular staff continue to provide assistance.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of an international minimum corporate tax rate.

The Government is delighted that the G7 has come together to back the proposals developed by the OECD to reform the international tax framework.

Reaching final agreement, with the G20 and OECD Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar solution which reallocates taxing rights and introduces a global minimum tax would be a major multilateral achievement and introduce greater stability into the international tax landscape.

The details of a final agreement are still subject to international negotiation, and it would not be appropriate to provide a detailed impact assessment.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the deadline for the SME Brexit Support Fund beyond 30 June 2021.

Ministers have considered a range of options to support small and medium-sized enterprises. No extension to the SME Brexit Support Fund is planned at this time.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much and what proportion of the SME Brexit Support Fund has been spent to date.

Up to 14 June 2021, c.£3.6m of grants have been offered, which represents nearly a fifth of the £20m SME Brexit Support fund.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has conducted a cost-benefit analysis of enforcing tax debt on people who have become unemployed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has put in place very substantial support for taxpayers during this extraordinary time of uncertainty, including the introduction of a range of measures to help businesses and individuals to manage their tax liabilities.

This has included support for those in Self-Assessment, where taxpayers were given the option of deferring their July 2020 Payment on Account until January 2021 to give immediate support to businesses and individuals by keeping cash at their disposal during this extraordinary period of uncertainty.

In addition, HMRC scaled up their Time to Pay service where businesses or individuals can look to agree tailored plans to defer certain tax payments and repay them over a longer period of time.

HMRC also waived late filing penalties for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) returns due on 31 January 2021 for those who filed online by 28 February 2021, and announced that ITSA taxpayers would not be charged the 5% late payment penalty usually due on 3 March if they paid their tax or set up a payment plan by 1 April 2021.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to cancel the tax debt of people who have become unemployed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has put in place very substantial support for taxpayers during this extraordinary time of uncertainty, including the introduction of a range of measures to help businesses and individuals to manage their tax liabilities.

This has included support for those in Self-Assessment, where taxpayers were given the option of deferring their July 2020 Payment on Account until January 2021 to give immediate support to businesses and individuals by keeping cash at their disposal during this extraordinary period of uncertainty.

In addition, HMRC scaled up their Time to Pay service where businesses or individuals can look to agree tailored plans to defer certain tax payments and repay them over a longer period of time.

HMRC also waived late filing penalties for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) returns due on 31 January 2021 for those who filed online by 28 February 2021, and announced that ITSA taxpayers would not be charged the 5% late payment penalty usually due on 3 March if they paid their tax or set up a payment plan by 1 April 2021.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the level of consumer and retail industry support for an increase of the operational contactless card limit to £100 on 15 October 2021.

The legal contactless payment limits are set by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) through regulator rules, specifically the Strong Customer Authentication technical standards. Following a public consultation and with Treasury approval, as required by the Payment Services Regulations, the FCA increased the legal single contactless payment limit to £100 on 3 March 2021.


Any changes to operational contactless limits up to the new legal limits are at the discretion of payment service providers; the Government understands that industry is preparing to implement new higher operational contactless limits before the end of the year and welcomes payment service providers and retailers working together to that end.


Other jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada and the US, have all recently increased their contactless limits to over £100 in their equivalent currencies and I understand the changes in those countries have been positive as consumers and businesses realise the benefits from these new limits.


Ministers routinely meet with and receive representations from a range of private sector stakeholders. Transparency releases are published on a quarterly basis and are publicly available on GOV.UK.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of a £100 operational contactless card limit on (a) retail industry losses and (b) violence and abuse against retail staff.

The legal contactless payment limits are set by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) through regulator rules, specifically the Strong Customer Authentication technical standards. Following a public consultation and with Treasury approval, as required by the Payment Services Regulations, the FCA increased the legal single contactless payment limit to £100 on 3 March 2021.


Any changes to operational contactless limits up to the new legal limits are at the discretion of payment service providers; the Government understands that industry is preparing to implement new higher operational contactless limits before the end of the year and welcomes payment service providers and retailers working together to that end.


Other jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada and the US, have all recently increased their contactless limits to over £100 in their equivalent currencies and I understand the changes in those countries have been positive as consumers and businesses realise the benefits from these new limits.


Ministers routinely meet with and receive representations from a range of private sector stakeholders. Transparency releases are published on a quarterly basis and are publicly available on GOV.UK.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government has taken in response to the joint call of business organisations the British Retail Consortium, British Independent Retailers Association, Association of Convenience Stores, Federation of Small Business and UK Hospitality last year to tackle excessive card costs.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) was established in 2015 with statutory objectives to promote competition, innovation and the interests of service users in payment systems, including card payment systems, with powers of supervision and enforcement in support of these objectives.

With regards to the cost of card payments, the PSR is currently carrying out a market review into card acquiring services. Its review is examining how effectively competition is working in the provision of these services, including looking at the fees businesses pay, such as card scheme and interchange fees, and the quality of service they receive. The interim findings were published on the 15 September. The report found that the supply of these services worked well for the largest merchants with annual card turnover above £50 million, but that small and medium-sized merchants and large merchants with annual card turnover up to £50m could make savings by shopping around of negotiating with their current supplier. The PSR is now consulting on the contents of its interim report and has engaged with relevant parties on proposals to help merchants get a better deal on their acquiring services. The Government looks forward to the final report later this year.

With regards to interchange fees, the Government has legislated to ensure that these fees remain capped for UK domestic card transactions, where both the card issuer and acquirer are located in the UK, through the Interchange Fee (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The levels of UK interchange fee caps are at the same levels as before the end of the Transition Period. Any changes in cross-border interchange fees between the UK and EU, as between the UK and other third countries, are a result of commercial decisions by card schemes.

The Government regularly engages with the PSR and other interested parties on these and other issues relating to the regulation of payment systems.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he made of the impact on (a) merchants and (b) consumers of the payment card interchange fee increases announced by Visa and Mastercard as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) was established in 2015 with statutory objectives to promote competition, innovation and the interests of service users in payment systems, including card payment systems, with powers of supervision and enforcement in support of these objectives.

With regards to the cost of card payments, the PSR is currently carrying out a market review into card acquiring services. Its review is examining how effectively competition is working in the provision of these services, including looking at the fees businesses pay, such as card scheme and interchange fees, and the quality of service they receive. The interim findings were published on the 15 September. The report found that the supply of these services worked well for the largest merchants with annual card turnover above £50 million, but that small and medium-sized merchants and large merchants with annual card turnover up to £50m could make savings by shopping around of negotiating with their current supplier. The PSR is now consulting on the contents of its interim report and has engaged with relevant parties on proposals to help merchants get a better deal on their acquiring services. The Government looks forward to the final report later this year.

With regards to interchange fees, the Government has legislated to ensure that these fees remain capped for UK domestic card transactions, where both the card issuer and acquirer are located in the UK, through the Interchange Fee (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The levels of UK interchange fee caps are at the same levels as before the end of the Transition Period. Any changes in cross-border interchange fees between the UK and EU, as between the UK and other third countries, are a result of commercial decisions by card schemes.

The Government regularly engages with the PSR and other interested parties on these and other issues relating to the regulation of payment systems.