Virendra Sharma Portrait

Virendra Sharma

Labour - Ealing, Southall

Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since January 2020)
International Development Committee (since March 2020)
International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact
13th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
International Development Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Panel of Chairs
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee)
10th Feb 2016 - 3rd May 2017
International Development Committee
8th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Committees on Arms Export Controls
10th Feb 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Human Rights (Joint Committee)
2nd Nov 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Health and Social Care Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
International Development Committee
9th Mar 2009 - 6th May 2010
Human Rights (Joint Committee)
9th Nov 2007 - 6th May 2010
Justice Committee
6th Nov 2007 - 25th Jan 2010
Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (Joint Committee)
1st May 2008 - 22nd Jul 2008


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Protecting the Public and Justice for Victims
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 223 Noes - 0
Speeches
Tuesday 14th September 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

After raising directly with the Government hundreds of separate cases covering thousands of people, I know of only two cases …

Written Answers
Thursday 16th September 2021
Heart Diseases: Medical Treatments
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 6 September 2021 to …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 13th May 2021
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919
That this House recognises the importance of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 for its importance as a turning point …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
Payments from ComRes, Four Millbank, London SW1P 3JA:
EDM signed
Wednesday 8th September 2021
Prescription charges
That this House restates its commitment to the National Health Service as a universal service free at the point of …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021
A Bill to impose duties on certain education and training providers in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Virendra Sharma has voted in 256 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Virendra Sharma 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
Justin Tomlinson (Conservative)
(8 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(5 debate interactions)
Gavin Williamson (Conservative)
(4 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(10 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(9 debate contributions)
Department for Work and Pensions
(7 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Virendra Sharma's debates

Ealing, Southall Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with highest Ealing, Southall signature proportion
Petitions with most Ealing, Southall signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Undocumented Migrants are suffering in silence, with no access to adequate Financial support, or any help. The Government should grant an urgent Amnesty of 5years to those with no criminal record so that they could live their lives as normal human beings and pay tax to help the UK economy.

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

The Government must make a public statement on the #kissanprotests & press freedoms.

India is the worlds largest democracy & democratic engagement and freedom of the press are fundamental rights and a positive step towards creating a India that works for all.


Latest EDMs signed by Virendra Sharma

8th September 2021
Virendra Sharma signed this EDM as a sponsor on Wednesday 8th September 2021

Prescription charges

Tabled by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)
That this House restates its commitment to the National Health Service as a universal service free at the point of delivery and its belief that access to medication is a fundamental right; recognises the devastating impact that covid-19 has had on access to health services; is deeply concerned that increased …
23 signatures
(Most recent: 15 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 18
Scottish National Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Independent: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Green Party: 1
6th September 2021
Virendra Sharma signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 7th September 2021

Friends of Heaton Chapel Station, Stockport

Tabled by: Navendu Mishra (Labour - Stockport)
That this House applauds the work of the Friends of Heaton Chapel Station in Stockport, whose volunteers have worked tirelessly to promote and improve the railway station and its surroundings since 2011; recognises the significance of such volunteer groups and the important role they perform in community life; acknowledges the …
8 signatures
(Most recent: 9 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 7
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Virendra Sharma's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Virendra Sharma, 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.


Virendra Sharma has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Virendra Sharma has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Virendra Sharma has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


238 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
17th Dec 2020
What guidance he has provided to Cabinet colleagues on the timescale for responding to written questions.

My Right Honourable Friend, the Leader of the House, has been clear to the House on this issue, he expects written questions to be answered and dealt with in good time.

Furthermore, my Right Honourable Friend has written to all members of the Cabinet to remind them of the importance of timely and helpful responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the review into Supply Chain Coordination Limited; and what plans he has to hold a public consultation during that review; and if he will make a statement.

In line with successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not usually disclosed.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to ensure installers can undertake their commitments as part of the Green Homes Grant scheme during the covid-19 outbreak; and what penalties are in place to ensure installers undertake work they have committed to do.

Based on the latest advice from my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister, tradespeople may continue to work if they are unable to do so from home. Installers registering and participating in the Green Homes Grant Scheme must agree to the Installer Terms and Conditions. As stated in paragraph 13f under General Obligations:

‘At all times when participating in the Scheme...the Installer must: comply, and ensure that its officers, employees, agents and subcontractors comply, with UK Government best practice “Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)” when working at or in any Customer’s property’.

We understand that COVID-19 restrictions may affect the ability to install measures in households. We will not be imposing any penalties for installers who are unable to undertake work they have committed to as a result of the current restrictions but, as ever, vouchers will only become redeemable once scheduled works have been completed.

The extension to the scheme will allow more flexibility for when installations can take place, and we are working to ensure that voucher validity period reflects the coronavirus situation where necessary.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the (a) value of the cash in transit industry to the UK economy and (b) number of people employed in that industry.

Secure collection and delivery of money, receipts and other valuable items is an activity undertaken by private security firms alongside many other activities rather than being a specific industry itself. These include security guard services, installation of security equipment, security consultancy and investigation activities. Therefore, we are unable to allocate value and employment to this particular activity. Private security and investigation activities as a whole contributed £3.3bn in Gross Vale Added to the UK economy in 2019 and accounted for nearly 230,000 jobs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to support the cash-in-transit industry.

UK Businesses, including those within the cash in transit industry, may be eligible to access the business support packages launched by the Government during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes Business Interruption Loans, and potentially the discretionary grant fund administered by local authorities.

Our network of 38 growth hubs also provide tailored support free of charge to firms based in England, covering sources of business finance, as well as training and networking opportunities. Firms in the devolved administrations will be able to access similar services.

All business support and advice is listed on the GOV.UK website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2020
What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on retaining jobs in the airline industry.

The Government continues to work closely with the airline industry. We have put unprecedented levels of support in place to help industry, including airlines, who have drawn down £1.8billion of loan support through the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) to help them continue activities.

In addition, my Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State for Transport, is leading an International Aviation Task Force, to help put measures in place to kickstart the sector – helping to restore jobs, trade, and opportunities for travel.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many times he has (a) spoken to or (b) requested to speak to (i) Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group and (ii) Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways since the start of the 2020.

The Department has undertaken extensive engagement with businesses across a range of sectors since the start of 2020, particularly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Department for Transport has historically maintained regular engagement with British Airways and the International Airlines Group as important industry stakeholders.

In recognition of the challenging times that the aviation sector continues to face due to Covid-19, the Government has kept an open dialogue with UK airlines, including British Airways and the International Airlines Group.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department and associated regulatory authorities are taking to reduce nuisance automated marketing calls.

Companies that make marketing calls are regulated by both the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). The PECR was designed to complement the DPA and impose strict obligations on organisations that make marketing calls to individuals in the UK.

The Government has taken a number of actions to tackle nuisance and automated marketing calls through amendments to the PECR. This includes introducing director liability and working with the Ministry of Justice and HM Treasury to ban cold calls from personal injury firms and pension providers. We also secured over £1 million to provide vulnerable people with call blocking devices.

The regulators Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office have developed a joint action plan to tackle the harm to consumers caused by nuisance calls and communications. This can be found at:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/information-for-industry/policy/tackling-nuisance-calls-messages

We continue to work with regulators and the telecoms industry in a joined up effort to tackle the issue of nuisance marketing communications.

15th Oct 2020
5G
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of (a) households and (b) land area have 5G coverage.

All four Mobile Network Operators have now launched 5G networks, with 5G services now available in over 100 towns and cities across the UK.

Ofcom, as the UK’s telecommunications regulator, collects mobile coverage data for its Connected Nations reports. Ofcom does not currently report on 5G coverage figures but we will be working with them to agree how best to report 5G coverage data as it becomes more widespread.

15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many households do not have access to high speed internet; and what his Department's definition is of high speed internet.

The department does not use the term “high speed internet”, but uses the term “superfast” to denote speeds capable of 24Mbps and more. There are c.30 million households across the UK, and the superfast coverage against the 24Mbps definition is 96.8%. Against the EU definition, which is 30Mbps and above, coverage across the UK is 96.5%.

In regard to households that do not have access to high speed internet, Ofcom have defined a “decent broadband” connection as being able to access 10Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload. According to Thinkbroadband as of 16 October, 1.4% of UK premises have speeds of less than 10Mbps.

2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on jobs in the events industry in England of exempting children aged 12 and under from the rule of six, in line with the policies of the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales.

My department continues to closely assess the impact of COVID-related restrictions on the events industry.

The rule of six does not apply to work, education and training activities. Meetings of up to 30 can still take place in permitted venues, as per the Covid-19 Secure guidance for the visitor economy. Since 11 July, a range of outdoor events have been able to take place.

Where the rule of 6 does apply, we have set out a clear and consistent limit of 6 people. Health is a devolved matter, and each administration has the discretion to implement the policy as they see fit.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and the latest public health assessments.

We continue to engage with stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation facing events businesses across the UK.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that all communities can access (a) park tennis courts and (b) other (i) free and (ii) low-cost open spaces and sporting facilities.

As we set out in the government sport strategy, Sporting Future, sport and physical activity should be accessible to all. It is so important to the health of the nation - in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing.

As announced on 9 July, from 25 July indoor gyms, leisure centres (including tennis courts) and swimming pools in England should be able to reopen. These facilities will be able to offer on-site services to customers, provided they are COVID-secure and follow Government guidance.

Sport England have announced a £195 million package of support to help community clubs through this crisis. It recently boosted its Community Emergency Fund by a further £15 million to meet the demand, taking the total up to £210 million.

The income scheme announced on Thursday 2 July by the Secretary of State for Local Government, aims to support local authorities who have incurred irrecoverable loss of income from sales, fees and charge which they had reasonably budgeted for. Further guidance will follow on the principle of the scheme.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve ventilation in the classroom to help ensure the safety of pupils during the covid-19 outbreak.

As the Department’s guidance outlines, when a school is in operation, it is important to ensure that it is well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained. This can be achieved through a variety of measures, including using mechanical ventilation systems and/or natural ventilation, such as opening windows. In all cases, actions should be taken to encourage fresh air into the building, whilst striking a balance with thermal comfort.

The Department continues to review ventilation guidance, including considering whether monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels would be appropriate. The Department is working with Public Health England (PHE) and ventilation experts on a pilot project to measure CO2 levels in typical classrooms and exploring options to help improve ventilation where needed. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government updates its advice accordingly to ensure that all schools, colleges and nurseries have the right safety measures in place.

The Department has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and PHE to revise our guidance for schools, colleges and nurseries from Step 4 of the roadmap. The Department’s aim is to balance the risks associated with COVID-19 whilst moving to a ‘steady state’ that minimises both the burden of implementing protective measures on staff and parents and the effect those measures have on young peoples’ educational experiences.

The Department will continue keep these measures under review, in partnership with health experts and informed by the latest scientific evidence and advice.

The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of special provisions in the Behaviour Hubs programme for pupils with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions.

The behaviour hubs programme is designed to support the development and implementation of positive whole-school behaviour cultures which benefit all children, including those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other neurodiverse conditions.

The behaviour hubs programme pairs lead schools and multi academy trusts (MATs) that have exemplary behaviour practices with partner schools or MATs who want and need to improve pupil behaviour.

Lead schools and MATs have been selected from across the school sector, and include primary, secondary, alternative provision, special schools and MATs. This provides partner schools and MATs with access to good practice across different types of provision, including specialist provision. Experienced senior leaders and executive teams that have implemented strong, positive behaviour cultures within their schools will be able to support the specific challenges that a partner school is facing, including those relating to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

All schools on the programme have access to training on specific issues, common problems, and effective approaches led by expert advisers that can be implemented in their school context. Training modules have been developed and reviewed by experts from across the school sector. The training includes a mandatory module on SEND, which covers how to ensure behaviour policies and practices are inclusive and take reasonable adjustments into account, including any adjustments required for those who are neurodiverse.

The programme is designed and delivered by the Department’s taskforce of behaviour advisers. The behaviour advisers bring experience from across the school sector, including alternative provision and special schools, providing broad representation of all schools and their specific needs, including SEND.

The Department has procured an independent evaluator to assess the effectiveness of the programme. Where possible, analysis from all components of the evaluation will seek to provide insights by school type (such as secondary, alternative provision and special schools) and characteristics of the schools and the pupils at those schools (for example the proportion of pupils with SEND or eligible for free school meals).

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make a statement on the ways in which early years provision will feature as part of the covid-19 catch-up recovery strategy; and how opportunities for play will be (a) encouraged, (b) supported and (c) facilitated.

On 2 June 2021, as part of the government’s announcement on providing an additional £1.4 billon for education recovery, we announced a £153 million investment for high-quality professional development for early years practitioners. This includes new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development, and physical and emotional development for the youngest children, of which play is an important part. This is in addition to the £18 million announced in February 2021 and the £9 million announced in June 2020 to support early language development for children in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The package will build on our early years foundation stage reforms, which support more effective early years curriculum and assessment, and reducing unnecessary assessment paperwork, so that practitioners and teachers can spend more time engaging children in rich activities, including through play, to support their learning.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase teacher recruitment.

The number of teachers remains high, with more than 453,000 working in schools across the country – over 12,000 more than in 2010.

The Department recognises, however, that more needs to be done to ensure that this level of recruitment is maintained. One of the Department’s top priorities is to ensure that we continue to attract and retain high-quality teachers, for example through transforming the support and professional development teachers receive, as well as helping create the right climate for head teachers to establish supportive school cultures.

The teacher pay increases in recent years are making a substantial difference to the competitiveness of the early career pay offer (for example, this academic year, teacher starting salaries have increased by 5.5%).

In terms of attracting new trainees into teaching, there has been an increase in the number of new trainees this year – in the academic year 2020/21, 41,472 new trainees were recruited overall – over 7,000 (23%) more than in 2019 – which shows that teaching continues to be an attractive career option.

Additionally, in the academic year 2020/21, 14,994 postgraduate trainees were recruited to EBacc subjects – 1,987 more trainee teachers than the previous year.

The quality of this year’s trainee teachers remains high, with 23% of postgraduate entrants holding a first-class degree in the academic year 2020/21, which is 3 percentage points higher than the previous year.

The Department is committed to ensuring that these recruits receive the best training possible. From this September, new trainee teachers will be entitled to at least three years of evidence-based professional development and support, starting with the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework, followed by a two-year induction based on the Early Career Framework (ECF).

The ECF is the biggest teaching reform in a generation and will give early-career teachers access to high-quality training and mentoring. In addition to this, the Department is launching new National Professional Qualifications for teachers and school leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high-quality teaching practice to those leading multiple schools across trusts.

The Department recognises that there is further to go in some subjects. That is why a range of measures have been put in place, including bursaries worth up to £24,000 and scholarships worth up to £26,000, to encourage talented trainees to key subjects such as chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics. There are also training bursaries available as part of the Subject Knowledge Enhancement programme, which helps trainees in seven EBacc subjects to gain the depth of subject knowledge needed to train to teach their chosen subject.

The Department is taking action to ensure recent success in increasing ITT recruitment is maintained. For example, the Department is launching a new one-stop ITT application system. The ‘Apply’ service will be fully rolled out by October 2021.

Additionally, the Department is taking steps to make it easier for schools to recruit teachers. ‘Teaching Vacancies’ is a free, national job listing service that is saving schools money and attracting high-quality candidates: https://teaching-vacancies.service.gov.uk/?_ga=2.204282384.1894025638.1594023142-892610644.1591690663. This service can help schools to quickly list vacancies for both permanent and fixed-term teaching staff.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the School Rebuilding Programme will prioritise the replacement of CLASP schools to ensure teachers and schoolchildren are safe from the health effects of asbestos.

The Department for Education takes the issue of asbestos in schools very seriously and is committed to supporting schools, local authorities and academy trusts to fulfil their duty to manage asbestos safely. Expert advice from the Health and Safety Executive is that if asbestos is unlikely to be damaged or disturbed then it is best managed in situ. We are clear that if asbestos does pose a safety risk and cannot be effectively managed in situ, then it should be removed from schools.

Since 2015, the Department has allocated over £9.5 billion, including an additional £560 million in 2020-21, to those responsible for school buildings for essential maintenance and improvements, including removing or encapsulation when it is the safest course of action to do so.

In February, we announced the first 50 schools to benefit from the new School Rebuilding Programme as part of a commitment to 500 projects over the next decade. School Rebuilding Programme investment is targeted based on a buildings condition. A full explanation of the methodology used to prioritise the first 50 schools has been published at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme.

We intend to consult later this year on the approach to prioritising schools for the longer-term programme.

1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) delaying schools reopening and (b) blended learning in areas with the highest rates of covid-19.

The Government has been committed to getting all pupils back into schools full-time, as soon as the public health picture allows. In doing so, the Department is guided by the scientific and medical experts. Data and evidence are considered regularly, including by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officers.

On 22 February 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed that, based on the Government’s assessment of the current data against its 4 tests for relaxing restrictions, it will be possible for children to return to schools from 8 March 2021. The latest data suggests that COVID-19 infection rates have fallen across all ages, including in children and young people.

Missing face-to-face education has severe impacts for children and young people, with clear evidence that further time out of education is detrimental for cognitive and academic development, health and wellbeing.

There should be no need to reduce occupancy in schools by implementing rotas or providing blended learning. Instead, everyone should follow the system of controls set out in our published guidance, which have been strengthened and are the correct measures for minimising the risk of transmission within schools: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963541/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

In the event that restrictions in schools are needed to help contain the spread of the virus, the Government may ask schools to change how they are delivering education for a short period of time. To assist with this, on 22 February, we published a revised contingency framework, which outlines how schools should operate in the event of any restrictions. The contingency framework is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-contingency-framework-for-education-and-childcare-settings/contingency-framework-education-and-childcare-settings-excluding-universities#contingency-framework-principles.

The contingency framework is different from the processes for managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks in individual schools and the process for alleviating operational challenges including staff shortages. Existing processes and roles for school leaders and Directors of Public Health in addressing those issues are unchanged.

1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what advice he has received on reducing the risk of increasing covid-19 infection rates when schools reopen; and what the key recommendations of that advice were.

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

As new evidence or data emerges, the Department updates its advice accordingly to ensure that all our schools have the right safety measures in place. On 22 February 2021, we updated our guidance to support the full opening to education from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

We know that the predominant new variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible. PHE advice remains that the way to control this virus is with the ‘system of controls’, even with the current new variants. The ‘system of controls’ measures outlined in our guidance create an environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. Schools need to continue to implement these controls to the fullest extent possible.

While it is not possible to ensure a totally risk-free environment, there is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults. The Department recently published 'Evidence summary: COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings', which can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

Based on the recent Office for National Statistics data, the risks to education staff are similar to those for most other occupations. This data can be found at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19infectionsinthecommunityinengland/characteristicsofpeopletestingpositiveforcovid19inengland22february2021.

The Department will continue to keep our guidance and advice to schools under review to help ensure they remain as safe as possible.

29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to (a) distribute clear face masks to schools and colleges, and (b) help schools make reasonable adjustments for those children who suffer from hearing loss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to Answer of 18 January 2020 to Question 137170 on Children: Computers, by which date his Department expects that every child in need of a device for remote learning during the covid-19 lockdown will have adequate access to that device.

All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England are now expected to provide remote education for the majority of their pupils and students. To support this, the Government is investing over £400 million, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 800,000 laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities by 17 January. Schools already owned around 2 million laptops and 1 million tablets before the COVID-19 outbreak, and they have been invited to order more devices to help meet demand.

Delivery of devices is continuing over the course of this term. The Get Help with Technology scheme will email schools with information on the number of additional devices allocated to them, and when they will be able to order.

We have estimated the number of laptops and tablets needed by disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 using data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals data and external estimates of the number of devices that schools already own. Schools, local authorities and academy trusts are able to request additional devices if their original allocation does not meet their needs.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January to Question 137170 on Children: Computers, what assessment he has made of (a) the number of children remote learning during the covid-19 lockdown, (b) how many devices those children require, and (c) how much funding his Department will allocate to provide those devices.

All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England are now expected to provide remote education for the majority of their pupils and students. To support this, the Government is investing over £400 million, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 800,000 laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities by 17 January. Schools already owned around 2 million laptops and 1 million tablets before the COVID-19 outbreak, and they have been invited to order more devices to help meet demand.

Delivery of devices is continuing over the course of this term. The Get Help with Technology scheme will email schools with information on the number of additional devices allocated to them, and when they will be able to order.

We have estimated the number of laptops and tablets needed by disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 using data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals data and external estimates of the number of devices that schools already own. Schools, local authorities and academy trusts are able to request additional devices if their original allocation does not meet their needs.

14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his Department's policy that free school meals should not cover the February 2021 half-term.

During the period of national lockdown, schools should continue to provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are in school. Schools should also continue to provide free school meal support to pupils who are eligible for benefits related free school meals and who are learning at home. Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme which re-opened on Monday 18 January 2021.

As was the case over Christmas, vulnerable children and families can continue to receive support for food and other essentials over February half-term via councils through the £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme launched last year. Local authorities understand which groups need support and are best placed to ensure appropriate holiday support is provided. This is why the £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme will be distributed by them, rather than schools, who will continue providing support for disadvantaged children during term-time. Families who need support should speak to their local authority.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date he estimates that every child in need of a device for remote learning will have adequate access such a device during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education, and on Tuesday 12 January the Department announced that it will be providing a further 300,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This is on top of our previous commitment to provide a million devices. We are delivering devices as quickly as they are available, during a time of unprecedented global demand. We have based our allocation of devices on recent data on free school meal eligibility, to ensure that they reach the children and young people that need them most.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to fairly assess GCSE and A-Level students who were scheduled to retake their exams in 2021 and having left their school or college are no longer able to receive a teacher assessment.

The Department concluded a successful Autumn exam series, allowing pupils who were unhappy with the grades they received in Summer 2020 the opportunity to sit them again. The Department understands, however, that some pupils may have decided to wait until the Summer 2021 series to take their exams.

In light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department will not be asking pupils to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer as planned. It is important therefore that there is a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade.

A rapid consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that ensures they can progress to the next stage of their lives will be launching shortly. The Department will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual. A full equalities impact assessment, informed by the results of the consultation, will be published in due course.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of closing nurseries and early years settings as a result of the exponential rise in covid-19 transmission among children.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced on 4 January 2021 that early years settings remain open for all children during the national lockdown.

Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Schools have been restricted because additional measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus. The wider significant restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus in the community enable us to continue prioritising keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.

Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there is no evidence that the new variant of COVID-19 disproportionately affects young children.

PHE advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments. This report from PHE shows that, at present under 5s have the lowest confirmed case rate of all age groups: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-reports.

Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early modelling evidence from SAGE evidenced in the report: Modelling and behavioural science responses to scenarios for relaxing school closures showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate when modelled with both primary schools and secondary schools. The report is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/886994/s0257-sage-sub-group-modelling-behavioural-science-relaxing-school-closures-sage30.pdf.

Early years childcare providers were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the COVID-19 outbreak so that young children can be educated, and parents can work. The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

These plans are being kept under review in the light of emerging scientific evidence. We are working with the scientific community to understand the properties and dynamics of the new variant VUI-202012/01 in relation to children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he has made available to support teachers to help return pupils' attainment back to the national standard after their attainment declined during the summer term and summer holiday during the covid-19 outbreak.

All children and young people have had their education disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to support schools, the Government has committed to a catch-up package worth £1 billion.

This funding includes a universal catch-up premium worth £650 million to support schools to deliver any additional activities required to make up for lost teaching time. To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation has published a support guide for schools with evidence-based approaches to catch up, and a School Planning Guide, developed in partnership with expert school leaders from across the country, to support school leaders with their planning for the 2020/21 academic year.

Alongside this, the catch-up package includes a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. This will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, further helping to tackle the attainment gap. Research shows high quality individual and small group tuition can add up to five months of progress for disadvantaged pupils.

15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of children without access to an internet enabled device enabling them to participate in remote education.

It is vital that pupils have access to high quality and consistent remote education. The Government believes that through the hard work of teachers and staff, pupils will continue to receive the education they deserve, whatever the circumstances.

As part of over £160 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care, the Department has already provided over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, during the summer term, for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access.

These devices are owned by schools, academy trusts and local authorities who can lend these to disadvantaged children and young people who need them most. We are now supplementing this support by making an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets available this term to support disadvantaged children who may experience disruption to face-to-face education.

The Department estimated the number of disadvantaged pupils without access to a suitable device or the internet using data on pupils eligible for Free School Meals in each school, taking into consideration that some pupils would already have access to a private device or internet connection.

The Department is also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection. We are piloting an approach where mobile network operators are providing temporary access to free additional data, offering families more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most. In the pilot, schools, academy trusts, and local authorities identified children who need access to free additional data.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support clinically extremely vulnerable children who cannot attend school; and what support is available to the children of clinically extremely vulnerable people to enable safe and effective learning out of classrooms.

This government will always prioritise the health and welfare of staff and pupils.

Being in nursery, school and college is vital for children and young people’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of nursery, school and college is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development.

Current evidence suggests schools are not high-risk settings when compared to other workplace environments. The risk to children of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low and there are negative health impacts being out of school.

We are clear about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within schools. That is why the Department for Education published guidance, endorsed by Public Health England, which provides a framework for schools to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff. The guidance also ensures that all pupils receive a high-quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. If schools follow this guidance, they will effectively reduce risks in their school and create an inherently safer environment for pupils, families and staff. The guidance for the full opening of schools available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The national shielding programme for all adults and children was paused on 1 August 2020 (except areas in local lockdown). Clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on the reopening of schools and guidance for full opening, including special schools and other specialist settings. Children who live with those who are clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable can attend school. If parents or carers of learners remain concerned, we recommend schools discuss their concerns and provide reassurance of the measures they are putting into place. The guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, we expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education. Our guidance has a dedicated section on remote education support which outlines our expectations, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#res.

Pupils no longer required to shield but who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional are likely to discuss their care with their health professional at their next planned clinical appointment. Further advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is available here: https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/covid-19-talking-children-families-about-returning-school-guiding-principles.

For disadvantaged children who are unable to attend school on clinical or public health advice and do not have access to a suitable device or the internet, their school can request support through the 'Get help with technology' service. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-laptops-and-tablets-for-children-who-cannot-attend-school-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

Keeping children safe online is essential. The statutory guidance 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' provides schools and colleges with information on what they should be doing to protect their pupils online. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help protect older and more vulnerable students at greater risk from covid-19 infection when attending reopened further education colleges in September 2020.

The guidance published on the 2 July and updated on 15 July sets how Further Education colleges can reopen safely for all learners, including those that are older or vulnerable, in September 2020. It has been developed in close consultation with the sector and medical experts from Public Health England. It sets out in detail the steps colleges should take to protect their staff and learners with a requirement to undertake full health and safety COVID-19 risk assessments and implement the September reopening protective measures. These risk assessments must consider groups that are most at risk, including learners with protected characteristics. The guidance also provides advice on supporting young vulnerable learners and recognises that young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may need careful preparation for a return to full time attendance.

We have also produced guidance for specialist education settings including special post-16 institutions. This sets out the actions special education setting leaders should take to minimise the risk of transmission in their setting, highlighting additional or different considerations for special education settings.

We are doing everything we can to make sure colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for learners and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case. We will keep guidance under review as we continue to monitor the situation over the summer and we will adjust and adapt our approach as necessary if more evidence becomes available to us.

The guidance is available here:

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

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many requests he has received to meet with the The Black Curriculum; and what plans he has to meet with that organisation.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education received a request directly from The Black Curriculum organisation asking for a meeting and a response has been sent. At this stage, the Department’s work responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and other diary pressures make it difficult for the Secretary of State to arrange a meeting. However, the Secretary of State’s reply makes clear that officials have met with the organisation previously and are happy to meet with them again to discuss these matters.

30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will create a standardised home learning framework to help maintain educational standards throughout England during the covid-19 outbreak.

Getting more children back in school is vital for their education and their wellbeing – particularly for the most disadvantaged children. Time out of school leads to lost education now but will also affect children’s ability to learn in future.

We believe the very best place for children to be from the Autumn is back in schools. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the very low risk from COVID-19 and schools can take action to reduce that risk even further. On Thursday 2 July we published guidance for schools reopening to all pupils. This sets out key principles for curriculum planning so that all pupils – particularly disadvantaged, special educational needs and disability (SEND) and vulnerable pupils – are given the catch-up support needed to make substantial progress by the end of the academic year. This includes a section on remote education and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Whilst children are unable to attend school, we are committed to ensuring that all children can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways, and as such are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 28 June, 4.1 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 14.7 million lessons had been viewed. Further remote education support can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to allocate funding from the public purse for the provision of summer schools for children in the state sector during the 2020 summer holidays.

The Government have announced a universal catch-up premium of £650 million which will be shared between all state-funded primary, secondary, and special schools in England. This premium will be in addition to schools’ core budgets for the 2020/21 academic year.

The universal catch-up premium has been set up to support schools to provide catch-up provision for those who need it most as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is for schools to decide how to allocate it in the most effective way, as they will know best their specific needs.

Provision could include, for example, intervention programmes, extra teaching capacity, access to technology and / or the provision of summer schools. The Education Endowment Foundation have published a COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools to make best use of this funding: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/. This includes advice on summer schools and links to the Teach First Toolkit that is specifically focussed on the provision of summer schools.

In addition, the government has confirmed £9 million of funding to support Holiday Activity and Food programmes in 17 local authorities across England.

A wide range of charities, youth and sports providers will also be offering developmental programmes for young people over the summer including, for example, the National Citizen Service (NCS). NCS will be providing a range of activities to further education colleges and schools over the summer and autumn to support young people develop life knowledge and re-engage with education.

The Government understands the importance of holiday activities in providing opportunities that allow children to socialise and interact with others outside of their household whilst promoting their wellbeing. The Department for Education has therefore published guidance for providers of community activities, holiday and after-school clubs as well as other out-of-school provision for children over the age of 5, which sets out the protective measures that need to be in place to ensure that such settings can open as safely as possible.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Alongside this, the Department has published guidance for parents and carers on the precautions they should be taking if they are thinking of sending their child to any provision over the summer period.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding has been allocated to schools in the London Borough of Ealing in relation to (a) online tuition and (b) teaching materials.

Ealing is receiving an extra £10.1 million for schools this year, an increase of 3.7% per pupil taking total funding for 2020-21 in Ealing to £250.8 million.

It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils, and how best to use their funding. We recognise that many schools have already shared resources – both online and printed resources – for children who are at home, and we are committed to ensuring that all children can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways during these very difficult circumstances.

We are committed to ensuring that all children can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways for as long as they are unable to attend school, and are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. By 21 June, 3.9 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 13.2 million lessons had been viewed.

The Government has also committed over £100 million to boost remote education. This includes: providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

The Government have announced a package of support of £1 billion to ensure that schools have the support they need to help children and young people make up for lost teaching time, with extra support in the form of a tutoring programme for those who need it most. We will provide more information on exactly how this funding will be distributed in due course.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take to reduce the gap in provision between state and private schools after the covid-19 outbreak.

We are committed to ensuring that all pupils continue to learn remotely where they cannot attend school due to COVID-19. The Department has published guidance to support state-funded schools in providing online lessons, and using high quality digital and printed curriculum resources.

To support state schools to provide education online, the Government has committed over £100 million to boost access to remote education. This includes providing laptops and tablets and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

The Department is also supporting sector-led initiatives such as Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 21 June, 3.9 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 13.2 million lessons had been viewed. Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV, BBC iPlayer and online at BBC Bitesize.

We expect all pupils to return to school in September, and the Department published guidance on Thursday 2 July. Given the possibility that groups of pupils need to self-isolate, such as for a local lockdown, all schools will be expected to have remote education contingency plans in place. The guidance sets out what is expected from schools for their remote education provision.

We are also providing a package of support worth £1 billion to support catch up for all pupils in state schools next academic year, including extra support for the most disadvantaged.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the additional number of pupils that can attend school in the event that social distancing guidelines are lower to one metre.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn. We know how important it is for their wellbeing to have social interactions with their teachers and friends. Our intention is for all children to return to school from September.

We have published further information and guidance to help schools prepare for September. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We will be guided by the latest scientific advice and are working with the sector to ensure our guidance provides schools with the further details they need. Any protective measures that may be necessary to keep children and teachers as safe as possible, advice on group sizes, staffing advice and transport considerations can be found in the guidance.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to split primary and secondary classes into multiple bubbles to minimise the risk of covid-19 transmission.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn. We know how important it is for their wellbeing to have social interactions with their teachers and friends. Our intention is for all children to return to school from September.

We have published further information and guidance to help schools prepare for September. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We will be guided by the latest scientific advice and are working with the sector to ensure our guidance provides schools with the further details they need. Any protective measures that may be necessary to keep children and teachers as safe as possible, advice on group sizes, staffing advice and transport considerations can be found in the guidance.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to take steps to weight the exam results of children from less affluent households that have not had access to IT equipment during the covid-19 outbreak and whose parents have not attended higher education to reflect those disadvantages.

We recognise that students who are studying GCSE, A level or equivalent courses, and are due to take exams and assessments in 2021, will have experienced disruption to their education. We are working with Ofqual and the awarding organisations to develop our approach to next year’s exams and assessments in light of this.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to tackle unequal access to education as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Schools are continuing to receive additional funding in the form of the pupil premium – worth around £2.4 billion annually – to help them support their disadvantaged pupils. This includes those who have been in receipt of free school meals at any point in the last six years, and looked after and previously looked after children.

The government has also committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers. The department has ordered over 200,000 laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examination in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver.

We are providing over 50,000 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children with a social worker in secondary school, care leavers and children in Year 10 who do not have access to a suitable internet connection through other means. We are also working with the country’s major telecommunications providers to make it easier for children in vulnerable and disadvantaged families, who are relying on mobile data, to access online educational resources.

To support the hard work of schools in delivering remote education, 40 teachers have come together to develop the brand-new Oak National Academy, launched at the start of the summer term. The Oak Academy provides 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10. Education resources are also available offline. Children will be able to draw on support from the BBC, which is broadcasting lessons on television, and may choose to access the many hard copy resources offers which have been produced by publishers across the country.

We recognise that, for some children, there will be a need for additional support where they have not been able to learn in the same way that we would have expected this term. We are working with a range of partners, including the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), to establish how schools can best help their pupils – including those from disadvantaged backgrounds – to make up lost ground. In particular, we are very supportive of the work being taken forward by the EEF and other organisations to pilot online tutoring for disadvantaged pupils during the summer term.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has taken steps to monitor the potential effect of care proceedings on children who have had their contact with their birth family suspended.

The potential effect of care proceedings on children who have had their contact with their birth family suspended will continue to be considered by judges as part of individual care proceedings.

The department has published guidance on children in care and contact with their families while the government’s social distancing guidance remains in force. The guidance makes clear that contact between looked-after children and their birth parents must continue but may be more appropriate to take place virtually at this time: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

We are also aware that the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory commissioned an urgent new research project, Understanding how children’s connections to birth families are being managed during social isolation. This showed that those taking part in our study reported widespread use of video calls by and for children in residential, foster and kinship care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many individuals in foster care are in contact with their birth family.

The information requested on the number of children in foster care who are in contact with their birth family is not held centrally.

We expect that contact between children in care and their birth relatives will continue during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is essential for children and families to remain in touch at this difficult time.

Operational guidance published by the department sets out the expectation that contact arrangements are assessed on a case by case basis taking into account a range of factors including the government’s social distancing guidance and the needs of the child. It may not be possible, or appropriate, for the usual face-to-face contact to happen at this time and keeping in touch may need to take place virtually. We expect the spirit of any contact orders made in relation to children in care to be maintained and will look to social workers to determine how best to support those valuable family interactions based on the circumstances of each case.

The operational guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

Social distancing guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that contact arrangements between (a) foster children and (b) adopted children and their birth families are maintained.

The information requested on the number of children in foster care who are in contact with their birth family is not held centrally.

We expect that contact between children in care and their birth relatives will continue during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is essential for children and families to remain in touch at this difficult time.

Operational guidance published by the department sets out the expectation that contact arrangements are assessed on a case by case basis taking into account a range of factors including the government’s social distancing guidance and the needs of the child. It may not be possible, or appropriate, for the usual face-to-face contact to happen at this time and keeping in touch may need to take place virtually. We expect the spirit of any contact orders made in relation to children in care to be maintained and will look to social workers to determine how best to support those valuable family interactions based on the circumstances of each case.

The operational guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

Social distancing guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support private nurseries that are facing a loss of revenue as a result of restrictions implemented during the covid-19 outbreak to maintain places.

The government has set out specific measures to support childcare providers, including:

  • Funding for the government’s early years entitlements will continue being paid to local authorities
  • Nurseries being among the businesses eligible for a business rates holiday for one year from 1 April

Childcare providers will also benefit from the wider measures the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced to support the people and businesses of the UK:

  • A three-point plan announced in the Budget providing £12 billion of support for public services, individuals and businesses whose finances are affected by the outbreak
  • A package to provide additional support for businesses and individuals totalling £350 billion
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment. This means that businesses can put workers on temporary leave and the government will pay them cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, providing they keep the worker employed
  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to enable those eligible to receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years.

More details on the support available are included in the latest guidance for early years settings, which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.

We continue to work closely with the early years sector and remain committed to doing all we can to support childcare providers through this uncertain period. We will publish further guidance where appropriate.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 3 February 2021 to Question 145762 on the Soil and Groundwater Technology Association, if he will make an assessment of the independence of the Soil and Groundwater Technical Association.

The Soil and Groundwater Technical Association is a not-for-profit membership organisation focused on the issue of contaminated land. It is formed of UK organisations representative of this focus. There are currently no plans to assess the independence of the Soil and Groundwater Technical Association.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the independence of the Soil and Groundwater Technical Association.

No assessment has been made of the independence of the Soil and Groundwater Technical Association.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Category 4 screening levels (C4SL) Phase 2 Project Steering Group last met; and what the names are of the members of that group.

The Category 4 Screening Levels Phase 2 Project Steering Group last met on Wednesday 27 January 2021.

The members of that group come from local authorities, Government departments and arm’s length bodies, not-for-profit membership organisations and trade organisations. This includes Defra, the Environment Agency and the Welsh Government.

A full list of the attendees for the last meeting has been made available to the hon. Member.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which (a) environmental consultants and (b) advisors his Department has consulted in the last year on pollution standards and controls.

Defra has consulted with the following environmental consultants in the last year on pollution standards and controls:

Ricardo

Enviro Technologies

Air Monitors

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what legislative proposals on pollution he plans to bring forward in this Parliament.

The Environment Bill will bring forwards legislative proposals for tackling pollution.

It will drive significant environmental improvement and tackle pollution by setting and achieving legally-binding, long-term targets in key areas including air quality, water, and resource efficiency and waste.

Some of the leading measures in the Bill to support the delivery of targets include:

  • Air Quality: The Bill introduces a duty on the government to set at least two air quality targets by October 2022:

o To reduce the annual average level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air

o A further target to improve air quality

  • Water: The Bill makes drainage and sewerage management planning, through which companies develop the capacity of their networks, a statutory duty.
  • Resource Efficiency and Waste Reduction – The Bill will enable Government to make waste producers cover the cost of collecting and recycling packaging waste, introduce deposit returns schemes, and introduce charges for single-use plastic items.
Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving hedgehogs to schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to allow them greater protection.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has recently commenced the seventh Quinquennial Review of schedules 5 and 8 (protected species) to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The JNCC will, late next year, make evidence-based recommendations to the Secretary of State as to which species warrant additional legal protections to secure their future conservation. It is not possible, at this time, to confirm which species, including hedgehogs, may be included in these proposals.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of banning the import of shark fins into the UK.

The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and places great importance on ensuring that appropriate protection and management is in place for all shark species.

The UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning, the practice of removing the fins of a shark and discarding the body at sea. The UK has already banned the act of shark finning and has enforced a Fins Naturally Attached policy in order to combat illegal finning of sharks in UK and EU waters. This means that shark fins from sharks fished in UK and EU waters can only be retained and utilised provided they are still attached to the shark when landed at port by fishing vessels.

Following the end of the Transition Period we will explore options consistent with World Trade Organization rules to address the importation of shark fins from other areas, to support efforts to end illegal shark finning practices globally.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what plans her Department has to develop guidelines on how to ensure a public return on public investment on biomedical Research & Development investments in advance of the merger of her Department with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

DFID routes ODA funding for research into the development of drugs, vaccines and other medical tools, through Product Development Partnerships and other not-for-profit organisations. Product Development Partnerships are not for profit organisations that are jointly created and funded by international institutions, national governments, private foundations and industry. These act as platforms to bring together the best scientific expertise alongside resources, to prevent and address diseases that affect low and middle-income countries. Whereas industrial Research and Development is mostly driven by profit - Product Development Partnerships are primarily driven by patient needs and de-link the cost of a new product from the cost of its development. These third-party organisations have the expertise to ensure that, once developed, products are affordable and accessible to provide low and middle-income countries with the tools they need to tackle diseases in their country, maximising the public return on our health Research and Development investments. No additional guidelines are considered necessary.

Merging the Departments will bring together the best of what we do in aid and diplomacy and ensure that all of our national efforts including our aid budget and expertise are used to make the UK a force for good in the world. The work of UK Aid to reduce poverty will remain central to the new department’s mission.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether it remains the Government's policy to maintain the UK's funding for the replenishment of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program in 2020.

The UK plays a leading role in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). We keep all our aid spending under constant review. Because of the likely drop in Gross National Income we are assessing across the board how we will manage the resulting fall in ODA in the coming year.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, what steps she is taking to help prevent a (a) health and (b) global food security crisis in developing countries as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The UK contributes financially and plays a leading role in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), It addresses the key dimensions of agriculture and food security in the poorest and most vulnerable countries and has already adapted all its active programmes to respond to COVID-19. GAFSP is improving the food and nutrition security of 13.4 million smallholder farmers and their families. By doing so, it is helping build resilience and prepare the ground for a sustainable recovery from the negative health and food security impacts of the pandemic.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions she has had with the Foreign Secretary on the maintenance of existing levels of support for nutrition programmes after the merger of her Department with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The UK remains committed to preventing and treating malnutrition as part of our commitment to end the preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children. Addressing poor nutrition is also critical in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Decisions on how UK aid is spent will be for the new department to make, informed by the outcomes of the Integrated Review, expected to conclude later in the year. The Review will define our ambition for the UK’s role in the world, including delivery of the manifesto commitments.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, for what reason the funding allocated to nutrition-specific investments in 2018 was 20 per cent lower than in 2017.

The reduction in nutrition-specific spend between 2017 and 2018 is the result of several standalone nutrition programmes coming to an end, with nutrition activities integrated into broader health investments.

Donor investments in nutrition-specific activities are currently tracked through the OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System using a single code: ‘basic nutrition’. Only programmes that are solely focused on nutrition appear in the Creditor Reporting System under the basic nutrition code. Over the past few years, we have actively promoted integration of nutrition services into health investments. However, this has meant that spend on nutrition-specific activities is reported against other health codes rather than basic nutrition.

Independent analysis of donor nutrition financing noted that – relative to other donors – DFID disburses a greater proportion of nutrition-specific aid through health codes other than basic nutrition. This was ascribed to us having a greater emphasis on addressing nutrition through integrated health programmes.

We remain committed to supporting the scale up of high-impact nutrition-specific services – including through our investments in the Power of Nutrition and through a new partnership with UNICEF.

We will also be applying the new OECD DAC policy marker for nutrition from 2020 onwards. This should help strengthen monitoring of the UK’s investments to prevent and treat malnutrition.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps the Government plans to take to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children under five through investments in global nutrition.

The UK remains committed to preventing and treating malnutrition as part of our pledge to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children. Continued investment to protect the nutrition of the poorest people in the world is even more important as countries face worsening levels of malnutrition in the face of COVID-19. We will continue to support programmes to address malnutrition beyond 2020 and will work with the Government of Japan to ensure the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit is a success.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the covid-19 outbreak on levels of Official Development Assistance; and if she will maintain a existing levels of support for sexual and reproductive health and rights and family planning services in (a) 2020 and (b) future budgets.

Our aid spending is linked to the growth of our economy.

We are working closely with the Treasury to understand the likely forecasts and to ensure that we can meet our 0.7% commitment.

The UK is committed to advancing and defending comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights and, as a leading global donor, we will continue to be a progressive voice on this issue to give women in developing countries the reproductive health choices they want and need.

We are working across Departments to ensure that we continue to drive UK aid spending and commit our Official Development Assistance to the world’s most vulnerable and poorest people.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the potential humanitarian and security effects on (a) Somalia and (b) other African countries of reductions in remittances as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government recognises the vital role remittances play in supporting the incomes of millions of people around the world and the challenge posed by COVID-19 to these flows. Recent projections by the World Bank’s suggest that remittances to sub-Saharan Africa will fall by around 23% - or USD 11 billion – in 2020. In Somalia, remittances represented more than one quarter of GDP in 2019, and on average made up a third of total income for households that received them.

We are deeply concerned about the combined impacts of COVID-19 with ongoing conflict and climate-induced natural disasters in Somalia and other African countries, where millions of people already face food insecurity caused by humanitarian disasters and conflict. This situation will be compounded by a reduction in remittances.

We are working closely with our international partners to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on remittance flows. On Friday 22 May, the UK and Swiss Governments, with the support of the World Bank and other partners, launched a global Call to Action on remittances. This called on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to take action to keep remittances flowing during the crisis.

28th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions she has had with UK banks on encouraging support for remittance companies operating in Africa to help tackle humanitarian disasters in (a) Somalia and (b) other African countries.

The Government recognises the vital role remittances play in supporting the incomes of millions of people around the world – including in Africa, where remittances can represent a significant proportion of GDP. In Somalia remittances represented more than one quarter of its GDP in 2019, and on average made up a third of total income for households that received them.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in Somalia and other African countries, where millions of people already face food insecurity caused by humanitarian disasters and conflict. This situation will be compounded by a reduction in remittances. Recent projections by the World Bank’s indicate that remittances to sub-Saharan Africa will fall by around 23% – USD 11 billion – in 2020.

We are therefore working closely with our international partners to monitor and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on remittance flows. The UK-Somalia Safer Corridor Initiative brought together stakeholders including banks, remittance service providers, regulators and community representatives to tackle barriers in the UK-Somalia remittance corridor. The Government continues to engage regularly with these stakeholders to address the impact of COVID-19 on remittance flows.

The Government understands that UK banks play an important role in maintaining the flow of remittances from the UK to Africa. The Government and the UK’s regulatory authorities have regular engagement with the banking sector in the UK on a wide range of issues, including on the provision of banking services to remittance service providers. The decision to offer banking services is ultimately a commercial decision for banks, which are required by legislation to make these decisions in a proportionate and non-discriminatory way.

On Friday 22 May, the UK and Swiss Governments, with the support of the World Bank and other partners, launched a global Call to Action on remittances. This called on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to take action to keep remittances flowing during the crisis

The Government has already taken steps to support remittance service providers in the UK, including by enabling them to remain open through lockdown by including them on the list of essential businesses.

28th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will take steps to encourage UK banks to provide further support to remittance companies working to provide humanitarian support from the UK to Africa.

The Government recognises the vital role remittances play in supporting the incomes of millions of people around the world – including in Africa, where remittances can represent a significant proportion of GDP. In Somalia remittances represented more than one quarter of its GDP in 2019, and on average made up a third of total income for households that received them.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in Somalia and other African countries, where millions of people already face food insecurity caused by humanitarian disasters and conflict. This situation will be compounded by a reduction in remittances. Recent projections by the World Bank’s indicate that remittances to sub-Saharan Africa will fall by around 23% – USD 11 billion – in 2020.

We are therefore working closely with our international partners to monitor and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on remittance flows. The UK-Somalia Safer Corridor Initiative brought together stakeholders including banks, remittance service providers, regulators and community representatives to tackle barriers in the UK-Somalia remittance corridor. The Government continues to engage regularly with these stakeholders to address the impact of COVID-19 on remittance flows.

The Government understands that UK banks play an important role in maintaining the flow of remittances from the UK to Africa. The Government and the UK’s regulatory authorities have regular engagement with the banking sector in the UK on a wide range of issues, including on the provision of banking services to remittance service providers. The decision to offer banking services is ultimately a commercial decision for banks, which are required by legislation to make these decisions in a proportionate and non-discriminatory way.

On Friday 22 May, the UK and Swiss Governments, with the support of the World Bank and other partners, launched a global Call to Action on remittances. This called on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to take action to keep remittances flowing during the crisis

The Government has already taken steps to support remittance service providers in the UK, including by enabling them to remain open through lockdown by including them on the list of essential businesses.

28th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of restarting the Safer Corridor Initiative in light of the recent reduction in remittances from the UK as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and reluctance from banks to support remittance companies.

The Government recognises the vital role remittances play in supporting the incomes of millions of people around the world – including in Africa, where remittances can represent a significant proportion of GDP. In Somalia remittances represented more than one quarter of its GDP in 2019, and on average made up a third of total income for households that received them.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in Somalia and other African countries, where millions of people already face food insecurity caused by humanitarian disasters and conflict. This situation will be compounded by a reduction in remittances. Recent projections by the World Bank’s indicate that remittances to sub-Saharan Africa will fall by around 23% – USD 11 billion – in 2020.

We are therefore working closely with our international partners to monitor and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on remittance flows. The UK-Somalia Safer Corridor Initiative brought together stakeholders including banks, remittance service providers, regulators and community representatives to tackle barriers in the UK-Somalia remittance corridor. The Government continues to engage regularly with these stakeholders to address the impact of COVID-19 on remittance flows.

The Government understands that UK banks play an important role in maintaining the flow of remittances from the UK to Africa. The Government and the UK’s regulatory authorities have regular engagement with the banking sector in the UK on a wide range of issues, including on the provision of banking services to remittance service providers. The decision to offer banking services is ultimately a commercial decision for banks, which are required by legislation to make these decisions in a proportionate and non-discriminatory way.

On Friday 22 May, the UK and Swiss Governments, with the support of the World Bank and other partners, launched a global Call to Action on remittances. This called on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to take action to keep remittances flowing during the crisis

The Government has already taken steps to support remittance service providers in the UK, including by enabling them to remain open through lockdown by including them on the list of essential businesses.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to his Department's press release entitled, UK will step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children in the developing world by 2030 published on 19 October 2019, what steps his Department is taking to increase the quality of life for (a) children, (b) new-borns and (c) women living with life-threatening illness where death is not preventable.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the UK would step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Core to the UK's Preventable Deaths agenda, is how we can support low income countries to scale up quality health services. This includes the development of national maternal health policies, support for the delivery of services and work to strengthen health systems, the provision of skilled care at birth, emergency obstetric care, and improving access and quality of medicines. We invest at both the country level and through global programmes. An example is our recent £600m commitment to scale up access to a range of existing and new sexual and reproductive health supplies, which has the potential to expand access to misoprostol.

We recognise that not all deaths are preventable. We support countries in their development of national policies and service provision for those with ongoing illnesses, with focus on quality of care and access to medicines.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to his Department's press release entitled, UK will step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children in the developing world by 2030 published on 19 October 2019, what his policy is on the (a) integration of cervical cancer prevention and treatment services including HPV vaccination and screening to sexual and reproductive health services and (b) the WHO call to eliminate cervical cancer by May 2020.

The UK is a leading player in global health and is committed to stepping up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborn babies and children in the developing world by 2030.

UK aid provides support to strengthen health systems in the world’s poorest countries, including provision of sexual reproductive health services and rights. Where possible an integrated package of sexual and reproductive health services are delivered, including the introduction of certain cervical cancer screening, prevention and treatments in some contexts.

We are the largest donor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which supports HPV vaccination programmes in developing countries. Through Gavi support, 30 developing countries have taken their first steps toward HPV roll out, with the aim of vaccinating 40 million girls by 2020. The UK will also host the Gavi Replenishment Conference on 3-4 June 2020.

The UK supports the recently published WHO ‘Global strategy towards eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem’, and the associated goals for the period 2020 to 2030.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to his Department's press release entitled, UK will step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children in the developing world by 2030 published on 19 October 2019, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that adolescent girls with disabilities can access sexual and reproductive health services.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the UK would step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Universal health coverage, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), is central to these efforts.

Our health and SRHR programmes aim to understand and overcome the barriers for excluded groups, to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable within society, including those with disabilities, are able to access services. All our SRHR programmes target adolescent girls. We also work to address the needs of ethnic groups in particular countries.

At the UN General Assembly in 2019, the Secretary of State for International Development announce funding of £600 million over 2020-2025 that will provide millions more women and girls with access to family planning.

The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health reproductive health programme uses innovative ways to identify and reach the poorest and most marginalised adolescent girls and women with essential services across 27 countries. Our support to the Robert Carr Fund, Amplify Change and the Safe Abortion Action Fund all support grassroots organisations to campaign for and promote access to the most marginalised populations’ sexual and reproductive health services and rights.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps he is taking to ensure that young women in developing countries who (a) unmarried and (b) are mothers can access contraceptive and sexual and reproductive health and rights services.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the UK would step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Universal health coverage, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), is central to these efforts.

Our health and SRHR programmes aim to understand and overcome the barriers for excluded groups, to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable within society, including those with disabilities, are able to access services. All our SRHR programmes target adolescent girls. We also work to address the needs of ethnic groups in particular countries.

At the UN General Assembly in 2019, the Secretary of State for International Development announce funding of £600 million over 2020-2025 that will provide millions more women and girls with access to family planning.

The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health reproductive health programme uses innovative ways to identify and reach the poorest and most marginalised adolescent girls and women with essential services across 27 countries. Our support to the Robert Carr Fund, Amplify Change and the Safe Abortion Action Fund all support grassroots organisations to campaign for and promote access to the most marginalised populations’ sexual and reproductive health services and rights.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps he is taking to ensure (a) indigenous women and (b) other minority groups in developing countries can access contraceptive and sexual and reproductive health and rights services.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the UK would step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Universal health coverage, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), is central to these efforts.

Our health and SRHR programmes aim to understand and overcome the barriers for excluded groups, to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable within society, including those with disabilities, are able to access services. All our SRHR programmes target adolescent girls. We also work to address the needs of ethnic groups in particular countries.

At the UN General Assembly in 2019, the Secretary of State for International Development announce funding of £600 million over 2020-2025 that will provide millions more women and girls with access to family planning.

The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health reproductive health programme uses innovative ways to identify and reach the poorest and most marginalised adolescent girls and women with essential services across 27 countries. Our support to the Robert Carr Fund, Amplify Change and the Safe Abortion Action Fund all support grassroots organisations to campaign for and promote access to the most marginalised populations’ sexual and reproductive health services and rights.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to his Department's press release entitled, UK will step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children in the developing world by 2030 published on 19 October 2019, what plans he has to support country-led plans to (a) provide skilled care at birth, (b) provide emergency obstetric care and (c) ensure availability of (i) medicines, (ii) commodities and (iii) equipment; and what plans he has to support the availability of misoprostol to prevent and treat postpartum haemorrhage and medical abortion.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the UK would step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. Core to the UK's Preventable Deaths agenda, is how we can support low income countries to scale up quality health services. This includes the development of national maternal health policies, support for the delivery of services and work to strengthen health systems, the provision of skilled care at birth, emergency obstetric care, and improving access and quality of medicines. We invest at both the country level and through global programmes. An example is our recent £600m commitment to scale up access to a range of existing and new sexual and reproductive health supplies, which has the potential to expand access to misoprostol.

We recognise that not all deaths are preventable. We support countries in their development of national policies and service provision for those with ongoing illnesses, with focus on quality of care and access to medicines.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to require people seeking to board international flights to provide a negative covid-19 test.

Pre-departure testing is already a requirement for anyone travelling to the UK. Once international travel resumes, passengers will need to check the requirements of their destination country as they may require proof of a negative Covid-19 test to travel abroad.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many times he has (a) spoken to and (b) requested to speak to (i) Willie Walsh, chief executive of the International Airlines Group and (ii) Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways since the start of the 2020.

It would not be appropriate to comment on individual engagements or their frequency. The Department for Transport has historically maintained regular engagement with British Airways/International Airlines Group as an important industry stakeholder. In recognition of the challenging times that the aviation sector continues to face due to Covid-19, we have kept an open dialogue with UK airlines, including British Airways/International Airlines Group, through regular structured and bilateral engagements at both Ministerial and official levels.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an estimate of the cost to local authorities of providing free home to school transport in (a) Ealing, (b) west London, (c) inner London boroughs, (d) outer London boroughs and (e) all of London; and if he will make a statement.

The £1.6bn provided to TfL to maintain services included conditions which were agreed to by TfL. These conditions included temporarily suspending free bus travel for under-18s as part of wider travel demand management measures. Any child eligible for free home to school travel under the Education Act 1996 will still be given free travel to and from school. It is for local education authorities to liaise with local transport providers on how they can fulfil their obligations for eligible children. The cost of providing travel for eligible children on TfL services will not fall on London boroughs.

Rachel Maclean
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support disabled employees during the covid-19 outbreak.

A range of DWP initiatives are supporting disabled people to stay in work. These include Access to Work, Disability Confident and support in partnership with the health system, including Employment Advice in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services. We have made it easier to access programmes which help disabled people to enter work, such as the Work and Health Programme and the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme.

DWP has also put in place measures to ensure that its own staff, including those who require reasonable adjustments, have been able to safely work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, or from COVID-safe departmental locations where necessary or if that is their preference. These measures include arranging for specialist furniture and equipment to be delivered to individuals’ homes; allowing individuals to purchase such items and then reimbursing them; and ensuring that DWP workplaces are COVID safe for those who use them.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of companies signed up to the Disability Confident scheme; and what assessment she has made of the effect of that scheme on employment rates for disabled people.

In 2017 the Government set a goal to see 1 million more disabled people in employment over the next 10 years. In the first three years of the goal (between Jan-Mar 2017 and Jan-Mar 2020) the number of disabled people in employment increased by 800,000. The rate of disabled people in employment also increased, by 4.4 percentage points to 53.4%, in the same period.

The Disability Confident scheme is a learning journey that aims to provide employers with the knowledge, skills, and resources that they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace. No employer is too small or new to start the journey and even the most experienced employer will still find new techniques and best practice that can help them. As of 28th February 2021 over 19,900 employers had signed up to the scheme. Disability Confident is only part of a wider range of services that will support disabled employees into work and stay in work.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing to people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and who are unable to safely visit job centres or other assessment locations.

Jobcentre Work Coaches are trusted and empowered to engage with claimants by the best and most appropriate channel, giving careful consideration to a claimant’s personal circumstances and needs, such as any health conditions, and the local situation to determine whether or not this should be by phone, digital or face-to-face.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department made a number of changes to health and disability benefits to safeguard the health of claimants and staff and to prioritise new claims and continuity of awards. The changes included the suspension of all face-to-face assessments and the introduction of telephone-based assessments where suitable, in addition to paper-based assessments (paper-based assessments were in place for some claims prior to the Covid-19 pandemic).

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to protect people from pension scams and fraud.

In these unprecedented times we are committed to protecting people from pension scams and fraud. DWP is working with other Government Departments, the Pension Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority and other industry bodies to raise awareness and to monitor for evidence of an increase in pension related fraudster activity. We will continue to use evidence available, to identify what specific and proportionate measures may be necessary.

Government has introduced measures to tackle pension scams following the December 2016 Pension Scams: Consultation link. These include making it harder to open fraudulent schemes from 2018, and legislating to introduce a ban on cold calling in relation to pensions in January 2019.

DWP is also bringing forward legislation, through the Pension Schemes Bill which is currently passing through Parliament. These measures will give trustees’ assurance they will not be required to make statutory transfer, unless specified conditions are met.

The PPF, in collaboration with regulators and pensions bodies, recently published a guide,’COVID-19 and your pension: where to get help’, which answers common pension concerns and helps individuals find the right support. This includes guidance for individuals who are concerned about pension scams.

https://www.ppf.co.uk/covid-19-pensions

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of trends in the number of pension scams and fraud in each quarter of the last five years.

The Government is committed to protecting people from pension scams and fraud.

The quarterly data on pension scams and fraud does not exist.

Pensioners who suspect they have been a victim of a pension scam or fraud can report to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime. The DWP works with Action Fraud and other members of the police led organisation Project Bloom, which is cross-government and works with industry to monitor and respond to pension frauds, update prevention and respond to these changes.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 6 September 2021 to Question 37414, on Heart Diseases: Medical Treatments, by what date (a) those nine centres will have been commissioned and (b) the clinical teams at those centres will have received sufficient training for those services to commence.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have not yet confirmed the date for commissioning the nine centres. Where services currently have insufficient clinical expertise to prepare for the commencement of those services, local cardiac networks will consider establishing a preceptorship programme with an established centre


There is currently no timeline for the commencement of formal provider selection. Each NHS England and NHS Improvement regional team has been asked to take responsibility for selecting a formal provider, supported by national clinical advisors. The selection process is expected to take at least three months, with each region working to their own prioritised timetable, taking into account local circumstances.

A proposal has been submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement in relation to functional mitral regurgitation and is receiving consideration. It is anticipated that such a policy review could take at least 12 months for completion, taking into account clinical evidence and engagement with appropriate stakeholders

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 6 September 2021 to Question 37409, on Heart Diseases: Medical Treatments, what timeline NHS England and NHS Improvement have set for the commencement of formal provider selection.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have not yet confirmed the date for commissioning the nine centres. Where services currently have insufficient clinical expertise to prepare for the commencement of those services, local cardiac networks will consider establishing a preceptorship programme with an established centre


There is currently no timeline for the commencement of formal provider selection. Each NHS England and NHS Improvement regional team has been asked to take responsibility for selecting a formal provider, supported by national clinical advisors. The selection process is expected to take at least three months, with each region working to their own prioritised timetable, taking into account local circumstances.

A proposal has been submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement in relation to functional mitral regurgitation and is receiving consideration. It is anticipated that such a policy review could take at least 12 months for completion, taking into account clinical evidence and engagement with appropriate stakeholders

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 6 September 2021 to Question 37413, on Heart Diseases: Medical Treatments, what timeline NHS England and NHS Improvement have set for the consideration of the commissioning of percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for functional mitral regurgitation.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have not yet confirmed the date for commissioning the nine centres. Where services currently have insufficient clinical expertise to prepare for the commencement of those services, local cardiac networks will consider establishing a preceptorship programme with an established centre


There is currently no timeline for the commencement of formal provider selection. Each NHS England and NHS Improvement regional team has been asked to take responsibility for selecting a formal provider, supported by national clinical advisors. The selection process is expected to take at least three months, with each region working to their own prioritised timetable, taking into account local circumstances.

A proposal has been submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement in relation to functional mitral regurgitation and is receiving consideration. It is anticipated that such a policy review could take at least 12 months for completion, taking into account clinical evidence and engagement with appropriate stakeholders

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms during Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month in September.

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the NHS has to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair routinely.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have no plans to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of patients eligible for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation annually; and how many patients have been treated with percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in each year since the treatment was first commissioned by the NHS.

No specific assessment has been made. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to provide access to mitral valve leaflet repair by commissioning on an interim basis from the three National Health Service trusts that supported the clinical evaluation of this procedure. All cardiology services in England were made aware they should continue to refer patients to these centres in advance of a formal provider selection taking place.

Data submitted to the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes research (NICOR) registry indicates that 94 patients in 2018 and 175 patients in 2019 had mitral valve leaflet repair. Cardiology activity and completeness of NICOR data submissions were significantly impacted during 2020 due to COVID and therefore data is incomplete for that year. Overall, NHS England and NHS Improvement estimate that 4,000 patients may be considered for the mitral valve leaflet repair procedure and approximately 400 patients would be referred for the procedure per year after five years.


NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed the commissioning of a minimum of nine centres to provide percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the implementation of NHS England’s commissioning policy for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in adults, which was published in July 2019.

No specific assessment has been made. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to provide access to mitral valve leaflet repair by commissioning on an interim basis from the three National Health Service trusts that supported the clinical evaluation of this procedure. All cardiology services in England were made aware they should continue to refer patients to these centres in advance of a formal provider selection taking place.

Data submitted to the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes research (NICOR) registry indicates that 94 patients in 2018 and 175 patients in 2019 had mitral valve leaflet repair. Cardiology activity and completeness of NICOR data submissions were significantly impacted during 2020 due to COVID and therefore data is incomplete for that year. Overall, NHS England and NHS Improvement estimate that 4,000 patients may be considered for the mitral valve leaflet repair procedure and approximately 400 patients would be referred for the procedure per year after five years.


NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed the commissioning of a minimum of nine centres to provide percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the proportion of adults with mitral regurgitation who are ineligible for surgical repair.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed a minimum of nine centres to provide percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair. Once these centres have been commissioned and clinical teams are trained in this procedure the service can commence. NHS England and NHS Improvement plan to consider the commissioning of percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for functional mitral regurgitation, in accordance with their methods for policy development. The proportion of adults with mitral regurgitation who are ineligible for surgical repair increases with age. In patients over 80 years old, approximately 50% may be ineligible for surgical repair.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the NHS has to commission percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for functional mitral regurgitation.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed a minimum of nine centres to provide percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair. Once these centres have been commissioned and clinical teams are trained in this procedure the service can commence. NHS England and NHS Improvement plan to consider the commissioning of percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for functional mitral regurgitation, in accordance with their methods for policy development. The proportion of adults with mitral regurgitation who are ineligible for surgical repair increases with age. In patients over 80 years old, approximately 50% may be ineligible for surgical repair.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when clinicians can start mitral valve repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in the newly commissioned centres, as set out in the NHS England commissioning policy of July 2019.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed a minimum of nine centres to provide percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair. Once these centres have been commissioned and clinical teams are trained in this procedure the service can commence. NHS England and NHS Improvement plan to consider the commissioning of percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for functional mitral regurgitation, in accordance with their methods for policy development. The proportion of adults with mitral regurgitation who are ineligible for surgical repair increases with age. In patients over 80 years old, approximately 50% may be ineligible for surgical repair.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what annual budget has been allocated by his Department to the elimination of Hepatitis C in each of the last five years; how much of that budget has been used since the commencement of the NHSE Hepatitis C elimination tender; and whether NHS England plans to ringfence that same amount of funding over the next four years to ensure elimination of that disease by 2025 in England.

NHS England and NHS Improvement's national hepatitis C elimination programme’s total annual elimination initiative’s expenditure, for which information is available, is as follows:

- 2021/22 - £20 million (budgeted);

- 2020/21 - £15 million; and

- 2019/20 - £9 million.

Prior to 2019/20, there was no dedicated elimination initiative funding. Regions were funded based on expenditure incurred by their providers and allocated on a monthly basis. NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed the budget provided each year has allowed the needs of the elimination programme to be fully met and expects the required budget to be made available for the duration of the programme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much (a) his Department and (b) NHS England has spent on Hepatitis C (i) medicines and (ii) elimination activities since the start of the NHS England Hepatitis C elimination tender in May 2019.

NHS England and NHS Improvement allocate funding to the hepatitis C elimination programme. Since May 2019, NHS England and NHS Improvement have spent £63 million in both 2019/20 and 2020/21 on medicines.

Since the strategic procurement was awarded in 2019/20, NHS England and NHS Improvement have spent £9 million in 2019/20 and £15 million in 2020/21 on elimination initiative costs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much his Department has spent on Hepatitis C medicines in each of the last four years.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s spending is as follows:

- 2020/21 - £63 million;

- 2019/20 - £63 million;

- 2018/19 - £86 million; and

- 2017/18 - £260 million.

The figure for 2017/18 pre-dates NHS England’s hepatitis C elimination tender in 2019.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what minimum service standards apply to the quarantine exemption team; and how many and what proportion of requests are dealt with within the target response time.

There is no specific minimum standard for the exemptions team due to the different types of exemptions that exist and the large number of passengers entering into managed quarantine each week from ‘red list’ countries. Each exemption request is considered on an individual case by case basis. Due to the quantity and complexity of these requests the exemptions team are reviewing the current process to centrally validate data and enhance collation capabilities.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment and provision has been made to ensure that travellers from red list countries who are staying in quarantine hotels are provided with meals which are appropriate to their religious or ethical beliefs.

It is specified at the induction stage for managed quarantine hotels that the catering requirements must include delivery of menus to rooms and an understanding of individual needs for each meal; a variety of meals to meet nutritional, dietary, religious, and cultural needs; and the ability for guests to order additional food and beverage from a 24-hour room service menu.

Following the induction process, reviews are carried out with the hotels after two and 21 days. Every hotel has a 24 hours a day, seven days a week liaison officer to escalate any issues, in addition to their own customer service channels.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to reform social care; and what the timescale is for the publication of those plans.

The Government is committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward plans for reform in 2021. Our objectives for reform are to enable an affordable, high quality adult social care system that meets people’s needs, whilst supporting health and care to join up services around people.

We are working closely with local and national partners to ensure our approach to reform is informed by diverse perspectives, including of those with lived experience of the care sector. There are complex questions to address and it is important that we give these issues our full consideration in the light of current circumstances.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has secured the supply of rapid lateral flow tests necessary to meet projected demand.

NHS Test and Trace forecasts and monitors demand for testing on a weekly basis. The volume of rapid tests required to meet the anticipated demand was extensively modelled and sufficient supply and fulfilment capacity established.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of introducing less invasive lateral flow covid-19 tests for individuals seeking to take regular tests.

Test and Trace are aware that some existing methods can be uncomfortable for some user groups and will negatively affect test uptake and engagement. To address this, we are currently working with suppliers to provide lateral flow tests which use alternate methods of sample collection.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to require people attending large scale events to provide a negative covid-19 test result.

The Government is running a scientific Events Research Programme (ERP) to examine the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from attendance at a range of cultural, business and sporting events, including events with larger crowd sizes.

Attendees participating in ERP events will be required to provide a negative test result ahead of the event. They will also be tested afterwards to ensure any transmission of the virus is properly monitored.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department’s announcement on 5 April 2021 that everyone in England will be able to access free, regular rapid coronavirus testing from 9 April 2021, what recent estimate he has made of the number of tests that will be administered on a weekly basis.

The eligible population for testing is now above 50 million. Supply and demand forecasting is updated on a daily basis, including estimates of lateral flow tests administered, currently modelled at around 35 to 45 million tests per week in England.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using serology testing to establish the length of protection provided by covid-19 vaccines.

Public Health England (PHE) is evaluating the effectiveness and length of protection afforded by COVID-19 vaccines in terms of disease, hospitalisations and deaths as set out in the COVID-19 vaccine surveillance strategy.

Although serological testing is supporting the evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines, currently without a correlate of protection, serological testing by itself cannot provide estimates of the length of protection from COVID-19 vaccines.

PHE’s SIREN study, a prospective cohort study of almost 40,000 healthcare workers from 132 National Health Service sites, collects regular serum samples on participants following COVID-19 vaccination, to monitor antibody responses to vaccination which has the potential to establish a serological correlate of protection.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential role of serology testing in the Government's long term plan to tackle covid-19.

Serology testing is a key part of the Government’s testing programme. Specifically, antibody testing is routinely used in research and surveillance to improve our understanding of how the immune system responds to the virus that causes COVID-19. Whilst antibody testing is the core component of serology testing in response to COVID-19, other types of serology testing are also supported by the Government as part of research studies including analysing the role of immune cells not linked to antibodies.

Serology testing is vital for vaccine effectiveness monitoring, which is already taking place at scale through research studies. Public Health England will continue to gather the insights of these studies including through the use of antibody testing and integrate them into analysis to ensure up-to-date assessments of vaccine effectiveness as deployment continues.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to his Answer to Question 106294 of 20th October 2020, on Coronavirus: screening, in what format data relating to lost and compromised tests is held; and if he will publish it.

The latest data for void/unknown results on tests conducted between 28 May 2020 to 17 February 2021 is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-test-and-trace-england-statistics-11-february-to-17-february-2021

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including people in receipt of domiciliary care in their own homes in covid-19 vaccine priority group one.

Priority cohort one included residents in a care home for older adults and their carers. People who are supported by domiciliary care were prioritised in cohort four if they were categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable. They may also have been prioritised in cohort six if they have certain other health conditions which make them clinically vulnerable. Cohorts one to four also included those over 75 years old.

We have now offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the top four priority groups.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve heart failure services.

Heart failure is a key priority in the NHS Long Term Plan and NHS England and NHS Improvement are taking action to improve heart failure services in line with this.

One of the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart failure and to ensure early and rapid access to diagnostic tests and treatment.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has a programme of work to support this ambition, overseen by the National Clinical Director for Heart Disease and supported by an Expert Advisory Group of clinical experts from across the country. This work remains a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of access to heart failure services during the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout the pandemic, patients have been encouraged to come forward for the treatment that they require and urgent treatments continued to be delivered. Throughout the summer and autumn of 2020, the National Health Service has run an ongoing media campaign ‘Help Us Help You’ encouraging patients to seek urgent medical help when they are unwell, including clear messaging for patients with heart attack symptoms to call 999.

NHS England and NHS Improvement promoted restoration of services as a priority, including diagnostic and treatment services for patients with heart failure, as soon as the peak of the first wave of the pandemic began to decline.

NHS Long Term Plan heart failure work, including ensuring early and rapid access to heart failure diagnostic tests and treatment, remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the delivery of heart failure services in (a) community and (b) primary care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement promoted restoration of heart failure services as a priority as soon as the peak of the pandemic’s first wave began to decline. NHS England and NHS Improvement are also working with health professionals to support heart failure patients in the community through the roll-out of the NHS@Home self-management scheme.

NHS Long Term Plan work on improving heart failure services remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic and NHS England and NHS Improvement’s work includes improving the early diagnosis and management of patients with heart failure in primary care.

General practice is open and people should continue to access services by phone, online or in person. Practices have been encouraged to deliver as much routine and preventative work as can be provided safely, and supporting patients at higher risk with ongoing care needs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce the variation in the availability and quality of heart failure services (a) in general and (b) that have occurred as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS England published the NHS Long Term Plan, with heart failure a key priority. NHS Long Term Plan work on improving heart failure services, including reducing variation in the availability and quality of services as well as ensuring early and rapid access to heart failure diagnostic tests and treatment, remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the pandemic.

As soon as the peak of the first wave of the pandemic began to decline, NHS England and NHS Improvement promoted restoration of services as a priority, including heart failure diagnostic and treatment services. The restoration of non-COVID-19 services is being prioritised at local level based on local demands. In October 2020 NHS England and NHS Improvement provided service protection plans to regional teams to ensure that critical services, such as cardiac surgery for patients with severe valvular disease, are maintained as far as possible during COVID-19 second wave.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) raise awareness of heart failure as a long-term condition amongst (i) system leaders and (ii) generalist healthcare professionals and (b) support them to deliver services that support people to live well with their condition.

To raise awareness of heart failure as a long term condition, NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with Health Education England to develop e-learning to support health care professionals to better recognise the symptoms of heart failure and to improve heart failure diagnosis, management and support.

In addition, NHS Long Term Plan work on heart failure, including raising awareness of heart failure symptoms, remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic. NHS England and NHS Improvement’s work includes improving the early diagnosis and management of patients with heart failure in primary care.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has also published guidance, advice and quality standard products relating to heart failure that are aimed at commissioners, providers and healthcare professionals. NICE recognises the importance of this topic and has further plans to publish an impact report on cardiovascular disease management, including priority areas within heart failure diagnosis and management in the new year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 6 December 2020 to Question 106293 on Coronavirus: Contact Tracing, in what format his Department holds the data or related data requested; and if he will publish that data.

The data for void/unknown results 28 May 2020 to 17 February 2021 is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-test-and-trace-england-statistics-11-february-to-17-february-2021

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the £1 billion to tackle the elective surgery backlog announced in the Spending Review 2020, how that funding will be allocated.

We are working up detailed plans for making best use of the £1 billion funding to tackle the elective backlog and would expect to communicate the implications for National Health Service providers through NHS operational planning guidance in the usual way.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the £1billion announced in the Spending Review 2020 for tackling the elective surgery backlog, when that finding will be made available to NHS organisations; and whether that funding will be released (i) as a single block or (ii) via several smaller amounts at different times.

We are working up detailed plans for making best use of the £1 billion funding to tackle the elective backlog and would expect to communicate the implications for National Health Service providers through NHS operational planning guidance in the usual way.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to use criteria relating to (a) clinical area, (b) geographical region, (c) population size or (d) other metrics to determine the allocation of the £1bn for tackling the elective surgery backlog.

We are working up detailed plans for making best use of the £1 billion funding to tackle the elective backlog and would expect to communicate the implications for National Health Service providers through NHS operational planning guidance in the usual way.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether decisions on the allocation of the £1bn for tackling the elective surgery backlog will be made (a) centrally by Government Ministers, (b) by Executives at NHS England, (c) healthcare commissioners at local Clinical Commissioning Groups or (d) healthcare managers and practitioners at individual NHS providers.

We are working up detailed plans for making best use of the £1 billion funding to tackle the elective backlog and would expect to communicate the implications for National Health Service providers through NHS operational planning guidance in the usual way.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the £1bn for tackling the elective surgery backlog will be allocated (a) via block contracts or (b) through the NHS National Tariff payment system.

We are working up detailed plans for making best use of the £1 billion funding to tackle the elective backlog and would expect to communicate the implications for National Health Service providers through NHS operational planning guidance in the usual way.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people who have received a faecal immunochemical positive test result through bowel cancer screening are awaiting a diagnostic test for the most recent date at which that information is available.

This data is not held centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the backlog in people waiting for (a) colonoscopy, (b) flexi sigmoidoscopy and (c) other diagnostic tests for bowel cancer.

In October the NHS issued £150 million in capital funding for investments in diagnostic equipment. Over £100 million of this has been allocated for endoscopy equipment, this will expand capacity to help to reduce the current waiting list.

Additionally, guidance published in June, has enabled endoscopy teams to use Faecal Immunochemical Testing to identify patients with the highest risk of bowel cancer so they can be prioritised for urgent colonoscopy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what representations his Department has received from the British Society for Heart Failure on changes in the level of patients who are developing heart failure through not presenting at hospital with heart attack symptoms during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has not received any representations from the British Society for Heart Failure regarding this specific issue.

With a rise in COVID-19 activity, we have been clear that non-COVID-19 services will be maintained as far as possible and clinically urgent patients should continue to be treated first.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 2020, the National Health Service has run an ongoing media campaign ‘Help us to help you’, encouraging patients to seek urgent medical help when they are unwell, including clear messaging for patients with heart attack symptoms to call 999.

One of the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart failure and to ensure early and rapid access to diagnostic tests and treatment. This work remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to accommodate a potential increase in cases of heart failure arising from delayed presentation and treatment for heart attack symptoms during the covid-19 outbreak; and what advice he has sought from heart failure specialists to inform his policy on that matter.

With a rise in COVID-19 activity, we have been clear that non-COVID-19 services will be maintained as far as possible and clinically urgent patients should continue to be treated first. In October 2020 NHS England and NHS Improvement provided service protection plans to regional teams to ensure that critical services, such as cardiac surgery for severe valvular disease patients, are maintained as far as possible.

NHS England and NHS Improvement promoted service restoration as a priority, including heart failure diagnostic and treatment services, as soon as the peak of the first wave of the pandemic began to decline.

In partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has also developed heart disease guidelines and evidence summaries with support from clinical specialists, the specialist societies and Royal Colleges, to help the National Health Service and social care respond quickly to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what research his Department is undertaking to identify the most vulnerable people to heart failure as a result of covid-19; and what community outreach measures are in place to ensure accessibility to treatment for the BAME patients who are vulnerable to heart failure.

The Department has not undertaken the specific research. However, NHS Digital, the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research and the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, have been working on data collation and analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on cardiovascular disease services.

The use of national datasets enabled by this work will help inform decisions around those who are most at risk of heart failure as a result of COVID-19. This work will also increase our understanding of the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on cardiovascular disease and inform future policy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the ability of the (a) NHS and (b) CQC to ensure that BAME populations in deprived areas with (a) heart failure and (b) other long term conditions are represented in (A) audits, (B) guidelines, (C) clinical trials, and (D) medical research.

The specific assessment mentioned in the question has not been made. NHS England and NHS Improvement launched the independent NHS Race and Health Observatory with NHS Confederation this year, which will work to identify and tackle the specific health challenges facing black, Asian and minority ethnic populations in deprived areas. NHS England and NHS Improvement has a programme of work on cardiac conditions, and in common with NHS Long Term Plan objectives, this has a focus on reducing health inequalities, including using data from clinic audits to review and improve NHS services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of potential merits of introducing a safe visiting scheme in care homes.

We recognise how important it is for care home residents to see their loved ones, especially for those at the end of their lives.

On Thursday 5 November we published guidance to enable COVID-19 secure visits to take place for care home residents while national restrictions are in place.

This guidance is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus

Plans are currently being developed to allow specific family and friends to visit care homes supported by testing. We have begun rollout of visitor testing, and aim to have nationwide visitor testing by Christmas.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to support care homes to enable them to offer safe visits to family carers.

Throughout the pandemic we have sought to ensure care home residents have been able to receive visits where it has been possible to do so safely. We have also acted quickly to protect vulnerable residents where it has been necessary, while still ensuring that visiting could continue to take place in some form.

We have regularly revised our guidance and have worked closely with the care home provider sector, public health professionals and others to support the effective implementation of the guidance. We have also supported care homes with the rollout of rapid lateral flow testing and personal protective equipment throughout December 2020 to enable more meaningful visits in tiers 1-3.

Unfortunately, in response to the new variant and rising population infection rates, it has been necessary from 6 January 2021 to enter a further period of national restrictions. We have again updated our guidance to make clear that visits to care homes can still take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed.

No visits, other than exceptional circumstances such as end of life, will be permitted in the event of an outbreak. This is due to the increased prevalence of COVID-19 in communities and the consequent risk to care home residents.

Recognising the importance of visiting for the wellbeing of residents and those who visit them we will work to enable more visiting in care homes as soon as it is safe to do so.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report entitled Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, published by the all party Parliamentary group on sexual and reproductive health on 10 September 2020, if he will include an assessment of public understanding of contraception, via national surveys, in the upcoming sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health’s report, ‘Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic’, has raised a number of important issues. The recommendations in the report will be considered as part of our upcoming work to develop the sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access sexual health services, including the provision of free contraception. Contraception is also widely available free of charge through general practice.

Public Health England have recently launched the National Framework for e-Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. This new national framework will allow local authorities and service providers to purchase an expanded range of on-line services including emergency contraception and the contraceptive pill. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have also published clinical advice to support ongoing provision of effective contraception which health professionals should work to which is available at the following link:

https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-guidance-srh-services-second-wave-covid-october-2020/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support practitioners fitting long-acting reversible contraception to maintain their competencies; and what steps his Department is taking to help ensure (a) women can access their choice of contraception and (b) availability of training for (i) general practitioners and (ii) general practice nurses to fit long-acting reversible contraception.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health’s report, ‘Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic’, has raised a number of important issues. The recommendations in the report will be considered as part of our upcoming work to develop the sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access sexual health services, including the provision of free contraception. Contraception is also widely available free of charge through general practice.

Public Health England have recently launched the National Framework for e-Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. This new national framework will allow local authorities and service providers to purchase an expanded range of on-line services including emergency contraception and the contraceptive pill. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have also published clinical advice to support ongoing provision of effective contraception which health professionals should work to which is available at the following link:

https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-guidance-srh-services-second-wave-covid-october-2020/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report entitled Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, published by the all party Parliamentary group on sexual and reproductive health on 10 September 2020, whether his Department has made an estimate of the number of women in England with an unmet need for contraception.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health’s report, ‘Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic’, has raised a number of important issues. The recommendations in the report will be considered as part of our upcoming work to develop the sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access sexual health services, including the provision of free contraception. Contraception is also widely available free of charge through general practice.

Public Health England have recently launched the National Framework for e-Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. This new national framework will allow local authorities and service providers to purchase an expanded range of on-line services including emergency contraception and the contraceptive pill. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have also published clinical advice to support ongoing provision of effective contraception which health professionals should work to which is available at the following link:

https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-guidance-srh-services-second-wave-covid-october-2020/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report entitled Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, published by the all party Parliamentary group on sexual and reproductive health on 10 September 2020, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of collecting data on women's experiences of accessing and using contraceptive methods as part of the forthcoming national sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health’s report, ‘Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic’, has raised a number of important issues. The recommendations in the report will be considered as part of our upcoming work to develop the sexual and reproductive health strategy.

The Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access sexual health services, including the provision of free contraception. Contraception is also widely available free of charge through general practice.

Public Health England have recently launched the National Framework for e-Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. This new national framework will allow local authorities and service providers to purchase an expanded range of on-line services including emergency contraception and the contraceptive pill. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have also published clinical advice to support ongoing provision of effective contraception which health professionals should work to which is available at the following link:

https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-guidance-srh-services-second-wave-covid-october-2020/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure equity of access to breast screenings for women living in deprived areas when timed appointments are replaced with open invitations.

Breast screening services have a responsibility to reduce health inequalities. Local services have been able to choose whether to implement open appointments or maintain fixed timed appointments as they work to restore appointments following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This choice takes into account the needs of the local population: the service must evidence that their given approach better supports the recovery of appointments as well as ensuring equity of access.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of people with diabetes meeting the NICE recommended HbA1c treatment target during the covid-19 outbreak.

Extra measures have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic so that people living with diabetes can continue to access support, including commissioning services to help people with diabetes of all ages self-manage their condition using online digital structured education programmes.

From 2020/21 through to 2023/24, a further £75 million of targeted funding is planned for allocation to sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems to support delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan commitments relating to the treatment and care of people living with diabetes which includes activities to improve achievement of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended treatment targets.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to protect the health of (a) people with diabetes and (b) BAME communities during the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic diabetes care has remained a priority and general practitioners (GPs) have supported patients with long term conditions to access care and support.

Trusts, working with GP practices, have been asked to ensure that every patient whose planned care has been disrupted by COVID-19 receives clear communication about how they will be looked after, and who to contact if their clinical circumstances change. The focus is on accelerating the return of non-COVID-19 health services to near-normal levels, including making full use of available capacity between now and winter, whilst also preparing for winter demand pressures. This will be done alongside continued vigilance against further COVID-19 spikes locally and possibly nationally.

The NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Diabetes Programme Team has helped to develop a COVID-19 risk prediction model to support shared decision making between clinicians and patients based on more accurate information as well as discussions on how to reduce risk of COVID-19 for all, including those with diabetes.

Reflecting the fact that those of black and south Asian background are at both greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of in-hospital COVID-19 mortality, NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed a focused marketing and promotion campaign, aimed at those who are black and south Asian. This work is supported by deep insight work commissioned from Cultural Intelligence Hub to develop approaches for communications and engagement activity targeted at black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The number of people with diabetes who died between 16 February and 12 October 2020 where COVID-19 was mentioned as a cause of death on the death certificate, by diabetes type and ethnicity is in the following table.

Ethnicity group

COVID-19 deaths where the person had type 1 diabetes

COVID-19 deaths where the person had type 2 or other diabetes

Asian

70

1,760

Black

60

1,075

Mixed

5

170

Other

15

240

Not stated/known

50

1,835

Coverage: England and Wales

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of people with diabetes from BAME groups who have died from covid-19.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic diabetes care has remained a priority and general practitioners (GPs) have supported patients with long term conditions to access care and support.

Trusts, working with GP practices, have been asked to ensure that every patient whose planned care has been disrupted by COVID-19 receives clear communication about how they will be looked after, and who to contact if their clinical circumstances change. The focus is on accelerating the return of non-COVID-19 health services to near-normal levels, including making full use of available capacity between now and winter, whilst also preparing for winter demand pressures. This will be done alongside continued vigilance against further COVID-19 spikes locally and possibly nationally.

The NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Diabetes Programme Team has helped to develop a COVID-19 risk prediction model to support shared decision making between clinicians and patients based on more accurate information as well as discussions on how to reduce risk of COVID-19 for all, including those with diabetes.

Reflecting the fact that those of black and south Asian background are at both greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of in-hospital COVID-19 mortality, NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed a focused marketing and promotion campaign, aimed at those who are black and south Asian. This work is supported by deep insight work commissioned from Cultural Intelligence Hub to develop approaches for communications and engagement activity targeted at black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The number of people with diabetes who died between 16 February and 12 October 2020 where COVID-19 was mentioned as a cause of death on the death certificate, by diabetes type and ethnicity is in the following table.

Ethnicity group

COVID-19 deaths where the person had type 1 diabetes

COVID-19 deaths where the person had type 2 or other diabetes

Asian

70

1,760

Black

60

1,075

Mixed

5

170

Other

15

240

Not stated/known

50

1,835

Coverage: England and Wales

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the difference was between number of covid-19 tests undertaken and number of test results sent to people who had been tested in each week during the last two months for which data is available.

We do not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many samples were lost from the test and trace programme in each of the last four weeks for which data is available; how many samples given to that programme it was not possible to test during those periods; and how many results within that programme were not sent to people who had been tested during those periods.

We do not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what target times his Department has set for the return of covid-19 test results.

Between 24 December and 30 December, the majority (63%) of in-person tests results were received the day after the test is taken. NHS Test and Trace is increasing staffing levels, the use of robotics and adding more capacity, meaning we can not only provide more tests, but also improve turnaround times. NHS Test and Trace publishes weekly data on individual capacity across all pillars in England on GOV.UK.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 test results have been returned within (a) 24 hours, (b) 48 hours, (c) 72 hours, (d) 96 and (e) after 96 hours in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Data on the proportion of test results received within 24 and 48 hours for in person testing, home test kits and satellite test centres and results received within 72 hours for satellite test centres in England is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nhs-test-and-trace-statistics-england-weekly-reports

Data on test results received after 96 hours or more is not collected.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the availability of NHS specialist weight management services.

Through ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’, published in July, we are committed to looking at what further action can be taken to improve weight management services to better support people living with obesity to achieve a healthier weight.

The Department does not hold information on patient waiting times for general practitioner-led referrals to National Health Service specialist weight management services.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average patient waiting times are for GP-led referrals for NHS specialist weight management services.

Through ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’, published in July, we are committed to looking at what further action can be taken to improve weight management services to better support people living with obesity to achieve a healthier weight.

The Department does not hold information on patient waiting times for general practitioner-led referrals to National Health Service specialist weight management services.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many patients in England have undergone treatment for atrial fibrillation having reduced their weight to meet the inclusion criteria for that treatment.

Being overweight, especially if the person has sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing while sleeping) is a factor that increases risk of atrial fibrillation.

Information regarding the number of patients in England who have not met the criteria for treatment as a result of their weight or who have reduced their weight in order to be included for treatment for atrial fibrillation is not held centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many patients have not met the inclusion criteria for treatment for atrial fibrillation as a result of their weight, in England, in the last three years.

Being overweight, especially if the person has sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing while sleeping) is a factor that increases risk of atrial fibrillation.

Information regarding the number of patients in England who have not met the criteria for treatment as a result of their weight or who have reduced their weight in order to be included for treatment for atrial fibrillation is not held centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the viability of exempting children aged 12 and under from the rule of six, in line with the policy of the devolved Administrations.

We have set out a clear and consistent six-person limit for social contact for all ages to make sure the rules are easy for the public to understand and for the police and public health officials. Public health is a devolved matter, and the devolved administrations are responsible for deciding what measures they put in place that are most appropriate for their local circumstances. We are working with our colleagues in devolved administrations to identify where United Kingdom-wide alignment in approach is appropriate and possible, to help provide a clear and consistent message to the public.

The Government keeps social distancing restrictions under continual review and will make changes if the data and science support it.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to tackle childhood obesity by making it mandatory to label the nutritional value of food in a way that is easy for consumers to understand.

In July, as part of ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’, we published a four-nation public consultation to gather views and evidence on our current front-of-pack ‘traffic light’ nutrition labelling scheme. We welcome and will consider all responses to the consultation. If evidence suggests that improvements are required, we will consult again on all policy options.

The consultation ‘Building on the success of front-of-pack nutrition labelling in the UK’ was open until 21 October and the outcomes will be published shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to end the marketing of high-sugar and high-fat foods to infants and children.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’, published in July, sets out our intention to restrict the promotion and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar. We have consulted on these measures and listened carefully to the feedback. We will publish full responses to the consultations as soon as possible.

We will also consult on proposals to improve the marketing and labelling of commercial food and drink products for infants and young children, so that parents and carers have clear and honest information that aligns with the Government’s advice on the products they feed their babies.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) progress has been made on his Department’s review of Supply Chain Coordination Limited, (b) timelines he has applied to that review and (c) opportunities will be available for stakeholders to provide input into that review.

It is normal practice to review the performance of all companies owned by the Department, which includes Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL), to assure operational performance and strategic fit. The Department is currently considering the conclusions of the internal review work that it has undertaken in respect of SCCL.

A number of stakeholders have been consulted in assessing the service, stakeholder requirements and opportunities for the Company’s strategic direction.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the NHS is only paying a reasonable price for drugs.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is the independent body responsible for developing evidence-based recommendations for the National Health Service on whether new medicines represent an effective use of resources based on their clinical and cost-effectiveness.

The costs of branded medicines are controlled by the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access and the statutory scheme for branded medicines.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislation to give local authorities the power to enforce a minimum of one metre social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have always said there would be local outbreaks requiring local action. New powers came into force on 18 July, enabling local authorities to manage future outbreaks, which includes the power for local authorities to close individual premises or public outdoor spaces, and place restrictions on events.

These Regulations focus on local authorities’ powers, but the police will have a role to enforce the rules that the local authority puts in place, particularly in regard to closed outdoor public spaces

The Joint Biosecurity Centre will continue to provide local authorities with data on local infection rates and provide an early indication of potential outbreaks. We continue to be led by scientists and data, so remain ready to regulate, where there is clear evidence to do so.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequate capacity of mental health services in schools for the start of the next academic year.

We are implementing the core proposals in our response to the consultation ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ Green Paper including, where possible, adapting the support made available during the COVID-19 outbreak to the circumstances that schools and colleges and children and young people will face once the new academic year starts.

Where in place, new services such as mental health support teams, working alongside established services across health, education, children’s services and voluntary sector, will provide important support to children and young people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people commenced treatment for hepatitis C in the financial year 2019-20, by operational delivery network area.

Public Health England publishes information on the numbers of individuals accessing hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment in their annual hepatitis C reports.

Data for the 2019-20 financial year for England are not yet available. The latest available data for 2018/19 financial year show that 11,756 people were reported to have accessed HCV treatment in England that year. The 2018/19 data can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hepatitis-c-in-the-uk

Treatment data by operational delivery network area are available for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years in the Hepatitis C Operation Deliver Network Profile Tool available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hepatitis-c-commissioning-template-for-estimating-disease-prevalence

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of including hepatitis C in the Public Health England Public Health Outcomes Framework.

During 2018/19 Public Health England undertook a review of all the indicators within the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF). A consultation on the proposed changes to the PHOF ran between 21 January 2019 to 22 February 2019. The response to this consultation informed the final changes to the indicators within the PHOF. The results of the consultation are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-health-outcomes-framework-proposed-changes-2019-to-2020

The PHOF is due for review every three years and hepatitis C, along with other policy areas, could be considered during the next refresh.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many NHS posts in children and young people’s mental health service there were in each year and at each grade since 2014.

NHS Digital published the new mental health workforce definition on 21 March 2019.

As at October 2019, the latest available data there were 1,023 child and adolescent psychiatrists in National Health Service trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), 29 (3%) more since October 2014, full time equivalent (FTE).

As at September 2019, the latest available data there were 1,114,473 people working in NHS trusts and CCGs of which 114,539 (10.3%) people work in mental health, FTE.

NHS Digital’s mental health workforce data cannot be broken down into children’s posts because there is not an agreed definition of young people’s mental health services. For example a single psychiatrist may be providing mental health services to children and adults.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the NHS workforce is located within (a) mental health services and (b) young people’s mental health services.

NHS Digital published the new mental health workforce definition on 21 March 2019.

As at October 2019, the latest available data there were 1,023 child and adolescent psychiatrists in National Health Service trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), 29 (3%) more since October 2014, full time equivalent (FTE).

As at September 2019, the latest available data there were 1,114,473 people working in NHS trusts and CCGs of which 114,539 (10.3%) people work in mental health, FTE.

NHS Digital’s mental health workforce data cannot be broken down into children’s posts because there is not an agreed definition of young people’s mental health services. For example a single psychiatrist may be providing mental health services to children and adults.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development, what steps he is taking to promote (a) girls’ education and (b) family planning in developing countries in light of COP26 presidency.

Climate change contributes to gender inequality, and disproportionately and differentially impacts on women and girls. The UK champions the right of all girls to twelve years of quality education, including through the new G7-endorsed global targets to get 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10, and 40 million more girls in primary and secondary schools in low and lower-middle income countries by 2026. The UK is also a strong defender of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) on the world stage and we advance progress on SRHR through global partnerships, such as the Global Financing Facility, FP2030 and UNFPA. We will continue to use the UK's leadership to highlight these important issues, as well as the critical role of climate resilient health and education systems, at COP26 and beyond.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, published in 2014, which states the value of family planning and reproductive health services in regions of high climate vulnerability, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of changing eligibility for International Climate Finance on encouraging the implementation of adaptation and resilience programmes that are focused on removing barriers to those services.

UK International Climate Finance (ICF) reaches those most in need and we are committed to doubling our ICF to £11.6bn over the next five years. In our adaptation programming we prioritise locally-led action with a strong grounding in the local context and needs, targeting marginalised groups. We have also committed to increasing gender-responsiveness of climate finance through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Gender Action Plan agreed at COP25, which we are working to champion through our COP Presidency.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what proportion of the Department for International Development's Official Development Assistance budget was allocated to sexual and reproductive health and rights in (a) 2017, (b) 2018 and (c) 2019.

Detailed reports on UK Official Development Assistance up until financial year 2017-18 were given in the Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication which ceased in August 2020. For data covering 2018 onwards, UK Aid by sector and calendar year has been published in the FCDO Statistics on International Development (SID) publication. 2020 data will be available in Autumn 2021.

FCDO official aid spend disaggregated by sector code for 2018 and 2019 can be found in the Statistics for International Development: Final UK Aid Spend 2019 pilot table at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967648/SID_Pilot_Tables.ods

For previous years please refer to the Statistics on International Development: UK Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-international-development-uk-gross-public-expenditure-gpex

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will list the Department for International Development's bilateral expenditure directly targeting reproductive health under input sector codes 13010, 13021, 13022, 13030 and 13081 in financial years (a) 2017-18, (b) 2018-19 and (c) 2019-20.

Detailed reports on UK Official Development Assistance up until financial year 2017-18 were given in the Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication which ceased in August 2020. For data covering 2018 onwards, UK Aid by sector and calendar year has been published in the FCDO Statistics on International Development (SID) publication. 2020 data will be available in Autumn 2021.

FCDO official aid spend disaggregated by sector code for 2018 and 2019 can be found in the Statistics for International Development: Final UK Aid Spend 2019 pilot table at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967648/SID_Pilot_Tables.ods

For previous years please refer to the Statistics on International Development: UK Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-international-development-uk-gross-public-expenditure-gpex

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will list the Department for International Development's bilateral expenditure directly targeting HIV and AIDS under input sector codes 13041 and 13042 in financial years (a) 2017-18, (b) 2018-19 and (c) 2019-20.

Detailed reports on UK Official Development Assistance up until financial year 2017-18 were given in the Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication which ceased in August 2020. For data covering 2018 onwards, UK Aid by sector and calendar year has been published in the FCDO Statistics on International Development (SID) publication. 2020 data will be available in Autumn 2021.

FCDO official aid spend disaggregated by sector code for 2018 and 2019 can be found in the Statistics for International Development: Final UK Aid Spend 2019 pilot table at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967648/SID_Pilot_Tables.ods

For previous years please refer to the Statistics on International Development: UK Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX) publication at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-international-development-uk-gross-public-expenditure-gpex

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
What assessment he has made of the effect of the proposed reduction in the Official Development Assistance budget on (a) universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and (b) women and girls in the global south.

The UK is proud to defend universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; these are fundamental to the empowerment of women and girls. Between 2019 and 2020 alone, UK aid helped over 25 million women and girls use modern methods of contraception.

Advancing gender equality and women’s rights are a core part of the UK Government’s work on development, including enabling girls to fulfil 12 years of quality education.

We are working through the implications of the ODA reductions for individual programmes and activities. No decisions on individual country or sectoral budgets have been made yet.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Russian counterpart on (a) the recent abduction of two gay Chechen men in Western Russia by uniformed Chechen security officials and (b) the wider treatment of LGBT people in Russia.

We remain deeply concerned about the continuing persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya. Persecution for being LGBT, anywhere in the world, is abhorrent. As we state in our Travel Advice, there are credible reports of arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing of LGBT people in Chechnya. In December 2018 the UK was one of 16 countries to invoke the OSCE's Moscow Mechanism, requiring an independent OSCE investigation. The OSCE Moscow Mechanism's independent 2018 report confirmed allegations of serious human rights violations in Chechnya against LGBT people and other groups including unlawful detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings. We continue to urge Russia to implement the recommendations made in the Moscow Mechanism report and to end the climate of impunity for human rights abusers in Chechnya.

On 10 December 2020, we announced designations under our autonomous Global Human Rights sanctions regime, including those responsible for the ongoing torture and murder of LGBT people in Chechnya. We continue to raise our concerns about the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya with the Russian Government at all levels. On 17 November 2020, I raised this with my counterpart, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Titov.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on the Middle East of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit announcement on Tuesday 5 January is a significant development. We pay testament to Kuwaiti mediation efforts, and urge the parties to continue building on this positive dialogue. The UK has long encouraged all parties to find a resolution to this dispute. The GCC is our third largest export market outside of the EU. We look forward to continued collaboration with all our friends in the Gulf to strengthen our shared security and prosperity interests.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for Government policy on arms sales to Saudi Arabia of President-elect Biden’s pledge to end US support for the Saudi-led War in Yemen.

The UK takes its export control responsibilities and obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty extremely seriously and regularly calls on states which have not yet implemented various arms control instruments to accede to these instruments as soon as possible. We assess all export licences in accordance with strict licensing criteria. The UK regularly raises, at senior level, the importance of complying with International Humanitarian Law and of conducting thorough and conclusive investigations into alleged violations with Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister spoke to President-elect Biden on 10 November to congratulate him. They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of working with the Biden Administration to encourage Saudi Arabia to release (a) Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, (b) human rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul and (c) other political detainees.

Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise our concerns about human rights, including on political detainees, in private and in public. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September 2020. It noted our human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, regretted the continued detention of at least five women's human rights defenders arrested in 2018, and called for the release of all political detainees. We continue to raise concerns at all levels and are monitoring the situation closely.

The Prime Minister spoke to President-elect Biden on 10 November to congratulate him. They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead. The Prime Minister and President-elect also looked forward to working closely together on their shared priorities, from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy, and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the potential merits of ensuring that the release of uncharged political detainees and fair, transparent trials for those charged are conditions for agreeing free trade deals with Saudi Arabia.

We remain concerned over the continued detention of a number of individuals in Saudi Arabia, particularly those detained because of their political views. We raise concerns regularly and continue to call for political detainees to be given adequate legal representation. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September 2020 that called for the release of all political detainees. At the current time, the UK is not negotiating a free trade deal with Saudi Arabia.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he last made representations to his Saudi counterpart on the cases of (a) Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, (b) Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef and (c) other political detainees and women’s rights activists including Loujain al-Hathloul.

Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise our concerns about human rights, including on political detainees, in private and in public. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September 2020. It noted our human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, regretted the continued detention of at least five women's human rights defenders arrested in 2018, and called for the release of all political detainees. We continue to raise concerns at all levels and are monitoring the situation closely.

The Prime Minister spoke to President-elect Biden on 10 November to congratulate him. They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead. The Prime Minister and President-elect also looked forward to working closely together on their shared priorities, from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy, and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of fast-tracked approaches to vaccine development for covid-19; and what lessons can be learned from those approaches for the development of vaccines against (a) HIV/AIDS, (b) tuberculosis and (c) other global health challenges.

We are very encouraged by the progress of fast-tracked approaches to vaccine development for COVID-19. Several vaccine candidates have demonstrated very promising results in clinical trials, with one recently approved for use in the UK (Pfizer/BioNTech). Interim results for another candidate, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, are also very encouraging and this vaccine is part of a portfolio of candidates funded by the UK-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). We will need multiple safe and effective vaccines to control the pandemic in a range of populations and settings. CEPI is playing a vital role in enabling global access to successful vaccine candidates, especially in poorer countries.

Vaccine research for many global health challenges, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, is expensive, complex and high risk. The encouraging results on COVID-19 vaccines demonstrate the importance of international collaboration and having trials in multiple settings. It also highlights the need to address manufacturing capacity, accessibility and affordability at the same time as development of the vaccine, to ensure rapid access for poorer countries. The UK has been clear in its commitment to international collaboration in development and access to COVID-19 vaccines, as demonstrated by our significant financial commitments to CEPI and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance which are both under the COVAX facility.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if the Government will take steps to support the realisation of guaranteed access for frontline health workers globally by committing to share a portion of the vaccines they obtain through advanced purchase agreements with the COVAX Advance Market Commitment from the time of the first vaccine shipment.

Ensuring that frontline health workers across the world have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be a critical part of accelerating an end to the pandemic. The UK has supported this objective through funding of up to £548 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). This funding will contribute to the supply of 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for up to 92 developing countries by the end of 2021, subject to vaccines securing stringent regulatory approval.

The UK supports the role of the World Health Organisation in providing robust technical guidance on specific COVID-19 vaccine use strategies to ensure maximum public health, and wider impact. This includes prioritised access to vaccines for health and social care workers.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman on the release of (a) Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, (b) Prince Turki bin Abdullah and (c) other senior political figures detained without charge.

We will continue to monitor the cases of those detained in Saudi Arabia. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September, which called for the release of all political detainees. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make UK attendance at the upcoming G20 in Riyadh contingent on the release of (a) Loujain al-Hathloul, (b) other human rights defenders, (c) Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, (d) Prince Turki bin Abdullah and (e) other political detainees.

The UK will participate in the G20 Summit, which is likely to focus on health, the global economic recovery and wider global challenges (including climate change, trade and development). It is a key part of international planning for a sustainable recovery from coronavirus. As current G20 President, Saudi Arabia will play a vital role in coordinating the global health and economic response. We hope that the international platform provided by the G20 Presidency encourages continued progress on domestic reforms.

Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise our concerns about human rights, including on political detainees, in private and in public. We have expressed significant concerns about reports of continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia. We have raised detention cases, including Loujain al-Hathloul, at senior levels with the Saudi authorities. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September. It regretted the continued detention of at least five women's human rights defenders, arrested in 2018, and called for the release of all political detainees. We continue to raise concerns at all levels and are monitoring the situation closely.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the CIA's assessment that Mohammad bin Salman ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including Mohammed bin Salman in the next round of Magnitsky sanctions designations.

On 6 July the UK Government established the Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky') sanctions regime by laying regulations in Parliament under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. It is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime in the future. To do this could reduce the impact of the designations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 on women and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services in Africa.

Evidence shows that women and girls' sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR) are under pressure as a result of COVID-19. Funded by the UK, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that a 10% decline in reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health services over the course of a year in low and low-middle income countries resulting from service disruption could lead to 49 million women with an unmet need for contraceptives and 15 million unintended pregnancies.

Women in Sub-Saharan Africa face interrupted access to SRH services. The supply of family planning commodities has faced major disruptions. We are in frequent touch with our NGO and UN partners to monitor the constraints and barriers women and girls face.

The UK will continue to show leadership internationally on this issue, and work with our partners through the crisis so they can continue to provide SRHR services. 'WISH', our flagship women's sexual & reproductive health programme, operates across 24 African countries. It has developed innovative ways to deliver services and supplies during COVID-19, while also supporting efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help end preventable maternal deaths in Africa.

Investing in adolescent girls' equality, empowerment and 12 years of quality education is critical to breaking the intergenerational cycles of poverty, and this includes tackling the social norms that prevent them from realising their full potential.

The UK has provided a significant amount of support to adolescent girls in Africa. For example, our Women's Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme works across 24 countries in Africa to tackle the social norms that prevent girls and women from realising their sexual and reproductive health rights. Our flagship programme on child marriage has included targeted support in Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Since 2015 the programme has supported almost 8 million girls globally with schooling initiatives, skills training and girls' clubs to prevent and respond to child marriage. We will work to accelerate progress on a wider range of issues that hold girls back from accessing a quality education and achieving their potential.

The UK is co-leading the new global Generation Equality Action Coalition on gender-based violence to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action on Gender Equality. As part of this, FCDO is using evidence to help drive more concerted, coordinated global action across the international system to prevent and address violence against the most marginalised women and girls, with particular focus on adolescent girls.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help advance gender equality for adolescent girls and tackle harmful social norms in Africa.

Investing in adolescent girls' equality, empowerment and 12 years of quality education is critical to breaking the intergenerational cycles of poverty, and this includes tackling the social norms that prevent them from realising their full potential.

The UK has provided a significant amount of support to adolescent girls in Africa. For example, our Women's Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme works across 24 countries in Africa to tackle the social norms that prevent girls and women from realising their sexual and reproductive health rights. Our flagship programme on child marriage has included targeted support in Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Since 2015 the programme has supported almost 8 million girls globally with schooling initiatives, skills training and girls' clubs to prevent and respond to child marriage. We will work to accelerate progress on a wider range of issues that hold girls back from accessing a quality education and achieving their potential.

The UK is co-leading the new global Generation Equality Action Coalition on gender-based violence to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action on Gender Equality. As part of this, FCDO is using evidence to help drive more concerted, coordinated global action across the international system to prevent and address violence against the most marginalised women and girls, with particular focus on adolescent girls.

7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) girls’ education, (b) women’s economic empowerment, (c) the women, peace and security agenda and (d) other gender equality policies are a core priority for his Department.

Advancing gender equality and women's rights are a core part of the UK Government's mission, and Global Britain's role as a force for good in the world. The Government remains steadfast in its commitment to this agenda.

The new FCDO will continue to be a progressive force women and girls, including for their right to education, addressing the barriers to economic empowerment and promoting their meaningful participation in peace processes. We will work closely with partners across HMG to leverage the best development, diplomatic, defence and trade approaches to achieve maximum impact.

The UK International Development Act (Gender Equality) 2014 also makes a consideration of gender equality in all UK Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) a legal requirement. The Act puts our commitment to gender equality within ODA spend on a statutory footing and ensures that gender equality remains at the heart of our work.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will ensure continued UK leadership, investment, and evidence-based programming across the former Department for International Development's Strategic Vision’s five foundation areas of (a) violence against women and girls, (b) sexual and reproductive health and rights, (c) girls’ education, (d) women’s economic empowerment and (e) women’s political empowerment.

The UK is widely known as a world leader on gender equality. We fought successfully for a dedicated gender equality goal in the SDGs and targets on gender equality across the other goals. We continue to deliver results at scale. For example, between 2015 and 2020, we enabled 8.1 million girls gain access to a decent education, and in 2019-20 alone we supported 25.4 million women to access modern methods of family planning, helping to save thousands of lives.

The FCDO will build on this strong track record, bringing together our diplomacy and development expertise to be a progressive force for women and girls.

As part of the launch of the new Department, we will refresh and build on existing strategies, as well as develop new approaches, but we do not see the core ambitions of the Strategic Vision for Gender Equality changing. The challenges of advancing girls' education, sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), women's political empowerment, women's economic empowerment and ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) are as acute now, if not more so, as when we published the strategy in 2018.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department will have staff dedicated to gender equality and sexual and reproductive health.

Advancing gender equality and women's rights are a core part of the UK Government's mission, and Global Britain's role as a force for good in the world. As part of this, we are committed to defending comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights and we will continue to be a progressive voice on this issue.

The merger fuses the best of our development expertise and world-leading diplomacy together, in a new department. All of the things that have made the UK a world leader in development will not change i.e. our thought leadership; the scale and quality of UK development programmes; and excellence of our analysis, long term perspective and staff.

Organisational plans for the new department are currently being shaped but I can confirm that gender has been specifically identified as an area of focus within the new leadership structure. The full details of the merger, including the structure of the new department, will be set out in due course.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy includes advancing gender equality as a key priority for his Department.

The UK remains fully committed to advancing gender equality and women's rights. The UK International Development (Gender Equality) Act makes consideration of gender equality in all UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) a legal requirement.

The Integrated Review and the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) are evidence of the Prime Minister's commitment to a unified British foreign policy that will maximise our influence around the world, including on gender equality and women's rights. When the Prime Minister launched the Integrated Review, he was clear that it will set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation. Our aim continues to be for an ambitious and bold Integrated Review that is guided by the UK's foreign policy, national security and development objectives. Advancing gender equality and women's rights are a core part of the UK Government's mission, and our role as a force for good in the world, including fulfilling every girl's right to 12 years of quality education. The Government remains steadfast in its commitment to this agenda.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the killing of disabled Palestinian Eyad Hallaq by Israeli border police on 30 May 2020.

As the UK Consul General in Jerusalem and the UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv stated on 31 May, we are deeply saddened to hear about the death of Iyad Khairi Hallaq after he was shot by Israeli police in East Jerusalem. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. We urge restraint in the use of live fire by the Israel Defense Forces. In instances where there have been accusations of excessive use of force, we have advocated swift, transparent investigations and if wrongdoing is found, that those responsible be held to account. The perpetual cycle of violence must end.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the transport of aviation fuel into Libya by Gulf Petroleum to forces allied to Khalifa Hiftar, what plans the Government has to (a) take legal action and (b) impose sanctions against companies found in violation of the arms embargo in Libya.

The UK is aware of allegations that aviation fuel was illicitly imported into Libya. The UK takes very seriously any reports of breaches of the UN Arms Embargo, which include imports of products such as aviation fuel destined for military use. These will be considered by the UN Sanctions Committee, which can decide to designate individuals or entities who undermine Libya's peace and security. The UK takes action against all individuals and entities so designated.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his overseas counterparts on removing host status of the 2020 Expo from the United Arab Emirates following that country's continued violation of the arms embargo to Libya.

We have been clear that external involvement in the Libya conflict is undermining UN efforts to end the fighting and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. We take very seriously all reports of violations of the UN arms embargo. The UK and the United Arab Emirates were amongst the participants in the 19 January Berlin conference on Libya, the conclusions of which were endorsed in UN Security Council Resolution 2510. This demanded that all UN Member States do not to intervene in the conflict, and fully comply with the UN arms embargo. We continue to make clear to all of the participants in the Berlin Conference that we expect them to live up to the commitments and support the UN political process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure Khalifa Hiftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, is unable to illegally sell oil to international markets.

The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation is the sole Libyan oil company with the authority to export Libyan oil. The UK condemns any attempts illicitly to export oil from Libya. In February, the UK led work to agree Security Council Resolution 2509 which extended the authorisations and measures imposed by Resolution 2146 relating to illicit oil exports. The resolutions enable the Sanctions Committee to designate vessels undertaking illicit oil exports and member states to interdict vessels so designated.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure continued support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Libya.

The UK continues to support the Government of National Accord as the UN-endorsed government in Libya, and remains active in efforts to end the current fighting and to support a return to UN-led political talks. This month, I met separately with Libyan Prime Minister Serraj and with Interior Minister Bashaga. Ministers are also in regular contact on Libya with their European partners. The Prime Minister represented the UK at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January, alongside other European and international leaders, and urged those present to respect the UN Arms Embargo and support a ceasefire. The conclusions of the Berlin Conference were endorsed by UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution 2510 (2020). In February, I attended the first meeting of the International Follow Up Committee to the Berlin Conference, in Munich.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on continued support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Libya.

The UK continues to support the Government of National Accord as the UN-endorsed government in Libya, and remains active in efforts to end the current fighting and to support a return to UN-led political talks. This month, I met separately with Libyan Prime Minister Serraj and with Interior Minister Bashaga. Ministers are also in regular contact on Libya with their European partners. The Prime Minister represented the UK at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January, alongside other European and international leaders, and urged those present to respect the UN Arms Embargo and support a ceasefire. The conclusions of the Berlin Conference were endorsed by UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution 2510 (2020). In February, I attended the first meeting of the International Follow Up Committee to the Berlin Conference, in Munich.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Saudi Arabian counterpart on the recent arrests of (a) over 300 Government officials, (b) Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and (c) Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

We will continue to monitor the cases of those detained in Saudi Arabia. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will take steps with his overseas counterparts to secure proof of life for (a) the 300 Government officials (b) political detainees and (c) Prince Turki bin Abdullah arrested recently.

While we have not requested this information from the Saudi authorities, we continue to monitor these cases. The British Government remains concerned over the continued detention of a number of individuals, particularly those detained in Saudi Arabia because of their political views. The Foreign Secretary raised our concerns on a number of cases during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 4 and 5 March.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Saudi Arabian authorities on legal representation for political detainees in that country.

We continue to monitor the cases of political detainees in Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Secretary raised our concerns on a number of cases during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 4 and 5 March. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly and will continue to call for political detainees to be given adequate legal representation.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government has plans to send a UK delegation to the G20 to be held in Saudia Arabia following human rights abuses in that country.

The UK and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding bilateral relationship, based on trade; investment; defence; security; energy; and shared concerns on regional issues. The Foreign Secretary raised his concerns during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 4 and 5 March. Saudi Arabia's G20 Presidency is an opportunity to address issues of global importance, notably Covid-19. We hope that the international platform provided by the G20 Presidency encourages continued progress on domestic reforms.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will take diplomatic steps to support (a) the Libyan Government of National Accord and (b) a political solution to the ongoing conflict in that country.

The UK is clear that the Government of National Accord is the UN-endorsed government in Libya. We are also active in our support for the United Nations' central role in facilitating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive political process. The Prime Minister represented the UK at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January, alongside other international leaders, and urged those present to respect the UN Arms Embargo, support a ceasefire and a return to the UN-led political process. The conclusions of the Berlin Conference were endorsed by UK-led UN Security Council resolution 2510 (2020), which demands full compliance with the UN arms embargo, calls for an end to foreign military interference in Libya and makes clear that individuals or entities who breach the arms embargo or the ceasefire may be sanctioned with travel bans and asset freezes. In Munich on 16 February, I attended the first meeting of the International Follow Up Committee to the Berlin Conference. Alongside this, the UK welcomes and supports the UN's efforts to promote dialogue between Libyans on the political, security and economic tracks and encourages all parties to engage constructively with UNSRSG Salamé.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the Government's policy is on support for the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Libya; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is clear that the Government of National Accord is the UN-endorsed government in Libya. We are also active in our support for the United Nations' central role in facilitating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive political process. The Prime Minister represented the UK at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January, alongside other international leaders, and urged those present to respect the UN Arms Embargo, support a ceasefire and a return to the UN-led political process. The conclusions of the Berlin Conference were endorsed by UK-led UN Security Council resolution 2510 (2020), which demands full compliance with the UN arms embargo, calls for an end to foreign military interference in Libya and makes clear that individuals or entities who breach the arms embargo or the ceasefire may be sanctioned with travel bans and asset freezes. In Munich on 16 February, I attended the first meeting of the International Follow Up Committee to the Berlin Conference. Alongside this, the UK welcomes and supports the UN's efforts to promote dialogue between Libyans on the political, security and economic tracks and encourages all parties to engage constructively with UNSRSG Salamé.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the progress being made on political negotiations in Libya; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is clear that the Government of National Accord is the UN-endorsed government in Libya. We are also active in our support for the United Nations' central role in facilitating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive political process. The Prime Minister represented the UK at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January, alongside other international leaders, and urged those present to respect the UN Arms Embargo, support a ceasefire and a return to the UN-led political process. The conclusions of the Berlin Conference were endorsed by UK-led UN Security Council resolution 2510 (2020), which demands full compliance with the UN arms embargo, calls for an end to foreign military interference in Libya and makes clear that individuals or entities who breach the arms embargo or the ceasefire may be sanctioned with travel bans and asset freezes. In Munich on 16 February, I attended the first meeting of the International Follow Up Committee to the Berlin Conference. Alongside this, the UK welcomes and supports the UN's efforts to promote dialogue between Libyans on the political, security and economic tracks and encourages all parties to engage constructively with UNSRSG Salamé.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will introduce Magnitsky-style sanctions against the people responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi's killing was a terrible crime, and his family deserve to see justice done. Saudi Arabia must hold all those responsible to account and ensure such an atrocity can never happen again. We have set out our grave concerns - both publicly and privately - and will continue to do so. We have announced our intention to establish a UK autonomous Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky'-style) sanctions regime. The regulations will come into force in the coming months. It is not appropriate to confirm who may be designated under the sanctions regime before designations are made; to do this could reduce the impact of the designations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia on the ongoing detention of (a) Prince Turki bin Abdullah, (b) Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman and (c) other activists and senior officials.

We continue to monitor the cases of political detainees in Saudi Arabia. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government will impose sanctions on people found guilty by the International Criminal Court of human rights violations in Libya.

Whilst arrest warrants have been issued, no individual has yet been convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes in Libya. The UK strongly supports the work of the ICC to hold accountable those responsible for the most serious crimes in Libya. The UK continues, with our partners in the international community, to consider potential sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights violations or abuses in Libya.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Emirati counterpart on reports of arms embargo violations in Libya by the United Arab Emirates.

The UK is clear that external involvement in the Libya conflict is undermining UN efforts to end the fighting and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. We take very seriously all reports of violations of the UN arms embargo, including the findings of the UN Panel of Experts. The Government is in frequent contact with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) about the situation in Libya. The Foreign Secretary discussed it with his Emirati counterpart, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, on 21 January. The UK and UAE supported the conclusions of the Berlin conference on Libya on 19 January that called for an end to external military support to the parties in Libya.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the political situation in Libya on reports that the United Arab Emirates is arming Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's Libyan Arab Armed Forces.

The UK is clear that external involvement in the Libya conflict is undermining UN efforts to end the fighting and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. We take very seriously all reports of violations of the UN arms embargo, including the findings of the UN Panel of Experts. The Government is in frequent contact with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) about the situation in Libya. The Foreign Secretary discussed it with his Emirati counterpart, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, on 21 January. The UK and UAE supported the conclusions of the Berlin conference on Libya on 19 January that called for an end to external military support to the parties in Libya.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what progress the Government has made in bringing forward a Magnitsky-style amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.

We have announced our intention to establish a Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky-style') sanctions regime in the coming months. We will do this by laying in Parliament a Statutory Instrument (SI) under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. Designing the first piece of UK autonomous sanctions legislation is complex, and worth taking time to get this right.

A global sanctions regime will allow us to respond to serious human rights violations or abuses anywhere in the world. We are a global leader in the promotion and protection of human rights and we want to demonstrate that the United Kingdom can be a force for good in the world. A human rights sanctions regime will help support our human rights objectives. The sanctions regime is not intended to target individual countries, but those who commit serious human rights violations or abuses anywhere in the world.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
7th Sep 2021
What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the number of jobs that will be retained.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was designed as a temporary measure. Closing the scheme at the end of September strikes the right balance between supporting the economy, protecting incomes, and getting people back to work.

This is working; at the start of this crisis, unemployment was expected to reach 12 per cent or more. It is now forecast to peak at about half of that level, meaning almost 2 million fewer people losing their jobs than previously feared.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of adequacy of resources available to the Valuation Office Agency during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Treasury continues to provide the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) with the resources required successfully to deliver the valuations and property advice needed to support taxation and benefits. The VOA has received additional funding to deliver their operational activities including an extra £9m in 2018-19 and £25m in 2019-20, on top of its core budget and an additional £11.5m at Budget 2020 to modernise its IT systems.

The VOA has received a high increase in volumes with the check and challenge service as a consequence of COVID-19 which has put pressure on the service. These volumes are monitored actively and the VOA continues to flex resource to meet changing demand.

The Treasury works closely with the VOA and its sponsor department, HMRC, to understand the VOA’s resource requirements and is considering the appropriate level of funding for the next financial year as part of the current Spending Round.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 13 October 2020 to Question 100924, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing business rate relief for airports.

The?Government keeps all tax policy under review and is conducting a fundamental review of the business rates system in England. A Call for Evidence was published on 21 July and the Government is now considering responses.

A range of measures to support all businesses, including airports, has been made available, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment, and the deferral of Value Added Tax (VAT) payments.

The Government has also launched a new Global Travel Taskforce in order to support the travel industry and the safe recovery of international travel.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing business rate relief for airports in response to the reduction in passenger traffic.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the aviation industry as a result of COVID-19, and firms experiencing difficulties as a result of COVID-19 can draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including schemes to raise capital and flexibilities with tax bills. Firms in the aviation sector will now also be able to take advantage of the targeted package of measures to support jobs and businesses through the winter months.

The Government has also launched a new Global Travel Taskforce to work with industry to support the safe recovery of international travel.

13th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to local authorities for the provision of park sporting facilities as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government has provided a comprehensive package of support for councils to help with their response to Covid-19. Over £3.7bn in additional grant funding has been announced for councils in England, which can be used flexibly across all their services, and Sport England have announced a support package of £210 million to help community clubs through this crisis. The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities to monitor the pressures that they are facing.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of businesses that will be excluded from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund due to the exclusion of the event catering industry from the Government's definition of the hospitality industry.

The Government does not hold this information.

The Government recognises that this is a very challenging time for businesses in a wide variety of sectors. Small businesses occupying properties for retail, hospitality or leisure purposes are likely to be particularly affected by COVID-19 due to their reliance on customer footfall, and the fact that they are less likely than larger businesses to have sufficient cash reserves to meet their high fixed property-related costs. The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund is intended to help small businesses in this situation.

Local Authorities can choose to make discretionary grants to businesses in other sectors if they feel there is a particular local economic need. However, the priority of all the grants schemes continues to be to help the smallest businesses, and small businesses which are facing significant property-related costs and operate in sectors which have been particularly hard hit by the steep decline in customer footfall.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to support BN(O) holders’ children who cannot renew their passports through the Chinese embassy due to safety concerns.

To apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) route, applicants must have a valid passport or other travel document which shows their identity and nationality.

Where applicants do not have a valid passport, they will need to submit an alternative, valid travel document which can be used to prove their identity and nationality. This means a document, other than a passport, which has been issued by the government of the UK or another state and which enables travel from one country to another, for example, a valid national identity card.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a separate lifeboat scheme, mirroring Canadian-Australian arrangements, for 18-23 year old non-BN(O)s if they cannot apply for the BN(O) visa with their families.

The Hong Kong BN(O) route is for those with BN(O) status and their eligible family members including adult children who were born after 1 July 1997 and who live with their parents. We do not currently have any plans to change these requirements.

Those not eligible for the BN(O) route can consider other UK immigration routes. For instance, individuals from Hong Kong can apply under the terms of the UK’s new Points Based System, which will enable them to come to the UK in a wider range of professions and at a lower general salary threshold than in the past. There is also the existing youth mobility scheme which is open to those aged between 18 and 30 and offers a two-year grant of leave in the UK. There are 1,000 places currently available each year.

Those applying for the route do not need to travel to the UK on their BN(O) passport but will need another valid travel document in order to travel. This is set out on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/british-national-overseas-bno-visa

The UK will continue to recognise valid BN(O) passports as valid travel and identity documents.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to (a) expand and (b) clarify the BN(O) scheme to ensure that people relying on their BN(O) passports as their travel documents are able to use those documents when travelling (i) internationally and (ii) to the UK.

The Hong Kong BN(O) route is for those with BN(O) status and their eligible family members including adult children who were born after 1 July 1997 and who live with their parents. We do not currently have any plans to change these requirements.

Those not eligible for the BN(O) route can consider other UK immigration routes. For instance, individuals from Hong Kong can apply under the terms of the UK’s new Points Based System, which will enable them to come to the UK in a wider range of professions and at a lower general salary threshold than in the past. There is also the existing youth mobility scheme which is open to those aged between 18 and 30 and offers a two-year grant of leave in the UK. There are 1,000 places currently available each year.

Those applying for the route do not need to travel to the UK on their BN(O) passport but will need another valid travel document in order to travel. This is set out on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/british-national-overseas-bno-visa

The UK will continue to recognise valid BN(O) passports as valid travel and identity documents.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of collecting ethnicity as part of child sexual abuse data.

Child sexual abuse is an abhorrent crime and we will leave no stone unturned to prevent and pursue offenders, protect children and young people, and support victims and survivors from all backgrounds.

All police forces routinely collect data on recorded child sexual abuse offences, including offences related to indecent images of children. These figures are published quarterly by the Office for National statistics, and are broken down by offence types and police force areas. In the most recent data, published 13 May 2021, there were nearly 90,000 CSA offences recorded, an increase of nearly 300% since 2013. Crime in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The Government is clear that understanding possible drivers of crime is key to developing ways to prevent offending and better support victims. That is why the Home Secretary introduced a new requirement for police forces to collect ethnicity data for those arrested and held in custody as a result of their suspected involvement in group-based child sexual exploitation in March 2021. Complying with the requirement will be voluntary for one year to allow forces to update their systems, after which it will become mandatory. This follows the Government’s commitment in the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy (January 2021) to improve the quality of data collected on the characteristics of offenders.

Police forces have a duty to collect this data through the Annual Data Requirement (ADR) as set out in the Police Act 1996. The ADR is reviewed on an annual basis, and the Home Office will continue to consider data requirements in relation to child sexual abuse, ensuring that all proposals for new data collections are consulted on with the police to ensure that such requests are proportionate, and do not place unnecessary burdens on police forces.

Additionally the Government is constantly striving to better understand the nature of child sexual abuse through the work of the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, which it established in 2017, and the insight of other experts including the ONS and the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, who have produced research on ethnic minority victims of CSEA.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure the collection of adequate data on child sexual abuse that is comparable across police forces.

Child sexual abuse is an abhorrent crime and we will leave no stone unturned to prevent and pursue offenders, protect children and young people, and support victims and survivors from all backgrounds.

All police forces routinely collect data on recorded child sexual abuse offences, including offences related to indecent images of children. These figures are published quarterly by the Office for National statistics, and are broken down by offence types and police force areas. In the most recent data, published 13 May 2021, there were nearly 90,000 CSA offences recorded, an increase of nearly 300% since 2013. Crime in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The Government is clear that understanding possible drivers of crime is key to developing ways to prevent offending and better support victims. That is why the Home Secretary introduced a new requirement for police forces to collect ethnicity data for those arrested and held in custody as a result of their suspected involvement in group-based child sexual exploitation in March 2021. Complying with the requirement will be voluntary for one year to allow forces to update their systems, after which it will become mandatory. This follows the Government’s commitment in the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy (January 2021) to improve the quality of data collected on the characteristics of offenders.

Police forces have a duty to collect this data through the Annual Data Requirement (ADR) as set out in the Police Act 1996. The ADR is reviewed on an annual basis, and the Home Office will continue to consider data requirements in relation to child sexual abuse, ensuring that all proposals for new data collections are consulted on with the police to ensure that such requests are proportionate, and do not place unnecessary burdens on police forces.

Additionally the Government is constantly striving to better understand the nature of child sexual abuse through the work of the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, which it established in 2017, and the insight of other experts including the ONS and the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, who have produced research on ethnic minority victims of CSEA.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of (a) entry clearances, (b) applications for biometric residency permits and (c) leave to remain applications are processed within the published service standards.

Performance against service standards, where service standards apply, are included in the Migration Transparency data which is published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visas-and-citizenship-data-november-2020.

Please see data table tab VC_01a, which includes data on the percentage of applications for each route processed within service standards. Where we are not able to process within the target processing time, we write to the applicant to explain this. For Biometric Residence Permits, we routinely publish this as part of the Transparency data.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of update requests on pending applications which are responded to within published service standards.

For all application progress enquiries to our advice line, where we need to review in more detail, we aim to respond to these within 5 working days.

In the last month we achieved this in 100% of cases.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 10 December 2020 to Question 125980, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people who will be affected by the new Immigration Rules which make rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling a person’s permission to be in the UK.

I refer to my answer of 10 December. No estimate has been made of volumes affected by the new immigration rule on rough sleeping as it will be used sparingly and only where a person repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour and refuses offers of support. Statistics on the number of rough sleepers are available on Gov.uk.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people who will be affected by the new Immigration Rules which make rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling a person’s permission to be in the UK.

The new Immigration Rules which make provision for the refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK on the basis of rough sleeping will be used sparingly, and as a last resort where a person repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour and refuses offers of support.

If we cancel a person’s permission to stay in the UK, we will ask them to leave voluntarily with government support. Only if they refuse would we consider an enforced removal.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what representations her Department has received on the suitability of powers granted to local authorities in order to enforce covid-19 regulations.

The Home Office does not grant powers to local authorities to enforce the covid-19 regulations. The department continues to work across Government and with other partners to ensure the regulations are proportionate and appropriate in the response to the pandemic.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Sep 2020
What recent assessment she has made of trends in the time taken by UK Visas and Immigration to process one-year visa extensions for healthcare workers.

Mr Speaker, I would like, with your permission to group questions 30 and 31.

Up till close on Friday, provisional management information shows we have concluded 5,954 free extensions for eligible healthcare workers and dependents.

On average, straightforward cases have been concluded within four weeks of receiving necessary information from employers to enable the extension to be undertaken.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the number of visitor visas that have expired and not been used during the period in which they were valid in each of the last 12 months.

The Home Office does not collate the information requested.

Data on the number of visitor visas issued and passenger arrivals to the UK is published on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2020/how-many-people-come-to-the-uk-each-year-including-visitors#data-tables

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications for visitor visas have been received by her Department in each of the last 12 months.

The Home Office publishes data on entry clearance visas in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Data on visitor visa applications are published in table Vis_D01 of the entry clearance visa detailed datasets. Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to the year ending March 2020.

Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the summary tables. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on visas.

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

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding in-country switching for visa applicants unable to return to their home country due to lock-down constraints.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by measures connected to Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Those measures include a provision for switching in-country by visa applicants. Full details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

These are unprecedented times and we may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate, to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that settlement visa criteria are achievable following Government advice on (a) avoiding all unnecessary travel and (b) social distance during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are acutely aware of the issues around visa criteria due to Covid-19 and the need for everyone to adhere to Public Health England’s advice to remain at home.

The Home Office is working urgently to produce guidance and alternative arrangements for individuals due to the current unprecedented situation and events beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Gurkhas (a) are serving during the withdrawal of British armed forces from Afghanistan and (b) have served in that country since 2001.

No Gurkha units were deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation PITTING. At least 2,890 Gurkhas deployed to Afghanistan between November 2001 and May 2021. An exact number is unavailable as personnel and deployment data held by the Department is incomplete before 2007.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many breaches of international law in Yemen by Saudi forces and its allies have been documented by his Department in its tracking document since January 2020 to date.

I am unable to answer the hon. Member's question due to ongoing legal proceedings.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
21st Sep 2020
What plans his Department has to procure additional F-35 Lightnings; and if he will make a statement.

As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, funding has been approved for the procurement of 48 Lightning aircraft out to 2025. These are being procured in lots and we have taken delivery of 18 aircraft and have contracted for 17 new airframes to be delivered between 2020 and 2022. Negotiations for further lots are ongoing.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
12th May 2020
What assessment he has made of the effect on veteran welfare of closing the Veterans UK Helpline.

The Veterans UK helpline has not been closed.

The COVID-19 situation has necessitated the delivery of services differently and veterans can still submit written enquiries in the normal manner via email. Call backs and referral to the Veterans Welfare Service are provided where urgent or vulnerable callers are identified.

22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to reduce the number of people living poverty related to housing costs.

Individuals who are unable to afford their housing costs may be eligible for a range of support through the welfare system. We lifted Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local rents in April 2020, and in 2021/22 maintained them at their increased level in cash terms.

For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments are available. We have made £140 million in Discretionary Housing Payments funding available for local authorities this financial year, to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors. This builds on the £180 million in payments made available last financial year.

Moreover, we have banned lettings fees paid by tenants and capped tenancy deposits through the Tenant Fees Act, which came into force on 1 June 2019 and reduced the upfront costs associated with moving in the private rented sector.

During the Coronavirus pandemic the Government has put in place an unprecedented financial package, which is supporting renters to sustain tenancies and to afford their housing costs. We have provided support for business to pay staff salaries through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is in place until the end of September 2021. We also extended the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit until September 2021 and provided a one-off payment of £500 to eligible Working Tax Credit claimants.

In the longer term we need to build more homes to tackle affordability. We have made strong progress towards our aim of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s – delivering around 244,000 last year, the highest in over 30 years. This is backed by £20 billion in investment, which includes over £12.2 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme – to deliver up to 180,000 affordable homes – the biggest funding commitment to affordable housing in over a decade. We have also made initial funding of £7.1 billon available for the National Home Building Fund to unlock up to 860,000 homes over the lifetime of the projects through the provision of infrastructure, regenerating brownfield sites, and diversifying the market.

Furthermore, our £9 billion Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme, running to 2023, will deliver approximately 250,000 new affordable homes. We are also pushing forward with our planning reforms to establish a simpler, faster and more predictable system and ensure that the right homes are built in the right places where they are needed.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of people living in unsuitable housing.

There is no single definition of unsuitable homes, which could encompass a range of housing-related issues. We do make regular assessments of the housing stock through the English Housing Survey.

According to the English Housing Survey, in 2019-20, 16.3% of owner occupied and 23.3% of Private Rented Sector homes were non-decent. The number of social homes classified as non-decent reduced from 20% in 2010 to 12% in 2019. According to the same survey, in 2019-20, 8% of all households in England (1.9 million) had at least one person with a long-standing physical or mental health condition and said that they required adaptations to their home. 81% of households that required adaptations to their home due to their health condition felt their home was suitable for their needs. The 19% of households (374,000) that required adaptations and who considered their accommodation unsuitable accounted for 2% of all households in England.

This Government is clear that everyone deserves a safe, decent home, and is taking forward a range of measure to support this, including giving local authorities stronger enforcement powers, undertaking a comprehensive review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, reviewing the Decent Homes Standard, and our recent consultation considered raising the accessibility requirements for new homes.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Jul 2021
When his Department plans to publish transparency data on the (a) meetings and (b) relevant interests of its Departmental board.

Information on Board meetings and relevant interests of the Board will be published in the Department Annual Report and Accounts as standard, which will be available on the government website in the coming weeks. The interests of Ministers sat on the Board is readily available on the parliament website.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of giving social housing tenants the right to acquire rented property built prior to 1997.

The Right to Acquire (RtA) was introduced in 1997, through the Housing Act 1996. A Housing Association that accepted government grant from that point accepted that the RtA would be a condition of the grant.

Backdating the legislation to apply to homes built before 1997 would require forcing Housing Associations to sell ​properties to eligible tenants. However, Government has made home ownership available to certain Housing Association tenants through ​a voluntary agreement with Housing Associations supporting pilots of the Voluntary Right to Buy.

The Midlands pilot for the Voluntary Right to Buy was launched in August 2018. This pilot has given thousands of Housing Association tenants in the East and West Midlands the opportunity to buy their home with a discount. An independent evaluation for the Midlands Voluntary Right to Buy pilot was published in February 2021. The 2019 manifesto committed to evaluate new pilot areas.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he will provide support to English language lesson providers to meet the potential increase in demand as Hongkongers migrate to the UK.

MHCLG is providing up to £14.7 million in this financial year for local authorities in England to arrange English language provision for Hong Kong BN(O) status holders relocating to their areas.

Local authorities can deliver these classes in a range of ways, including by working with accredited English language schools.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how he plans to signpost Hong Kongers to the Government’s support package for people coming to the UK on the Hong Kong BN(O) route announced in April 2021.

The new Hong Kong-UK Welcome Hubs will play a core role in signposting Hong Kong BN(O) status holders and their dependents to support that is available.

Each area will develop unique plans, but we expect Welcome Hubs to work with MHCLG to fund local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise groups who will be able to offer face-to-face orientation and partner with local authorities to refer people to support.

We will continue to update the recently published Welcome Pack on Gov.UK as a comprehensive resource to help Hong Kongers navigate life in the UK and settle into their communities.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many (a) gasworks and (b) former gasworks sites (i) there are in total, (ii) are being redeveloped and (iii) have been redeveloped in (A) London and (B) England.

Statistics published by BEIS show that the last gas works in England closed in 1988. Information is not held centrally on the number of former gasworks sites that there are in London or in England as a whole.

Robust figures are not held centrally by MHCLG on the numbers of former gasworks sites that have been redeveloped, or are being redeveloped, in London or in England as a whole.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the ability of the English planning system to enforce environmental standards.

The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment. Local authorities can refuse planning permission for developments that would cause unacceptable harm to the environment. They can also take a range of enforcement actions against any breach of planning conditions imposed to mitigate potential environmental harm.

In the reforms put forward for consultation in the White Paper, Planning for the Future, we committed to seeking to strengthen enforcement powers and sanctions so that, as we move towards a rules-based system, communities can have confidence those rules will be upheld. Consultation on Planning for the future closed on 29 October 2020, and we are currently considering the responses.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what representations his Department has received on the suitability of powers granted to local authorities in order to enforce covid-19 regulations.

My department has been working closely with local authorities throughout the coronavirus response and will continue to do so for the winter period. Ministers and officials have been in regular dialogue with local authorities including to discuss enforcement, for example, holding Ministerial Webinars and through an official-level Compliance Working Group.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what financial support the Government plans to provide in addition to statutory sick pay to ensure that (a) people with cystic fibrosis and (b) other clinically extremely vulnerable people can access essential (i) items and (ii) services for themselves and their families during the covid-19 lockdown.

MHCLG is providing councils with over £32 million to support Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people for the 28-day period that the additional guidance is in place. It is designed to give councils flexibility in providing appropriate support to CEV individuals, such as access to food and to local support services, enabling them to stay as safe as possible over this period. The Government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) until March, which CEV individuals may be eligible for. CEV employees may also be able to get help through the Access to Work scheme. Those who cannot work from home may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), as well as Universal Credit (UC).

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effect on community parks and sporting facilities of increased pressure on local authority budgets as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

As we set out in the government sport strategy, Sporting Future, sport and physical activity should be accessible to all. It is so important to the health of the nation - in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing.

The Government announced that from 4 July outdoor gyms could reopen. Sport England announced a £195 million package of support to help community clubs through this crisis. It recently boosted its Community Emergency Fund by a further £15 million to meet the demand, taking the total up to £210 million. The Government is continuing to work closely with the sector to understand the issues they face and how we can support them further.

In addition to this, we have now made £3.7 billion available to local authorities through an un-ringfenced grant so they can address pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package recognises the additional costs and pressures on finances councils are facing as a result of the current crisis. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making sure councils have the resources they need to support their communities through this challenging time.

In total, the Government has committed almost £28 billion to local areas to support councils and their communities. This also includes: £300 million to support the new test and trace service, £600 million to support providers through a new Infection Control Fund and £12.3 billion of support through the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the progress on recovery of communities affected by flooding in November 2019.

The Government has been supporting local authorities from the outset of the November flooding. The Flood Recovery Framework was swiftly activated, to ensure that local authorities could implement local recovery schemes. In partnership with BEIS, the framework provides funding for local authorities to help affected residents and businesses to recover from the flooding, as well as reimbursements to local authorities for providing 100 per cent council tax and business rates to these affected properties.

The Government also committed to matching up to £1 million of funds raised by the South Yorkshire Flood Disaster Relief Appeal Fund. We have pledged a further £300,000 of match-funding for other eligible areas affected by recent flooding, where the Flood Recovery Framework has been activated.

Government continues to engage with local partners to wholly understand the local situation and provide adequate support.

24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to tackle the level of cases that are withdrawn due to (a) court delays and (b) case backlogs.

In the courts we have taken decisive action to address the impact of the pandemic on how quickly cases can be heard. We spent over £250 million on recovery last financial year to roll out new technology for remote hearings, make the court estate COVID-secure, and set up 60 new Nightingale courtrooms. This has enabled disposals to return to pre-pandemic levels in the Crown Court, which is over 2000 cases per week, and we completed over 7,000 jury trials last year.

Criminal courts continue to recover from the pandemic, with magistrates’ backlogs having fallen by 70,000 since last summer and our figures show that in recent weeks the outstanding caseload in the Crown Court has begun to reduce.

We will continue to address the outstanding caseload and reduce delays by increasing capacity in our physical estate, running Crown Courts to the fullest possible extent, using every judge and courtroom to maximise court sitting days.

Supporting victims and witnesses is a top priority for the Government. We are acutely aware of the risk of victims dropping out of the criminal justice process and we have listened carefully to stakeholders and worked across government to build an understanding of the long-term causes of victim attrition.

We continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on victims and victim attrition. We know that victims of certain crime types and in certain geographical areas have been particularly impacted during this period.

In 2021-22, we will provide c.£151m for victim and witness support services, £27m of which will be used to increase the number of independent advisors for sexual violence and domestic abuse victims by over 40 per cent. Beyond significant increases in funding to victims’ services, the Government has taken a range of actions to ensure that victims and witnesses receive the support they need in the face of delays caused by the court backlogs.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) raising the marriage age to 18 and (b) removing parental consent to (i) protect children and (ii) prevent exploitation.

The Government continues to listen carefully to the debate on the legal age of marriage. Justice officials liaise closely with officials in other departments that have an interest in this matter and in forced marriage, which Government made an offence in 2014.

Evidence shows that the number of people marrying in England and Wales at 16 or 17 has been in decline over the years. In 2017, the latest year for which statistics are available, 183 of the people entering 235,910 opposite sex marriages did so at those ages. Primary legislation would be needed to raise the marriageable age to 18 and thereby to remove the existing requirement for parental or judicial consent at 16 or 17. Such changes would not in themselves, however, prevent marriages taking place under 18 outside the ambit of the domestic law.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had for the Minister for Women and Equalities on raising the marriage age to 18 and removing parental consent to protect children and prevent exploitation.

The Government continues to listen carefully to the debate on the legal age of marriage. Justice officials liaise closely with officials in other departments that have an interest in this matter and in forced marriage, which Government made an offence in 2014.

Evidence shows that the number of people marrying in England and Wales at 16 or 17 has been in decline over the years. In 2017, the latest year for which statistics are available, 183 of the people entering 235,910 opposite sex marriages did so at those ages. Primary legislation would be needed to raise the marriageable age to 18 and thereby to remove the existing requirement for parental or judicial consent at 16 or 17. Such changes would not in themselves, however, prevent marriages taking place under 18 outside the ambit of the domestic law.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the time taken to respond to (a) written questions and (b) letters from hon. Members.

The Government attaches great importance to the effective and timely handling of correspondence and written questions. Some departments are seeing a significant increase in correspondence during the pandemic but it is vital that members are able to ask questions of departments on behalf of constituents with confidence that they will receive a timely and useful response. I have written to all members of Cabinet to remind them of the importance of this.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons