Tommy Sheppard Portrait

Tommy Sheppard

Scottish National Party - Edinburgh East

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs)

(since February 2021)
Finance Committee (Commons)
9th Mar 2020 - 1st Mar 2021
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
7th Jan 2020 - 1st Feb 2021
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)
20th Jun 2017 - 7th Jan 2020
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords)
20th Jun 2017 - 7th Jan 2020
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)
20th May 2015 - 7th Jan 2020
Scottish Affairs Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Committee on Privileges
28th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Committee on Standards
9th Sep 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Committee of Privileges
28th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Monday 17th January 2022
Elections Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 39 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 236 Noes - 327
Speeches
Tuesday 11th January 2022
Household Energy Bills: VAT
The last two years have been brutal and miserable for millions of people in this country, but not everyone has …
Written Answers
Tuesday 14th December 2021
Bahrain: Human Rights
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government plans to take steps at …
Early Day Motions
Monday 25th October 2021
Proscribing of Palestinian human rights organisations
That this House condemns the declaration of 22 October 2021 made by Israeli Minister of Defence, Benny Gantz, which designated …
Bills
Tuesday 29th September 2020
Problem Drug Use Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to declare problem drug use a public health emergency; to require the …
Tweets
Thursday 20th January 2022
15:11
MP Financial Interests
Monday 12th July 2021
7. (i) Shareholdings: over 15% of issued share capital
Until 1 July 2021, the Scottish Comedy Agency Ltd; organising and promoting comedy related entertainment. (Registered 19 February 2016; updated …
EDM signed
Friday 14th January 2022
Compassion, respect and integrity in politics
That this House condemns the organisation of social gatherings and events at Downing Street during the periods of covid-19 lockdown; …
Supported Legislation
Prime Minister (Nomination) and Cabinet (Appointment) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Tommy Sheppard has voted in 247 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Tommy Sheppard Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(74 debate interactions)
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(11 debate interactions)
Michael Gove (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
(5 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(49 debate contributions)
Scotland Office
(26 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(12 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Tommy Sheppard's debates

Edinburgh East Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

Recognise the state of Palestine to help stop the conflict from Israel. Not recognising the Palestinian state allows Israel to continue their persecution of the Palestinians.

The Government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms.


Latest EDMs signed by Tommy Sheppard

13th January 2022
Tommy Sheppard signed this EDM as a sponsor on Friday 14th January 2022

Compassion, respect and integrity in politics

Tabled by: Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru - Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
That this House condemns the organisation of social gatherings and events at Downing Street during the periods of covid-19 lockdown; further condemns the lack of transparency from the Government regarding the parties and reluctance to disclose attendance; believes that when Members and Ministers do not acknowledge or apologise for making …
32 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Jan 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 12
Scottish National Party: 9
Liberal Democrat: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
6th January 2022
Tommy Sheppard signed this EDM on Monday 10th January 2022

Post Office Horizon compensation scheme

Tabled by: Kate Osborne (Labour - Jarrow)
That this House believes that the 555 litigants, who won civil proceedings against Post Office Ltd in 2018-19, should not be excluded from the Post Office Horizon compensation scheme; that the exclusion of these litigants from the compensation scheme is having and will continue to have a direct and devastating …
85 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Jan 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 37
Scottish National Party: 21
Liberal Democrat: 8
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
Independent: 4
Conservative: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Tommy Sheppard's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Tommy Sheppard, 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.


Tommy Sheppard has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Tommy Sheppard has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Tommy Sheppard


A Bill to require the Secretary of State to declare problem drug use a public health emergency; to require the Secretary of State to review the effects of welfare sanctions on people who use drugs; to make the Department for Health and Social Care the lead department for drugs policy; to require the Secretary of State to respond publicly to recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; to amend the classification of drugs in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; to make provision for safe drug consumption facilities; to decriminalise the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use; to make provision about the stigmatisation of problem drug use; to amend the Equality Act 2010 to recognise drug dependence as a health condition; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 29th September 2020
(Read Debate)

109 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
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many contracts for polling public attitudes his Department has commissioned from Hanbury Strategy in each of the last three years.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to PQs 82315 and 82316.

Cabinet Office commissioned Hanbury Strategy to carry out work in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Two contract documents were signed, the first contract is for nil value, and the services provided to the Cabinet Office by Hanbury were delivered under the contract published on Contracts Finder here: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/8c6ca477-cbfc-49b7-bb59-0fb1ce1475c9. No other contracts have been commissioned in the last three years.

The Government remains committed to scrutiny and transparency. Details of Government contracts above £10,000 are published on Contracts Finder: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many contracts for polling public attitudes his Department has commissioned in Scotland in each of the last three years; and how many of those polls included questions on the (i) constitutional settlement of Scotland and (ii) Scottish independence.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 91669 on 1 October 2020.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the (a) cost to the public purse was of refitting and (b) annual facilities budget is for Queen Elizabeth House Edinburgh.

Details of departmental expenditure are published on GOV.UK. Details of estates costs are published in departmental accounts.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many contracts worth under £25,000 his Department commissioned in each of the last twelve months on polling the general public on their attitudes towards the union.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQs 82315 and 82316 on 9 September 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much his Department spent in each of the last twelve months on polling the general public on their attitudes to the union.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQs 82315 and 82316 on 9 September 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress (a) her Department and (b) the Office for Product Safety and Standards have made on assessing the potential merits low noise fireworks.

In response to issues raised around noise and disturbance, the Office for Product Safety and Standards commissioned research to test the decibel level of commonly used fireworks. The objective of the testing work is to help us understand the decibel level associated with a range of fireworks and whether they are compliant with the regulations.

The testing work was delayed due to covid impacting the laboratory’s ability to carry out the necessary testing, but the results will be available in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether UK Research and Innovation plans to increase its funding for research on mental health in the 2021-22 Parliamentary session.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funds a range of research programmes and activities focussed on mental health. For example, the recently announced £24m investment in seven adolescent mental health research programmes that will run for four years from September 2021, and a £2m investment in a mental health data research hub in partnership with Health Data Research UK. These and wider programmes and networks funded through UKRI will continue to develop our understanding of mental health.

UKRI’s overall budget is set by BEIS for each financial year as part of the R&D allocations process. The allocations for financial year 2021-22 were published on 27 May 2021.

New funding in this area will be subject to UKRI’s overall budget following the R&D allocations process for financial year 2022-23.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason self-employed people are ineligible for statutory adoption pay.

So far, the Government has focused on supporting employed parents as they do not generally have the same level of flexibility over their work as self-employed parents do. But we recognise that affordability may limit the time away from work that some self-employed adopters can take, and this is why statutory adoption guidance says that Local Authorities should consider making a payment - equivalent to Maternity Allowance - in cases where adopters do not qualify for any statutory payment because of their self-employment. Prospective adopters are also entitled to an assessment of their family’s needs and can benefit from a range of support including discretionary means-tested financial support, advice, information and counselling, and support services.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of potential conflicts of interest of the members of the Committee on Climate Change.

BEIS carries out thorough due diligence exercises on each new board member of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), prior to approving their appointment, to identify conflicts of interest so that they can be managed appropriately on appointment. As part of due diligence checks, the Government considers anything in the public domain related to potential members’ conduct or professional capacity. In some cases, it will not be appropriate to offer a role if the conflict is too great.

All Committee members are required to recognise and disclose activities on an ongoing basis, that might give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The CCC secretariat will review each case to determine whether an individual needs to step down from the Committee to avoid an actual or perceived serious conflict of interest arising or to decide on how to manage whilst remaining in role.

The CCC’s conflicts of interest policy, along with a register of interests for Committee members – both of which are annually updated – and the minutes of each Committee meeting are published in the Transparency section of the CCC’s website at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/transparency/.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government will take to ensure people do not lose their energy supply if they cannot purchase a top up card for a pre-payment meter during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government announced on 19 March that we have secured a voluntary agreement with domestic energy supply companies to support customers impacted by Covid-19.

Under the terms of this agreement, energy suppliers will seek to identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially, and support prepayment meter customers to stay on supply.

The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company. It could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for prepay customers who are unable to leave home to top up.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what additional support she will give to the tourist sector in response to covid-19 restrictions on travel to the UK.

The Government has put in place a measured and proportionate set of restrictions to continue to support the tourism sector. To support businesses through this next phase, the ‘Working Safely’ guidance will continue to provide advice on sensible precautions employers can take to manage risk and support their staff and customers.

Hospitality businesses are exempt from enforcing customers to wear masks and this assessment has been made from a practical point of view as the nature of hospitality visits is to eat and drink.

The Government has worked to strike a balance with introducing new measures.

The Government has introduced a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022-23, worth almost £1.7 billion. The VAT rate for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sector has also been cut, and will remain at the reduced rate of 12.5% until 31 March 2022, to help businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate.

The recent changes demonstrate the government’s focus on protecting the UK from the most dangerous variants while supporting the travel sector’s safe reopening.

We are continuing to listen to stakeholders during this time.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations he has made to FIFA on the reported deaths of workers during the building of infrastructure for the Qatar 2022 world cup.

Hosting the 2022 World Cup has seen an increased focus on human rights in Qatar, particularly the welfare of migrant workers. We welcome the concrete steps Qatar has taken on this matter, including the significant legislative reforms earlier this year. The UK continues to press for the swift implementation of these measures. We stand ready to further assist and support Qatar’s continued efforts to implement change.

We continue to engage regularly with the International Labour Organisation and explore areas of their work where the UK can add particular value.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to ensure that the British Film Institute fulfils its responsibilities to support the Scottish film sector.

My department continues to work closely with its Arm’s Length Body, the British Film Institute, to ensure it meets the full range of its responsibilities, including to support the film sector nationwide. In its ongoing support for the Scottish film sector, the Government has worked with the BFI to ensure a wide range of funding and initiatives are available across Scottish talent development, production and heritage. In addition, recent Covid-secure guidance has been developed with input from across the nations to support in safely producing films in Scotland. Screen Scotland have been part of the Screen Sector Taskforce looking at the impact of Covid and recovery measures for the sector, in collaboration with DCMS and BFI.

Examples of support that have been given to the Scottish film industry include the BFI Audience and Film Funds, which offer funding covering development, production, distribution and promotion, supporting Scottish films and Scottish audiences; and Film Hub Scotland, which receives an annual BFI Lottery award as part of the BFI Film Audience Network to increase and diversify Scottish audiences. In addition, young people in Scotland have access to the BFI Film Academy and Future Film offer, with four Scottish partners delivering short courses in 20/21 and a well-established annual Screen Craft Skills residential. Furthermore, Film City Futures and Glasgow Film were recently awarded £1m from the BFI and Screen Scotland to support new and emerging talent.

Finally, in recent years the BFI worked in partnership with the Scottish Screen Archive in the Unlocking Film Heritage programme, which resulted in substantial digitisation of films from and about Scotland.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will take steps to provide additional financial support to music venues in response to the open letter of June 2020 to the Government from the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues organisation.

We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the grassroots music sector, which is why Government has put in place unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. These include:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme;

  • The Bounceback Loan Scheme;

  • Expanding eligibility for the business rates reliefs.

We continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading music industry. Our recovery work for this sector is being delivered via the ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group, which was established to support the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce. The Music Venue Trust is an active and valued member of the Working Group, the focus of which is to produce sector-led guidance for the safe reopening of a range of creative industries sectors, including live music venues and music recording and rehearsal studios.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres’ Proposal for an Emergency Resilience Fund for UK Science Centres; and if he will make a statement.

Science and discovery centres around the country have an important role in educating, inspiring and entertaining visitors of all ages on what science is and the important discoveries over the centuries that have changed all our lives.

Science centres in England have access to the unprecedented support the Government has announced for business and workers, to protect them against the current economic emergency. This includes the Job Retention Scheme, which science centres have benefited from, VAT payment deferrals, and £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses. The Chancellor has also announced a Bounce Back loan scheme to help small businesses access loans of up to £50,000, with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. Additionally some of the members of the ASDC - specifically cultural institutions like museums - may be eligible to apply for support as part of the £1.57 billion investment announced earlier this month.

Science centres outside England may be eligible for further support from the devolved governments for example some centres in Scotland may eligible for additional support from the Scottish Government.

20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what guidance they provide to owners of legacy ivory artefacts who wish to dispose of them but are unable to sell due to the provisions of the Ivory Act 2018.

The Ivory Act will not affect the ownership of ivory items, but where an owner no longer wants to own an item, they may gift, donate, or bequeath the item. We will explain to owners what options are available to them as part of our awareness raising campaign.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he expects to complete the implementation of the Ivory Act 2018.

Once commenced, the Ivory Act will introduce one of the toughest bans on elephant ivory sales in the world by banning the dealing in items made of or containing elephant ivory, regardless of their age, unless they fall within one of the narrow and carefully defined exemptions.


We plan to implement the Ivory Act this winter and for the ban to come into force in spring 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for the wellbeing of rescue animals of the decision by Eurotunnel to limit the number of pets able to travel through its facility; and what discussions his Department has had with Eurotunnel on that issue.

The regulations governing the non-commercial movements of cats, dogs and ferrets stipulate that people cannot bring more than 5 pets per person into the UK unless they are attending or training for a competition, show or sporting event (and written evidence of registration is required). However, dogs imported into the UK for rescue or rehoming must be moved under the commercial 'Balai Directive' regulations, which has different requirements. These regulations place no limits on consignment sizes. Any decisions made by the carriers (such as ferries and trains) to restrict consignment sizes in ways not required by the regulations are commercial decisions to which the Government is not party.

Anybody wishing to move animals into the UK during these unprecedented times must plan all journeys carefully, ensuring that the proposed journey is realistic and complies with all relevant regulations and legislation around the movement of animals throughout the animals' entire journey, including welfare in transport, as well as relevant COVID-19 legislation.

The end of the Transition Period may open up new opportunities for managing our own commercial and non-commercial import and pet travel arrangements. The Government will be considering our pet travel and import arrangements (including for puppies and kittens) as part of cracking down on puppy smuggling in line with our manifesto commitment.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he is having with supermarket chains and others to ensure that people with coeliac disease are guaranteed access to gluten-free foods while stocks are under pressure as a result of covid-19-related panic buying.

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. The food retail industry is working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. We are aware of the additional availability issues faced by people who have particular dietary requirements, including those intolerant to gluten, and are working with the industry to ensure that everybody is able to get the food that they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Secretary of State is holding regular conversations with industry to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help industry respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours.

The rules around labelling of allergens in food as well as labelling of ‘gluten free’ and ‘very low gluten’ will remain unchanged during the current challenging period.

We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions he has had with his counterparts throughout the world on ensuring that universal health coverage is a central focus of the replenishment period and strategy review of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Achieving universal health coverage is a UK priority and an overarching goal for DFID’s contribution to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The UK’s £1.44 billion of support to Gavi between 2016-2020 has saved 1.4 million lives from vaccine-preventable diseases in 68 of the world’s poorest countries.

The UK is proud to be hosting the Gavi Replenishment Conference on 3-4th June, to secure Gavi the funds it needs to immunise 300 million more children and save at least 7 million lives between 2021 and 2025. The UK’s commitment to Gavi is central to our work to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children by 2030.

6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps he is taking to end preventable child deaths by 2030.

The UK is a leading player in global health and as announced in October 2019 has made it a priority to step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborn babies and children in the developing world by 2030. This is in line with our commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UK is proud of this ambitious commitment and will bring together a range of investments in health (such as health research, global health initiatives and programmes delivered in specific countries) behind a common goal, working with others to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children.

For example; as hosts of the Gavi Replenishment Conference this year, the UK government are committed to help secure the $7.4 billion that Gavi needs to deliver its life-saving work in the next five years. This funding will allow Gavi to vaccinate 300 million more children and save 7-8 million lives from preventable deaths by 2025. We will be publishing a paper in due course setting out our aims and objectives for reaching this goal by 2030.

4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if he will (a) increase the funding allocated to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and (b) support that funding increase by taking steps to strengthen health systems in developing countries.

The UK is proud to be hosting the Gavi Replenishment Conference on 3-4th June, to secure Gavi the funds it needs to immunise 300 million more children and save at least 7 million lives between 2021 and 2025.

We recognise the importance of the UK’s funding to Gavi; our £1.44 billion of support to Gavi between 2016-2020 has saved 1.4 million lives from vaccine-preventable diseases in 68 of the world’s poorest countries. The UK’s commitment to Gavi is also central to our work to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children by 2030.

Gavi’s next strategic period is critically important for the UK as we work together to improve intra-country equity and coverage. Immunisation is often a child’s first point of contact with their health service. By extending routine immunisation to reach the underserved, particularly zero-dose children who have never been vaccinated, Gavi is building a foundation for stronger national health systems. The UK will also prioritise ensuring our investment in Gavi is sustainable by supporting countries to effectively transition from Gavi support to increased domestic funding.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many applications for licences for export of arms to Saudi Arabia have been rejected on the grounds that they were inconsistent with the EU and National Arms Export Consolidated Criteria since the outbreak of war in Yemen in late 2014.

HM Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations on GOV.UK containing detailed information including the overall value, type (e.g. Military, Other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. This information is available at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data and the most recent publication was on 13th October 2020, covering the period 1st April – 30th June 2020.

Whilst no Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) have been refused since 2015, 11 Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) have been rejected for military rated exports to Saudi Arabia.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 19 July 2021 to Question 31379 on Road Traffic Offences, whether his Department plans to commission a review into road traffic offences within the next 12 months.

The Government takes road safety seriously and keeps the law under regular review. However, we do not currently have any plans to commission a review into road traffic offences within the next 12 months.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants have been asked to pose with photos of street signs and the day's local newspaper to establish their identity.

Asking claimants to upload photographs is a targeted approach to verify evidence in cases where we have intelligence to suggest there is a medium to high risk of fraud.

We do not hold exact figures on the number of cases where photographs have been requested with prescribed background settings, but I can confirm that this only affects a very small proportion of claimants.

This approach is proving to be an effective measure in our efforts to identify and stop fraudulent claims. With overall benefit fraud costing the taxpayer £6.3bn in 2020/21, taking appropriate preventative action is the right thing to do.

David Rutley
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 raise awareness of bereavement support payment in order to increase uptake of that benefit.

Bereavement Support Payments (BSP) can provide vital support for those who are eligible to receive them and our communications are directly targeted at this group. The department staff, including those in Jobcentres, are trained to ensure correct support is offered to all customers and can assist with the process of applying for BSP as we appreciate applications are made at a difficult time.

We also produced a step by step guide to help bereaved people understand what to do after a death. It provides information on where to get help, which agencies to approach and which benefits they may be able to claim; while also signposting them to GOV.UK for the latest information. We have improved the information available on GOV.UK about BSP and Funeral Expenses Payment and are continually exploring ways to join up Bereavement Services and the Cross-Government Tell Us Once service.

We continue to promote BSP to relevant external stakeholders through regular meetings, newsletters and ministerial engagement.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications for universal credit have been received since 23 March 2020; how many of those claims resulted in an existing legacy benefit claim ending, and what steps her Department is taking to ensure that no recipient of legacy benefits is financially disadvantaged as a result of making a new application for universal credit.

It has always been the case that, where claimants’ circumstances change significantly, their entitlement will be recalculated based on a new set of rules under a new benefit.

Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, DWP’s communications team has reacted quickly and across multiple platforms and mediums to help as many people as possible navigate the range of new and existing financial support available from the Government. This includes launching a new microsite within the “Understanding Universal Credit” website to help people understand the eligibility criteria of different support schemes and benefits and the interaction between the different support offers. Since this new content was launched in early March, it has received over 1.8 million page views.

The Department continually makes improvements to the UC service in response to feedback and user research. Therefore, on 3 June we introduced a check-through box to remind claimants to check their eligibility before making a claim and to remind them that legacy benefits will cease when the UC claim is submitted and that they will not be able to return to them in the future, even if the claimant is not entitled to UC.

DWP cannot advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK.

From 22 July 2020, a two-week run on of Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB) will be available for all claimants whose claim to UC ends entitlement to these benefits to provide additional support for claimants moving to UC. This is in addition to the Transition to UC Housing Payment, a two-week extension of Housing Benefit, that is already in place.

Data surrounding Universal Credit caseload growth at national, regional and constituency level is published at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The latest Management Information on declarations to Universal Credit was published on 16 June 2020. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-declarations-claims-and-advances-management-information

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to respond to Question 30815 of 17 March 2020 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh East.

Students who do not ordinarily have entitlement to Universal Credit (UC) and who receive a maintenance loan or grant through the student finance system, will continue to be able to draw upon this financial support until the end of this academic year.

Those who do not receive student finance and who would ordinarily not have entitlement to UC, such as those undertaking a part-time course which would otherwise not be considered as compatible with the requirements for them to look for and be available for work, will have entitlement to UC. We have disapplied UC and both legacy and new style JSA work preparation, work search and availability requirements and related sanctions. This will initially be for a three-month period. After three months, consideration will be given as to whether a further extension is required.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support (a) full time students and (b) other people who are not entitled to social security but who are not able to work due to the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on their employment.

Students who do not ordinarily have entitlement to Universal Credit (UC) and who receive a maintenance loan or grant through the student finance system, will continue to be able to draw upon this financial support until the end of this academic year.

Those who do not receive student finance and who would ordinarily not have entitlement to UC, such as those undertaking a part-time course which would otherwise not be considered as compatible with the requirements for them to look for and be available for work, will have entitlement to UC. We have disapplied UC and both legacy and new style JSA work preparation, work search and availability requirements and related sanctions. This will initially be for a three-month period. After three months, consideration will be given as to whether a further extension is required.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department will take to (a) identify and (b) support people with mental health problems during the migration to universal credit.

Our processes to move claimants over to Universal Credit will be co-designed with stakeholders, to ensure that we have listened and understood claimants’ experiences – we want a process that works well for everyone. The Managed Migration regulations provide the flexibility and fail-safes to protect vulnerable claimants. We are not moving everyone at once and we are designing a process to ensure a smooth transition with continuous support.

Universal Credit provides unprecedented personalised support for people by simplifying benefits. People receive tailored support through work coaches, who know each person’s case.

Work Coaches are trained to support claimants with mental health conditions and identify those who need support when transitioning to Universal Credit. The Department has developed an enhanced mental health training programme, which has been delivered to all work coaches, as well as other colleagues who may benefit from it, such as case managers and team leaders. We have also enhanced the role of the Disability Employment Advisers, who are actively providing advice and guidance on what works for claimants with disabilities, including those with mental health issues.

Additionally, a commitment was made for monthly transitional payments to be made to eligible former Severe Disability Payment claimants who have already moved to Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances and to provide a lump sum arrears payment, where appropriate. This includes those who suffer from severe mental health conditions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants with mental health conditions in Scotland of (a) universal credit, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) jobseekers allowance have had their payments sanctioned in each year since 2015.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

However, the honourable member can find statistics on the number of individuals in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with a primary disabling condition in the category Mental or Behavioural Disorder and who received an adverse sanction decision they are available and published at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants of universal credit (a) are classed as vulnerable and (b) have a mental health condition.

The data requested is not available.

Health conditions are not categorised into either physical and mental conditions. Vulnerabilities can include a range of complex needs and differing personal circumstances and so there is no definitive definition of the term vulnerable.

We do however publish the breakdown of Universal Credit claimants with different work related requirements. This is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/jsf/login.xhtml

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

We have listened to feedback on how we can improve Universal Credit to support our claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as extending advances, removing waiting days, and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to those who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much (a) on average and (b) in total her Department pays in adjustments for universal credit claimants with (i) identified vulnerabilities and (ii) mental health conditions.

Data surrounding claimants in receipt of different elements of Universal Credit is published online and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons the sanction rate for claimants of universal credit is higher than the sanction rate for claimants of (a) jobseekers allowance and (b) employment and support allowance.

Whilst the same methodology has been used to produce these statistics, the benefits themselves are very different and require interpretation based on the rules of the specific benefit. It is for this reason that the sanction rate in Universal Credit cannot be compared with the sanction rates in other benefits. For example, under Jobseekers Allowance if a claimant fails to attend a Work Coach meeting their claim would be closed after 5 days if no contact is made. Under Universal Credit, the claimants standard allowance is reduced but they continue to receive other elements of their Universal Credit award which may cover childcare and housing amongst other things. This is to ensure that all payments are not terminated.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the financial effect on mixed-aged couples where the older member of the couple reaches pension age and the couple are unable to claim pension credit or pension age housing benefit and must instead claim universal credit.

In 2012 both houses of Parliament debated at length and then agreed changes to the welfare policies. This resulted in the Welfare Reform Act of 2012.

Under provisions in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, Parliament decided that pension-age income-related benefits would no longer be available to couples before both partners have reached State Pension age. These changes took effect from 15 May 2019.

The average weekly reduction in the amount of income related benefit received amongst the estimated number of couples who would have been entitled to Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit without the policy change is estimated to be approximately £70 per week (to the nearest £10) in 2019/20.

The estimated average weekly notional reduction is calculated by taking the estimated annual expenditure savings from the policy change and dividing by the estimated number of mixed age couples who would have been entitled to Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit without the policy change.

No mixed age couples who were receiving Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit immediately before the implementation date of 15 May 2019, would see a reduction in the amount of benefit they receive as a result of the policy change (unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends).

An annual notional reduction would depend on the length of time in a year that an individual couple would have claimed Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit, as well as any difference in a couple’s level of support on Universal Credit compared to pensioner income-related benefits, both of which will reflect individual circumstantial changes and behavioural choices.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of universal credit claimants previously in receipt of employment and support allowance that have (a) been identified as being eligible to receive severe disability premium transitional payments and (b) received those transitional payments in the latest period for which figures are available; and what her timescale is for payment of all severe disability premium payments to eligible claimants.

A gateway was introduced from 16 January 2019 to prevent those claimants entitled to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) as part of their legacy benefit from claiming Universal Credit. Additionally, a commitment was made for monthly transitional payments to be made to eligible former SDP claimants who have already moved to Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances and to provide a lump sum arrears payment, where appropriate.

As of 17 January 2020, 15,397 claims have been paid an SDP transitional payment. To date, over £51.5m has been disbursed to support former SDP claimants, including the recurring payments that have now commenced.

Positive progress has been made and caseload growth has now slowed, however, in the event a new case is discovered payments will be in place quickly. It is not possible to estimate when we will have paid everyone who is entitled as some people become entitled to these payments retrospectively, and therefore the caseload is not a fixed number.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the immigration health surcharge on (a) the financial circumstances of non-EU migrants and their families working on the frontline of the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak and (b) staff retention in the NHS after the outbreak has ended.

The Department has made no such assessment.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government plans to take steps at the United Nations Human Rights Council to promote human rights in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office human rights priority country. We regularly raise human rights issues and individual cases with senior members of the Government of Bahrain, and continue to raise specific cases with senior interlocutors, as well as with the independent human rights oversight bodies.

We are happy to work with partners, including the Human Rights Council, to promote human rights in Bahrain and elsewhere.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the implications for UK Government obligations to the people of Kurdistan of the Treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne.

We have not made such an assessment. We support the territorial integrity of all countries in the region covered by the two treaties, and encourage the governments concerned to safeguard the rights of all their citizens, regardless of ethnicity. We continue to support a thriving Kurdistan Region of Iraq within a peaceful, prosperous Iraq.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she (a) has had or (b) is scheduled to have with the Government of Chile on the protection of the rights of women and minorities.

The UK Government is committed to promoting and defending the human rights of all individuals, including the rights of women and minorities in Chile, and across Latin America. Our embassy in Santiago regularly raises the protection of the rights of women and minorities with the Chilean government. We also work in partnership with Chilean authorities, civil society, and businesses in supporting efforts to strengthen gender equality through UK-Chile commercial trade links, and addressing gender based violence.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps she has taken to secure the release of UK citizens arbitrarily detained in Iran.

The Foreign Secretary continues to raise Iran's practice of detaining British dual nationals with her Iranian counterpart, most recently in a call with Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian on 8 November and Minister Cleverly raised this with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Bagheri Kani, on 11 November. Our Ambassador in Tehran continues to raise our detainees regularly with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We remain committed to doing all we can to ensure that British nationals being unfairly detained by Iran are released and allowed to return home to be reunited with their families.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending diplomatic protection to Anoosheh Ashoori and Nazanin Ratcliffe.

We have received Mr Ashoori's application for diplomatic protection. The Foreign Secretary is considering the matter carefully. In Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case, the Foreign Secretary was clear that diplomatic protection would not lead to an overnight resolution. We remain committed to securing Mr Ashoori's, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's and Mr Tahbaz's immediate and permanent release. The Foreign Secretary raised the UK's strong opposition to Iran's practice of detaining foreign and dual nationals with her Iranian counterpart on 8 November and will continue to do so. Our Ambassador in Tehran regularly raises Mr Ashoori's, Mr Tahbaz's and Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's cases with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking in response to the coup in Sudan.

We strongly condemn the actions of the Sudanese military on 25 October, including to detain Prime Minister Hamdok and members of the civilian government and declare a state of emergency. Over the past two years, the UK has taken a leading role to support Sudan on their delicate path from oppressive autocratic rule to freedom and democracy; the acts of the military represents a betrayal of the Sudanese people and that journey. With our Sudan Quad partners (KSA, UAE and US) we issued a statement on 3 November calling for the release of all those unlawfully detained and restoration of the civilian-led transitional government. We expressed our condemnation at a meeting of the UN Security Council meeting on 26 October, which was followed by a statement from members of the Council. We also secured a Special Session at the UN Human Rights Council on 5 November to discuss the situation.

I personally commended the African Union (AU)'s leadership in their decision to suspend Sudan from all activities at a joint AU-UN Security Council meeting on 28 October and reiterated my concerns over the actions of the Sudanese military in a Westminster Hall debate on 3 November. With our international partners we continue to maintain public international pressure on the military to return to the democratic transition in order to deliver the freedom, peace and justice called for by the Sudanese people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what engagement her Department has had with the six Palestinian civil society organisations recently designated as terrorist by the Israeli Government; and whether she plans to engage with those groups in the future.

We are aware of the decision by the Israeli authorities and will be seeking additional information to understand the basis for the designations. Human rights and civil society organisations have a vital role to play in the development of thriving, open societies.
James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the designation of six Palestinian civil society organisations as terrorist by the Israeli government; and if she will make a statement.

We are aware of the decision by the Israeli authorities and will be seeking additional information to understand the basis for the designations. Human rights and civil society organisations have a vital role to play in the development of thriving, open societies.
James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department plans to continue providing funding and support to Palestinian civil society organisations; and what programmes are available for applicants to gain access to support.

The Cabinet Office publishes Conflict Security and Stability Fund annual programme summaries on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/conflict-stability-and-security-fund-programme-summaries. They outline the annual budget, a short summary of the programmes, and a breakdown of the projects in the programme. We will continue our support for peacebuilding projects in Financial Year 2021/2022 though exact spend figures are not yet available. Our future spending allocations will be set in the next Spending Review and full budgets for 2021 will be published in due course, including in our regular Statistics on International Development website and in the FCDO Annual Report and Accounts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans the Government has to support the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The UK is a long-term supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). We recognise UNRWA's unique mandate from the UN General Assembly, to provide protection and core services including health and education to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. Budgets for 2020 were outlined in our Statistics in International Development report available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-international-development-final-uk-aid-spend-2020. Our future spending allocations will be set in the next Spending Review and full budgets for 2021 will be published in due course, including in our regular Statistics on International Development website and in the FCDO Annual Report and Accounts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, further to the Answer of 9 September 2021 to Question 41953, if she will provide a breakdown of the year and value of each contract and the nature of the consultancy services procured in each case.

The financial figures associated with each contract have been temporarily removed from the public domain due to the current situation in Afghanistan, while we review the security risks of this information being made publicly available.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many payments have been made to Adam Smith International for work in Afghanistan in each year since 2010; what the amount of each of those payments was; and what services were provided in return for those payments.

FCDO's consultancy spend with Adam Smith International (ASI) for work in Afghanistan from 2011 -2017 was £53.9 million.

There have not been any contracts with ASI for Afghanistan since 2017.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the recommendation of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief's report entitled Religious Minorities of Pakistan: Report of a Parliamentary visit, published in September 2019, what representations his Department has made to Pakistan’s provincial governments on the return of nationalised Christian and Ahmadi colleges and schools.

The UK Government continues to engage with representatives of Christian and Ahmadi communities in Pakistan to understand their concerns about, and implications of, the nationalisation of their colleges and schools. During his recent visit to Pakistan, Lord Ahmad hosted a roundtable and discussed this issue, including the recent nationalisation of Edwardes College Peshawar, with interfaith leaders, the Chairperson of the Council of Islamic Ideology, and members of Pakistan's Parliament on 23 June. Lord Ahmad also met with Pakistan Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mahmood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Minister, Shahram Khan, and Sindh Education and Labour Minister, Saeed Ghani, during the Global Education Summit on 28 July. These discussions focussed on ensuring girls' access to education, supporting continuity of education during the pandemic, and promoting inclusivity and respect for all religions. As part of our wider support to the education sector, the UK Government has facilitated a coalition of civil society actors that is working with the Government of Pakistan to promote inclusion and rights of children from minorities and other marginalised groups.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to recommendation of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief's report entitled Religious Minorities of Pakistan: Report of a Parliamentary visit, published in September 2019, what recent support the Government has provided to Pakistan to encourage teacher training on respect for minorities.

UK-funded education programmes in Pakistan cover professional development for teachers. The UK Government has supported the development and delivery of teacher training modules on equity and inclusion, which have been delivered to over 100,000 teachers. We are now working with the Government of Pakistan to improve the teacher-training curriculum to include modules on peaceful coexistence, tolerance and respect for minorities; and delivering this training so that teachers can teach their students these values.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of whether non-Muslim pupils at educational institutions in Pakistan are required to receive Islamic religious education.

The UK Government continues to be concerned about the inclusion of Islamic religious content as part of compulsory subjects in Pakistan's educational institutions. We have asked the Pakistan Government to ensure Islamic religious teachings are restricted to relevant subjects and not included in those where they are not directly related to student learning outcomes. We have also facilitated a coalition of civil society actors that is working with the Pakistan Government to promote inclusion in education. Members of this group have supported the government to develop a curriculum for a new subject of "Religious Studies", which examines Pakistan's five major religions, and which minority students may opt to take instead of Islamic studies.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what fiscal steps he is taking to improve women and girls lives and health in the Global South.

Advancing gender equality and women's and girls' rights are a core part of this Government's mission, including fulfilling every girl's right to 12 years of quality education, empowering women socially, economically, and politically, and ending violence against women and girls. This is also highlighted in the Integrated Review (IR) which was published earlier this year, the joint US-UK Statement following President Biden's visit to the UK and the G7 Leaders Communique.

We know that women and girls are amongst the hardest hit by the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we donated an additional £10 million for the United Nations Population Fund's Covid-19 response and an additional £1 million (on top of our existing £21 million contribution), to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women for the COVID-19 Crisis Response Window. These funds have supported small grassroots organisations on the frontlines and placed survivors at the heart of our response. The UK is also continuing its work to advance sexual reproductive health and rights, including access to modern family planning methods in the world's poorest countries. Between April 2015 and March 2020, with UK Aid funding we reached an average of 25.3 million women and girls with modern methods of family planning per year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress has been made on improving the lives and health of women and girls in the Global South.

Advancing gender equality and women's and girls' rights are a core part of this Government's mission, including fulfilling every girl's right to 12 years of quality education, empowering women socially, economically, and politically, and ending violence against women and girls. This is also highlighted in the Integrated Review (IR) which was published earlier this year, the joint US-UK Statement following President Biden's visit to the UK and the G7 Leaders Communiqué. We know that women and girls are amongst the hardest hit by the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we donated an additional £10 million for the United Nations Population Fund's Covid-19 response and an additional £1 million to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women for the COVID-19 Crisis Response Window. The UK takes action to advance SRHR, including access to modern family planning methods in the world's poorest countries. Between April 2015 and March 2020, the UK reached an average of 25.3 million total women and girls with modern methods of family planning per year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what fiscal steps he is taking to increase access to family planning.

The UK continues to play a significant role in increasing access to voluntary family planning globally, as part of our efforts to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. UK aid is supporting UNFPA, the Global Financing Facility, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, MSI Reproductive Choices and other partners, to advance the availability of modern contraception in the world's poorest countries. In 2021/22 UK aid is also supporting the launch of the new global family planning partnership, FP2030, to accelerate country leadership on family planning.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the joint communication issued by nine UN Special Rapporteurs on the recent hostilities in Gaza which found that potential war crimes had been committed in that conflict, what steps he is taking to ensure accountability for violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The UK is a steadfast supporter of international justice and does not hold back from voicing or raising concern about Israel's actions when warranted. However, Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence, and the right to defend its citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with International Humanitarian Law, and make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. 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.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of reports that Israel has prevented cancer patients from exiting Gaza for treatment since the beginning of recent hostilities; and if he will make a statement.

The UK welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza on 20 May. The UK priority now is ensuring timely humanitarian access in to and out of Gaza, including for people to leave Gaza for critical health services. We are urging the Government of Israel to ensure this access is maintained. The long-lasting movement restrictions and the serious constraints imposed by the occupation can impact the provision of medical care. The wounded and critically ill should be able to access the urgent medical care they need. The UK Embassy in Tel Aviv regularly raises the importance of access to healthcare with the Israeli authorities, most recently on 1 June.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to help prevent the misuse of blasphemy legislation globally.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and to promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. We remain deeply concerned by the use of blasphemy laws. These laws generally limit freedom of expression and are only compatible with international human rights law in narrow circumstances. We regularly apply diplomatic pressure to countries that use blasphemy laws. This often involves private lobbying, as it can be the most effective way of resolving a sensitive case or bringing about longer term change.

Promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's human rights priorities. Bilaterally, ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and discuss practices and laws that discriminate on the basis of religion or belief. Multilaterally, we work within the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance ('Alliance'), and other international organisations and networks to promote and protect FoRB for all where it is threatened. The Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB for all in a number of international meetings in November 2020, speaking at the Ministerial to Advance FoRB and the Ministers' Forum of the Alliance. On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to FoRB by appointing Fiona Bruce MP as his Special Envoy for FoRB. Mrs Bruce represents the UK at meetings of the Alliance, which works to advocate for the rights of individuals being discriminated against or persecuted on the basis of their faith or belief.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the application of blasphemy laws in India on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression in that country.

The British High Commission in New Delhi maintain a continuous assessment of the human rights situation in India, including the situation for minorities and the right to freedom of expression. India has a proud history of religious tolerance and a vibrant civil society. We look to the Government of India to address the concerns of any people that may be affected by blasphemy legislation. Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with the Government of India.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the UK was represented at the reported demarche meeting in Tel Aviv on 25 February 2020 on transfer of ballistic missiles.

The UK did not attend a demarche on 25 February 2020 in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the financial capacity of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to purchase sufficient covid-19 vaccines for its population.

We remain in regular, close contact with the Palestinian Authority to discuss their plans for access to safe COVID-19 vaccines in the OPTs including on their ability to finance the purchase of vaccines.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines as demonstrated by our commitment of up to £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines. Our commitment to the COVAX AMC will support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by contributing to the supply of 1 billion doses in 2021. We are pleased to note that the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) will be among the first to benefit from the COVAX scheme with delivery of a first batch anticipated in mid-February.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he had with his Indian counterpart on the treatment of Punjabi Farmers during his recent visit to India.

The Foreign Secretary discussed protests about agricultural reforms with his Indian counterpart during his visit to India in December, whilst making it clear that the handling of protests is an internal matter for the Indian authorities. The right to gather lawfully and demonstrate a point of view is common to all democracies. Governments also have the power to enforce law and order if a protest crosses the line into illegality.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations to his Iraqi counterpart on reports of recent violence towards peaceful protestors in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

We are deeply concerned by reports of violence in Sulaimaniyah, which our Consul General in Erbil has raised with the Kurdistan Regional Government. We call on security forces to respect the right to peaceful protest and to exercise restraint, and on those protesting to do so peacefully.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the capacity of hospitals in Gaza to provide adequate oxygen for patients with covid-19 during the recent rise in cases.

We remain concerned about the capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, especially in Gaza. We welcome the recent 30% increase in hospital beds for patients suffering critical and severe cases and the recent procurement by World Health Organisation of two additional oxygen generators. The UK continues to monitor the situation closely.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the increasing rates of covid-19 infection on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The UK remains concerned about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Gaza and the impact of COVID-19 on an already fragile healthcare system. Recognising the severity of the situation, we were one of the first donors to provide funding to support the health and humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). We have provided £1.25 million funding (WHO with £630,000 and UNICEF with £620,000) to purchase and co-ordinate delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline health workers and scale up laboratory testing capacity - mainly in Gaza.

In addition, we are providing £2.5 million to the World Food Programme to provide food and cash assistance for the most vulnerable Palestinians to help alleviate the humanitarian situation.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the Israeli Authorities on the death of Ali Abu Alia, a 15 year old boy, in the West Bank; and what steps his Department is taking to help protect children living in the occupied Palestinian territories.

I [Minister Cleverly] expressed my sadness to hear of the death of Palestinian child Ali Ayman Abu Alaya, following clashes between the Israeli Defence Forces and Palestinian civilians. I [Minister Cleverly] urge Israel to ensure that its investigation is swift and comprehensive. 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, and urge restraint in the use of live fire. In instances where there have been accusations of excessive use of force, we advocate transparent investigations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the specific needs of people with disabilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories during the covid-19 pandemic.

Disability inclusion is an important issue for the FCDO, and the Ministerial team remains committed to embedding it across all our work, including as we respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The UK is committed to supporting people with disabilities across our programmes in the OPTs. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we have approved additional programming to strengthen disability inclusion across Palestinian society, which aims to ensure people with disabilities (PwD) are accounted for in the COVID-19 crisis response through reviewing laws, regulations, HR policies and bylaws in public sector to analyse barriers to PwDs' participation in decision making. This will be followed by an advocacy campaign targeting the gaps identified in the analysis. We also engage frequently with the Israelis on issues affecting ordinary Palestinians, including the impact of COVID-19.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to support the protection of rights of people with disabilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to maintain their health, safety, dignity and independence during the covid-19 outbreak.

Disability inclusion is an important issue for the FCDO, and the Ministerial team remains committed to embedding it across all our work, including as we respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The UK is committed to supporting people with disabilities across our programmes in the OPTs. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we have approved additional programming to strengthen disability inclusion across Palestinian society, which aims to ensure people with disabilities (PwD) are accounted for in the COVID-19 crisis response through reviewing laws, regulations, HR policies and bylaws in public sector to analyse barriers to PwDs' participation in decision making. This will be followed by an advocacy campaign targeting the gaps identified in the analysis. We also engage frequently with the Israelis on issues affecting ordinary Palestinians, including the impact of COVID-19.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to encourage Israel to uphold its obligations to respect and fulfil the rights of Palestinians with disabilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Disability inclusion is an important issue for the FCDO, and the Ministerial team remains committed to embedding it across all our work, including as we respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The UK is committed to supporting people with disabilities across our programmes in the OPTs. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we have approved additional programming to strengthen disability inclusion across Palestinian society, which aims to ensure people with disabilities (PwD) are accounted for in the COVID-19 crisis response through reviewing laws, regulations, HR policies and bylaws in public sector to analyse barriers to PwDs' participation in decision making. This will be followed by an advocacy campaign targeting the gaps identified in the analysis. We also engage frequently with the Israelis on issues affecting ordinary Palestinians, including the impact of COVID-19.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the statement from four UN Special Rapporteurs on Israel’s continued detention of World Vision’s former Gaza Director, Mohammed el-Halabi, dated 12 November 2020, what recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on ensuring Mr el-Halabi is (a) granted the full rights of a fair trial or (b) unconditionally released.

We are aware of the statement from four UN Special Rapporteurs on Israel's continued detention of World Vision's former Gaza Director, Mohammed el-Halabi, dated 12 November 2020. We remain concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Israeli authorities on the demolition of a covid-19 testing centre in Hebron; and what steps he is taking to support the Occupied Palestinian Territories in managing the covid-19 pandemic.

We are concerned by the reports of a recent demolition of a COVID-19 testing centre in Hebron. We have not to date made representations on this particular case but have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our view that demolitions, in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The UK is providing vital support to help respond to COVID-19 in the OPTs. Our $1 million funding contribution will enable the World Health Organization and UNICEF to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Chilean counterpart on reports of alleged human rights violations by Chilean police.

Our Ambassador in Chile has talked with representatives of the Chilean Government to express our concerns about the violence witnessed during protests and about reports of human rights abuses by state agents. We welcome the Chilean Government's acceptance of the UN's human rights report and its recommendations and the Chilean Government's assurances, in public and to our Ambassador, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully and that perpetrators will be prosecuted. Our Embassy in Santiago remains in close contact with the Chilean authorities and will continue to monitor the situation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of defining Chile as a human rights priority country.

The UK Government is concerned about events that have occurred in Chile. Our Ambassador in Chile has expressed our concerns about the violence witnessed during protests in 2019 and about reports of human rights abuses to the Chilean Government. We welcome the Chilean Government's recognition that there have been human rights abuses and their assurances, in public and to our Ambassador, that allegations of human rights abuses will be investigated fully, and that perpetrators will be prosecuted. We continue to monitor the human rights situation in Chile closely.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to help support children living in refugee camps in Greece during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Greek Government is responsible for supporting migrants on arrival in Greece, including unaccompanied minors. The United Kingdom has provided bilateral support to Greece, including provision of funding for humanitarian supplies and, in 2019, funding a shelter for unaccompanied children who arrive in Samos. The UK and Greece signed an action plan on migration on 22 April which reaffirms our commitment to continued cooperation to tackle the challenges posed by irregular migration.

We recognise the challenge faced by Greece in dealing with increased migrant flows, and are also concerned about the condition of migrant camps on the Greek islands. We understand that the Greek Government are implementing a series of steps to seek to address the risk of coronavirus in the migrant camps including the strengthening of health facilities and measures that reduce the need for travel. We continue to monitor the situation via our Embassy in Athens very closely.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his counterpart in China on the camps in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

The British Government regularly makes representations directly to the Chinese Government about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. Most recently, on 9 March the Foreign Secretary raised his concerns with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi. On 5 March, I also raised the issue with the Chinese Ambassador in London.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to assist the repatriation of non-UK nationals resident in the UK.

The UK is working together with other governments, international organisations and commercial carriers to enable the return of vulnerable or stranded travellers. Stranded British travellers and their families are our priority but where seats have been available, we have been able to help other nationals resident in the UK to return to their homes. We have also helped EU and Commonwealth nationals get back to their home countries on our flights from China, Peru, the US, Japan, Ghana, Tunisia and Algeria, just as other countries have helped British nationals get back to the UK from countries including China, Mali, New Zealand and Bolivia. The success of all countries' operations will depend on close international cooperation.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies of India’s recent Citizenship Amendment Act; and what representations he has made to his Indian counterpart on the human rights implications of that Act.

The British High Commission in New Delhi and our network of Deputy High Commissions across India are following reports on the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens, as well as the Government of India's response. We raise our concerns with the Government of India. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon discussed the CAA, and public response to the legislation, with India's Minister of State for External Affairs on 19 December 2019. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also raised the issue with the High Commission of India in London on 14 January.

The UK has long regarded protest as a key part of democratic society. Democratic governments must have the power to enforce law and order when a protest crosses the line into illegality, though we encourage all states to ensure their domestic laws are enforced in line with international standards. Any allegation of human rights violations is deeply concerning and must be investigated thoroughly, promptly, and transparently.

India has a proud history of inclusive government and religious tolerance. After his re-election, Prime Minister Modi promised to continue this. We trust the Government of India will provide reassurances to its citizens who are expressing concern about the impact this legislation may have. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether financial support has been (a) requested by and (b) provided to the Australian Government by the UK Government as a result of the bushfires in that country.

As I (Minister Wheeler) set out in my Oral Statement of 9 January, we deployed a team of UK experts to Australia which returned to the UK on 16 January.

The team included a senior member of UK Fire and Rescue Service, a medical specialist in trauma and mental health, and a military liaison officer specialising in crisis response.

They have been working with Australian counterparts to establish what further UK support will be of most use to Australian emergency responders, and ensure that such contributions are fully integrated with Australian efforts. At this stage the Australian government has made no specific requests for assistance however we are exploring areas where we can offer assistance.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations his Department has made to the Syrian Government on recent attacks on schools and civilian buildings in Idlib, Syria; and whether the UK Government has offered assistance to help protect civilians in that region.

We condemn the attacks on schools and civilian buildings by the Syrian regime and Russian forces in Idlib, Syria. We have made this clear in the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council. We have had no diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime since 2012, and therefore have made no representations to the Syrian Government on recent attacks in Idlib. We are using UK aid to support protection of civilians in Idlib, including an early warning system to alert civilians of airstrikes and support to emergency search and rescue teams. This is in addition to our significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Idlib.

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 7 September 2020 to Question 83904 on Civil Servants: Edinburgh, how many HMRC staff are working in Queen Elizabeth House, Edinburgh; and how many have been based there in each month since its opening.

The UK Government Hub in Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth House, opened to staff on 1 September 2020. In line with current social distancing measures, HMRC have adapted their plans to welcome staff to their new location.

Since the opening, the number of HMRC staff in attendance has increased gradually as business-critical staff and others who need to be there completed their mandatory building inductions.

There will be other Government departments, in smaller numbers than HMRC, based at Queen Elizabeth House, although they are not currently working from the building: the Valuation Office Agency, the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Office of the Advocate General, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation, the Government Actuary’s Department, HM Treasury, the Health and Safety Executive, Cabinet Office and the Information Commissioner’s Office.

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which Departments in addition to HMRC have staff based in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh.

The UK Government Hub in Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth House, opened to staff on 1 September 2020. In line with current social distancing measures, HMRC have adapted their plans to welcome staff to their new location.

Since the opening, the number of HMRC staff in attendance has increased gradually as business-critical staff and others who need to be there completed their mandatory building inductions.

There will be other Government departments, in smaller numbers than HMRC, based at Queen Elizabeth House, although they are not currently working from the building: the Valuation Office Agency, the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Office of the Advocate General, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation, the Government Actuary’s Department, HM Treasury, the Health and Safety Executive, Cabinet Office and the Information Commissioner’s Office.

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many HMRC staff were employed in Scotland on (a) 1 September 2020, (b) 1 April 2020, (c) 1 April 2019, (d) 1 April 2018, (e) 1 April 2017, (f) 1 April 2016 and (g) 1 April 2015.

The number of HMRC staff employed in Scotland is as follows:

1 April 2015: 8,450

1 April 2016: 9,256

1 April 2017: 9,038

1 April 2018: 8,592

1 April 2019: 8,201

1 April 2020: 7,881

1 September 2020: 7,726

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the cost to the public purse has been of wages for HMRC staff based in Scotland in each of the last five financial years.

The estimated cost of wages for HMRC staff based in Scotland for the last five financial years is as follows:

Financial Year

Cost

20/21

190,197,894

19/20

192,907,940

18/19

195,917,991

17/18

200,454,678

16/17

197,811,410

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the absence rate has been for HMRC staff based in Scotland in each of the last five financial years.

The average working days lost for each HMRC employee based in Scotland are as follows:

1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019: 7.25 days

1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020: 7.50 days

In the time available, it has not been possible to provide the information requested for earlier years. I will write to the Honourable Member with the further information requested in due course, and I will place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

The average working days lost for all HMRC employees over the three earlier years are as follows:

1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016: 7.58 days

1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017: 6.86 days

1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018: 6.89 days

19th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the recommendations in Hospitality Union’s #NationalTimeOut campaign; and what recent steps he has taken to support the hospitality industry during the covid-19 pandemic.

During this difficult time the Treasury is working intensively with employers, delivery partners, industry groups and other government departments to understand the long-term effects of social distancing across all key areas of the economy.

We appreciate the concerns of Hospitality Union’s NationalTimeOut campaign and the Government recognises the extreme disruption the necessary actions to combat Covid-19 are having on businesses and sectors like hospitality.

That is why the Chancellor has already announced unprecedented support for individuals and businesses, to protect against the current economic emergency. This includes changes to our welfare system including Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay; grant schemes such as the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund and the Discretionary Grant Fund, which are primarily and predominantly aimed at small businesses facing high fixed property-related costs; a range of government-backed and guaranteed loan schemes; the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

We will continue to monitor the impact of government support with regard to supporting public services, businesses, individuals, and sectors such as hospitality. We are also keeping the exit strategy of all schemes under review as we respond to this pandemic and consider the longer-term economic recovery.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
13th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to the letters dated (a) 30 March 2020, (b) 31 March 2020, (c) 1 April 2020, (d) 6 April 2020 and (e) 16 April 2020 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh East on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

HM Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and apologises for the delay in responding to the Honourable Member. The Honourable Member’s correspondence is receiving attention and will be replied to as soon as possible.

21st Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of people who have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme being able to continue to work on critical elements of their employers' operations not related to income generation or trading; and when he plans to respond to the letter dated 31 March 2020 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh East on that subject.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to help those who otherwise would have been made unemployed and to provide support to businesses as quickly as possible. Allowing employers to move staff to part-time and claim the difference would be contrary to the policy goal and substantially increase the risk of fraud. It is also inconsistent with public health guidance for people to stay at home. However, there is flexibility in the scheme as employers can decide how many staff to furlough, and staff can be furloughed multiple times while the scheme is in operation, provided they are furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks.

The Honourable Member will appreciate that at this unprecedented time the Government is receiving very significant volumes of correspondence. HM Treasury officials are working to ensure that all Honourable Members receive a reply to correspondence as soon as possible.

21st Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to enable employees that had a signed contract but had not started work prior to the announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be furloughed under that scheme; and when he plans to respond to the letters of 27 March 2020 and 16 April 2020 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh East.

Processing claims for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where HMRC do not have RTI data by 19 March would require much greater manual handling by HMRC, which would significantly slow down the system while risking substantial levels of fraud. It would also require greater resource for HMRC when they are already under significant pressure to deliver the system designed. Those not eligible for the scheme may be able to access the other support Government is providing, including a package of temporary welfare measures and up to three months’ mortgage payment holidays for those struggling with their mortgage payments.

The Honourable Member will appreciate that at this unprecedented time the Government is receiving very significant volumes of correspondence. HM Treasury officials are working to ensure that all Honourable Members receive a reply to correspondence as soon as possible.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take to ensure that insurance companies accept covid-19 as a legitimate claim for businesses when as a result of the recent emergence of that virus it is not named on their policy.

The Chancellor has made clear that, for those businesses which have an appropriate policy that covers pandemics and unspecified notifiable diseases, as well as government-ordered closure, the government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to allow businesses to make a claim against their insurance, provided the other terms and conditions in their policy are met.

In addition, the FCA’s rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly; provide reasonable guidance to help a policyholder make a claim, and appropriate information on its progress; not reject a claim unreasonably; and settle claims promptly once settlement terms are agreed.

However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government’s full package of support.

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

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of people who are seeking asylum and in receipt of Section 95 support are estimated to be below the (a) 60 per cent of median income relative and (b) absolute poverty lines.

The package of support provided to asylum seekers and their dependants supported under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 because they would otherwise be destitute usually consists of free furnished accommodation with utility bills and council tax paid. Individuals are also able to access free NHS healthcare and free education for children. They are also provided with a cash allowance to cover their other “essential living needs” (the statutory test set out in the 1999 Act). The level of the cash allowance is currently set at £39.63 per week for each individual in the household, as this is the level assessed as necessary to meet the statutory test.

The income available to asylum seekers in receipt of section 95 support is lower than a figure based on 60% of the median income of UK households (approximately £17,000 per year) and lower than other measures of poverty levels. However, the level of cash allowance is regularly reviewed using a methodology endorsed by the Court of Appeal and Inner Court of Session.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if the Government will set support for asylum seekers at 70 per cent of universal credit entitlement in line with the representations made by the Safe Passage campaign.

Asylum seekers and their dependants who would otherwise be destitute are supported under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The package of support provided usually consists of free furnished accommodation with utility bills and council tax paid. Individuals are able to access free NHS healthcare and free education for children. They are also provided with a cash allowance to cover other essential living needs.

The level of the allowance is currently set at £39.63 per week for each person in the household. There are no plans to adjust the amount so that it is set at 70% of the rate of Universal Credit or align it with other mainstream benefits.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the average period of time is that asylum seekers have been on Section 95 support by the time of case resolution in each of the last three years.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers on Asylum Support. These statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which shows the average period of time that asylum seekers have been on Section 95 support by the time of case resolution of the last three years. These figures are not available in a reportable format and to provide the information could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people of Afghan nationality have claimed asylum in the UK in each year since 2001.

The Home Office publishes data on asylum applications in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Data on the number of asylum applications lodged in the UK are published in table Asy_D01 of the asylum and resettlement detailed datasets, breakdowns by year and nationality are available. Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest published statistics relate to data up to the end of June 2021.

Additionally, the Home Office publishes further data on asylum and resettlement in the asylum and resettlement summary tables. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on asylum and resettlement.

Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 10 December 2020 to Question 126060, what oversight the Government will have of the actions and conduct of French reservists from the Gendarmerie and Police Nationale deployed to tackle migrant activity in the Channel; what systems have been established to investigate allegations of mistreatment or abuse of migrants by French police during their deployment; and what the role is of the Government in that process.

We work closely with France to prevent Channel crossings by irregular migrants. In November the UK and France agreed a package of £28.1m to support a range of activity as part of ongoing efforts.

We jointly monitor, with France, the impact of that funding through daily operational contact and regular strategic reviews.

French personnel are responsible to the French Government and are therefore required to comply with French law, policies and processes. The UK Government would not be directly involved in any investigation into allegations made against French officers.

France is party to both the ECHR and the Refugee Convention and the UK Government is confident that France is fully in compliance with its obligations under both Conventions.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the ability of Chilean state agents under investigation for torture or ill-treatment to enter the UK.

All passengers arriving in the UK at passport control are checked against police, security and immigration watch lists on arrival at the border. The majority of these are checked against our systems before they even travel, through the collection of advanced passenger information (API). API helps protect the UK against terrorist attacks, serious cross-border crime and abuses of the immigration system.

We are doing everything in our power to prevent foreign criminals entering our country, Border Force officers can and do to refuse entry when they are known to the UK authorities.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the public interest benefit of the continued imprisonment of Julian Assange; and if she will make a statement.

Mr Assange is currently held on remand in relation to an extradition request from the United States. It is entirely a matter for the courts whether a person should be granted bail or remanded in custody in these circumstances.

28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure child refugees with family in the UK are able to access flights to enter the UK.

The UK remains fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin III Regulation. Despite covid-19 restrictions the UK remains ready to accept transfers under Dublin whenever Member States are in a position to make those arrangements.

The Dublin Regulation makes it very clear that once a take charge request has been accepted for an unaccompanied child, the transfer is the responsibility of the requesting State. We are continuing to liaise with our counterparts in Member States so that we can effect transfers as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people who have been granted a visa to enter the UK but are not able to travel during that period because of the covid-19 pandemic are able to enter the UK once those travel restrictions are lifted without needing to reapply for a further visa.

The Government recognises that travel plans have been and may continue to be severely disrupted.

This is one of a number of issues the Home Office is working through and we are taking a pragmatic approach to ensure individuals are not penalised as a result of issues arising from the covid-19 pandemic which are beyond their control

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, on how many occasions Ministers have used armed services transport in the last 12 months, by department; and what the cost has been of military flights taken by Ministers in the last 12 months.

I refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave on 4 February 2019 to Question 10394 to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock).

4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish the protocol for armed services facilities being used for Ministerial transport; and whether he plans to review that protocol.

The information requested is contained in Defence Instruction and Notice 2018DIN03-002, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House. These instructions were issued in 2018. We expect to review them shortly.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how many contracts for polling public attitudes his Department has commissioned in Scotland in each of the last three years; and how many of those polls included questions on the (i) constitutional settlement of Scotland and (ii) Scottish independence.

The Office has not commissioned any contracts for polling public attitudes in Scotland in the last three years.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how many staff were employed in his Department who were based in (a) London and (b) Scotland on (i) September 2020 and (ii) 1 April in each year from 2015 to 2020.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly. All staff that join do so on an assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies; principally the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice, who remain the employers.

Staff on assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies to the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland were based as follows:

Date

London

Scotland

31 March 2015

27

44

31 March 2016

35

41

31 March 2017

34

38

31 March 2018

32

42

31 March 2019

40

45

31 March 2020

34

47

31 August 2020*

37

48


*Data provided from 31 August as nearest recorded information held to the requested dates.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how much his Department spent on salaries for staff based in (a) Scotland and (b) London in each of the last five financial years.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland spend on salaries for staff based in Scotland and London in each of the last five financial years is shown below:

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

£000

£000

£000

£000

£000

Scotland

2,137

2,326

2,309

2,690

2,849

London

1,612

1,708

1,817

2,016

2,421

Total

3,749

4,034

4,126

4,706

5,270

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what the absence rate was for staff of his Department based in (a) Scotland and (b) London in each of the last five financial years.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly, all staff that join do so on an assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies, who remain the employer. All absence is reported to and recorded by the parent employers, who retain and manage the detailed absence data relevant to their staff.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what proportion of the cost of the recent refit of Queen Elizabeth House was borne by (a) his Department and (b) HM Treasury.

HMRC is responsible for the construction and fit out of Queen Elizabeth House which will house nearly 3,000 civil servants from over 13 UKG departments.

My department will be responsible for part of the overall running costs of the building, supported by funding from HM Treasury as part of our annual settlement.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland