Virginia Crosbie Portrait

Virginia Crosbie

Conservative - Ynys Môn


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Division Votes
None available
Speeches
Thursday 21st July 2022
Agricultural and County Shows
My hon. Friend is giving an excellent speech, highlighting the importance of the shows to rural communities. The Anglesey Agricultural …
Written Answers
Wednesday 13th July 2022
Passports: Applications
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to expediate the processing of …
Early Day Motions
Monday 13th January 2020
Protecting the Welsh language
That this House notes the importance of the Welsh language to the cultural identity of Wales and its residents; is …
Bills
Tuesday 20th July 2021
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to amend the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953; and for connected purposes.
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 11th July 2022
1. Employment and earnings
Payment of £100 expected for a survey completed on 8 June 2022. Hours: 45 mins. (Registered 06 July 2022)
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 7th July 2021
Dogs (DNA Databases) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to require dog keepers to register a dog’s DNA on a database; to make provision about such databases …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Virginia Crosbie has voted in 616 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Virginia Crosbie voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
22 Jun 2022 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Virginia Crosbie voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 61 Conservative No votes vs 106 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 215 Noes - 70
View All Virginia Crosbie Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)
(15 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(11 debate interactions)
Michael Gove (Conservative)
Minister for Intergovernmental Relations
(9 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(28 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(27 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Fisheries Act 2020
(3,550 words contributed)
Agriculture Act 2020
(3,174 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Virginia Crosbie's debates

Ynys Môn Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Latest EDMs signed by Virginia Crosbie

13th January 2020
Virginia Crosbie signed this EDM as a sponsor on Monday 13th January 2020

Protecting the Welsh language

Tabled by: Virginia Crosbie (Conservative - Ynys Môn)
That this House notes the importance of the Welsh language to the cultural identity of Wales and its residents; is aware of the importance of the teaching of the Welsh language in schools; believes that Government bodies should play their part in advancing the language; and calls on the Government …
10 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Jan 2020)
Signatures by party:
Plaid Cymru: 3
Labour: 2
Independent: 2
Conservative: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
View All Virginia Crosbie's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Virginia Crosbie, 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.


Virginia Crosbie has not been granted any Urgent Questions

1 Adjournment Debate led by Virginia Crosbie

Wednesday 5th February 2020

1 Bill introduced by Virginia Crosbie


A Bill to amend the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 6th May 2022
(Read Debate)

266 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
6 Other Department Questions
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what progress she has made on the appointment of the Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Wales.

The recruitment campaign for a Wales Commissioner for the EHRC was launched on 23 July 2021 and closed on 3 September 2021.

Applications have been assessed through an independent and impartial process, which was conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will make an announcement once an appointment has been made.

24th Nov 2021
What assessment she has made of trends in the number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of women in public life.

No one should feel afraid to participate in our democracy. Open, fair and safe participation is crucial. However, this freedom can never be an excuse to cause harm or spread hatred, and a line is crossed when disagreement mutates into intimidation, violence or abuse.

Intimidation in public life can stop talented people, particularly women and those from minority backgrounds, from standing for public office.

All of us in public life have a responsibility to challenge and report intimidating behaviour wherever it occurs.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what discussions he has had with (a) the Welsh Government, (b) the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and (c) industry bodies to use the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference to promote the renewables industry of (i) Wales and (ii) Ynys Môn.

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to help promote the UK's clean energy transition. I have met with companies in the renewable energy industry in Wales to explore how they can support a successful COP26. The Government has a long history of supporting the development and deployment of wave and tidal stream technologies in the UK, including in Wales. Since 2003 various bodies across Government have provided innovation/R&D funding of £175m to the wave and tidal sectors (almost £80m since 2010).

I am working with the Welsh Government, alongside the other devolved administrations, to ensure an inclusive and ambitious COP26 for the whole of the UK. As part of this, I chair the COP26 Devolved Administrations (DAs) meetings with climate change ministers from the DAs. The COP26 Unit also worked with the Welsh Government and other DAs to encourage proposals from stakeholders, such as the renewables industry, across the UK via the Expression of Interest process for events or showcasing in UK Government managed spaces at COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to work with his international counterparts to reduce the impact of global deforestation; and what support the Government has provided to protect rainforests.

The UK Presidency is working with international counterparts and partners to secure global action to protect and restore forests, and shift international agricultural commodity supply chains away from deforestation and transition towards more sustainable practices. We have established the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue to achieve this. The FACT Dialogue is a ground-breaking partnership between governments of producer and consumer countries committed to taking action to transition to more sustainable commodity production and global trade.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to work with the Welsh Government to ensure there are opportunities for civil society to engage with COP26.

Civil society, with their links to on-the-ground communities and practitioners, are key partners to achieve the goals we have set for COP26. This is why I have set up an International COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council so that we can hear and act on the knowledge of civil society groups. My officials run regular, open-invite calls with a large network of civil society organisations to share updates on our planning for COP26, which are regularly attended by Welsh groups.

We are working with the Welsh Government, alongside the other devolved administrations, to ensure an inclusive and ambitious COP26 for the whole of the UK. As part of this, I chair the COP26 Devolved Administrations (DAs) Ministerial meeting with climate change ministers from the DAs. The COP26 Unit also worked with the Welsh Government and other DAs to encourage proposals from stakeholders across the UK via the Expression of Interest process for events or showcasing in UK Government managed spaces at COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing civil servants in his Department to receive their Imperial Service Medal whilst still serving, as is the case with his Department's service personnel.

The Imperial Service Medal (ISM) is awarded to recognise long and faithful service in the Civil Service by an individual in an eligible grade. The ISM is awarded on the recommendation of the employing department on the retirement, redundancy, resignation, or transfer to the private sector of an individual with at least 25 years of meritorious service. Eligibility for the ISM is set in Statute and there are currently no plans to change the qualifying criteria.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to negotiate with the Greek Government the granting of special permits to allow the up to 180 days that are permitted per year under Schengen rules to be used in a single block of any length up to 180 days by travellers from the UK.

The 90 days in a rolling 180-day period is the standard length of stay that the EU offers to the nationals of eligible third countries that reciprocate visa-free travel access for EU citizens. There is no precedent for the EU offering a longer length of visa-free stay than 90 / 180 days to the nationals of any third country and the Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel. Both the UK and the EU provide visa-free arrangements for tourists and short-term business visitors.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to facilitate freight traffic through Holyhead Port since 1 January 2021.

HMG worked with Welsh Government and local stakeholders to share planning assumptions about potential disruption ahead of the end of the Transition Period and put in place contingency plans, including to manage potential traffic disruption at Holyhead. As there has not been significant traffic disruption to the port, additional facilitative steps have not been needed.

We recognise the need to provide as much support to traders, ports and hauliers as possible. The Government has introduced a range of measures to help the industry meet new export requirements, including training, webinars and extensive guidance on GOV.UK. We are increasing our communication and engagement efforts to ensure that traders are confident using Welsh routes.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a grant for those on the Island of Anglesey who rely on domestic heating oil or liquified natural gas in order to connect them to the mains gas supply.

Meeting the UK’s net zero target will require virtually all heat in buildings to be decarbonised. The Government is working with the Welsh Government (and the other devolved administrations) to address the challenges of decarbonising heating. This includes building the evidence to support a decision on the future use of the gas grid.

The Government is aware of the programme of local area energy planning underway in Wales, which will identify the changes needed to the local energy system to decarbonise heat and local transport, support strategic network planning and realise opportunities for local renewable energy production.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce a temporary price cap on the price of (a) domestic heating oil and (b) liquified natural gas for those in rural areas not connected to the mains gas supply.

The Government has carefully considered the introduction of a price cap to help domestic fuel customers with high fuel prices, however the Government’s analysis indicates that a cap would not be in the long-term interests of consumers.

The existing gas and electricity price cap was designed to protect consumers on default tariffs from the loyalty penalty, which the Competitions and Markets Authority warned was causing customers to be overcharged. The structure of the heating oil and LPG markets are different and imposing a price cap below wholesale costs would drive companies out of the market, reducing competition and possibly result in supply shortages.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to support the expansion of the offshore wind industry to the north Wales coast.

The Government remains firmly committed to the renewables industry across the UK, including in Wales. Future Contracts for Difference auctions will provide further opportunities for developers of low-carbon electricity projects in Wales to secure contracts and expand the amount of offshore wind capacity supported by the scheme in Wales.

One of the successful projects in the Crown Estate’s Round 4 seabed leasing is located off the North-East of Anglesey.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has had recent discussions with the Welsh Government on the development of floating offshore wind projects.

BEIS officials engage in regular discussions with Devolved Administrations, including the Welsh Government, on matters of mutual interest. The Celtic Sea constitutes a major development opportunity for the offshore wind sector and is set to create significant opportunities for development in Wales.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to increase investment in the development of (a) onshore and offshore wind, (b) tidal energy, (c) solar power, (d) hydrogen power and (e) other renewable energy sources.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is the Government’s main mechanism for supporting renewable generation in Great Britain. The latest round is the largest yet and will support technologies including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, tidal and floating offshore wind. The next CfD round will be held in March 2023, and future rounds will run annually, rather than every two years, helping to drive deployment of renewable power.

The Government’s policy levers for hydrogen, including the Hydrogen Business Model, are designed to unlock significant private sector investment to reach the 10GW by 2030 production ambition.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that payments made under the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme reflect the increase in prices for electricity that have been introduced under the new price cap.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for York Outer on 28 February to Question 125141.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support the (a) generation and (b) adoption of cleaner methods of home heating.

In the Heat and Buildings Strategy, published in October 2021, the Government sets out actions for the reduction of emissions from buildings in the near and longer term. This includes a package of measures to reduce the costs of buying and running a heat pump and how the Government plans to scale up the deployment of heat pumps to 600,000 installations per annum by 2028. The new Boiler upgrade scheme, opened for grant applications 23 May, gives £5000 discounts towards installing a heat pump. The Government is also taking action to grow the market for heat networks and continues to invest in research for hydrogen heating.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that supply chains for the (a) production and (b) distribution of diesel are not disrupted.

The UK remains well-supplied for diesel from a diverse range of sources. UK demand for diesel is met by a combination of domestic production and imports. In 2021 UK production could have met over half of our demand for diesel. Imports in the same year came from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia including the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

BEIS monitors the fuel supply market to remain aware of current supply levels, and publishes weekly national average forecourt stock levels. There is no shortage of diesel in the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to work with the Welsh Government to ensure that the national grid transmission network is upgraded to have the necessary capacity to transmit electricity from both small scale community generation and large scale renewable generation projects such as offshore wind.

The Government works closely with Ofgem and network companies to ensure there is necessary capacity for renewable generation in Wales and across Great Britain and is engaging with the Welsh Government on this. As part of the Government’s Offshore Transmission Network Review, the National Grid Electricity System Operator will publish a Holistic Network Design by June 30th, which will accommodate 1GW of floating offshore wind capacity in the Celtic Sea.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the British energy security strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of locating the headquarters of the Great British Nuclear Vehicle in North Wales in the context of the nuclear expertise in that area.

As part of the Government’s ambition to set up the Great British Nuclear Vehicle this year, officials are working to scope the functions of this entity – building on UK industrial strengths and expertise.

The UK has a proud nuclear tradition across many regions, with expertise to match. The Government continues to recognise the strong interest for nuclear power in North Wales and will consider all appropriate locations.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the benefits of providing residents who are local to energy and nuclear plants with discounts to their energy bills.

It is important that communities can participate in and benefit from the deployment of new low carbon energy technologies in their local areas. As set out in its recent British Energy Security Strategy, the Government is developing onshore wind partnerships in England that will enable supportive communities to host new onshore wind infrastructure and enjoy the benefits of doing so, through developers supporting for example, local energy discounts and new community infrastructure projects.

Renewable and nuclear projects can also bring wider socio-economic benefits to local people and businesses, including increasing local employment, creating regional supply chains and investing in new training facilities in the community.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the readiness of the national grid to accommodate the change in energy mix set out in the Energy Security Strategy; and what steps he is planning to take to help protect the rural landscape in the event that work is required to strengthen the national grid.

The Government’s British Energy Security Strategy sets out measures to accelerate the connecting onshore network infrastructure required to support targets for electricity generation. These measures could reduce timelines for delivering network infrastructure by around three years.

Communities will retain their voice in decision making and planning decisions will still be robust. The Government has consulted on amending the energy National Policy Statements to strengthen the mitigation of landscape and visual impacts from network infrastructure. This includes the need to follow ‘good design’ principles and a starting presumption to underground electricity cables in designated areas, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of temporarily reducing the green levy on energy bills in order to assist people with energy costs after 1 April 2022.

According to Ofgem, environmental and social policy costs totalled 25.48 percent on electricity bills and 2.46 percent on gas bills in 2020. Over the past 10 years their net effect has reduced consumer energy bills.

These levies fund vital support schemes and energy efficiency measures which benefit low income and vulnerable households as well as investing in the UK’s home-grown renewable energy sector, reducing reliance on gas and therefore volatile gas prices.

The Government continues to monitor the efficiency and value of green policies.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support households with the (a) cost of insulation, (b) transition to heat pumps from gas boilers and (b) implementation of other energy efficiency measures.

The Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy included £3.9 billion of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings. This brings existing Government spending to a total of £6.6 billion across the lifetime of this parliament. This money is supporting energy-efficiency schemes including the Local Authority Delivery Scheme, the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and the new £450 Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which provides discounts on the costs of installing a heat pump. The Government’s Energy Company Obligation Scheme has also been extended from 2022 to 2026 and its value increased from £640 million to £1 billion a year.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help deliver nuclear projects by the end of the decade.

The British Energy Security Strategy, announced on 7 April, outlined the intention to take one new nuclear power project to Final Investment Decision (FID) this Parliament, and two projects to FID in the next Parliament (including potentially at Wylfa). The ambition in the strategy could see our nuclear sector progressing up to 8 reactors by 2030. The statement also announced proposals for a new body to develop a resilient pipeline of new build nuclear projects, and a plan to launch the £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund in April, to award funding to projects which may potentially be part of future decisions.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the Welsh (a) economy and (b) tourism industry of denoting St. David's Day as a bank holiday.

The Government has no current plans to change the well-established and accepted arrangements for bank holidays in the UK. The Government remains committed to working together with all the Devolved Administrations to ensure that the UK’s institutions are working collectively as one United Kingdom.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish an update to the National Emergency Plan for downstream gas and electricity.

The National Emergency Plan for Downstream Gas and Electricity remains an accurate overview of the plans and processes across the energy sector for emergencies.

The National Emergency Plan for Downstream Gas and Electricity is planned to be updated this year. While the document currently references EU law and regulation, these have been succeeded by UK law and regulation as part of a wider statutory instrument package brought in when the UK left the EU.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made on the proportion of homes rated EPC C+ in (a) 2010 and (b) 2020.

The latest English Housing Survey suggests 14% of English homes were rated EPC C+ in 2010 and 46% rated EPC C+ in 2020.

Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1054775/2020-21_EHS_Headline_Report_Section_2_Stock_Annex_Table_revised.ods

Tab AT2.8, Cells C37:D38

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what comparative assessment he has made of the cost of producing a kilowatt of electricity from a (a) North Sea wind turbine and (b) power station running on gas shipped to the UK from overseas.

BEIS publishes the Levelized Costs of Electricity (LCOE) for all generating technologies in the Generation Cost Reports (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/beis-electricity-generation-costs-2020). The LCOE of offshore wind turbines and gas plants (both CCGT and OCGT) are derived from their lifetime electricity generation, capital costs, and operational costs (including fuel).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to monitor above inflation increases in standing charges by energy companies; and what assessment he has made of (a) the reasons for increasing those charges above the rate of inflation and (b) the impact on (i) consumers and (ii) energy companies.

The setting of energy tariffs including the standing charge is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. The standing charge is a daily flat rate passed on to consumers which covers the costs energy suppliers incur to provide a live supply to each household. It includes charges from network companies for using pipes and power lines to carry gas and electricity supplies, the maintenance and installation of meters and billing and accounting. A small proportion of the standing charge also goes towards Government initiatives that help vulnerable households and reduce emissions.

For millions of households the level of the standing charge is protected by the energy price cap rate set by Ofgem. The energy unit rate and the standing charge together for a supplier’s default and standard variable tariffs must not exceed the level of the price cap. For consumers looking for a new fixed deal for the energy, suppliers can offer a range of tariffs including some with a low or even a zero standing charge and a higher energy unit rate to attract low energy users.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help put in place long-term liquified natural gas contracts with counterparties including Qatar and the United States to secure security of supply.

Energy security is an absolute priority for this Government. The Government has highly diverse and flexible sources of gas supply and a diverse electricity mix, which ensure that households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need. Despite the high prices, the market continues to balance supply and demand.

The Government already receives regular shipments of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, and other LNG suppliers, as part of existing commercial arrangements between buyers and sellers.

The Government has regular discussions with key energy partners around the world ahead of winter and to discuss the global transition to clean energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of further increasing investment in (a) onshore wind, (b) solar, (c) tidal and (d) other renewable energy sources such in order to further diversify energy generation in the UK; what steps he is taking to support the development of energy storage facilities; and what his planned timetable is for publishing the findings of the call for evidence on large scale, long duration energy storage.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is the Government’s main mechanism for supporting new low-carbon electricity generation projects in Great Britain. The fourth allocation round of the CfD scheme (AR4) opened on 13 December 2021 and aims to secure more low-carbon electricity capacity than the previous three rounds combined. AR4 is open to an expanded number of renewable technologies, including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, tidal stream and floating offshore wind. In February, the Government also announced that the next CfD allocation round will be brought forward to March 2023, and future rounds will run annually, rather than every two years, thereafter. This will support renewable electricity producers and further drive deployment of renewable power.

In 2019 BEIS launched the Storage at Scale competition, which funded demonstration facilities for two innovative energy storage facilities. In 2021, BEIS launched a further programme, The Longer Duration Energy Storage competition. In February 2022, BEIS announced funding for 24 projects under this competition to perform engineering design or feasibility studies of their technologies. The Government is reviewing the responses to the Call for Evidence on large-scale, long-duration electricity storage, alongside analysis the Department commissioned on the role of this type of storage in the electricity system. The Government will publish a response in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support people in rural communities who are not on the mains gas network and rely on liquified natural gas or oil for heating their homes.

The Government has allocated £1.1 billion to the Home Upgrade Grant over the next three years, which will be delivered from early 2022 to March 2025. The Home Upgrade Grant will provide energy efficiency upgrades and low-carbon heating to low-income households living off the gas grid in England, tackling fuel poverty and helping households meet net zero.

Consumers of heating oil and liquified petroleum gas will be eligible for the £200 energy rebate as long as they are also domestic electricity customers. Financial support remains available for heating oil customers with energy bills, if eligible, through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment schemes. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/low-income.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help and encourage households to improve energy efficiency.

The Government has committed to spend more than £6.6 billion in this Parliament to decarbonise heat and buildings, including across all housing tenures. Support is especially targeted at lower-income households through schemes such as the Home Upgrade Grant, Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Local Authority Delivery Scheme. In addition to this, the Government has committed to a four-year £4 billion extension to the Energy Company Obligation. This aims to accelerate efforts to improve lower-income homes to meet fuel poverty targets.

Meanwhile, the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme will support homeowners with the cost of installing new lower-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps, in their homes. The Government is also working with lenders to ensure homeowners can access green finance to improve their homes through measures such as insulation and new heating systems. As part of this work, the £1.8million Green Home Finance Innovation Fund will be complete by March 2022.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including people who claim disability benefit in the eligibility criteria for the Warm Home Discount.

The Government has consulted on reforming the Warm Home Discount scheme to better target fuel poverty and to provide the rebates automatically to households, as announced in the Energy White Paper. The reforms include focusing support on households in receipt of qualifying means tested benefits and with high energy costs.

Disability benefits like the Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment are not means tested. The incomes of Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment recipients therefore tend to be higher than the incomes of the intended beneficiaries of the reformed Warm Home Discount. The Government’s analysis shows that around 62% of these recipients are also in receipt of a qualifying means-tested benefits and so would be considered low income under the new criteria. Introducing disability or other non-means-tested benefits would mean that households on lower incomes and in deeper fuel poverty would lose out.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to (a) improve resilience in the national electricity grid system so that blackout events, such as that which occurred after Storm Arwen, are not repeated, and (b) ensure that should blackout events occur after storm situations, emergency and response services have means to power their electric vehicles and equipment, and (c) diversify sources of energy so that at times of low wind and solar power, there is sufficient energy to meet demand from non-fossil fuel sources.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned a post-incident review into Storm Arwen to identify lessons and best practice for communications, resourcing and system resilience.

As the independent regulator for energy, Ofgem has also announced it will undertake a review into the impact of Storm Arwen. This will focus on the role of the network companies in maintaining the resilience of the system and their emergency response.

The Government is committed to maintaining high levels of energy resilience as the sector decarbonises. Great Britain benefits from a diverse electricity mix and is therefore not dependent on any one technology or market participant to ensure security of supply.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a ringfenced contract for difference scheme for tidal stream energy; what steps he is taking to support the development of tidal stream renewable energy; and what his timetable is for the announcement of a ringfenced contract for difference for tidal stream energy.

The Government continues to finalise the arrangements and parameters for the fourth Contracts for Difference allocation round (CfD AR4), including any technology-specific budget ringfencing. In line with statutory timescales, the Government will announce these finalised arrangements before CfD AR4 opens in December 2021.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the economic and strategic value of thermal hydraulic testing to current and future nuclear power plants, including large-scale, small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors.

Thermal hydraulic testing is essential for designing safe and efficient nuclear power stations and in ensuring their safe operation throughout the many decades they are expected to generate electricity.

The Government are currently considering the business case for national thermal hydraulic research and testing facility, including the economic and strategic benefits such a facility might bring to the UK.

The Government is grateful to my Hon. Friend and other local stakeholders in Anglesey for their active input to this proposal.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department has made towards locating the National Thermal Hydraulics Facility (NTHF) on Anglesey following the commitment to site a NTHF in North Wales in the 2018 Nuclear Sector Deal.

The Department is currently considering the business case for a National Thermal Hydraulic Facility in North Wales. Officials are in regular contact with key stakeholders, including with my Hon. Friend the member for Ynys Mon, to assess possible sites in North Wales.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to enable the conversion of the 23 per cent of homes in Ynys Môn constituency which are heated by oil to the renewable liquid fuel HVO.

The Government is consulting on new regulations to phase out the installation of heating systems using high carbon fossil fuels in homes, businesses and public buildings in England off the gas grid during the 2020s. As Building Regulations are an area of devolved competence it would be for the Welsh Government to consider steps to enable the decarbonisation of oil heated homes in Wales.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits that a national thermal hydraulics facility can play in supporting the development and deployment of (a) small modular reactors and (b) advanced modular reactors at Wylfa and other sites in Wales.

The Department is aware of the potential benefits that could be brought by having a National Thermal Hydraulic Facility close to potential sites for new nuclear deployment and is considering those as part of the business case for such a facility.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish the (a) supporting data and (b) costs for each of the decarbonising policies being proposed by the Government to achieve net zero by 2050; and what estimate he has made of the cost of achieving net zero by 2050.

There is inherent uncertainty in any cost estimate for the thirty-year transition to net zero, but it is clear the cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action on climate change. The Stern Review estimated the impacts of unmitigated climate change at equivalent to 5-20% of global GDP.

Ahead of COP26, the Government has committed to publish a Net Zero Strategy, setting out the Government’s vision for the transition to a net zero economy and outlining our path to meet the UK’s emissions targets. HM Treasury are also conducting a review on the costs of reaching net zero, to inform the Government’s approach to achieving a transition in a way that works for households, businesses and public finances, and maximises growth opportunities.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has for introducing carbon pricing as a tool to decrease electricity generation from fossil fuels to meet the Government's 78 per cent emissions reduction target by 2035.

The UK has an ambitious carbon pricing mechanism through our new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, launched at the start of this year to increase our carbon pricing ambition over the EU scheme it replaces. The scheme includes the energy generation sector. The UK ETS will be the world’s first net zero carbon cap and trade market, and a crucial step towards achieving the UK’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We also have the Carbon Price Support mechanism for power generation. Emissions trading and the CPS have helped clean up our electricity generation and will be key to achieving the total phase out of coal by October 2024 and meeting the Government’s 78% 2030 emissions reduction target.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to encourage green investment in nuclear energy.

Nuclear power is a proven technology which currently represents the UK’s second largest provider of low-carbon electricity.

On 9 November 2020, we announced we would develop a UK Green Taxonomy, which will define those economic activities that can be considered to be environmentally sustainable.

We will be discussing the evidence supporting nuclear energy’s inclusion in the UK’s Green Taxonomy with the newly established Energy Working Group, and the Working Group’s feedback will help inform our decision on including nuclear in the taxonomy.

The government will then consult on draft Technical Screening Criteria in the Green Taxonomy ahead of finalising the Taxonomy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to introduce carbon pricing to encourage clean hydrogen production from nuclear energy and renewable energy sources.

The UK has an ambitious carbon pricing mechanism through our new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, launched at the start of this year to increase our carbon pricing ambition over the EU scheme it replaces. The UK ETS will be the world’s first net zero carbon cap and trade market, and a crucial step towards achieving the UK’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We have committed to explore expanding the UK ETS to other sectors.

We are also consulting on a business model to provide revenue support to low carbon hydrogen production plants in order to unlock private investment in hydrogen projects.

This will be complemented by the £240m Net-Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF), aimed at supporting multiple low carbon production routes that can realistically deploy in the 2020s to contribute to our 5GW ambition. As described in our recent Hydrogen Strategy, electrolysis using low carbon power, renewable or nuclear, will have an important role as we scale up UK hydrogen production.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to include nuclear power in discussions on clean energy with the US Administration; and what recent assessment he has made of potential areas for co-operation between the UK and US on clean energy.

The United States is our closest strategic partner and we regularly discuss clean energy policy with them, including on nuclear energy. For example, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Biden announced a new Strategic Dialogue in advance of the G7 Summit. The Dialogue will build upon our existing extensive co-operation, deepening it in areas such as the development and deployment of innovative, clean energy technologies such as nuclear energy, industrial decarbonisation, energy security and resilience, joint priorities in multilateral energy forums, and shared science, research, and innovation cooperation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of nuclear energy on (a) long term economic growth and (b) the number of high value regional jobs.

The 2016 Oxford Economics’ Nuclear Activity Report suggested that, in 2016, the nuclear sector contributed approximately £6.4bn GVA to the UK economy, where each civil nuclear worker contributed an average of £96,600 – significantly higher than the UK average of £56,200.

The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group – of which BEIS is a member – published the Nuclear Workforce Assessment 2019 and estimated that the sector employed approximately 89,000 full-time equivalents across the UK. This Group is expecting to update its assessment later this year.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the contribution of nuclear fission to the economy.

In 2018, the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group – of which BEIS is a member - estimated that the sector employed approximately 89,000 full-time equivalents across the UK. The 2016 Oxford Economics’ Nuclear Activity Report suggested that, in 2016, the nuclear sector contributed approximately £6.4bn GVA to the UK economy, where each civil nuclear worker contributed an average of £96,600 – significantly higher than the UK average of £56,200.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using Advanced Modular Reactors for the production of hydrogen energy.

The Government believes that nuclear could have a role in low-carbon hydrogen production and is aware of industry proposals showing how current nuclear technologies could play a role during the 2020s, while small and advanced modular reactors could unlock greater efficiencies in the production process.

While work continues to better understand the role that emerging technologies could play in our net zero future, the recent Nuclear Industry Association hydrogen roadmap suggests nuclear could provide up to a third of anticipated 2050 demand for hydrogen and modelling from the Energy Systems Catapult predicts a similar outcome.

We will say more on the role of various hydrogen production technologies in our forthcoming UK Hydrogen Strategy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to ensure that UK expertise and capability in gas-cooled nuclear reactors is utilised to deliver next generation reactors, rather than obtaining this from an international vendor.

The UK has a wealth of expertise and capability in civil nuclear power. In 2018, the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group – of which the Department is a member - estimated that the sector employed approximately 89,000 full-time equivalents across the UK, including North Wales. The development and deployment of next generation technologies such as Small and Advanced Modular Reactors, will create new, exciting opportunities both for our existing highly skilled workforce and for those outside of the sector wishing to pursue a career in nuclear to support net zero.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department is giving to the UK's nuclear energy sector to help that sector deliver the Government's programme for advanced nuclear technology.

This Government is committed to progressing new nuclear projects, including advanced nuclear technologies, to help decarbonise the UK energy system. In his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced an up to £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund to invest in the next generation of nuclear technologies. The Advanced Nuclear Fund includes up to £215 million to develop a domestic Small Modular Reactors (SMR) design and up to £170 million for an Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) research and development programme, with an aim to build an AMR demonstrator by the early 2030s.

We are also committed to supporting the wider UK nuclear energy sector to help deliver advanced nuclear technologies to market. That is why, in addition to the Advanced Nuclear Fund, we have committed to invest in the nuclear regulatory frameworks and support UK supply chains.

In May 2021, we published new guidance for Advanced Nuclear Technologies to apply to enter the Generic Design Assessment (GDA). GDA allows the UK’s independent nuclear regulators to assess new reactor designs and provide the confidence that these new designs are capable of meeting the UK’s statutory regulatory requirements.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to his Department's policy paper entitled 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published on 18 November 2020, what progress he has made on delivering the programme for Advanced Modular Reactors within the timeframe as set out by the Government.

This Government is committed to progressing new nuclear projects, including advanced nuclear technologies, to help decarbonise the UK energy system. In his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced an up to £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund to invest in the next generation of nuclear technologies. The Advanced Nuclear Fund includes up to £215 million to develop a domestic Small Modular Reactors (SMR) design and up to £170 million for an Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) research and development programme, with an aim to build an AMR demonstrator by the early 2030s.

We are also committed to supporting the wider UK nuclear energy sector to help deliver advanced nuclear technologies to market. That is why, in addition to the Advanced Nuclear Fund, we have committed to invest in the nuclear regulatory frameworks and support UK supply chains.

In May 2021, we published new guidance for Advanced Nuclear Technologies to apply to enter the Generic Design Assessment (GDA). GDA allows the UK’s independent nuclear regulators to assess new reactor designs and provide the confidence that these new designs are capable of meeting the UK’s statutory regulatory requirements.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help develop advanced nuclear technology within the UK; and if he will make a statement.

This Government is committed to progressing new nuclear projects, including advanced nuclear technologies, to help decarbonise the UK energy system. In his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced an up to £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund to invest in the next generation of nuclear technologies. The Advanced Nuclear Fund includes up to £215 million to develop a domestic Small Modular Reactors (SMR) design and up to £170 million for an Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) research and development programme, with an aim to build an AMR demonstrator by the early 2030s.

We are also committed to supporting the wider UK nuclear energy sector to help deliver advanced nuclear technologies to market. That is why, in addition to the Advanced Nuclear Fund, we have committed to invest in the nuclear regulatory frameworks and support UK supply chains.

In May 2021, we published new guidance for Advanced Nuclear Technologies to apply to enter the Generic Design Assessment (GDA). GDA allows the UK’s independent nuclear regulators to assess new reactor designs and provide the confidence that these new designs are capable of meeting the UK’s statutory regulatory requirements.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential opportunities for creating new, highly-skilled jobs in Wales through the development of advanced nuclear technology.

We recognise the highly skilled jobs Advanced Nuclear Technologies could create in local communities across the UK, in construction, manufacturing and support services.

We are also delighted by the recent announcement that the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) will be opening its first formal base in North Wales at the Menai Science Park (M-Sparc) in Anglesey. This announcement demonstrates their commitment to driving nuclear innovation, investment and the employment of a skilled workforce in Wales.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on increasing the number of electric vehicle public charging points across the UK to meet the Climate Change Committee's recommendation of 150,000 points by 2025.

The Department regularly engages with the Department for Transport on tackling climate change and delivering our net zero commitments.

The Government is investing £1.3 billion in accelerating the roll out of charging infrastructure over the next four years, targeting support on rapid chargepoints on motorways and major roads, and installing more on-street chargepoints near homes and workplaces to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car. Our grant schemes and the £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more electric vehicle charge-points installed across the UK.

Government and industry have supported the installation of almost 25,000 publicly available charging devices. This includes more than 4,500 rapid devices. In order to ensure the private sector can continue to expand the charging network at pace in the 2020s, the Government will invest £950 million in future proofing grid capacity along the Strategic Road Network and launching a £90 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund to support the roll out of large on-street schemes and potentially rapid charging hubs in England.

However, we have not set an overall target for the number of chargepoints. Having a “target” number risks assuming technology stands still and creating a uniform approach to charging mixes and needs across the country.

Later this year we will publish an EV Infrastructure Strategy to set out the vision and action plan for charging infrastructure rollout needed to achieve the 2030/35 phase out successfully.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to make transmission investments to increase electricity network capacity to accommodate the changing electricity generating mix as more renewables from onshore and offshore wind come online.

Electricity network companies are responsible for building, owning and operating the onshore electricity network, and are regulated by Ofgem, the independent energy regulator, in doing so. Ofgem sets a price control, called RIIO, which sets allowances and revenues for the networks during the price control period, incentivising networks to act efficiently in consumers’ best interests. This ensures there is sufficient capacity on the network to meet demand, including connecting to new renewable generation.

The Offshore Network Transmission Review (OTNR) is reviewing how offshore transmission can be better coordinated to support the Government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, and net zero by 2050. This will support investment in transmission over the coming decades to accommodate the changing electricity generating mix.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to support the development of the onshore supply for tidal stream and wave technology; and if he will make a statement.

Tidal and wave technologies could have a potentially important role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK, however, they will have to reduce their costs sufficiently, to compete with other renewable technologies. We are committed to growing a development of a competitive UK supply chain in parallel with our plans for increasing the deployment of renewable electricity generating technologies. We are continuing to consider policy related to these technologies in light of the information received from the recent Marine Energy Call for Evidence on the potential of marine energy projects.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to prepare for the Contracts for Difference Auction Round 4 taking place in 2021, in relation to dedicated capacity; and what steps he is taking to put in place strike price arrangements to support tidal stream and wave technology deployment in Welsh waters and across the UK.

Wave and tidal stream projects remain eligible to compete in Pot 2 for Contracts for Difference auctions. We are currently developing parameters for Allocation Round 4 and will publish these well in advance of the next auction, including consideration of technology-specific minima.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what criteria he will use to assess the business case for large-scale nuclear power project proposals being brought to the Final Investment Decision by the end of the 2019 Parliament.

As with the business cases for all major projects and programmes, the case for a large-scale nuclear power project will be assessed consistent with the approach set out in HM Treasury’s Green Book and Guide to Developing Project Business Cases:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-green-book-appraisal-and-evaluation-in-central-governent.

Before entering into commitments to support any nuclear project, as stated in the nuclear Regulated Asset Base (RAB) consultation document, the Government will assess the project business case on whether the project was expected to contribute to the target of net zero emissions by 2050 and deliver security of supply, at a lower total electricity system cost for consumers than alternatives without the project.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of Hinkley Point C to electricity supply.

Once operational, Hinkley Point C will provide 3.2 gigawatts of secure, low carbon electricity for around 60 years, meeting around 7% of the UK’s current electricity requirements and providing enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 6 million homes.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the role of nuclear power in a net zero energy system.

BEIS analysis of the electricity system in 2050 – published alongside the Energy White Paper in December 2020 – shows that in the majority of modelled scenarios, more new nuclear beyond Hinkley Point C will be required to achieve net zero at low cost by 2050. That is why the Government confirmed in the Energy White Paper that it aims to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to a Final Investment Decision by the end of this Parliament (subject to clear value-for-money and all relevant approvals), and that it will provide up to £385m in an Advanced Nuclear Fund (subject to future Spending Reviews) for the next generation of nuclear technology aiming, by the early 2030s, to develop a Small Modular Reactor design and to build an Advanced Modular Reactor demonstrator.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the need for new nuclear power plants in addition to Hinkley Point C in order to meet net zero targets.

BEIS analysis of the electricity system in 2050 – published alongside the Energy White Paper in December 2020 – shows that in the majority of modelled scenarios, more new nuclear beyond Hinkley Point C will be required to achieve net zero at low cost by 2050. That is why the Government confirmed in the Energy White Paper that it aims to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to a Final Investment Decision by the end of this Parliament (subject to clear value-for-money and all relevant approvals), and that it will provide up to £385m in an Advanced Nuclear Fund (subject to future Spending Reviews) for the next generation of nuclear technology aiming, by the early 2030s, to develop a Small Modular Reactor design and to build an Advanced Modular Reactor demonstrator.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the progress of international projects to produce green hydrogen from nuclear energy.

The Government is aware of a number of international projects to produce low carbon hydrogen from nuclear energy. International collaboration is an important part of Government’s policy to successfully develop nuclear technology and Government is engaged in international initiatives such as the Clean Energy Ministerial, Mission Innovation and the Generation IV International forum where opportunities for low carbon hydrogen production from nuclear energy are being considered.

The Government welcomes the UK nuclear industry’s growing ambition to support low-carbon hydrogen production and the forthcoming UK Hydrogen Strategy will provide further detail on the role of production technologies in meeting our 5GW ambition. The Strategy will set out how the UK will position itself as a leader in the production, use and export of low carbon hydrogen, alongside the export of skills, technology and expertise. It will also set out our strong ambition to collaborate with key partners. By sharing expertise, building common standards and working together to remove deployment barriers, we can expedite hydrogen’s contribution to tackling climate change and creating green jobs. We look forward to engaging in more detailed discussions with overseas partners, including on nuclear-linked production, in light of the Strategy’s publication.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to create well paid and quality green jobs to level up opportunities in the UK; and what assessment he has made of the potential number of such new jobs to be created in (a) Wales and (b) Ynys Môn constituency.

We are determined to seize the once-in-a-generation economic opportunities of the net zero transition by creating new business opportunities and, by one estimate, supporting up to 2 million green jobs by 2030 across all regions of the UK. The UK has a strong base to build upon, in 2019 there were already over 410,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country.

Through the Ten Point Plan, we will support a further 90,000 green collar jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030. The Plan announced that we will invest up to £1 billion to support the establishment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in at least two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s, and four by 2030 at the latest, creating ‘SuperPlaces’ in areas potentially including south Wales. The UK Community Renewal Fund will also provide £220 million of additional funding over 2021-22, to better support people and communities in need across the whole of the UK, including Wales.

In order to ensure we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero and our Ten Point Plan, we have launched the Green Jobs Taskforce. The Taskforce will conclude its work in summer 2021, with the actions feeding into our Net Zero Strategy to be published later in the year.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing support to former business owners whose businesses have been liquidated as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and who are unable to start new business ventures as a result of that liquidation disqualifying them from obtaining insurance and other basic business support.

There is no legislation in the Insolvency Act or Company Directors Disqualification Act that would disqualify a business owner from obtaining insurance and other business support solely as a result of their previous company being subject to liquidation proceedings. A business owner in this position would have access to support from the Government, such as that provided through Growth Hubs and the free Business Support Helpline, on the same terms as any other business. Individual lenders and insurers may have policies in place that would take account of a previous insolvency and this would be a commercial matter for them.

Businesses of all sizes and all stages of growth can access free support and advice from their local Growth Hub, led by Local Enterprise Partnerships in England. Contact details can be found online: www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts/. Firms based in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have access to similar support through their devolved governments: www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to (a) ensure the economic viability of hydrogen-ready boilers, (b) ensure the successful roll out and uptake of heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps and (c) help reduce the running costs of electricity powered heating systems and (iv) encourage the transition away from fossil fuel domestic heating systems.

Meeting our carbon goals will require the vast majority of the UK’s homes and non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon by 2050, through a combination of energy efficiency measures and moving to low carbon heating.

(a) We are supporting a range of research, development and testing projects designs to help determine the feasibility of using low carbon hydrogen as an alternative to the use of natural gas for heating. The Government has been supporting the development of hydrogen-ready boilers through the Hy4Heat programme. The programme includes ongoing projects to assess the timelines for the scale up of hydrogen-ready boiler production and their potential future costs. We will be consulting on the potential role of hydrogen-ready boilers in the transition to Net Zero later this year.

(b) The Government is bringing forward a wide-ranging package of policies to support the development of the heat pump market towards our ambition for 600,000 installations per year by 2028 including targeted regulations and financial support. We are working closely with industry to grow the supply chain, manage any impacts on the electricity network and provide support to consumers. Furthermore, the Government is helping to drive wider consumer acceptance and demonstrating the suitability of heat pumps, including hybrid heating systems, across the UK housing stock, through the £14.6 million Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project.

(c) The Government is keen to ensure that households and businesses are aware that all energy users are fairly sharing in the benefits and costs of the UK’s transition to Net Zero. Ensuring costs of the transition are allocated fairly is a priority for this Government, and we will shortly begin a dialogue on this between Government, consumers and industry, by publishing a call for evidence on affordability and fairness.

(d) Transitioning away from fossil fuels will not be simple and will require clear, long-term policy. The Government will shortly unveil a comprehensive policy package to support this ambition, including targeted regulatory, market-based and public investment measures, and will set out further detail on this in our forthcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made on the funding models for nuclear energy announced in the Energy White Paper; and what assessment he has made of the potential effect of those models on Ynys Môn.

As we stated in our response to the consultation on a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) for nuclear published on 14th December 2020, the Government is continuing to explore a RAB model. We will also continue to consider the potential role of Government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers and subject to relevant approvals.

We believe that a RAB remains a credible model for large-scale nuclear projects, including future projects proposed for Wales, as it has the potential to help reduce the cost of raising private finance and thereby reduce consumer bills in the long run.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential for the new hydrogen hub on Ynys Môn to contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector particularly through the use of hydrogen-powered heavy trucks.

The UK Government has made available £4.8 million, subject to business case and other approvals, to support the development of the Holyhead Hydrogen Hub. The project proposes a hydrogen pilot production plant that would supply hydrogen fuel to the heavy goods and maritime vehicle markets on Ynys Môn. Officials are liaising with the developer and expect to consider the business case for the project in due course.

Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in transport decarbonisation, but it is likely to be most effective in the areas ‘that batteries cannot reach’, where energy density requirements or duty cycles and refuelling times make it the most suitable low carbon energy source. This might include its use in heavy goods vehicles, buses, rail, shipping and aviation. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will continue to work closely with the Department for Transport to explore the possibilities hydrogen can offer across different transport modes.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of tidal power to the energy base load; and what funding the Government has allocated from the public purse to (a) Morlais on Ynys Môn and (b) other tidal energy projects.

The Morlais project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and has received funding through the North Wales Growth Deal. Since 2003, various bodies across Government have provided innovation funding of £175m to the wave and tidal sectors.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how the UK carbon budget contributes to the Government's Climate Change mitigation strategy; and what assessment he has made of what investment is required in educational buildings to retro-fit those building to net zero emissions standards as part of the Build Back Better Strategy.

The Climate Change Act 2008 introduced our framework of carbon budgets to mitigate climate change by ensuring continued progress towards our emission reduction target, capping emissions in successive five-year blocks. Through this legal framework and ambitious policy action, we have shown that cutting emissions and growing the economy go hand-in-hand – reducing our emissions by over 43% since 1990 while growing the economy by 78%.

We are going further and faster to mitigate climate change. This year we will set the sixth carbon budget in legislation and publish a Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26, setting out the Government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy.

The Government remains committed to its manifesto pledge to invest £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools, and hospitals, helping to decarbonise buildings to keep us on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is a government-funded grant scheme to help public sector organisations in England, including schools, colleges and universities, and reserved public services across to the UK to install low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures on their estates. On 17th March 2021, £75m of funding was announced for Phase 2 Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) pregnant women and (b) mothers are not disproportionately affected by redundancy in work.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is unlawful. Redundancies which are based on unlawful discrimination are unacceptable. Legislation is in place to ensure processes are fair and reasonable - and informed by appropriate equalities considerations. Employees who believe their redundancy was unfair may be able to complain to an employment tribunal.

The Government is determined to do more to ensure pregnant women and new mothers are not disproportionately affected by redundancy. Following a consultation last year, the Government has committed to extend the statutory redundancy protection which a mother currently enjoys while on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave for a period for six months following a return to work. We will bring these measures forward as soon as there is an appropriate opportunity.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he is taking steps to provide support for the UK hydrogen sector which is equivalent to EU support for that sector in mainland Europe.

The Government is committed to the development of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier. We are currently developing our strategic approach to hydrogen and its potential to deliver against our net zero goals.

We are investing up to £121m (between 2015 and 2021) in hydrogen innovation across the value chain. We are developing new policy, in partnership with industry, to bring forward the technologies and supply chain we will need to grow the UK hydrogen economy. This includes business models to support the deployment of, and investment in, low carbon hydrogen production, and a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund to stimulate capital investment.

We are closely monitoring international hydrogen developments and participate in a range of international fora, including the International Partnership for Hydrogen for Fuel Cells in the Economy, Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial where we engage with partners including the EU. This is informing our own strategic approach to the development of hydrogen in the UK context, including the role of Government in ensuring that the UK can harness opportunities for partnership and economic benefit.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support the creation of the infrastructure required for further roll out of hydrogen gas as an alternative to less environmentally friendly options.

The Government is already investing up to £121m (between 2015 and 2021) in innovation across the hydrogen supply chain to grow the UK hydrogen economy. This includes the £33m Hydrogen Supply competition, supporting projects including renewable hydrogen at scale through offshore floating wind (Dolphyn), and the world’s largest electrolyser production facility (ITM Gigafactory). The HyDeploy project has been commissioned by Gas Network Operators to investigate the option of blending up to 20% hydrogen with natural gas in the gas grid, while the Government’s £25m Hy4Heat programme is exploring the safety and feasibility of using 100% hydrogen for heat in homes.

In addition, a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund was announced in August 2019, to stimulate capital investment in new low carbon hydrogen production, and at the Budget this year we announced at least £800m to support carbon capture and storage infrastructure that could help enable production of low carbon hydrogen at scale.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress has been made on the OpenRan 5G project rollout in Wales; what the planned timetable is for that project to go live in Ynys Môn constituency; and what assessment she has made of the potential merits of using that project as an exemplar for net zero 5G provision.

The government continues to explore the role of interoperable technologies, such as Open RAN (Radio Access Network), in the future of our telecommunications networks as part of the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, published in November last year. Open RAN is an emerging technology that promises efficiency, flexibility and scalability gains. Government’s commitments in this space include £15m of investment in SONIC Labs (the SmartRAN Open Networks Interoperability Centre), the £36m Future RAN Competition (FRANC), and the £1.2m NeutrORAN project in partnership with NEC in North Wales.

NeutrORAN is a project which aims to develop a multi-operator, ‘neutral host’ solution for 4G and then 5G in Wales; in Cefn Du and Menai Science Park (M-Sparc) in Ynys Môn (Anglesey). This style of deployment will enable a more cost efficient way to deliver capacity and coverage to underserved regions. NeutrORAN has been up and running since 2019 and has been extended up to March 2023.

There are also three FRANC projects in Wales, covering a range of key topics to develop power efficient, flexible, and scalable 5G Open RAN. The government is committed to the net zero agenda, and improving the power efficiency of Open RAN solutions was one of the priorities against which FRANC applicants were assessed. We look forward to seeing how those projects in Wales, and across the UK, advance the environmental credentials of Open RAN and push our networks towards carbon neutrality.

UK network operators are now beginning to deploy Open RAN solutions in the field. Notably, Vodafone has committed to deploy 2500 4G and 5G sites across Wales and the south west of England. Three sites in Wales are already live: Builth Wells, Powys; Pendine, Carmarthenshire; and Halkyn, Flintshire.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has (a) met or (b) had discussions with with representatives of the Protect and Connect campaign since 1 January 2021; and how many times he has (i) met or (ii) had discussions with representatives from mobile phone operators in that time.

The full list of Ministerial meetings is published on gov.uk on a quarterly basis.

Ministers and officials engage regularly with the telecoms industry on a range of issues. However, it would not be appropriate to have conversations with stakeholders about reforms to the Electronic Communications Code while the responses to the consultation on that issue are being considered.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the potential effect of the proposed Electronic Communications Code changes on local government finances.

Ministers and officials regularly engage with their counterparts in other government departments as part of the policy making process. Our proposals for amending the Electronic Communications Code are no exception and we will continue to work together to ensure that the proposals reflect the importance of both digital infrastructure and the vital role that local government has in supporting deployment.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits to the (a) Welsh economy and (b) tourism sector of Ynys Môn constituency of holding the Commonwealth Games in Wales.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games provide a unique and significant opportunity to accelerate economic growth and support the recovery of our tourism sectors across the UK after the impact of COVID-19. The government is working closely with our Games partners to ensure we make the most of these opportunities.

Central government is funding £594 million of the total £778 million investment into hosting the Commonwealth Games. This significant investment is driving legacy opportunities across both the West Midlands and UK, including job creation, visitor attraction and a timely boost to businesses. There is also a wealth of opportunities for the people of Wales to get involved in the Games, such as the Queen’s Baton Relay, which will travel through Wales ahead of the Games, Games-time volunteering opportunities and potential business contracts.

An additional £24 million investment from the government and the West Midlands Combined Authority to create a Business and Tourism Programme will ensure the region and the UK can take advantage of the economic opportunities hosting the Games provides. Fully integrated with the Games, the Business And Tourism Programme will use the event’s profile to boost our global reputation as a leading destination for tourism, trade, and investment.

The matter of a bid for a future Commonwealth Games in Wales would be a matter for the Welsh government.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to (a) encourage private businesses in the tourism sector to increase their accessibility to disabled people and (b) work with the Welsh Government to supply businesses with free access to accessibility guides.

My Department, alongside VisitBritain and VisitEngland, have taken a number of steps to improve accessibility within the tourism sector.

For example, VisitBritain and VisitEngland launched the Channel 4 Mission: Accessible series last year, which highlighted the perspective of visitors with access needs enjoying the tourism landscape and included an episode filmed in Wales.

VisitEngland has a dedicated web portal providing tailored business advice to tourism businesses, including guidance on how to welcome guests with different access needs.

The Tourism Sector Deal, published in June 2019, set out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025. The Tourism Recovery Plan will set out how we will support the tourism sector to build back better from the pandemic, including by making it more accessible.

More generally, the Government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year. The strategy will take into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people and will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life.

As tourism is devolved, the Welsh Government is responsible for any targeted initiatives to support the sector in Wales - though we will continue to engage with the Devolved Administrations to discuss issues relevant to the tourism sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to provide financial support to (a) MônFM on Anglesey and (b) other community radio stations which have provided a vital service to the community during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is strongly supportive of community radio. Community stations such as Môn FM have played a key role in keeping listeners informed and entertained during the coronavirus pandemic, and we are extremely grateful for the level of commitment shown by the sector in continuing to make connections within its communities during these difficult times.

We are, of course, very conscious of the impact that the pandemic has had on revenues within the sector, which is why we released a total of £600,000 in emergency funding through the Community Radio Fund in 2020/21 to help a significant number of stations to meet their immediate financial obligations. While the application windows for that funding have now closed, the Community Radio Fund will be allocating a further £400,000 in 2021/22 to support stations that can demonstrate that a grant would help to further their financial stability and future sustainability. Ofcom administer this Fund on behalf of DCMS, and further information about it can be found on their website.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to improve broadband provision in Ynys Mon constituency.

Good progress has been made in the Ynys Mon constituency, with over 93% of premises in the constituency able to access superfast broadband. This is up from 6% in March 2013. Gigabit-capable coverage in the constituency stands at 19%, above the Welsh coverage figure of 16%.

The Ynys Mon constituency is included in the North Wales Wave 3 project as part of the Local Full Fibre Networks programme. The project is connecting 413 public sector sites across the six local authorities (Conwy County Borough Council, Denbighshire County Council, Flintshire County Council, Gwynedd County Council, Isle of Anglesey County Council, Wrexham County Borough Council) that make up North Wales.

In addition, there is a Rural Gigabit Connectivity project that is looking to connect a further 103 public sector sites across Wales - the Ynys Mon constituency is included in this project too.

For those premises that are still struggling from slow speeds, DCMS runs a voucher scheme that can be used by rural communities across the UK to reduce the cost of installing gigabit-capable connectivity. This provides a voucher worth up to £3,500 for eligible small businesses and vouchers worth up to £1,500 for residents. Increased funding is available for eligible small businesses and residents in Wales, where the Welsh Government is ‘match funding’ the vouchers, doubling the above figures.

Furthermore the government has pledged £5 billion to invest in the hardest to reach areas of the UK. Supplier engagement has taken place over the summer, and their feedback will be used to refine and finalise the delivery vehicle of the programme.

Matt Warman
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the BBC on the decision to remove the free TV license for over 75s.

The government meets with the BBC on regular occasions to discuss a wide range of issues, including the over 75 concession. The Government has consistently made clear its disappointment with the BBC's decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

The BBC remains responsible for the administration of the concession and it will be responsible for setting out what those affected will need to do. It must look urgently at how it can use its substantial licence fee income to support older people and deliver for UK audiences of all ages.

15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to encourage schools and UK universities to promote nuclear science as a career path for apprentices and graduates.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has made it clear that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects are of great importance.

We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue a STEM career, regardless of their background. To support this, we have made substantial spending commitments on programmes to enhance STEM teaching and participation in schools, through programmes such as Isaac Physics and Science Learning Partnerships. Isaac Physics is an online learning platform designed to increase the number of students studying physics, with a particular focus on those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Science Learning Partnerships is a national network supporting teacher continuing professional development.

The department recognises that careers education has a crucial role to play in inspiring pupils towards STEM careers, including those in the nuclear industry. Secondary schools are expected to provide pupils with at least one interaction with employers per year, with a particular emphasis on STEM employers. These interactions demonstrate the range of different career possibilities in STEM and challenge stereotypes. Furthermore, the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) is making sure that every young person has access to inspiring encounters with the world of work, including work placements, work experience and other employer-based activities. The CEC encourage use of labour market information to identify which sectors are growing and promote sector-based campaigns through their networks.

This government has also been working to champion the diversity of roles and people that make up the STEM sector in order to remove pupils’ misconceptions around working in STEM. Through continuing to fund the STEM ambassador programme, we are ensuring that extracurricular activities related to STEM are delivered by volunteers representative of the local population so that young people can be inspired by people they relate to. We have also recently funded and published Behavioural Insights Trials, with a cohort of 11,000 students, to better understand the low participation of girls in STEM.

We have also been improving our offer of apprenticeships so that anybody, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to pursue STEM careers whether they come via a technical or academic route. There are now 625 high-quality apprenticeship standards to choose from that have been designed by employers to meet their skills needs. Employers in the nuclear science sector can take advantage of standards in a number of occupational routes. Available standards include level 2 Nuclear Operative, level 5 Nuclear Technician and level 6 Nuclear Reactor Desk Engineer.

The institutional autonomy of universities is protected by law, meaning that what they include in their course content and careers programmes is at their discretion. Through the National Careers Service, anyone can access independent, professional advice on careers, skills and the labour market. Employers and professional bodies in the nuclear science sector can sign up to the ‘Inspiring the Future’ programme, which allows volunteers to visit state schools to talk to pupils about their job. This will raise the profile of various careers within nuclear science.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of the UK becoming an e-Twinning country as part of the Turing Scheme in order to benefit (a) pupils aged 3-19 years in educational collaborations with similar aged children abroad and (b) teachers' continuous professional development.

The government has decided that it is not in the UK's interests to seek continued participation in the Erasmus+ programme. eTwinning is an EU initiative which is part of the Erasmus+ programme, so as a result our participation in eTwinning has also ended. There are currently no plans for the UK to join eTwinning in the future.

The new Turing Scheme will provide funding for school pupils to participate in international placements and exchanges, and the scheme is currently open for schools to apply. The scheme is not a like-for-like replacement of Erasmus+, and does not replicate the eTwinning online platform, but is focused on providing funding for school pupils to benefit from going overseas. We want to give as many pupils as possible the opportunity to travel abroad to experience different cultures, improve language skills and build independence, character, and resilience. The Turing Scheme offers guidance for schools on how to establish international partnerships, including through the British Council Schools Partner Finder. These partnerships also offer teachers the chance to share experiences and best practice with colleagues in other countries.

9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support outdoor education centres at risk of permanent closure as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department’s advice on educational visits can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools. This guidance is in line with guidance from Public Health England, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; it is currently under review and the findings will be available at the end of November.

The Government has introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of support to help as many individuals and businesses as possible during this difficult period. This includes small business grants, coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the deferral of VAT and income tax payments. The measures introduced have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

Further measures have been announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that build on the significant support already available and set out how current support will evolve and adapt. This includes the extension of the CJRS until the end of March 2021 and the introduction of the Local Restrictions Support Grant, which will provide grants of up to £1,500 for each 3-week period that a business is closed following the implementation of localised restrictions and business closures.

The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, business representative organisations and the financial services sector to monitor the implementation of current support and understand whether there is additional need. Businesses can also access tailored advice through our Business Support Helpline, online via the business support website or through their local growth hubs in England.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the UK's resilience to drought; and what steps he is taking to help (a) ensure that water companies (i) do not over-abstract from boreholes and (ii) repair infrastructure leaks and (b) encourage reductions in water waste.

The Environment Agency's National Framework for Water Resources, published in March 2020, sets out the strategic water needs for England up to 2050 and beyond, taking account of climate change and population growth. The Framework sets out how we will reduce demand, halve leakage rates, develop new supply infrastructure, move water to where it is needed, increase drought resilience of water supplies and abstract water sustainably, including from boreholes. Water companies are now preparing their statutory Water Resources Management Plans for consultations, late in 2022. The plans will show how water companies will deliver secure water supplies sustainably, over at least a 25 year period. The statutory plans are reviewed annually, to ensure they are maintained.

The proposed new legally binding target under the Environment Act 2021 aims to support the sustainable use of water further by reducing the public demand for water.

This will be enabled through the policies set out in the Written Ministerial Statement on reducing demand for water, including the introduction of mandatory water efficiency labelling and further work to reduce water use in new developments and retrofits.

28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the finding of the Livestock Worrying Police Working Group that in 89 per cent of attacks on livestock in North Wales the dog was unaccompanied, if he will take steps to help ensure that dogs are trained to avoid attacking sheep when they escape from (a) their owners and (b) leads.

The Government takes the issue of livestock worrying very seriously, recognising the distress this can cause farmers and animals, as well as the financial implications. Those in charge of dogs are already responsible for ensuring that they are kept under control, and it is an offence under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to allow any dog to be dangerously out of control in any place.

New measures to crack down on livestock worrying in England and Wales are to be brought in through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021. The new measures will enhance enforcement mechanisms available to the police and expand the scope of livestock species and locations covered by the law.

Dog owners are legally responsible for their dog’s behaviour even when not accompanied. These reforms should provide dog owners with sharper incentives to ensure their dogs are trained well to behave acceptably in all circumstances. Owners who have concerns about controlling their dog’s behaviour may take advice from their vet or a suitably qualified dog behaviourist or trainer. The Animal Behaviour and Training Council maintains national registers of appropriately qualified trainers and behaviourists. The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs also details best practice methods of training.

In addition to the current legislative measures laid before Parliament, the Countryside Code will continue to be publicised to ensure constant messaging to the public and landowners.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of making publicly-owned land available for allotments on (a) food security, (b) ecosystems and (c) the mental health and wellbeing of people.

Allotments are a hugely important part of many communities, connecting people with the land, food and each other. We are pleased to see that the interest in allotments remains high, alongside other types of community growing and gardening. There are no plans to review existing arrangements or policies.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the (a) import of shark fins and (b) sale of shark fins; and what steps he plans to take to enforce a ban on shark fin products.

The UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning, the practice of removing the fins of a shark at sea and returning the finless body to the water. We are committed to banning the import and export of detached shark fins and shark fin products. This ban will ensure that shark fins obtained through unsustainable and cruel finning practices are not entering the UK.

The UK does not oppose the sustainable fishing of sharks or the sale of shark fins and shark fin products, if obtained through sustainable fishing practices. Therefore, we do not support a total ban on the sale of shark fins and shark fin products if landed or imported into the UK with their fins naturally attached.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure that imported meat (a) is correctly labelled to show country of origin and (b) has been produced to the standards required of domestic food producers.

(a) Food Information to Consumers Regulations apply to all food sold on the UK market, including imported food, and require many foods to declare the origin on the label. This includes where the consumer would be misled if it were not given, and always for specific foods such as beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat, and poultry. Additionally, there are rules that help prevent the consumer from being misled about the origin of the primary ingredient of the food, although the majority of meat products sold at retail voluntarily provide the origin of the meat ingredients. The Government is committed to optimising the information that is available to consumers, including country of origin, so that they can make informed choices. We are actively working to improve labelling.

(b) Retained legislation is in place to ensure the safety of meat and meat products from both domestic production and imported products. All imported meat and meat products are required to come from countries that have been approved as ensuring compliance with these food hygiene requirements and, specifically, from establishments that are approved and listed for export to the UK. Part of this approval is that the countries have an agreed plan to limit the use of, and residues from, veterinary medicines.

The Government has committed to consult on what can be done through labelling to promote high standards and high welfare across the UK market. To this end, we recently ran a call for evidence to assess the potential impacts of different types of animal welfare labelling reform, including how this might apply to imported products as well as domestic products. We will publish a summary of responses and our proposed next steps in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has made on recruiting agricultural representatives in key global export markets to facilitate the access to those markets for UK food and drink producers; and what resources will be available to those representatives to develop that export initiative.

In November, the Government announced a substantial increase to our international agri-food capability, through the recruitment of eight new agriculture, food and drink attachés.

Since then Defra officials have worked with colleagues across Government and the international network to design this expanded agri-food attaché network, and determine the most impactful locations and portfolios for these roles. We will launch the recruitment of these new roles imminently, and aim to appoint and induct the new agri-food attachés rapidly in the coming months.

The agri-food attachés themselves represent a significant commitment from the Government to increase our agri-food export capability. To support this expanded international network, we are laying the groundwork to ensure the agri-food attachés are well connected to all relevant Government stakeholders and policy levers, ensuring that the additional capability that they bring is as impactful as possible for all parts of the UK.

This will build on the successful work of our existing Agriculture Counsellor roles in China and the Gulf. For example, the Agriculture Counsellor in China was pivotal to securing lucrative market access for pork, and protecting agri-food exports when new import conditions were applied last year.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the acres of grassland and arable land that will be required to sustainably feed the projected population of the UK over the next (a) 10, (b) 25 and (c) 50 years.

The UK's high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources, including strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year, and these figures have changed little over the last 20 years. In addition, the UK has nearly 100% sufficiency in poultry, carrots, and swedes.

Recognising the importance of food production, the Government made a commitment to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021. It recognised the contribution made by British farmers to our resilience, and the importance of strong domestic production to our food security. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work.

The Food Strategy White Paper will set out Government's ambition and priorities for the food system - to support our exceptional British food and drink producers, and to protect and enhance the nation's health and the natural environment for generations to come. The Government will consider the evidence of Henry Dimbleby's independent review throughout the development of Food Strategy. Given ongoing wider circumstances we are postponing publication of the food strategy until after the pre-election period for the local elections.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) work with international counterparts on tackling plastic pollution and (b) implement the Deposit Return Scheme.

Plastic pollution is a global challenge, and the UK engages across multilateral forums and organisations to raise global ambition and drive action to minimise plastic pollution from both land and sea-based sources, including the G7 and G20, the OSPAR Convention, the World Trade Organisation and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Through the £500 million Blue Planet Fund the UK is funding developing countries to protect the marine environment and reduce poverty, including the Global Plastic Action Partnership to address plastic pollution. Through the UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, 34 Commonwealth nations have now committed to taking action on plastic pollution in the ocean.

The UK co-sponsored the ambitious proposal that led to the resolution adopted at the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022 to develop a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution, and the UK has joined the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution to drive a comprehensive and effective treaty.

A second consultation on introducing a deposit return scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was published in 2021 and is now closed. The Government is analysing the responses to that consultation, with a view to publishing a Government response soon.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he is taking steps to support farmers with the rising cost of (a) red diesel and (b) other input costs as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

We are very much aware of the disruption to supply chains that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will have both globally and here in the UK and are closely monitoring the market situation.

The UK food chain is very robust and adaptable. Our initial assessment is the principal impact on UK farmers will be an increase in the cost of a range of inputs including red diesel, animal feed, fertiliser, and energy.

We are working with the industry to identify where mitigations are available and continue to keep the situation under review.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on UK food security; and what steps he is taking to assist farmers to find alternatives to the use of fertiliser made from fossil fuels.

Food prices are influenced by a range of factors - from currency fluctuations to commodity prices. While recent pressures have been sustained, we have a highly resilient food supply chain. Direct food imports from Eastern Europe are low, and we do not expect any significant direct impact on UK food supply. However, we will continue to speak with the industry to understand any potential pressures.

The UK sources fertiliser from a wide range of countries and also produces fertiliser such as ammonium nitrate domestically. The situation and impacts on farmers in particular, and industry more widely, from current high fertiliser prices, are being monitored closely.

There are nutrient management techniques and technologies that can be used alongside fertiliser products that help the efficacy of fertilisers and help maintain high yield and good quality produce. Support in the form of guidance from fertiliser suppliers and agricultural organisations such as the National Farmers Union (NFU) can be found from various public sources. Defra is aware that the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has published many helpful public pieces of guidance, advice and webinar recordings on mitigating high fertiliser prices.

Defra is in regular contact with key industry figures including the NFU, fertiliser producers and importers, and the key sector representative body for fertilisers, the Agricultural Industries Confederation. We are continuing to monitor the security and stability of fertiliser and other supply chains, and working closely with colleagues across Government and devolved administrations as well as industry figures to share knowledge and discuss all options available to tackle these issues. This will help inform how Defra and other industry bodies can best support farmers.

Defra is committed to promoting the use of less environmentally damaging fertilisers and better nutrient use efficiency. The current shortage of inorganic fertilisers provides an opportunity for farmers to continue exploring increasing their use of environmentally sustainable products and more efficient nutrient management methods.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to ban the use of cages in the breeding of game birds; how many animal welfare inspections of game bird farms in England and Wales were undertaken in 2021; how many of those visits resulted in action being taken against the person responsible for a welfare breach; and whether follow up inspections were carried out in those circumstances.

The Government shares the public's high regard for animal welfare. We are delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. We are actively exploring options for improving the welfare of farmed animals and are considering the case for introducing further reforms, in areas such as the use of cages for gamebirds.

We need to gather evidence on the welfare of gamebirds and the use of cages in the sector to inform future policy development. The expectation is that we will be calling for evidence later this year.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carry out targeted inspections on gamebird breeding and rearing units in response to intelligence received. Intelligence led monitoring and offering advice on compliance are key components of all APHA inspections. Where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action is always taken.

According to APHA records, 10 inspections took place in England and Wales in 2021. One inspection in England resulted in non-compliances being identified and a follow up inspection was carried out to ensure corrective action had been taken.

24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with regard to the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, what his Department's policy is on the acceptable temperature range inside the units that are used to house breeding game birds, in relation to the provision in that Code on protection from adverse weather conditions and extremes of temperature.

It remains the farmer/keeper’s responsibility to ensure that birds are kept in a suitable environment, as required by Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which includes the provision of suitable protection from adverse weather conditions.

The Code of Practice for the welfare of Gamebirds reared for Sporting Purposes states that when birds are housed or penned, the accommodation should be well constructed and managed and of sufficient size to ensure good health and welfare; which is best achieved by ensuring protection from adverse weather conditions and extremes of temperature. The code also states that there should be a contingency plan to prevent or deal with emergencies which would include extremes of temperature.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carry out targeted inspections on gamebird units in response to intelligence received. In determining whether a temperature range is suitable, APHA inspectors conduct a case-by-case assessment based on the birds’ environment, including any clinical signs in the birds, to verify compliance with the legislation. APHA also assess stockmanship and contingency actions that have been put in place to protect bird welfare.

2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to manage fishing in Marine Protected Areas around the coast of the UK; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning supertrawlers and fly shooting vessels from fishing in Marine Protected Areas to allow fish stocks to recover and to support the UK fishing industry.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The UK is at the forefront of marine protection with 372 MPAs protecting 38% of UK waters. We have built a comprehensive network of MPAs and are focusing on making sure they are protected properly. Ninety-eight of our inshore English MPAs now have management measures in place to protect sensitive features from bottom towed fishing gears. We are also developing an ambitious three-year programme for assessing sites and implementing byelaws, where necessary, to manage fishing activity in all English offshore MPAs.

31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Hunting Act to reduce the incidence of foxes being killed; and what steps he is taking to ban trail hunting on Government-owned land.

Our manifesto was clear that no changes will be made to the Hunting Act. The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs, except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act. Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law.

Issuing a license or giving permission for trail hunting is an operational matter for the landowner and those organisations with a land lease or agreement in place for Government land.

29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to require supertrawlers operating within UK waters to (a) publish catch records, including species discard, (b) report dolphin or other sensitive species bycatch and (c) be transparent with data so that consumer labelling can accurately identify seafood caught using sustainable fishing methods and minimised bycatch.

The Marine Management Organisation publishes annual statistics on catch, effort and fleet data in aggregated from which includes catch by gear type:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/marine-management-organisation/about/statistics. The UK discard/bycatch information, derived from scientific fisheries observer programmes in each of the UK administrations, is the EU Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) database. Data collected up to the end of 2020 have been submitted to the EU STECF in accordance with UK obligations and can be found here: Fisheries Dependent Information - European Commission (europa.eu)

All wild-capture commercial fishers are required to report incidental mortality or injury (bycatch) of marine mammals during fishing operations to the Marine Management Organisation. These data are used in UK bycatch monitoring programmes to help identify and where possible reduce potential impacts with sensitive marine species. The UK government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme, which provides essential observer data on incidents of sensitive species bycatch. Annual reports are published online here: Defra, UK - Science Search.

UK regulations require fishery and aquaculture product labelling to indicate the production method, area where the product was caught or farmed, and category of fishing gear used in capture of fisheries.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the incidence of dolphin and other sensitive species bycatch; and whether he has plans to ban supertrawlers from UK waters in order to reduce the bycatch from unsustainable fishing practices.

The Government is fully committed to tackling the issue of accidental bycatch of sensitive marine species, as seen in the Fisheries Act through the ecosystem objective which seeks to ensure “incidental catches of sensitive marine species are minimised and, where possible, eliminated”. The Joint Fisheries Statement and UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative will set out policies in more detail to help achieve this objective, including improving our understanding of where and how much bycatch occurs and effective mitigation measures to reduce bycatch of sensitive marine species.

We are currently examining our wider policy on supertrawlers. Any action needs to be evidence-based and in line with the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Marine Management Organisation continues to monitor fishing activity in English waters with dedicated enforcement and surveillance work to protect fisheries, including offshore patrol vessels for at-sea surveillance.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits for soil health of banning the use of ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser; and what steps he is taking to promote the improvement of soil health with farmers.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 23 November 2021: PQ UIN 76872.

18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has (a) undertaken an assessment of or (b) reviewed a published study on the environmental risk of digestate which includes chicken manure from well-operated anaerobic digestion sites, which are permitted by the regulator, compared to chicken manure spread directly from unregulated farm sites.

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

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has provided advice on managing farm manures to reduce antibiotic resistance. The guidance from APHA recognises that the anaerobic digestion process destroys bacteria and is considered to be the best approach for reducing spread of bacteria to the environment. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided practical advice on how to reduce the risk of contamination of ready-to-eat crops when using farm manures to improve soil fertility. The FSA guidelines are based on research, largely funded by the FSA, on pathogen occurrence and survival in farm manures during storage and following land spreading.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the proposed policy requirement for anaerobic digestion sites to sterilize the muck before releasing it from site on those sites converting to the use of maize feedstock.

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

The Animal by-products regulation classifies manure as a category 2 Animal by-product. However, there is no requirement to use an approved anaerobic digestion site for the disposal of manure (unlike other materials such as food waste). If the Animal and Plant Health Agency (which enforces the ABP regulations in question) does not consider there to be a risk of spreading any serious, transmissible disease, manure can be applied to land without processing (Authorisation B1). Nonetheless, the stacking and storage of manure, composting of manure and/or anaerobic digestion are recommended as best practice and should be adopted wherever possible to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the proposed new policy requirements relating to the diversion of power into pasteurisation anaerobic digestion sites on (a) the environment and (b) demand for alternative sources of power.

Environment Agency Position Statement 029: Anaerobic digestion of agricultural manure and slurry, Version 1.0, October 2010 has been assessed as part of a current waste quality protocols review. In December 2020 the Environment Agency published its first outcome of a review of the Anaerobic Digestate Quality Protocol. This concluded that, amongst other issues, the Environment Agency needs to review its position on the waste status of manure-based digestates (as detailed in Position Statement 029). The review is ongoing. The Environment Agency has set up a task and finish group with industry representation and the revision process has started. Details of this work can be found here.

17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the benefits to soil health of banning the use of ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser; and what steps he is taking to promote the improvement of soil health with farmers.

Although we have not made any recent assessments on the benefits to soil health of banning mineral based fertilisers the Nutrient Management Expert Group (NMEG) is independently reviewing and analysing existing policy, alongside up-to-date technical and scientific evidence on fertilisers and nutrient management. It is considering the multiple challenges surrounding nutrient management (reaching Net Zero by 2050, protecting and enhancing soil health, improving water and air quality, protecting natural biodiversity and managing resources sustainably) and developing recommendations on the optimal policy approaches to minimise nitrogen-based and other pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from fertiliser use.  The Group is engaging with sector sounding boards, including industry representatives and other key stakeholders, to ensure its recommendations have practical merit.

The findings and recommendations of NMEG will be published in the new year. They will feed into our review of fertiliser regulation and inform wider Defra policy development and delivery plans.

The Government is developing a Soil Health Action Plan for England. It will look at how land management practices and planning can be adapted to help protect soil from the impact of climate change, and will deliver a single, strategic and coherent plan for multiple outcomes that prevents soil degradation and improves soil health.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is a key focus of the Action Plan and will support sustainable approaches to farm husbandry that deliver for the environment and improve soil health. For example, SFI will pay farmers for actions they take (going beyond regulatory requirements) to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. Actions will be grouped into simple packages set out as standards, to make it as easy as possible for farmers to identify the actions that are best suited to their land and their business.

Two of the standards that are being piloted in the SFI are the Improved Grassland Soils Standard and the Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard. These standards focus on soil management and health and will also be available under the early roll out of the SFI from 2022.

28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to (a) secure Part 1 listed status for the purposes of EU Pet Travel Regulations and (b) incentivise the veterinary profession to (i) minimise the cost of Animal Health Certificates and (ii) take the necessary qualifications to issue those certificates.

We are seeking agreement from the European Commission on awarding Great Britain ‘Part 1’ listed status and recognition of the UK’s tapeworm-free status. Achieving these would alleviate the most onerous pet travel rules for all travellers and we see no valid animal health reason for these to not be granted. We have one of the most rigorous pet checking regimes in Europe to protect our biosecurity and have submitted a detailed technical case setting this out and are continuing to engage with the EU on a workable solution.

Animal Health Certificates (AHCs) fees are set by veterinary practices and are a private matter between individual practices and their clients and neither the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the UK regulator of the veterinary profession, nor Defra intervenes in the level of fees that are charged.

We are engaging with the British Veterinary Association to address concerns on veterinary capacity to complete and issue AHCs. We are working to ensure that the process of issuing pet travel documentation is as efficient as possible.

The AHC format is mandated by the EU, but the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has taken steps to help Official Veterinarians (OVs) complete them including the development of a model certificate and accompanying printable guidance. APHA has publicised the availability of the required training course on completing AHCs and has made it easily available on-line which can be accessed by all qualified OVs at any time.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating an independent ombudsman for the veterinary profession; and what assessment he has made of the ability of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to regulate the veterinary surgeon profession.

The Department believes that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is a fit for purpose regulator. The Department does not consider an independent ombudsman would improve the regulation of the veterinary profession. RCVS have been developing recommendations on reforming the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, including an overhaul of the disciplinary framework and fitness to practise regime. We will carefully consider their proposals.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the change in EU rules to allow the use of (a) processed animal protein from mammals in the feed for poultry and pigs and (b) gelatine and collagen from sheep and cattle being fed to other farm animals; and whether he plans to ban those products from entering the food chain in the UK.

The current EU rules for the production of animal feed are more stringent than those of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The EU’s forthcoming changes are in line with the OIE and with the EU TSE Roadmaps. The Roadmaps are a programme of stepwise relaxations in line with the latest scientific advice which the UK, an EU Member State at the time, supported. They would permit the feeding of porcine Processed Animal Protein (PAP) to poultry and poultry PAP to pigs, and ruminant gelatine and collagen and protein derived from insects to pigs and poultry.

Now that we have left the EU, the restrictions on feeding of livestock in the UK will not be altered by EU legislation and they apply whether the feed is imported or produced here.

The UK does not ban the imports of animals or products of animal origin from countries where the feed rules comply with the OIE requirements. This means that imports of animals or products of animal origin from the EU or Northern Ireland will continue to be accepted into Great Britain.

The Government is in the process of assessing the implications of these changes for the UK and will use the latest scientific evidence to decide if any policy changes should be made in England.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that mechanisms are in place to allow data exchange with EU (a) institutions and (b) member states to help manage fish stock levels.

Fisheries protection is a devolved matter. Nonetheless, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive continue to work together to share information and ensure a coordinated approach to monitoring, compliance and enforcement across UK waters.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement requires both Parties to share information on such matters. The two parties exchange information on records of catches of quota species from the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on a monthly basis, supplemented with International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)-rectangle (geographical areas) level data to provide assurance of the robustness of the EEZ-level data.

We are working closely with counterparts in EU Member States to ensure effective coordination of intelligence-sharing and inspections. It is a legal requirement for all registered fishing vessels over 12m operating within UK waters, including EU vessels, to be fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) device. Data from this device is relayed via the flag member states providing the UK Fisheries Authorities with live positional data.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taken to increase quotas for UK fishing vessels since the UK's departure from the EU; and if he will distribute the UK quota to increase allocation to small-scale fishing boats.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU provides for a significant uplift in quota for UK fishers equal to 25% of the value of the average annual EU catch from UK waters and will be phased in over five years, with the majority of this value (15%) being transferred in the first year (2021). It ensures a smooth and managed transition to new quota sharing arrangements and a framework for annual negotiations between the UK and the EU.

We set out how the additional quota would be apportioned between the four administrations on 24 March. How each administration distributes that to industry is a devolved issue.

For England we set out the new distribution method on 14 April and this provided significant uplifts for under 10 metre vessels.

Full details, including what has been allocated to Wales, have been published on the Marine Management Organisation’s website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fishing-quota-allocations-for-2021-for-england-and-the-uk

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to introduce food labelling that specifies the (a) method of production and (b) country of origin for all raw and processed food.

Country of origin information is required for all prepacked food where its omission would be misleading to consumers, and is required for fresh and frozen meat of beef, sheep, goat, pigs and poultry, as well as for uncut fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, olive oil and wine. For processed food, where the origin of the primary ingredient is different to that of the food itself and the origin of the food is given, an indication that the origin of the primary ingredient is different or the specific origin must also be provided. In any case, where an indication, in words of pictures, of origin or provenance is given this must be accurate.

For method of production, an indication must be provided on shell eggs when sold as such and in the case of poultry, where it is stated must meet strict criteria. For other species and for dairy products, any claims around method of production either in words or pictures must not be misleading.

We have the opportunity to review food labelling now we are no longer bound by EU rules to ensure information supports UK consumers' food choices and the marketing of quality British food products. This review will be made in the context of the government’s food strategy white paper which will be published following Henry Dimbleby’s independent review of the food system later this year.

The Government has further committed to consult on what can be done through labelling to promote high standards and high welfare across the UK. There will be a call for evidence launched this summer which will look to address evidence gaps on the impact, costs and deliverability on different types of labelling reforms. This, alongside Henry Dimbleby’s review, will inform a full consultation later this year which will seek stakeholder and public views on how welfare information should be presented to consumers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent illegal fishing in UK waters.

Illegal fishing in UK waters by vessels of any nationality is an extremely serious matter which endangers the sustainability of our stocks and the long-term interests of the UK fishing fleet. Given that fisheries management is a devolved matter, the four UK fisheries authorities work together to combat illegal fishing by a range of means. These include: applying scientific data and evidence to fisheries management to ensure sustainable fishing; sharing intelligence and coordinating assets when required through the Joint Maritime Security Centre; significantly increasing the number of onshore personnel and maritime surveillance assets; ensuring that all commercial fishing vessels operating in UK waters are licenced in a way which means that, regardless of nationality, they must all abide by the same regulations as UK vessels; and working closely with counterparts in EU Member States to ensure effective coordination of intelligence-sharing and inspections.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support the UK fishing fleet by (a) managing the sustainability of fishing stocks, (b) allocating quota levels and (c) investing in data to support the effective management of fisheries.

The Government is fully committed to the sustainable management of our seas, whilst enabling a successful UK fishing fleet. The objectives in the Fisheries Act 2021 collectively reaffirm our commitment to achieving sustainable fishing and protecting the marine environment while tailoring our approach to our unique seas. This commitment will be delivered through the Joint Fisheries Statement and Fisheries Management Plans.

We set out policy how additional quota would be allocated in March. This is now included in the UK Quota Management Rules for 2021. Quota allocations have taken place and are available on gov.uk here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fishing-quota-allocations-for-2021-for-england-and-the-uk

The UK has been a strong advocate for the sustainable management of fisheries and will continue to collect data to support this. The regulations that enable us to collect data have been rolled over into UK law and funding has been maintained in line with manifesto commitments. This ensures continuity and consistency of data collection in the short-term. We have now commenced work on developing a new fisheries' monitoring programme that supports UK priorities as well as our international commitments.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of restoring the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988.

Restoring the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act would be inconsistent with wider government policy which welcomes foreign investment in UK industry. Our investment commitments under the UK / EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement reflect this policy.

We believe that ensuring all vessels over 10 metres in length that land more than 2 tonnes of per annum and are fishing against English quota demonstrate a link to the UK would provide a stronger benefit to the UK economy. We consulted on proposals to strengthen the economic link licence condition for English vessels last year and intend to publish the government response this summer.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many UK registered foreign-owned vessels fished against the UK quota in (a) 2020 and (b) 2021.

UK fishing quota is not held by EU registered vessels. It is only allocated to UK registered vessels.

We do not keep records of the nationality of UK registered vessel owners.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the proportion of the UK fishing quota that is held by EU registered vessels.

UK fishing quota is not held by EU registered vessels. It is only allocated to UK registered vessels.

We do not keep records of the nationality of UK registered vessel owners.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) fishing quota, (b) tonnage and (c) species will be allocated to Wales.

Full details, including what has been allocated to Wales, have been published on the Marine Management Organisation’s website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fishing-quota-allocations-for-2021-for-england-and-the-uk

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to take steps to include actions that benefit the restoration and protection of blue carbon habitats in his Departments (a) Environmental Land Management Scheme and (b) other schemes.

The UK recognises the important role that blue carbon habitats – such as saltmarsh and seagrass - can play to prevent biodiversity loss and support adaptation and resilience to climate change, alongside carbon sequestration benefits. The protection and restoration of these habitats therefore provides a nature-based solution.

The UK is a global leader in ocean protection with 38% of UK waters in Marine Protected Areas, covering the majority of saltmarsh and seagrass habitats. Our focus is now on ensuring these are effectively protected.

The Government recently published its response to the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), accepting the central recommendation that we should identify a number of locations to pilot this approach. HPMAs will be identified on the basis of their ecological value, including areas with potential to recover, and blue carbon habitats. Social and economic principles will then be used to help us understand and minimise the impacts on sea users.

In addition, a number of coastal and estuarine habit restoration initiatives are underway. The Environment Agency’s Restoring Meadow, Marsh and Reef (ReMeMaRe) initiative is working to restore our estuarine and coastal habitats, including blue carbon habitats, to benefit people and nature. Natural England is also leading the EU-funded LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES (Reducing and Mitigating Erosion and Disturbance Impacts affecting the Seabed) project, which aims to restore seagrass and maerl habitat in five Special Areas of Conservation.

We are also introducing three schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits, including for coastal habitat: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme. We are working with stakeholders and end users to determine the specific land management actions that will be paid for under our new schemes. The Agricultural Transition Plan set out examples of the types of actions that we envisage paying for under the schemes, including creating, managing, and restoring coastal habitats such as wetlands and salt marsh.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including data about blue carbon ecosystems in the (a) greenhouse gas inventory and (b) Nationally Determined Contribution calculations.

The UK greenhouse gas (GHG) Inventory will be used to report progress against the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). UK NDC performance will be assessed in 2032 based on the UK 1990-2030 GHG Inventory submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UK does not currently have the required data to report on anthropogenic activities impacting saltmarsh and seagrass (blue carbon habitats), as set out in the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Wetlands Supplement, and they are therefore not currently included in the UK GHG Inventory. We continue to build the evidence base on blue carbon habitats to help inform future, robust GHG reporting and accounting.

The Government recognises the role that blue carbon habitats, such as saltmarsh and seagrass, can play to prevent biodiversity loss and support adaptation and resilience to climate change, alongside carbon sequestration benefits. The importance of marine habitats was acknowledged in the UK NDC’s information to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding, as well as in the UK’s Adaptation Communication.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits for the future long-term sustainability of the British sheep industry of amending the sanitary conditions relating to the importation of live sheep and ram semen from Australia and New Zealand to enable imports from animals bearing the scrapie genotype group 2, specifically scrapie genotypes ARR/ARQ, ARR/ARH or ARR/AHQ.

There have been no changes in our import conditions for scrapie, Annex IX chapter H of regulation (EC) No. 999.2001 details the requirements for import of ovine and caprine semen, oocytes and embryos, which was adopted into UK law. These germinal products of non-ARR/ARR prion protein genotypes may be imported provided they meet the other scrapie requirements set out in the legislation and corresponding import health certificate.

Ovine and caprine germinal products: health certificates - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The UK maintains its own sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) imports regime to protect public, animal and plant life and health and the environment. We have repatriated the functions of audit and inspections to ensure that trading partners, including those we secure trade deals with, continue to meet our import conditions. This provides a standing, robust system that works alongside border controls to maintain our high standards going forward.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the imports of trophy hunting memorabilia; and what his planned timescale is for such a ban.

This Government takes the conservation of endangered species very seriously, which is why we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Our approach will be comprehensive, robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out plans soon.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a statutory deforestation target for UK supply food and commodity supply chains; and what steps he is taking to bind the finance industry into net-zero and Paris Agreement targets.

There is no requirement in the Environment Bill for a deforestation target. This does not preclude the Government from setting one if it is judged to be the best way to deliver long-term environmental outcomes. The Bill framework allows for long-term targets to be set on any aspect of the natural environment, or people’s enjoyment of it. The Government is committed to setting targets through a robust, evidence-led process that seeks independent expert advice, provides a role for stakeholders and the public, as well as scrutiny from Parliament.

We have commissioned the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to develop a global environmental footprint indicator to help us understand the UK’s global footprint. The first phase of this work was published in May 2021, with further development following in the summer. The outcomes of this work will help inform our future thinking on the most appropriate approach to drive change in this area.

On finance, delivering our net zero objective will require deep decarbonisation of all sectors. We know that financial services will be a critical enabler in mobilizing green investment at the pace and scale required – and that is why green finance is a key priority for this Government.

Furthermore, the UK will become the first G20 country to make Taskforce on Climate- related Financial Disclosures-aligned disclosures fully mandatory across the economy, with most requirements introduced in the next three years. The Government is also actively supporting the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.

Finally, the UK will implement a green taxonomy, a common framework for determining which activities can be defined as environmentally sustainable, which will improve understanding of the environmental impact of firms’ activities and investments.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce microplastic contamination in rivers arising from the discharge of untreated sewage and wastewater by water companies.

Although there has been research reporting the presence and impacts of microplastics in the marine environment, little is known about their sources, release and impact on rivers. Defra has published research to contribute to better understanding of these issues, and will use the outcomes from this and other studies to develop policy options to help mitigate the impact of microplastics in the environment.

Defra is also working with the Environment Agency, academics and the UK water industry to understand the scale of the microplastic pollution problem and to establish detection methods to identify, characterise and quantify the types of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants; evaluate the efficiency of treatment processes for the removal of microplastics from domestic wastewaters, and assess the fate and biological effects of microplastics in receiving rivers.

With regards to discharges of untreated waste water, tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this department.

To achieve this, the new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is meeting regularly and working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

We are also introducing new duties in the Environment Bill that will require the Government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows and to report progress to Parliament on implementing that plan. We are also introducing duties requiring water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operations on an annual basis. These legally binding obligations on water companies and Government will help reduce pollution in rivers, including microplastic contamination, protecting wildlife and public health.

Water companies are committed in the five-year business planning period (2020-25) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.3 billion.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the environmental and biodiversity gains of promoting the planting of hedgerows.

Analysis carried out by ADAS consultants in 2020 showed planting hedgerows has a range of environmental gains, including positive impacts on biodiversity, landscape character and protection from, and mitigation of environmental hazards.

Recent reports and research from Natural England and Defra have further evidenced that hedgerows can deliver habitat and resources for a range of important wildlife, support ecosystem services, and sequester and store carbon.

In England, the Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) schemes are currently our primary tools in delivering environmentally beneficial hedgerow management and hedgerow creation, which support the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Hedgerow management is one of the most popular options within the CS scheme.

16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his timescale is for (a) publishing the results of the consultation on the export ban of live animals for slaughter and fattening and (b) implementing the recommendations arising from that consultation.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Caerphilly on 15 April 2021, PQ UIN 178842.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with the British Horseracing Association on when they plan to undertake a consultation on the use of the whip, as recommended in the Horse Welfare Board's five-year Horse Welfare Strategy; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning the use of the whip in horseracing.

The Horse Welfare Board’s five-year Horse Welfare Strategy (HWS) A life well-lived was published on 20 February 2020. The HWS contains 20 recommendations for improving the welfare of horses bred for racing. The HWS recommends that, as a minimum, the penalties for misuse of the whip need to increase and that the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) should conduct a consultation on the use of the whip. The Strategy also recommends that this consultation should gather views on future restrictions on whip use and on a possible ban. Defra has been informed by the British Horse Racing Authority that the delayed opening of the consultation due to COVID-19 disruption will take place later in 2021.

Defra officials will remain engaged with the BHA on the progress being made with the consultation. I would encourage anyone with evidence that a racehorse has suffered unnecessarily from being whipped to get in touch with the BHA and share their concerns. In the most severe cases of misuse, an individual may be investigated under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, as well as receiving significant sanctions from the sport.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support he is giving to pig farmers who have lost trade as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and African swine fever.

This pandemic has had a huge impact on businesses up and down the country

We are continuing to monitor the pig sector recognising the challenges it has faced as a result of both Covid-19 outbreaks in processing plants and the end of the Transition period. The Secretary of State and I held a roundtable with the pig industry on 9 February to discuss these issues.

A further roundtable with the retail sector is planned for this week. Approving and maintaining the approvals of UK Food Business Operators (FBOs) for pork exports to China is a decision for the Chinese Authorities but Defra will continue to work closely with UK industry and the British Embassy in Beijing with the aim of securing China’s agreement to reinstate the approval of pork exports from de-listed UK FBOs. The Government has already made available considerable support for businesses impacted by the pandemic. Where appropriate, we would encourage pig farmers to access these funds.

African swine fever remains one of our key priorities in terms of exotic notifiable diseases. Whilst we have never had an outbreak in the UK, we continue to prepare for this eventuality.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a ban on the sale of glue traps.

We are aware of the concerns around the use of glue traps, which can cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals.

It is an issue we are looking at very closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Anyone using glue traps has a responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to act within the law to ensure their activities do not cause any unnecessary suffering.

14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent untreated sewage from entering rivers and seas in the UK; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the penalties for water companies that breach the regulations on discharge.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this Department.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the five-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

I recognise that there is more to do to manage sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced.

To achieve this, the new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

We are introducing new duties requiring the Government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows and to report progress to Parliament on implementing that plan. We are also introducing duties requiring water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operations on an annual basis. These legally-binding obligations on water companies and government will reduce pollution in rivers – protecting wildlife and public health.

Water companies are currently producing for the first time comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

The Environment Agency uses a range of enforcement options ranging from warning letters to prosecutions. The Environment Agency has brought 44 prosecutions against water companies in the last five years, securing fines of £34 million. £7.9 million has also been donated to environmental and wildlife trusts organisations in the same period through enforcement undertakings. The Environment Agency will continue to prosecute water companies which fail to uphold the law or cause serious environmental harm.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to ban the use of cages in the breeding of game birds; how many animal welfare inspections of game bird farms in England and Wales were undertaken in (a) 2019 and (b) 2020; how many of those visits resulted in action being taken against the person responsible for a welfare breach; and whether follow up inspections were carried out in those circumstances.

We are committed to improving our already high standards of animal welfare and are examining the evidence around the use of cages in farming, including their use for breeding pheasants and partridges.

The welfare of gamebirds is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes offers additional protection and provides keepers with guidance on how to meet the welfare needs of their gamebirds as required by the 2006 Act. It recommends that barren cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used and that any system should be appropriately enriched.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out targeted inspections on gamebird farms. Advice on compliance is a key component of all APHA inspections.

APHA game bird inspections conducted and action taken:

Inspections

District Holdings Inspected

Advisory Letter

Follow Up Visit

2019

10

7

3

0

2020

14

3

6

4

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) help prevent the depletion of fish stocks and (b) reduce the amount of bycatch discarded back into the sea; and how the amount of that discarded bycatch is monitored.

The Government’s ambition is for world-class fisheries management to achieve sustainable fisheries, safeguarding stocks and the marine environment. This commitment is clearly set out in the Fisheries Act 2020 objectives and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

The bycatch objective in the Fisheries Act underlines the UK's commitment to avoid or reduce bycatch and the wasteful practice of discarding. It also sets out a commitment to ensure that any unavoidable bycatch is recorded and accounted for. There are rules in force (commonly referred to as the ‘landing obligation’) that prohibit the discarding of fish.

We also manage other bycatch through a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which helps to protect sensitive marine species and to monitor and reduce any potential fisheries impacts on these species. The UK has an additional observer programme that collects data on fisheries catch and bycatch for scientific advice and management. Additionally, the Government funds Clean Catch UK which is a collaborative research programme dedicated to better monitoring, reducing, and, where possible, eliminating the bycatch of sensitive marine species in UK fisheries.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect the seas around the UK as part of the Government's work on helping to tackle climate change.

The Government recognises that a healthy ocean is vital to life and livelihoods on Earth. Tackling climate change is vital for ocean health and as COP26 President we are pushing for ambitious and accelerated action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Ocean conservation and the protection of marine biodiversity are particularly important for building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting climate change mitigation.

The UK Marine Strategy is vital in achieving the Government's vision for 'clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse ocean and seas' and our climate change objectives. It provides the framework for monitoring, assessing and taking measures to achieve and maintain Good Environmental Status in our seas. Marine nature-based solutions, including marine protection, restoration and sustainable management, have a crucial role to play as part of measures to prevent biodiversity loss and support climate change adaptation, resilience and mitigation.

We are a global leader in ocean protection, with 38% of UK waters in Marine Protected Areas. We have also stated our intention to pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas in Secretary of State waters and look forward to publishing the Government's response to Richard Benyon's review in due course.

The UK Government is committed to reducing the impact of the fishing industry on the marine environment. The Climate Change Objective in clause 1 of the Fisheries Act ensures that consideration is taken of how fisheries management policy can mitigate against the effects of climate change, where appropriate, as well as adapting to any future impacts of climate change. Fisheries Administrations will introduce policies to achieve this objective in the legally binding Joint Fisheries Statement.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on fish stocks of limiting the size of fishing vessels in the (a) UK's Marine Protected Areas and (b) 6-12 nautical mile fishing zone.

Marine protection is a devolved matter and the information below relates to England only.

No such assessments have been made as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) commonly protect seabed habitats and are generally not the best method of protecting commercial fish stocks, which need to be protected across their range and not just within the boundaries of an MPA. In addition, the impact a fishing vessel has on a site is determined by how damaging the fishing method is, rather than the size of the vessel.

Vessels fishing in the 6-12nm tend to be smaller and more local day boats. Their catches are limited by quotas, effort limits or local rules. Larger vessels have more flexibility about where they can fish and tend to go further off-shore. There are restrictions on gear types and engine size in the zone, for example restricting the size of beam trawlers, and these apply to UK and EU vessels.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an estimate of the number of red squirrel numbers in the UK; and if he will take steps with the Welsh Government to set a target for increasing red squirrel numbers by the end of the Parliament.

The latest ‘Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals’ estimates red squirrel populations in Britain as 287,000.

The conservation of red squirrels is a devolved matter and this response is with regards to England only. Defra, Natural England and the Forestry Commission are signatories to the United Kingdom Squirrel Accord, working with over 30 other signatories to secure and expand red squirrel populations.

The Environment Bill contains measures that will help improve the status of threatened species. This will include setting at least one biodiversity target in law, as well as enhancing duties for public authorities to carry out strategic assessments of the actions they can take to enhance and conserve biodiversity.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of a plastic bottle return scheme on glass packaging use; what his planned timescale is for introducing such a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles; and whether he plans to introduce return schemes for (a) batteries, (b) tyres, (c) electrical equipment and (d) other materials.

The Government committed, in its 2019 manifesto, to introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle drinks containers.

On 24 March we published our second consultation on implementing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. The materials we propose would be in-scope of the scheme are PET plastic containers, aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles. Further details of the proposed deposit return scheme are presented in this second consultation.

Timelines have been reviewed to ensure we allow sufficient time for the roll out of a complex policy, and we therefore propose to implement the scheme in 2024, with views on this being taken in the consultation.

Powers from the Environment Bill will give us the option to establish deposit return schemes for other materials in the future and we will continue to consider these as policy options.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of granting equivalence with the EU regulations for bivalve molluscs; and what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on supporting bivalve mollusc exporters in (a) Ynys Môn constituency and (b) the UK.

There is no scientific or technical justification for the European Commission banning this trade in live bivalve molluscs from GB from Class B waters. Our exports remain of high quality. We are continuing to apply the same rules that we did before EU Exit, exactly reflecting those of the EU. We are willing to provide additional reassurances to demonstrate shellfish health within reason, but this must recognise the existing high standards and history of trade between us.

We know this is an important trade for shellfish exporters in Great Britain and the EU ban has had a significant impact on the businesses. This includes those in Ynys Môn and I have met representatives from the area. We are working with the Food Standards Agency, Cefas and others to look at grading of the waters as this may provide some help to the businesses.

The current restrictions are affecting businesses on each side of the channel and we are talking to Member States in the EU whose businesses are also damaged by the ban.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of hedgehog numbers in the UK; and if he will take steps to move hedgehogs to schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to strengthen their protections.

The latest ‘Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals’ estimates the hedgehog populations in the UK is 522,000.

Wildlife policy is a devolved issue and this response is with regard to England only.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 sets out a legal duty for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to undertake a review of Schedule 5 and 8 (protected species) every five years to determine whether any further species warrant inclusion, and for the Secretary of State to lay this advice before Parliament. This review process is science led and evidence based, with criteria for consideration of species agreed across the jurisdictions of the UK. The JNCC is currently reviewing schedule 5 and will make recommendations for any additions at the end of this year.

11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he plans to take to ensure that businesses in the fishing industry are not adversely affected by (a) increased administrative requirements and (b) potential tariffs in the event that an agreement is not reached on a future relationship with the EU by the end of the transition period.

The Government is clear that it wants to secure a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU which has at its heart a zero tariff trading regime.

At the end of the transition period, the UK will leave the EU’s customs area and the EU’s single market which means that traders will have to comply with new processes to trade with the EU, whether or not we reach an agreement with the EU.

Planning for the end of the transition period is well underway and the Government is working closely with businesses and other partners across the UK to ensure that the trade of seafood with the EU can continue as smoothly as possible.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to support the fishing industry in Ynys Môn constituency.

Fisheries management is largely devolved and specific measures to support local industry would be a matter for each Fisheries Administration.

The introduction of the Fisheries Bill will allow the four Fisheries Administrations to reform the management of fisheries over time, creating a flexible and adaptive regime that is better suited to the individual needs of our fisheries. Defra has worked very closely with the Devolved Administrations during the development of the Fisheries Bill. At their requests, the Bill contains significant new powers for the Devolved Administrations that in most cases mirror those of the Secretary of State.

The UK Government will put in place new, domestic, long-term arrangements to support the UK’s fishing industry from 2021, through the creation of four new schemes comparable to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to deliver funding for each nation.

Seafish is working with industry from across the UK to develop a tool box of measures that can be used to better manage inshore fisheries and to develop more effective management for shellfish.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Fisheries Bill on (a) fisher employment levels (b) access to healthy food sources and (c) food security.

Fisheries management is of course devolved. The extent to which the benefits of the Fisheries Bill and the fisheries negotiations on access and quota will be felt across the UK, will largely be a matter for each fisheries Administration.

The Joint Fisheries Statement will provide an opportunity to describe how the Administrations will jointly or individually as appropriate deliver policies to achieve the eight fisheries objectives in the Bill. The objectives cover fish as a food source and the national benefit objective.

In England, we will shortly be consulting on strengthening the economic link criteria to ensure the UK benefits from the additional quota we intend to negotiate to secure for the UK. This will boost opportunities for fishers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been promising signs that the public are eating more locally caught fish. The "Sea for Yourself" campaign being run jointly by the Sea Fish Industry Authority and Defra aims to increase consumption of seafood caught in UK waters.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions she has had with her counterpart in the Faroe Islands on the practice of whale and dolphin slaughter; and what steps she will take through the UK's trade relationship with the Faroe Islands to discourage that practice.

We are dismayed that the needless slaughter of cetaceans continues around the world. My noble friend, Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, has written to the Fisheries Minister of the Faroe Islands to express Britain’s opposition to the continued killing of cetaceans in their waters.

The United Kingdom will continue to advocate for the cessation of cetacean hunts around the world, at every appropriate opportunity, including those provided by our trade relationships.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that fair trade goods continue to have access to UK markets under new trading arrangements.

The UK’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Generalised Scheme of Preferences support developing countries to export agricultural products and other goods to the UK. We have secured EPAs with 30 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, covering £18bn of trade. We plan to deepen our EPA agreements and expand them to new countries in the future.

Independent certification schemes, such as Fairtrade, which set standards on social, economic and environmental issues for companies, continue to operate within the context of UK trading arrangements.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to help small Fairtrade producers tackle climate change without making their produce unaffordable ahead of COP26.

We are committed to addressing the challenges of climate change, whilst ensuring that developing countries benefit from of a global transition to low emission, sustainable land use and food systems. Ahead of COP26, the UK will be convening a global dialogue on trade in forest and agricultural commodities, to support producer countries in achieving their economic goals, while transitioning to more sustainable land use.

Through the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility, the UK is working in partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation and Mondelēz International in Ghana to ensure cocoa farmers and their families are resilient to the pandemic, and to accelerate income diversification through climate-smart farming.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Feb 2021
What steps her Department is taking to ensure that fair trade goods continue to have access to UK markets in new trade agreements.

Britain’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) support emerging markets around the world to export agricultural products – and more – to these shores. We have secured EPAs with 29 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, covering £18bn of trade. We plan to deepen our EPAs – and expand them to new markets in the future. From working in Ghana to ensure cocoa farmers and their families are resilient to the pandemic, and accelerating diversification through climate-smart farming, to Ethiopia where we are supporting people to help sell their unique wild coffee at a fair price and build resilience to climate change at the same time, Global Britain is delivering.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to work with the Directorate-General for Traffic in Spain to ensure that UK citizens who are resident in Spain can continue to drive there.

The UK and Spanish Governments are working to reach an agreement on driving licence exchange as a priority. The Secretary of State for Transport discussed the issue with Spanish ministers on 29 April 2022 and talks have rapidly accelerated since.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the DVLA has adequate resources to clear the backlog of (a) new and (b) renewed driving licence application; and what recent assessment he has made of DVLA performance in 2021.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. To help reduce waiting times for paper applications, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham. These measures are having a positive impact and customers should continue to see an improving picture in terms of waiting times for paper applications. Applications where the driver has a medical condition that must be investigated before a licence can be issued will take longer.

The majority of applicants renewing an existing licence will be able to continue driving while their application is being processed, providing the driver can meet specific criteria. More information can be found online here.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the new rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car from autumn 2021 published on 10 September, what assessment he made of the financial impact on small businesses that train and test drivers for HGV and for towing trailers and caravans; and if he will set up a compensation scheme for those businesses who have lost income as a result of his policy.

We are working with industry to consider options for accredited training that could offer a standardised non-statutory testing approach. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has received strong support for an accreditation training scheme which is also generating considerable interest from companies who tow as part of their business. We are progressing discussions urgently.

Businesses that require help and support should contact the Business Support Helpline at https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he made of the number of people likely to cancel their trailer training courses and tests as the new rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car from autumn 2021, published on 10 September.

Road safety remains of paramount importance, and we are already working with training providers to explore options for an industry-led accreditation scheme for trailer training. This could offer a standardised training and assessment approach, keeping driving and towing skills current and of a high standard.

The reversing exercise of HGV driving tests and the uncoupling and recoupling exercise of the lorry and trailer test will still be tested but separately by third party assessors. This will enable the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to carry out more on-road tests without compromising the overall standard of driving required to pass the test. The DVSA is working with the training industry to develop the necessary robust accreditation, assessment and audit processes.

One of the changes announced is to enable new drivers to take a category C+E test without having to take a category C test first. Existing category C licence holders will still need to pass their C+E practical test to demonstrate their competency to drive these larger vehicles.

The DVSA does not hold information on the number of people who have booked or cancelled a trailer training course as individuals book these courses directly with the training provider. The DVSA stopped conducting B+E tests from 20 September.

We have made provision in the regulations for post implementation review of the change in the rules, with the first review after three years. We will gather data during that period and monitor the impact on road safety and make changes if needed in the light of that review.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he made of the effect his policy on issuing licences to drive an articulated vehicles, without requiring a licence for a smaller vehicle, on road safety.

Road safety remains of paramount importance, and we are already working with training providers to explore options for an industry-led accreditation scheme for trailer training. This could offer a standardised training and assessment approach, keeping driving and towing skills current and of a high standard.

The reversing exercise of HGV driving tests and the uncoupling and recoupling exercise of the lorry and trailer test will still be tested but separately by third party assessors. This will enable the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to carry out more on-road tests without compromising the overall standard of driving required to pass the test. The DVSA is working with the training industry to develop the necessary robust accreditation, assessment and audit processes.

One of the changes announced is to enable new drivers to take a category C+E test without having to take a category C test first. Existing category C licence holders will still need to pass their C+E practical test to demonstrate their competency to drive these larger vehicles.

The DVSA does not hold information on the number of people who have booked or cancelled a trailer training course as individuals book these courses directly with the training provider. The DVSA stopped conducting B+E tests from 20 September.

We have made provision in the regulations for post implementation review of the change in the rules, with the first review after three years. We will gather data during that period and monitor the impact on road safety and make changes if needed in the light of that review.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to increase the number of electric vehicle public charging points across the UK to help meet the Climate Change Committee's recommendation of 150,000 points by 2025.

Government is investing £1.3 billion in accelerating the roll out of charging infrastructure over the next four years, targeting support on rapid chargepoints on motorways and major roads, and installing more on-street chargepoints near homes and workplaces to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car. Our grant schemes and the £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more electric vehicle charge-points installed across the UK.

We have set ambitious targets for chargepoints on our strategic road network in England to support long distance journeys. By 2023, we aim to have at least 6 high powered, open access chargepoints (150 - 350 kilowatt capable) at all motorway service areas and by 2030, we are planning for there to be around 2,500 high powered chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A roads. However, we have not set an overall target for the number of chargepoints. Having a “target” number risks assuming technology stands still and creating a uniform approach to charging mixes and needs across the country.

Government and industry have supported the installation of almost 25,000 publicly available charging devices. This includes more than 4,500 rapid devices. To ensure the private sector can continue to expand the charging network at pace in the 2020s, the Government will invest £950 million in future proofing grid capacity along the Strategic Road Network and launching a £90 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund to support the roll out of large on-street schemes and potentially rapid charging hubs in England.

Later this year we will publish an EV Infrastructure Strategy to set out the vision and action plan for charging infrastructure rollout needed to achieve the 2030/35 phase out successfully. This will set expected roles for different stakeholders and how government will intervene to address the gaps between the current market status and our vision.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to introduce a railcard for NHS staff allowing discounted travel on the rail network.

The Department recognises the vitally important role NHS and other keyworkers have played in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there are currently no plans to extend or launch any new railcards at this time.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage people to use public transport instead of private cars; and what assessment he has made of the benefits of introducing flexible season tickets for commuters.

On 15 March the Government launched England’s long-term National Bus Strategy, setting out a bold vision for bus services across the country. Backed by £3 billion of transformational funding, the strategy’s central aim is to get more people travelling by bus, by making services more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper. The Williams-Shapps Rail Review was launched in May and set out a series of measures to support the government’s vision for the UK to have a world-class railway, recognising that the railways must become better at meeting passenger needs to avoid a society dependent on the car.

We recognise the need to provide better value and a more convenient option to meet the needs of flexible commuters, which is why we are introducing new rail flexible season tickets across England. These tickets will be available to purchase on 21 June and valid from 28 June, and will offer most 2 and 3 day per week commuters savings against buying daily tickets or traditional seasons. Transport for Wales Rail currently offers the Multiflex product to support flexible commuters in Wales.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to support essential transitional technologies in the marine industry.

The Maritime 2050 Strategy highlights the importance of new technologies to the future of the maritime sector and sets out the ambition to become a world leader in marine innovation. To support this, DfT has provided over £5m in funding to Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK), which acts as a national body to coordinate research and development in maritime innovation.

Technology development is also critical to support the UK’s wider decarbonisation agenda. The Department’s Clean Maritime Plan (CMP), published in July 2019, outlined the UK’s pathway to zero carbon emissions in the domestic maritime arena. In March, DfT launched the £20 million Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) to enable the development and commercialisation of novel solutions for clean maritime technologies. Further details of our policies will be set out in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which will be published this year.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Apr 2021
What steps his Department is taking to support a green maritime sector in the UK.

My Department recently launched a £20 million Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, building on the vision set out in the Clean Maritime Plan published in 2019 and will announce further policy proposals in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan this Spring.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK seeking a reciprocal agreement with the EU on the transfer of UK Civil Aviation Authority Flight Crew Licences to EU member states signed up to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

The UK and EU have agreed a high-level Aviation Safety Agreement, with an annex on Airworthiness. We are aware that there is interest in further annexes on topics such as licencing recognition between the UK and EU. There is potential to negotiate further annexes to the agreement in the future, and the UK will continue to engage with the EU on this matter.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of HS2 for people in Ynys Môn; and what plans he has for rail investment in North Wales.

HS2 will free up capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line which could be used for additional services. Current plans would see North Wales passengers benefiting from an HS2 interchange at Crewe, with shorter journey times than those currently possible on the West Coast Main Line to Holyhead.

In addition, we are progressing the development of a line speed enhancement scheme for the North Wales Coast Line, and the Prime Minister has asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake an independent review into transport connections across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. The review will make recommendations on how the UK Government can level up transport infrastructure, boosting access to opportunities and improving people’s everyday connections.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with (a) ferry operators and (b) haulage companies on the reduced use of the UK land bridge affecting Holyhead Port since 1 January 2021.

My officials or I have had a number of discussions with ferry, port and haulage operators in relation to Irish Sea traffic since 1 January, encompassing reductions in traffic at Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke compared with equivalent weeks in previous years. A significant proportion of these reductions is likely to be attributable to the expansion and take-up of direct services recently introduced and strongly promoted between the Republic of Ireland and other EU ports. It is, however, too early to identify any longer term trends or say what the longer term impacts will be. The Government is, however, confident that Welsh ports, and Holyhead in particular, will continue to provide critical routes to and from the Republic of Ireland and continental Europe, irrespective of direct links for haulage between Ireland and France. The land bridge route has significant advantages for hauliers over maritime routes and the Government is confident that Welsh ports will continue to thrive as we build on the opportunities provided by being an independent trading nation.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of direct ferry links for haulage from the EU to the Republic of Ireland on (a) Holyhead Port and (b) the Welsh economy.

My officials or I have had a number of discussions with ferry, port and haulage operators in relation to Irish Sea traffic since 1 January, encompassing reductions in traffic at Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke compared with equivalent weeks in previous years. A significant proportion of these reductions is likely to be attributable to the expansion and take-up of direct services recently introduced and strongly promoted between the Republic of Ireland and other EU ports. It is, however, too early to identify any longer term trends or say what the longer term impacts will be. The Government is, however, confident that Welsh ports, and Holyhead in particular, will continue to provide critical routes to and from the Republic of Ireland and continental Europe, irrespective of direct links for haulage between Ireland and France. The land bridge route has significant advantages for hauliers over maritime routes and the Government is confident that Welsh ports will continue to thrive as we build on the opportunities provided by being an independent trading nation.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has drawn up criteria for evaluating the outcomes of his Department’s trials of electric scooters.

The Department set how it will evaluate rental e-scooter trials in its guidance to local areas and rental operators in September 2020. As stated in the guidance, the primary areas of focus for DfT and its monitoring and evaluation contractors include:

  • safety outcomes for e-scooter users and what influences this

  • interaction with, and effect on, other road users

  • public perceptions of e-scooters, including by people with disabilities and related groups

  • nature of modal shift and new journeys that have been enabled

  • characteristics of users, and how uptake and outcomes differ for different groups

  • The evidence gathered during trials, the responses to the Future of Transport regulatory review call for evidence and other research will inform legal changes that may be necessary after the trial period ends.

18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on rates of pay for (a) seafarers and (b) maritime workers.

The Department is working with unions and industry to understand what steps can be taken to further protect jobs and livelihoods in the sector. However, no recent in-depth assessment has been made on the impact of Covid-19 on rates of pay for seafarers or maritime workers.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he plans to take to help prevent accidents as a result of collisions between jet skis and boats.

Local and harbour authorities already have powers to introduce measures controlling personal water craft and boat use in the waters they manage. They are best placed to consider what provisions are necessary in their local areas to ensure safety and deliver an appropriate balance between the requirements and priorities of different water users.

While the majority of personal watercraft riders use their craft sensibly and safely, we are currently considering the introduction of new enforcement measures to ensure that any who willfully or neglectfully cause accidents or endanger the safety of others can be prosecuted.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have found employment as a result of the Way to Work campaign as of June 21 2022.

I refer the honourable Member to the answer given to PQ19742.

9th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the £650 support for the rise in energy prices to people who receive (a) Personal Independence Payments and (b) Carer's Allowance.

The £650 means-tested benefit one-off Cost of Living Payments have been designed to target support for 8 million households with low incomes, on means-tested benefits. Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance are not means tested, but customers in receipt of these, and other, non-means tested who are also entitled to an eligible means-tested benefit will receive the payment. This means nearly 60% of those who are working age on Carer’s Allowance will get a Cost of Living Payment.

In addition, 6 million disabled people who receive an eligible non-means tested disability benefits, including Personal Independence Payments, will receive a one-off disability Cost of Living Payment of £150. Where people met the criteria for both types of payments, they will receive both the £650 and the £150, and carers living in the same household as the disabled person for whom they care will benefit from the disability Cost of Living Payment. The payments will be made automatically in September, bringing total support for households this year to £37 billion.

These payments are part of the government’s £15bn package of support and sits alongside the £400 per household universal support being provided through the Energy Bills Support Scheme, an increased Winter Fuel Payment and the extension of the Household Support Fund, on top of the £22bn the government has already announced to support households with the cost of living.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits and effect of permitting the exclusion of a one-off bonus for carers, awarded after the covid-19 pandemic by the Welsh Government, when calculating universal credit entitlement.

No such assessment has been made.

A Universal Credit award is calculated on the basis of the set benefit rate against money coming in to ensure fairness of treatment for all claimants against the money that they have earned. This means as earnings increase Universal Credit is gradually reduced. This is a long-standing principle of means-tested benefits.

Bonuses are earnings and are treated in the same way as any other earnings. This is already true for tax and other purposes, regardless of whether or not an individual is claiming a benefit. All earnings, above any applicable work allowance, are subject to the 55% taper and the Universal Credit award is calculated on that basis.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of not requiring autistic people to undertake reassessments for Personal Independence Payments in the context of that condition not having a cure.

Entitlement to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is assessed on the basis of the needs arising from a health condition or disability, rather than the health condition or disability itself. Award rates and their durations are set on an individual basis, based on the claimant’s needs and the likelihood of those needs changing. Award reviews allow for the correct rate of PIP to remain in payment, including where needs have increased as a consequence of a congenital, degenerative or progressive condition.

We announced in the Shaping Future Support: Health and Disability Green Paper that we will test a new Severe Disability Group (SDG) so that those with severe and lifelong conditions can benefit from a simplified process to access PIP, ESA and UC without needing to go through a face-to-face assessment or frequent reassessments. We will consider the test results once complete to influence thinking on the next stages of this work.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of support available to families with children affected by foetal valproate syndrome.

There is a wide range of disability-related financial support, including benefits, tax credits, payments, grants and concessions.

The Department recognises the extra costs disabled people can face in their everyday lives. Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance are intended to help with these extra costs. Claimants are able to use their benefit according to their own priorities. These benefits are tax-free, non-contributory and are uprated annually in line with inflation. They are paid in addition to other benefits such as Universal Credit, which someone may be entitled to claim.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that unpaid carers are financially supported in the context of the increased cost of living; and what assessment she made of the potential merits of removing the earnings cap for eligibility of carer's allowance.

On the first question, I refer the Hon member to the answer I gave on 24 March 2022 to Question Number 142004.

On the second question, I refer the Hon member to the answer I gave on 10 February 2022 to question number 120937.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the Citizens Advice Bureau is adequately funded so people around the UK can access advice about the cost of living.

Citizens Advice is funded by various Government departments, public bodies, private companies, local authorities as well as charitable trusts. Details regarding their sources of funding can be found on their website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/annual-reports/.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of retaining the £20 uplift to the standard allowance of universal credit.

We expect this would cost around £6bn per year. The cost of funding one year of the uplift is the equivalent of adding 1p on the basic rate of income tax in addition to a 3p increase in fuel duty.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of keeping the £20 uplift to universal credit in place to support households in receipt of that benefit.

No such assessment has been made. The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced with the success of the vaccine rollout. Now the economy is reopening and as we continue to progress with our recovery our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for UC claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to UC claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her plans for a Health and Disability Green Paper, what steps her Department has taken to engage disabled people in discussions on how the benefits system is working in preparation for publication of that Paper; what plans he had to incorporate disabled people's insights from the consultation into the recommendation of that paper; and what her timescale is for publication of that Paper.

It is vital that the voices of disabled people are at the centre of health and disability policy development. Over the past 18 months I have personally led a series of events in which I have heard directly from disabled people about their lived experiences with the benefits system. The forthcoming Health and Disability Green Paper will reflect themes coming out of those conversations and ask for views on how best to address them.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to Covid-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated. We will continue the engagement with disabled people and their representatives and plan to publish the formal consultation document in the coming months.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Answer of 25 March 2021 to Question 173228 on Social Security Benefits: Terminal Illnesses, what her timescale is for (a) publishing and (b) implementing the recommendations of her Department's review of the benefits system for terminally ill people and the Special Rules for Terminal Illness scheme announced in July 2019.

The Department is committed to delivering an improved benefit system for claimants that are nearing the end of their lives and is working across Government to bring forward proposals following the evaluation. The Department remains committed to implementing the key areas identified in the evaluation and will announce the outcome in due course.

14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to bring forward legislative proposals on the legal recognition of British Sign Language; and what steps she has taken to ensure local authorities raise awareness of British Sign Language.

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Existing equality legislation already means employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, when carrying out their functions, to have due regard to the needs of a range of protected characteristics, including disability.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her timescale is for (a) publishing and (b) implementing the recommendations from her Department’s review of the benefits system for terminally ill people and the Special Rules for Terminal Illness scheme announced in July 2019.

The Department is committed to delivering an improved benefit system for claimants that are nearing the end of their lives and is working across Government to bring forward proposals following the evaluation. I remain committed to implementing the key areas identified in the evaluation; a consensus to change the six-month rule; improving ​consistency with other services used by people nearing the end of their lives; and raising awareness of the support that is available.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department's review of the Special Rules for Terminal Illness will be published.

The Department is committed to delivering an improved benefit system for claimants that are nearing the end of their lives and is working across Government to bring forward proposals following the evaluation. I remain committed to implementing the key areas identified in the evaluation; a consensus to change the six-month rule; improving ​consistency with other services used by people nearing the end of their lives; and raising awareness of the support that is available.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Government of Canada on the offer of a reciprocal agreement to uprate frozen overseas pensions.

The Department will respond to the written request from Canada for a reciprocal social security agreement in due course.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the ONS Updated estimates of coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by disability status, England: 24 January to 20 November 2020, what assessment she has made of the potential benefit of providing an emergency support package to support disabled people during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave on 09 February to question number 149299.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential for delays in reporting work place accidents to allow employers time to conceal evidence important to investigations.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report certain workplace injuries, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).

The timescales for submitting reports under RIDDOR are contained within Schedule 1 to the regulation. In respect of injuries, fatalities and dangerous occurrences the responsible person must notify the relevant enforcing authority of the reportable incident by the quickest practicable means without delay; and send a report of that incident in an approved manner to the relevant enforcing authority (the Health and Safety Executive) within 10 days of the incident occurring.

Should there be either a failure or significant delay in a report being made by the responsible person, then the Enforcing Authority would include this factor as a line of enquiry in any subsequent investigation.

Failure to report under RIDDOR is a criminal offence and the responsible person can be sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court with a fine up to £20,000, or in the Crown Court with an unlimited fine.

9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the effect of the rate of statutory sick pay on the number of people who choose to remain at home when they experience symptoms of covid-19.

This Government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially. We have taken steps to strengthen that safety net so that people are supported to do the right thing where they are required to self-isolate. We have extended eligibility for SSP, and made it payable from day 1 – rather than day 4 – for employees who are sick or need to self-isolate because of covid-19. Employers can choose to pay more than SSP and many do.

SSP is just one part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on individual circumstances. Working people on low incomes who are required to remain at home by NHS Test and Trace to help stop the spread of the virus and cannot work from home could be eligible for a £500 payment to financially support them while self-isolating.

Background

  • SSP is paid entirely by the employer at £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks.
  • Approximately 60% of employees receive more than the statutory minimum from their employer.
  • If an individual claims Universal Credit while receiving SSP their SSP will be taken into account when calculating their Universal Credit.
  • We have strengthened our wider safety net by temporarily increasing the standard allowance of Universal Credit by the equivalent of £20 per week, meaning that claimants will be up to £1,040 better off for the 20/21 tax year.
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to permit personal independence payments assessment forms to be completed online during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are focused on transforming the PIP claimant journey overall to provide a more streamlined and user-friendly approach. We are committed to providing a digital channel - “PIP Apply” - to widen claimants’ choices on how to make a new claim for PIP. Using the digital channel is optional and we will ensure we provide effective alternatives for those who are unable or prefer not to use our online services. We are aiming to provide this service by the end of the year.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her plans are for the personal independence payments assessment centre in Bangor.

Face-to-face assessments for health and disability related benefits continue to be suspended since 17 March. This temporary suspension was brought in to protect vulnerable people (and assessment centre staff) from unnecessary risk of exposure to COVID-19. We are regularly reviewing this position in line with public health advice, and will also review our estates requirements as part of this work.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment providers are responsible for supplying their own estate. Whilst the use of the Storiel venue has been a temporary arrangement, Capita has confirmed that it is suitable for use as it meets all contractual requirements in terms of size, location and access. The department is exploring options for securing a long term lease with a view to this becoming a more permanent fixture in the future.

26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has had discussions with the Welsh Government on the number of women in Wales of childbearing age who are prescribed sodium valproate.

We have had no specific discussions with the Welsh Government on this issue, as this is a devolved matter.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department holds data on the number of babies in Wales who are born with foetal valproate syndrome.

The information requested is not held centrally, as this is a devolved matter.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of using its experience of the Vaccines Taskforce during the covid-19 outbreak to establish a dementia medicines taskforce to speed up progress in dementia research.

Officials have met Alzheimer’s Research UK to discuss this proposal and considered routes for accelerating access to such medicines for patients with NHS England and NHS Improvement, including the experiences of the Vaccines Taskforce.

We will set out plans for dementia in England for the next 10 years later this year, including on diagnosis, risk reduction and prevention and research. The strategy will include ambitions for research to develop new disease-modifying treatments. We will continue to engage with stakeholders, including Alzheimer’s Research UK, throughout the development of the strategy.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will (a) make and (b) publish a plan to reform support for (i) breaks, (ii) respite and care services, (iii) infection control, (iv) identification, (v) financial help, and (vi) support to manage work and care for unpaid carers.

The white paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’ sets out how we will invest up to £25 million in the services provided to unpaid carers, which could include respite, breaks, peer group and wellbeing support. Local authorities are required to undertake a Carer’s Assessment for any carer who appears to have a need for support. If a carer is assessed as having eligible needs, the local authority has a legal duty to meet these needs on request from the carer.

Since February 2021, free personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 needs has been provided to unpaid carers who do not live with the person they care for. This is available for unpaid carers until March 2023. The Carer’s Allowance and income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit and Pension Credit, can also provide financial support to carers on low incomes. Legislation to introduce one week of unpaid leave for unpaid carers in work will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows. In addition, all employees with 26 weeks continuous service have the statutory right to request flexible working which can assist unpaid carers to balance caring and work.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that identification of dementia in patients is prioritised during hospital admissions.

We have committed to expand the provision of all-age mental health liaison services in all acute hospitals in accident and emergency (A&E) departments and inpatient wards. We are also establishing acute frailty services in all hospitals with a major A&E department to ensure that dementia patients can be assessed, treated and supported by skilled multidisciplinary teams.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve levels of dementia diagnoses in rural areas.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ Dementia Intelligence Network to investigate the underlying variation in dementia diagnosis rates in specific areas in England. This will include a focus on social and economic deprivation; rurality; demographic characteristics including age, ethnicity and educational attainment; and general health and life expectancy.

In 2021, factsheets were published to encourage local conversations to understand patterns and potential reasons for any trends in dementia diagnosis rates and identifying specific areas for support. In 2021/22, we also provided £17 million to clinical commissioning groups to address the needs of those waiting for diagnosis and those who have a diagnosis but are unable to access support services due to the pandemic. We will set out plans for dementia in England for the next 10 years later this year, which will include a focus on dementia diagnosis.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will increase funding for research into (a) Usher Syndrome and (b) other similar genetic conditions; and what steps he is taking to meet the additional needs of people living with Usher Syndrome.

The Department funds research into rare genetic conditions, such as Usher Syndrome, through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). Funding is not usually ring-fenced for specific topics, with applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition and awards made based on the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality. The UK Rare Diseases Framework aims to meet the needs of patients with rare diseases, including Usher Syndrome. Each United Kingdom nation has committed to publish an action plan by the end of 2022, outlining how the Framework will be implemented. England and Northern Ireland have recently published action plans, with those from Scotland and Wales to follow later this year.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients on active monitoring receive sufficient tailored support to maintain their mental and physical wellbeing.

Data from Cancer Alliances in March 2021 showed that approximately 83% of all cancer multi-disciplinary teams had implemented Personalised Care and Support Planning based on Holistic Needs Assessments. This will ensure that all cancer patients, including those with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, are empowered to self-manage their care where appropriate and providing a route back into the system if they notice any worrying changes or need to seek help.

The National Health Service is supporting adults experiencing cancer with access to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) mental health services. IAPT services provide evidence-based psychological therapies for people with anxiety disorders and depression. IAPT Long Term Condition pathways have been identified as a priority to support integration of mental health and physical health services for people with co-morbid long-term conditions, such as cancer.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to roll out a covid-19 booster injection for elderly and clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The Government accepted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice to offer a further booster dose to those aged 75 years old and over, residents in care homes for older adults and the immunosuppressed. The UK Health Security Agency’s data shows that as of 10 April 2022, more than 1.3 million people aged 75 years old and over and more than 35,000 immunosuppressed people in England have received at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination appointments are available via NHS.UK or 119. Hundreds of walk-in centres are also available to those eligible without an appointment. In addition, local National Health Service teams are also offering vaccinations in care homes.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of women who suffer from post tubal ligation syndrome; and whether he plans to ask the NHS to recognise that syndrome.

No estimate has been made and there are no plans to ask the National Health Service to recognise this as a syndrome. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare is the body responsible for providing clinical guidance on contraception, including female sterilisation. As set out in the Faculty’s clinical guidelines, there is no evidence that tubal ligation results in significant changes to hormone levels, nor is there evidence that it directly causes changes to menstrual symptoms or increased risk of subsequent hysterectomy. As such, post tubal ligation syndrome is not currently recognised by professional bodies in their clinical guidance. Any woman experiencing complications following surgery should seek advice from their general practitioner.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the (a) effectiveness of sanctions on Russian individuals and (b) potential merits of further extending those sanctions; and what steps she is taking to increase the transparency and integrity of the visa system to prevent inappropriate strategic investments in (i) London and (ii) the UK.

We have now sanctioned over 1000 individuals, entities and subsidiaries since Putin's invasion of Ukraine. We are focusing our efforts on those measures which will have the biggest impact. The UK has targeted the political elite, introduced powers to cut off the Russian banking sector from the UK, and introduced restrictive trade measures.

We have acted against the people and entities who facilitate the war in Ukraine and the harmful activities of the Russian Government. Specifically, we have committed to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship-so called golden passports-that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian Government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps she has taken to help strengthen the UK’s economic and security relationship with Australia.

The Foreign Secretary has just returned from Australia, where she met her counterpart, Foreign Minister Payne, and joined the annual Australia and UK Foreign and Defence Ministers’ meeting - AUKMIN, together with Defence Secretary Wallace. The visit strengthened economic, diplomatic and security ties. Working with Australia – a close partner in building a network of liberty – the UK is supporting stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and making our own country safer and more competitive.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her Indian counterpart on the reopening of tourist visas for travellers from the UK to India.

India has announced that it will issue tourist visas for group travel from 15 October and individual travel from 15 November, which we welcome. It is for the Indian Government to determine the types and validity of the visas it offers.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with Bahrain pro-Democracy leaders Dr. Saeed Alshehabi, Mr. Ali Mushaima, and Mr. Moosa Mohammad; and whether he has plans to meet those people.

Ministers have not had discussions with Dr. Saeed Alshehabi, Mr Moosa Mohammad or Mr Ali Mushaima.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the (a) potential effect of the reduction in aid to Syria in 2021 and (2) effect of recent reductions in UN authorised aid mechanisms on the delivery of UK led and funded health programmes in Syria.

The UK has announced a pledge of at least £205 million in 2021 to continue the delivery of essential humanitarian aid, including the provision of food, healthcare and water, to millions of people affected by the brutal conflict in Syria. We are working to finalise ODA budget allocations for financial year 2021/22 and until that is done will not be able to confirm individual country allocations. Final decisions have not yet been made.

In addition to our financial support, the UK will continue to use its position at the UN Security Council to push for greater access into Syria and strongly supports the renewal of UNSCR 2533 to maintain cross-border aid. Nothing can replace the scale and scope of UN operations in northern Syria. In north-east Syria, cross-line aid delivery from Damascus has failed to fill the gaps left by of the closure of the Yaroubiya crossing last year; health supplies are taking longer to reach populations in need, at a greater cost and in reduced quantities. We are appalled that Russia and China continue to place political support for the Assad regime above lifesaving support for the Syrian people; we urge the members of the UN Security Council to vote in favour of renewing the resolution in July to avoid further humanitarian disaster.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he has taken to provide support for refugees in Lesbos after the fire at the Moira refugee camp.

The UK has responded to requests by the Greek Government to provide specific humanitarian goods for the migrants affected by the Moria fires. UK support will help nearly 2,000 vulnerable families prepare, cook and serve food, and solar lanterns will help people to stay safe. We will work with our partners to ensure these supplies are fairly distributed and reach those most in need.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the people responsible for crimes committed against Rohingya children are held to account; and if he will make it his policy to provide humanitarian support and protection for Rohingya refugee children.

The UK has been clear that those responsible for serious human rights violations should be held to account. We will continue to shine a spotlight on gross human rights violations committed by the Myanmar Military across the country. This includes horrific violence against children. The UK has been at the forefront of international demands for accountability. We have used our role on the UN Security Council to increase international attention on the Rohingya crisis and continue to lead calls for accountability. On 23 June, I spoke to the Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation. I encouraged Myanmar to continue to engage with the International Court of Justice process in a transparent way. The UK has worked with partners to try and implement the Fact Finding Mission recommendations, including establishing the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar to collect and preserve evidence of atrocities. On 6 July, the UK's Global Human Rights sanction regime (GHR) listed the Myanmar military's Commander-in-Chief and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, for overseeing the systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya and other minorities, as set out in the Independent Fact Finding Mission Report. This is in addition to the sanctions which the UK secured through the EU, against 14 members of the Myanmar military responsible for serious human rights violations.

The UK is committed to protecting the most vulnerable populations around the globe including the Rohingya, and especially children. We work with humanitarian partners such as UNICEF in the Rohingya response to deliver robust child protection systems. UK aid is helping run community-based child protection and child-friendly centres in the Rohingya camps and supporting 3,000 children living with foster families, including victims of trafficking, to receive cash assistance, case management and psycho-social support. Improving access to and quality of education also remains a priority, including the roll out and expansion of the Myanmar curriculum.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking support countries whose Official Development Assistance funding has been reduced as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Difficult decisions have been necessary to identify the savings needed to ensure we meet the 0.7 per cent commitment this year. The Foreign Secretary chaired a review process across government looking at all strands of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget, evaluating the impacts of spend and making sure the UK can maintain operational capacity. This process also has made sure there is continued support for five ODA priorities; bottom billion poverty reduction, climate change, girls' education, COVID-19 and Britain as a force for good.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
6th Jul 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the UK Mortgage Prisoners Support Group on the (a) depth and (b) severity of the situation people unable to move out of high interest loans are facing.

Ministers last met with UK Mortgage Prisoners earlier this year and exchange regular correspondence with them.

The Government has worked with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on interventions to help mortgage prisoners switch. Resources have also been put in place so that mortgage prisoners can understand their options better, including their ability to switch, and access guidance through MoneyHelper. These resources can be found online at: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/homes/buying-a-home/help-for-mortgage-prisoners.

Richard Fuller
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits to consumers of extending the Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme to (a) Ynys Môn constituency and (b) other rural parts of Wales.

The Rural Fuel Duty Relief gives support to petrol and diesel users by compensating fuel retailers in some rural areas. The criteria for the scheme are set out in a public notice that can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rural-duty-relief-scheme-notice-2001.

At Spring Statement 2022 in response to fuel prices reaching record levels, the government announced a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre. This is the largest cash-terms cut across all fuel duty rates at once, ever, and is only the second time in 20 years that main rates of petrol and diesel have been cut. This cut represents savings for households and businesses worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23.

The government has no current plans to revise Rural Fuel Duty Relief, but keeps all taxes under review.

22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to reduce fuel costs for essential services and industries; and if he will bring forward a fuel duty rebate for essential services and industries to help reduce costs in supply chains.

At Spring Statement 2022 in response to fuel prices reaching record levels, the government announced a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre.

This is the largest cash-terms cut across all fuel duty rates at once, ever, and is only the second time in 20 years that main rates of petrol and diesel have been cut. This cut represents savings for households and businesses worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23.

All taxes, including fuel duty, remain under review.

8th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a further cut in fuel duty to support consumers.

At Spring Statement 2022 in response to fuel prices reaching record levels, the government announced a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre.

This is the largest cash-terms cut across all fuel duty rates at once, ever, and is only the second time in 20 years that main rates of petrol and diesel have been cut. This cut represents savings for households and businesses worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23.

All taxes, including fuel duty, remain under review.

26th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help people who live in rural communities with the cost of domestic heating oil when alternative options for heating are limited as a result of lack of connection to the gas grid or there is a limited competitive market for domestic heating oil supply as a result of the remote location.

On 26 May 2022 the Chancellor announced £15 billion of additional support for households struggling with the cost of living, particularly targeted at those with the greatest need.

This includes a doubling of the Energy Bills Support Scheme, providing an additional £200 to households that will not be recovered through higher bills in future years. This support extends to heating oil consumers, as long as they are also domestic electricity customers.

The Government is also providing a £650 one-off cost of living payment to households on means-tested benefits. Pensioner households will be eligible for a £300 cost of living payment, and individuals receiving extra disability benefits will also receive a £150 disability cost of living payment. To support people who need additional help, the Government is providing an extra £500 million of local support, via the Household Support Fund, which will be extended from this October to March 2023.

This package builds on the £22 billion package of support announced previously, with government support for the cost of living now totalling over £37 billion this year. This does not include continued financial support which remains available for heating oil customers with energy bills, if eligible, through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment schemes.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to monitor the UK's electronic money institutions that are red flagged for money laundering risk; and what enforcement measures are being brought against those institutions through regulators and law enforcement agencies.

The government is taking a robust and proactive approach to reducing illicit finance risks in the electronic money (e-money) sector. E-money institutions are subject to regulation and supervision by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 and The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

In December 2020, the government published the UK’s third National Risk Assessment (NRA) of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, which found that e-money services are at medium risk of money laundering. The NRA also noted the appeal of UK e-money institutions to money launderers looking to move illicit funds in and out of Russia and Eastern Europe.

Further UK law enforcement and the Financial Conduct Authority assessments of the money laundering risks in the e-money sector have observed that while vulnerabilities remain, -money institutions generally have well-developed live transaction monitoring and document verification processes.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is already taking steps to ensure firms operating in the sector have robust anti-financial crime controls, and has a number of powers at its disposal – including to request information, inspect a firm’s premises and, where necessary, to withdraw a firm’s registration – that can be used to ensure firms’ systems and controls are effective.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he (a) plans to cancel Ukraine's outstanding debts owed to the UK and (b) has had discussions with G7 finance ministers on a coordinated response to cancel Ukraine's debt obligations.

The Chancellor continues to engage with G7 partners and International Financial Institutions on progressing current and future support to Ukraine. This includes a G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting held on 1 March with the Ukrainian Finance Minister.

Alongside our allies, we’ve hit Russia with the most severe package of sanctions it has ever seen and our economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine now totals around £400 million. This includes USD$100 million of funding to Ukraine through the World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund and that we stand ready to provide USD$500 million in loan guarantees to support Multilateral Development Bank lending. This support has also enabled a package to be agreed on 8 March of over $700m for direct fiscal support to Ukraine via the World Bank, to help mitigate direct economic impacts.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to extend the Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme to (a) Ynys Môn constituency and (b) other rural parts of Wales.

The Rural Fuel Duty Relief gives support to motorists by compensating fuel retailers in some rural areas with road fuel prices higher than the UK average.

In recognition of high prices at the pump and the fact that fuel represents a major cost for households and businesses, the Chancellor announced at the Autumn Budget 2021 that fuel duty would remain frozen for a twelfth consecutive year. This benefits consumers across the UK, and represents savings worth almost £8 billion over the next five years.

All taxes, including fuel duty, remain under review.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing fuel duty to help (a) consumers and (b) hauliers in response to the energy crisis.

In recognition of high prices at the pump and the fact that fuel represents a major cost for households and businesses, including the haulage sector, the Chancellor announced at the Autumn Budget 2021 that fuel duty would remain frozen for a twelfth consecutive year.

A freeze already represents a cut in real terms, providing savings for consumers worth almost £8 billion over the next five years.

All taxes, including fuel duty, remain under review.

7th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will remove VAT from defibrillators in order to make it more affordable for communities to purchase that equipment.

The Government already maintains VAT reliefs to aid the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), including VAT relief on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions, where the AED is donated to eligible charities or the NHS. Otherwise, they attract the standard rate of VAT.

Introducing any new VAT reliefs would come at a cost to the Exchequer and the Government has received over £50 billion worth of requests for relief from VAT since the EU referendum.

However, the Government keeps all taxes under constant review.
Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to recover funds that have been lost to fraud related to covid-19 support schemes.

The Government has consistently stated that fraud is totally unacceptable, and we are taking action on multiple fronts to recover money lost to error and fraud and, where necessary, take legal action on those who have sought to exploit the COVID-19 support schemes.

It was right to establish the schemes quickly and in a way that they could be accessed easily by the millions who needed support. Given the unprecedented efforts that the Government has made to protect jobs and livelihoods during this pandemic, it would have been impossible to prevent all related fraud.

In designing the COVID-19 support schemes the Government followed the leading practice of the International Public Sector Fraud Forum on dealing with fraud in an emergency context. The dedicated Government Counter Fraud Function and Centre of Expertise re-prioritised its work to focus on COVID financial support schemes. It provided fraud risk assessment support, offered expert counter fraud advice and created data driven tools to Government Departments to help prevent, detect and recover fraud. The Fraud Function continues to offer post-event assurance support to Government Departments to find and fight fraud.

Robust measures were put in place to control error and fraud in COVID-19 support schemes from their inception. For instance, to minimise the risk of fraud and error and unverified claims, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme were designed around existing data held on HMRC’s systems.

To further bolster anti-fraud measures on HMRC-delivered COVID-19 support schemes, at the Spring Budget last year, the Government invested more than £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce of more than 1,200 HMRC staff to combat COVID-19-related fraud. This Taskforce is expected to recover between £800 million and £1 billion from fraudulent or incorrect payments during 2021-22 and 2022-23. In addition, HMRC has so far stopped or recovered £743 million of overclaimed grants in 2020/21.

In respect of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Government continues to work closely with the British Business Bank, lenders and enforcement agencies to tackle fraud and to recover as many fraudulent loans as possible. This is on top of the £2.2 billion worth of fraudulent applications that were prevented by upfront checks.

As part of the Spring Budget last year, we announced plans to significantly strengthen enforcement activity against fraudulent Bounce Back Loans, including new powers for the Insolvency Service to tackle rogue directors and investing in the National Investigation Service to investigate serious fraud.

For local authority-administered business grants, local authorities are responsible for ensuring the safe administration of grants and that appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate against the increased risks of both fraud and payment error. Guidance for the grant schemes requires that local authorities have assurance plans in place which set out the steps they would take to minimise fraud. Government has mandated pre-payment checks (company and bank account searches) as well as post-event assurance, and a Fraud Risk Assessment.

Where grants have been paid in error, non-compliantly or to a fraudster, local authorities must seek to recover these funds and return them to BEIS. If local authorities have been unable to reclaim the grant, the case may be referred to BEIS under the Debt Recovery Policy to establish the next steps.

2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the VAT rate of 12.5 per cent for the hospitality industry until the end of 2022.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July 2020 to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and protect over 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors. As announced at Spring Budget 2021, the Government extended the 5 per cent temporary reduced rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors until the end of September 2021. On 1 October 2021, a new reduced rate of 12.5 per cent was introduced for these goods and services to help ease affected businesses back to the standard rate. This new rate will end on 31 March 2022.

This relief has cost over £8 billion and, whilst all taxes are kept under review, there are no plans to extend the 12.5 per cent reduced rate of VAT. The Government has been clear that this relief is a temporary measure designed to support the sectors that have been severely affected by COVID-19. It is appropriate that as restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in these sectors increases, the temporary tax reliefs are first reduced, and then removed, in order to rebuild and strengthen the public finances.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to reduce VAT on community defibrillators and the cabinets in which they are housed to match the VAT free status of the pads and batteries.

The Government already maintains VAT reliefs to aid the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), including VAT relief on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions, where the AED is donated to eligible charities or the NHS. Otherwise, they attract the standard rate of VAT.

Any new VAT relief would come at a cost to the Exchequer and the Government has received over £50 billion worth of requests for relief from VAT since the EU referendum.

The Government however keeps all taxes under constant review.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) financial and (b) tax incentives he has put in place to enable the conversion of the 23 per cent of homes in Ynys Môn constituency which are heated by oil to the renewable liquid fuel HVO.

Biofuels such as liquid fuel hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) may play a role in future off-gas-grid decarbonisation. However, further evidence is needed to consider the extent of this. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will publish a new Biomass Strategy in 2022, which will review the amount of sustainable biomass the UK will have access to, including liquid biofuels, and how this could be best used across the economy to achieve our net zero target.

As part of the Net Zero Strategy, the Government announced the new £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme to support the uptake of heat pumps

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any changes are made in the round at fiscal events.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to introduce a small wine producers duty relief for small vineyards in the UK similar to the small brewers relief.

The Government is considering the merits of extending small producer reliefs to other categories as part of its alcohol duty review. Further updates will be provided in our response to the alcohol duty review call for evidence in due course.

9th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until April 2022 for the travel industry; and what additional steps he is taking to provide ongoing support to the travel industry.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was designed as a temporary, economy-wide measure to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. Closing the scheme at the end of September is designed to strike the right balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring that incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.  This approach has worked; the OBR have estimated that without the short-term fiscal easing announced in the Budget, and in particular the CJRS extension, unemployment would have been about 300,000 higher in the fourth quarter of this year than the 2.2 million in the central forecast.

The Government recognises the particular challenges that the travel industry has faced as a result of COVID-19. In England travel agents have recently benefited from Restart Grants worth up to £6,000, and can continue to benefit from the £2 billion of discretionary grant funding that has been made available to local authorities in England through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). Furthermore, the travel sector is being supported with over £12 billion that has been made available through loan guarantees and support for exporters. In addition, airports continue to benefit from the renewed Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme announced at Budget.

The Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) report sets out a clear framework for the Government’s objective of establishing a safe and sustainable return to international travel, which is key to enabling the sector’s recovery. It has been created following extensive engagement with the international travel and tourism industries, and changes following the recent checkpoint review of the GTT are a vital step in enabling the recovery of travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry.

The Government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is prepared to adapt support if the path of the virus changes. It continues to engage closely with sectors across the economy, including the travel industry, in order to understand their recovery horizons as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions ease.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to introduce a Regulated Asset Based Model for large-scale green infrastructure projects.

In July 2019, the Government published a consultation on the viability of a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model for financing new nuclear projects. The responses to this consultation were published in December 2020 alongside the Energy White Paper. At this time, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated that the RAB could help secure private investment in nuclear projects and cost consumers less in the long run. The Government is in negotiations with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project and is continuing to explore a range of financing options, including the RAB model and the potential role of government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.

Furthermore, in August 2020, the Government published a response to the June 2019 consultation on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS) business models. CCUS is expected to decarbonise heavy industrial process and gas-fired power stations by capturing carbon dioxide emissions and transporting it via a network of pipelines to underwater stores. Government concluded that a RAB model would likely be the most effective way to provide value for money for taxpayers whilst also providing investors with confidence over the reliability and sustainability of a revenue stream. Government published further updates to the model in February, May and August 2021.

19th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason nuclear energy projects are excluded from the new green savings bonds; and how his Department plans to attract private investment to support point 3 of the 10 point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

The government recognises that reaching net zero emissions by 2050 will require power to be generated from low carbon sources. As set out in the Government’s Energy White Paper last autumn, nuclear power will play an important role in achieving net zero.

Some energy sources have been excluded from the UK Government Green Financing Framework, including nuclear energy. This is in line with current international market standards for sovereign green bonds, it does not represent an assessment of what the Government considers ‘green’ or affect an expenditure’s eligibility for traditional financing instruments. We will review the framework on a regular basis with the aim of adhering to best practices in the market.

In December, the Government published responses to the consultation on the proposed regulated asset base (RAB) funding model for nuclear projects, which involves an economic regulator granting a licence to a company to charge a regulated price to users of the infrastructure. The funding model could help secure private investment and cost consumers less in the long run. The Government is continuing to explore a range of financing options, including the RAB model and the potential role of government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will (a) take steps to ensure parity of funding for Freeports for England and Wales and (b) allocate £25 million for a Freeport in Wales to match the funding allocated to each of the eight Freeports in England.

Freeports will regenerate communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country. The UK Government remains committed to establishing at least one Freeport in Wales and I’d welcome the support of the Welsh Government to ensure Freeports are introduced in Wales as soon as possible.

The Welsh Government is due to receive Barnett in the usual way and it should be for the Welsh Government to decide how much seed funding to provide to a Freeport in Wales. It is also important to recognise that the seed funding is only one part of the offer available to ports and businesses. There are a variety of benefits from Freeports, including on tax, customs, planning and innovation, many of these which will be delivered by the UK Government.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
19th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of designating Anglesey a Freeport on the ability to (a) resolve the issue of reduced trade flows in the central corridor and (b) use the central corridor to facilitate the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Freeports will be national hubs for international trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.

We want to ensure that the whole of the UK can benefit, which is why we remain committed to establishing a Freeport in Wales as soon as possible.

Any Freeport in Wales will be allocated by a fair and open process. The government will not be analysing the merits of any specific locations in advance of that.

We have reiterated our commitment to ensure Freeports policy upholds our obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support he plans to make available to people who are carers for a disabled partner and who have been denied access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by their employers.

The Government recognises and values the vital contribution made by carers in supporting some of the most vulnerable in society.

Carers who are not put on furlough by their employer could be eligible for a number of benefits. Unpaid carers may be able to apply for Carer’s Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions, such as providing 35 hours of care a week. In order to ensure that carers already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance do not inadvertently stop receiving it because of changes to patterns of care during COVID-19, the Government has allowed emotional support to count towards the 35 hours of care being provided by the carer. The Government has also relaxed the rules on breaks in care. These measures recognise that carers need extra flexibility in the way they provide care during the current emergency.

The Government continues to protect the value of benefits paid to carers while also spending record amounts in real terms. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning about an additional £700 a year for carers. Between 2020/21 and 2025/26, real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (about £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4 billion a year on Carer’s Allowance.

Furthermore, Carer’s Allowance is not the only benefit available to carers. Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits depending on their individual circumstances. Many of these benefits have additional elements to recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring. For example, Universal Credit includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period.

Carers will also benefit from the Government’s wider changes to the welfare system to support individuals during the pandemic, worth £7.4bn in 2020/21 according to Office for Budget Responsibility estimates. This includes carers on Universal Credit who will benefit from the temporary increase to the standard allowance by £20 per week.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending (a) the reduction of VAT to 5 per cent for hospitality businesses beyond March 2021 and (b) business rates relief for financial year 2021-22 for hospitality businesses.

The temporary VAT reduced rate came into effect on 15 July 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 12 January 2021.

In order to continue supporting the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs, the Government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (five per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors until 31 March 2021.

The Government has also provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth over £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any future decisions will be made at Budget.

15th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of adding audiobooks to the list of zero-rated electronic publications.

The extension of the zero rate of VAT has been introduced to provide consistency in approach between certain physical and digital publications to support reading and literacy in all its forms. Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital format.

In UK law, a book is deemed to be something that is read or looked at; this definition does not include audio content in either digital or physical form.

There are no current plans to extend the VAT zero rate to audiobooks. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT.

6th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to expediate the processing of passport applications.

Since April 2021, people have been advised to allow up to ten weeks to get their passport. Across March, April, and May 2022, 98.5% of applications from the UK were completed within this published processing time of up to ten weeks.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office has added 850 staff since April 2021. This has helped to ensure that more passport applications are being processed than ever before, with the processing of approximately three million applications being completed between March and May.

Processing capacity will increase further, with an additional 350 staff arriving within the summer.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to speed up the processing of passport renewals and applications; and what assessment she has made of the potential merits of setting a target for the time taken to process an application once it arrives at the Passport Office.

Due to COVID-19, over 5 million people delayed applying for a British passport throughout 2020 and 2021.

As unrestricted international travel has returned, HM Passport Office has prepared extensively to serve an unprecedented number of customers, with 9.5 million British passport applications forecasted throughout 2022. This is up from the pre-pandemic average of seven million. Alongside technical solutions, such as the latest application system which means more passport applications are securely processed with fewer manual interventions, staffing numbers have been increased by more than 500 since last April. Plans are also in place to increase staffing numbers by a further 700.

These preparations have ensured passport applications can be processed in higher numbers than ever before. This was demonstrated in March 2022 when HM Passport Office achieved a record monthly high by completing the processing of over one million applications.

In April 2021 guidance was changed to advise customers to allow up to ten weeks to get their passport. Latest figures show 98.6% of passports are processed in this timeframe.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of adding HGV drivers to the shortage occupation list.

As my previous answer from 26 November 2021 set out, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers are not an eligible occupation under the Skilled Worker route as they do not meet the required skill level and therefore cannot be placed on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). Being on the SOL does not exempt an occupation from the requirements, such as the skills threshold, of the Skilled Worker route. The Government intends to commission the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake another review of the SOL this year, during which time, the logistics sector will be able to provide evidence for consideration by the MAC.

The Department for Transport are leading measures to address shortages, including ramping up testing capacity, alongside encouraging employers to tackle longstanding issues in the sector through more investment in skills and training, along with better pay and working conditions (including facilities). These measures are a more effective solution to issues facing the sector, rather than immigration, especially given the current global shortage of drivers.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of (a) increasing safe routes to the UK for refugees and (b) removing differential treatment, offshore detention, and criminalisation of refugees; and what steps she is taking to ensure that the age assessment process for unaccompanied children seeking asylum retains safeguards and is based on best practice.

The Government is delivering comprehensive reform of the asylum system through the New Plan for Immigration, an essential element of which is the Nationality and Borders Bill.

The plan gives the Government the flexibility to respond at pace to conflict and humanitarian crises around the world, by establishing safe and legal routes to the UK.

Most recently, this Government has made its support for Ukrainians fleeing in fear of their lives clear, introducing two new schemes: the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Further details can be found at: Home Secretary statement on humanitarian support for Ukrainians - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We must, at the same time, take steps to disincentivise people from using unsafe, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK. The ability to differentiate entitlements between those refugees who came directly to the UK, claimed asylum without delay and where applicable, showed good cause for their illegal entry or presence, and those who did not, is a key part of this deterrence. So too, is overseas asylum processing. To be clear, this is not offshore detention and we would not transfer anyone overseas for their claim to be processed where to do so would breach the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or ECHR.

We must also tackle the criminal gangs who facilitate illegal migration and ensure we have a robust criminal justice response to those who break our laws. We are therefore strengthening the law, to introduce life sentences for people smugglers and stronger penalties for those who come here illegally. It should however be noted that prosecutors will always consider whether it is in the public interest to initiate a prosecution and that they may wait to see if someone is recognised as a refugee before making that decision.

The introduction of the National Age Assessment Board offers the potential for significant improvements to our processes for assessing age. It will create greater consistency in age assessment practices, improve quality and ensure that ages are correctly recorded for immigration purposes. It will help reduce the resource burden on local authorities. And it will help better protect against adults being treated as children – ensuring vulnerable children can swiftly access the support they need.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce bureaucracy for refugees fleeing from the war in the Ukraine.

The Home Office is continually making efforts to simplify the application process for Ukrainian refugees and keeps this under regular review


As part of the Home Office’s commitment to make it easier for applicants to apply to our schemes, since 15 March Ukrainians with valid passports no longer need to go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to give their biometrics before they come to the UK.

Ukrainians without valid passports are required to attend a VAC and provide their biometric information, this includes collecting their visa once their case is concluded.

If customers do not have a valid passport, UKVI staff will work with individuals and Border Force to facilitate their entry to the UK.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the (a) potential merits of including (i) butchers, (ii) poultry technicians and (iii) other food production workers on the shortage occupation list to ensure food supplies are maintained, (b) potential merits of introducing a temporary suspension or moratorium on the restriction of freedom of movement for food production workers and (c) applicability of the points based immigration system to food production workers; and what assessment she has made of the potential merits of expanding the seasonal worker scheme to include migrant labour in food production to support the meat processing industry.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found some roles in the food production, supply and agricultural sectors, such as Butchers, meet the RQF3 skills threshold for the Skilled Worker route so are eligible to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa, whereas others do not. The threshold was previously set at degree-level jobs. Modelling by the MAC suggests the new, broader skills threshold of RQF3 (A-level or equivalent) strikes a reasonable balance between controlling immigration and providing business access to skills on as global basis.

The Government believes it is important to monitor the impact of the new Skilled Worker route, as well as how the economy recovers post-Covid 19, before making any wide-scale changes. Jobs do not need to be on the Shortage Occupation List to recruited via the Skilled Worker route, but the relevant skill and salary thresholds must be met to qualify.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot will continue to operate specifically in the edible horticulture sector, to help farmers growing UK fruit and vegetables and ensure our nation’s food security.

We will continue to monitor the labour needs of other sectors, however, specific work visas should not be seen as the only option for additional recruitment as immigration must be considered alongside our policies for the UK Labour market, not as an alternative to them.

Therefore business with recruitment issues should, in the first instance, engage with the Department for Work and Pensions about the support they can offer in recruiting from the existing UK labour market, which includes those who come to the UK through our Youth Mobility Schemes (which we are looking to expand), our new British National (Overseas) visa for those from Hong Kong, those who hold status under the Eu Settlement Scheme, dependants of those arriving under the expanded skilled worker route, and those who arrive through other routes, such as our family and humanitarian protection ones, who all have access to the UK labour market.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department is taking steps to facilitate the introduction of a digital app for use by those approved under the EU Settlement Scheme to demonstrate their approved status.

We continue to welcome feedback on how we can improve our services.

Home Office officials are planning to meet with the 3million group to discuss the feasibility of their suggested approach of using a digital app for this purpose.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to (a) raise awareness of the application process and deadline for the EU Settled Status Scheme for (i) children, (ii) looked after children, (iii) people over 65 and (iv) vulnerable people and (b) ensure that people who apply before 30 June 2021 but who have not received a decision by that date will not lose their rights immediately.

The Home Office remains committed to ensuring those who are eligible can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), including those who are vulnerable, need extra support or are harder to reach.

£22 million of funding, through to 30 September 2021, has been awarded to a network of 72 charities and local authorities across the UK, to ensure important information and assistance gets through to those who are hardest to reach, and no one is left behind. These organisations have helped more than 310,000 vulnerable people to apply to the EUSS already.

Local authorities have relevant statutory duties where looked after children are concerned and we have been working closely with them since 2018 to help ensure these duties are fulfilled in relation to making or supporting applications to the EUSS, with additional funding provided following a new burdens assessment. A child-friendly EUSS leaflet has been shared with our extensive network of stakeholders who support children, including local authorities, children’s charities and the education sector.

Communications to support the EUSS have been live since 2019, with almost £8 million spent on marketing ahead of the 30 June 2021 deadline to reach EEA and Swiss citizens in all UK regions and nations. This activity, which also includes toolkits, assets and information translated into 26 EEA languages, including Welsh, has helped to drive over 5.6 million applications to the scheme to 31 May 2021.

Under the Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, those who apply before the 30 June 2021 deadline, but whose application is not decided until after it, will have their existing EU law rights protected pending the outcome of their application, including any appeal. Also in line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, those with reasonable grounds for missing the deadline will be able to make a late application, with non-exhaustive guidance published on 1 April 2021 to underpin a flexible and pragmatic approach to dealing with late applications.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Danish workers have been turned back from the UK's borders since 1 January 2021; and what steps she is taking to enforce the work permit and cross border rules that apply to Danish citizens working in the UK, particularly those in the offshore and the wind farm sector.

EU Nationals who do not have status under the EUSS and are not eligible to apply for it, can enter the UK for up to six months as visitors, visa free. However, now freedom of movement has ended, those coming to work or study must prove they meet our entry requirements.

In addition to the immigration rules, any travel to the UK at this time must be in line with the Border Health Requirements relating to the global pandemic set by the UK Government and the three devolved administrations. We urge people to check these requirements carefully before travelling, as entry to the UK may also be denied by Border Force on the basis of failure to comply with these regulations.

Border Force treat all arrivals with respect and consider each passengers situation on an individual basis to check everyone entering the UK has the right to do so.

We have issued instructions to our officers to reinforce the principle; in all cases there exists a presumption in favour of bail.

The Home Office published data on how many people are detained or returned on gov.uk. the latest publication can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-december-2020/how-many-people-are-detained-or-returned

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits to the economy of increasing the number of graduate entrepreneurs by amending legislation to (a) encourage and (b) allow international students to be self-employed.

The UK welcomes international students and recognises the valuable contribution they make to the UK economy. Students can switch into the Graduate or Start-up routes once they have completed their studies; self-employment is permitted under each of these routes.

The Graduate route, which launches on 1 July, enables students who successfully complete an eligible qualification to stay and work or look for work for two years (three for PhD students), including self-employment.

Those on the Graduate route who establish an innovative, viable and scalable business will be able to switch into the Innovator route subject to securing the required endorsement from a relevant endorsing body.

Students can also switch into the Start-up route. The Start-up route is reserved for early-stage, high-potential entrepreneurs starting an innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK for the first time.

The restrictions on employment whilst studying on the Student route are designed to ensure their primary purpose for being in the UK is to study as indicated, rather than to work.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to educate young people on the illegality of carrying knives without reasonable cause.

It is vitally important that we prevent young people from being drawn into violent crime and carry knives in the first place. Raising awareness of the risks and consequences of carrying a knife is an important part of the Government’s approach to knife crime prevention. And there are many sources of funding we have put in place to ensure this education exists for young people:

The Government has invested over £200 million specifically in early intervention and prevention initiatives to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence. The Youth Endowment Fund and their National Centre of Excellence are sharing knowledge and expertise with those working with vulnerable children and young people at risk of involvement in serious youth violence.

This funding is in addition to the £22 million Early Intervention Youth Fund which ran from 2018 – 2020 that directly funded awareness raising and education programmes, diversionary activities, tailored interventions, and programmes which aimed to cease offending or reoffending.

Locally we have set up Violence Reduction Units in 18 of the highest violence hotspots whose job it is to bring together police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners to identify the drivers of serious violence, to help them to implement a long term, multi-agency, preventative approach, to stop violence from happening in the first place. We know that a number of these Units are funding education/awareness programmes.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to support male victims of domestic abuse.

The Home Office is undertaking ambitious work to support all victims of Domestic Abuse, including male victims.

Since 2017/18 the Home Office has provided funding of £160,000 per year to the Men’s Advice Line run by Respect which supports and advises male victims of domestic abuse. Additional funding of £151,000 was provided to further bolster the helpline earlier this year from the funding announced by the Home Secretary on April 11 in response to COVID-19 pressures.

In March 2019 the Home Office published the Male Victims Position Statement which sets out 12 specific commitments to better enable male victims and survivors to come forward and receive necessary support, and to tackle offenders. A copy of the statement can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-unveils-commitments-to-tackle-abuse-against-men

More widely the Government announced £76 million for charities supporting victims of domestic and sexual abuse, amongst others.

Specific advice has been published on gov.uk for domestic abuse victims during COVID-19 directing them to a range of specialist organisations including those supporting male victims. The information also makes clear that stay at home orders do not apply where any victim needs to leave home to seek help if they are in danger of domestic abuse.

In April the Home Secretary launched a domestic abuse campaign, #YouAreNotAlone, to raise general awareness of domestic abuse during COVID-19 and signpost the support and advice available.

Our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will help all victims to have the confidence to report their experiences, knowing they will be properly supported, and perpetrators brought to justice.

In the meantime, we are continuing to work closely with domestic abuse organisations, including male victim organisations, to assess ongoing trends and needs and to help support them through the period of new measures, building on the progress to date.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that policing strategy is up to date and effective at tackling crime that takes place digitally.

Tackling digital crime is a cross government agenda in which the Home Office and its agencies has a key role to play.

The National Digital Policing Strategy 2020-2030: Digital, Data and Technology Strategy was partly developed in response to the pace of digital change and was launched at the Police ICT Summit 2020. The strategy was developed by the Police ICT Company and the National Police Technology Council in collaboration with the Home Office.

Under this strategy, the Home Office is committed to ensuring new capabilities are available to the police to tackle crime in an evolving digital landscape, to cooperate more efficiently and to support their contributions to the effectiveness and efficiency of the CJS. We are clear that technology will make it easier for the public to report a crime and enable the police to make better use of digital evidence as part of their investigations.

The Strategic Change and Investment Board (SCIB), is chaired by the Policing Minister and forms part of the sub-governance of the National Policing Board (NPB). The SCIB oversees investment across the policing system to meet Government priorities. This includes investment in digital technology to drive convergence of police forces towards delivery of the policing digital strategy.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has plans to move additional Red Arrows depth work to RAF Valley on Ynys Môn.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 19 April 2021 in response to Question 180656.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has to move any of the operations from RAF Valley on Anglesey to RAF Leeming.

There are no plans to move any flying operations from RAF Valley to RAF Leeming. RAF Valley will remain the home of UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) Hawk T2, Texan T1 and Jupiter fleets.

We have announced that the Qatar Emiri Air Force will base their new Hawk Mk167 aircraft at RAF Leeming and these will be jointly manned by RAF personnel. We have also announced Hawk T1 with 100 Squadron will drawdown at RAF Leeming later in the decade.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he has taken to make efficiencies in the Hawk UK programme (a) in the UK and (b) on Anglesey.

It was announced in the Defence Command Paper that Hawk T1 aircraft would be retired from combat support roles reflecting improvements in synthetic training capabilities.

Work continues on the optimum drawdown profile and transition to new operational training capabilities. It is therefore too early to determine what efficiencies might be implemented for the Hawk fleet in the UK as a whole or on Anglesey.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, what estimate he has made of the cost of the additional nuclear warheads.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion and Glasgow South on 13 April 2021 to Questions 174806 and 175921.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to increase the allocation of Red Arrows depth work to RAF Valley to mitigate the effect of any T1 Black Fleet reductions; and what effect that increase in allocation will have on employment levels in Ynys Môn.

The Ministry of Defence is committed to RAF Valley which delivers world leading aircrew fast jet training, and the advanced Hawk T2 aircraft, used for lead-in fighter training, together with Texan T1 aircraft in the basic fast jest training role will continue to be operated, maintained and upgraded at the station, thereby sustaining high quality engineering employment on Ynys Môn.

The retirement of Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawk T1 aircraft from combat support roles was announced in the recent Defence Command Paper but the out of service date is yet to be determined, as are any potential implications of the withdrawal of these aircraft on employment on Ynys Môn. No decision has yet been taken on the location of the future maintenance for the RAF Aerobatic Team (Red Arrows), within the framework of the Future Hawk Support Contract.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has plans to offer non-religious pastoral care to members of the Armed Forces.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) takes all aspects of the health and wellbeing of its personnel very seriously; we are working to create and sustain an environment where people feel able to be authentic in the workplace; where people feel respected and able to achieve their full potential.

All military Chaplains have long provided pastoral care to those of all faiths and none. Assurance work in this area consistently indicates that Service personnel have a high degree of satisfaction with this pastoral care – which is always non-invasive, professionally qualified and non-partisan. In addition, all Service personnel can access pastoral care from a variety of sources, including from within their Chain of Command, through the Services’ professional social workers, medical staff, welfare staff and via the various staff networks.

In Defence we encourage and support a number of faith and belief staff networks to support and connect people with each other and help to create a better working environment for our staff. They also play an important role connecting Defence to local faith and belief communities, who often have a strong interest in our work. The Defence Humanist Network (DHN) is a thriving community, led by a strong champion, promoting Humanism consistently within Defence.

The DHN is committed to giving personnel with humanist beliefs the option to talk to someone with a similar view on life, should they need pastoral support. The DHN, working together with the MOD’s Diversity and Inclusion team, have an active ongoing project which seeks to address the delivery of pastoral care to Defence personnel.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to his Department's News story of 17 July 2020 entitled £200-million announced for vital improvements to troops' accommodation, if he will allocate a portion of that funding to RAF Valley to support personnel visiting for short training stints thereby making sourcing accommodation challenging.

The funding allocated to the Royal Air Force as part of this announcement will be prioritised to improve existing accommodation across its estate. No current requirement has been identified for additional accommodation to support visiting personnel at RAF Valley.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to update planning laws to support an increase in the contribution of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to the energy security of the UK.

National planning policy is clear local authorities should support transition to a low-carbon future, including having a positive strategy in place to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources.

As set out in Net Zero Strategy, we intend to review the National Planning Policy Framework to make sure it contributes to climate change mitigation as fully as possible, and help bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Stuart Andrew
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether he plans to take steps to protect Grade 1 land from housing and solar developments to preserve land for the production of food; and what discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on that matter.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that planning policies and decisions should recognise the benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land and that where significant development is demonstrated to be necessary, areas of poorer quality land should be preferred to those of higher quality. This requirement would apply to both housing and solar developments. The Framework is also clear that local authorities should encourage efficient use of land and acknowledges the importance of undeveloped land for food production.

In the case of solar, guidance sets an expectation that large-scale solar farms are sites on previously developed and non-agricultural land, provided it is not of high environmental value. Where projects are proposed on greenfield sites, our guidance seeks to minimise the impacts and requires developers to justify the use of any such land. Our guidance also requires that projects are designed to avoid, mitigate and, where necessary, compensate for impacts on the best and most versatile agricultural land.

These aspects of planning policy are devolved in Wales.

Stuart Andrew
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to help ensure that affected homeowners are not charged unaffordable remedial costs for historic fire safety defects.

Building owners and developers should make buildings safe to live in and it should not fall to leaseholders to pay the price when they have failed to do so. The Government is focused on protecting leaseholders, who bought their flats in good faith, and now face unaffordable costs.

The Government is investing an unprecedented £5.1 billion to fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and over in England. This will make homes safer and support those who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to sell their property. Fire risk is lower in buildings under 18 metres and costly remediation work is usually not needed.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to protect hedgehogs by ensuring that new housing developments include hedgehog highways, a hole at the bottom of a fence that allows hedgehogs to move freely between gardens.

The Government welcomes any action by individual developers who wish to provide hedgehog highways. The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that planning policies and decisions should minimise the impacts on biodiversity and provide net gains. Moreover, our Planning Practice Guidance was updated in 2019 to highlight that relatively small features can often achieve important benefits for wildlife, including providing safe routes for hedgehogs between different areas of habitat

14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to make housing more affordable for young people.

We are building the homes our country needs and helping a new generation to own their own home – and making sure young people are not priced out of their area.

We are investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over 5 years, the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade. This includes our new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme which will leverage up to £38 billion of private finance and deliver up to 180,000 homes should economic conditions allow. Half of these homes will be for affordable home ownership, supporting aspiring homeowners to take their first step on to the housing ladder. This includes our new, fairer model for Shared Ownership and 1,500 First Homes for first-time buyers and key workers.

First Homes are homes which are sold to first-time buyers with a discount of at least 30 per cent from full market value, making both deposits and mortgage requirements cheaper and opening up the dream of home ownership to even more people. The discount will be funded by developers themselves as part of their contributions through planning obligations, without a direct cost to central Government or local authorities.

Crucially, the discount will be passed on to all future purchasers in perpetuity, so these homes will keep helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder for generations to come.

In future, 25 per cent of all affordable homes delivered by developers as part of their obligatory contributions will be First Homes. This new First Homes Requirement means that there will be a steady and sustained supply of these homes, helping first-time buyers across England.

This is in addition to our Help to Buy: Equity Loans, which have helped over 257,000 first-time buyers into homeownership since its launch in 2013 to 1 December 2020. The new Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme opened on 1 April 2021 and will run to March 2023. It is targeted at first-time buyers only and has regional property price caps based on average first time buyer property prices.

The mortgage guarantee scheme launched on 19 April 2021 and will be available until December 2022, enabling lenders to offer 95% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners, throughout the whole UK, on homes up to £600,000 in value. 95% mortgages supported through the scheme are open to all adults, including young adults.

For renters, in response to Covid-19 pressures, the Government has put in place an unprecedented support package to help renters and ensure they can continue to afford their housing costs, including retaining the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Universal Credit uplift until September.

In the long run we need to build more homes to tackle affordability. This is why we are bringing forward an ambitious near-£20 billion investment to underpin the Government’s long-term housing strategy. 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.

We are making good progress towards achieving our supply ambitions of delivering 1 million homes this Parliament and building 300,000 homes a year over the longer term. Last year, around 244,000 homes were delivered – the highest level for over 30 years and the seventh consecutive year that net supply has increased.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many bids local authorities in the second category can submit to the Levelling Up Fund (a) in the first tranche of bidding and (b) over the lifetime of the Fund.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

The Fund will be allocated competitively, and funding will be targeted towards places in England, Scotland and Wales with the most need, as measured by an index taking into account the following place characteristics: need for economic recovery and growth, need for improved transport connectivity, and need for regeneration.   The bandings do not represent eligibility criteria, nor the amount or number of bids a place can submit. Bids from categories 2 and 3 will still be considered for funding on their merits of deliverability, value for money and strategic fit, and could still be successful if they are of exceptionally high quality.

Further detail on how the Levelling Up Fund will operate from 2022-23 onwards will be set out later this year.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to £125,000 of capacity funding for Welsh local authorities in the Levelling Up Fund, how the Government plans to allocate that funding; what the timeframe is for allocating that funding; whether the Government plans to undertake an assessment of the effort made by each local authority in respect of the awarding of that funding; and whether the Government plans to award that funding in the event that a local authority does not make a bid.

The Levelling Up Fund will invest in local infrastructure that will have a visible impact on people and their communities.

For the first round of funding, capacity funding of £125,000 will be provided to the 93 local authorities in England that fall into category 1 on the index of priority places published alongside the prospectus; and all local authorities in Scotland and Wales to help build their relationship with UK Government for the purpose of the Fund.

8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to remove fees for child trust funds access that may unfairly disadvantage families with children with disabilities.

A parent (or a guardian) of a child with a disability can make decisions on their behalf, but only while the child is under 18. In order for the parents of adult children to make decisions on their behalf, including in relation to their financial affairs, they must be granted powers to do so, either by a Lasting Power of Attorney or by authorisation from the Court of Protection – the specialist court that deals with issues concerning a lack of capacity.

Fees are payable in respect of applications to the Court and applications to register Lasting Powers of Attorney. We recognise that these fees may be difficult for some people to afford.

Help with Lasting Power of Attorney registration fees, Court of Protection fees and deputy supervision fees is available, depending upon the financial circumstances of the person who lacks mental capacity, and in some cases a full fee exemption may be available.

27th Apr 2020
What steps his Department is taking to protect the public in response to the temporary release of prisoners during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 4 April, this Government announced its intention to temporarily release risk-assessed prisoners as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

Public protection is our top priority. No high-risk offenders will be considered for release, nor any prisoners who have not served at least half their custodial term. Likewise, no prisoner will be released if they have symptoms of coronavirus or without housing and health support being in place.

Prisoners who pass the stringent criteria for early release will be subject to strict conditions, and will be electronically monitored, including with GPS tags, with the option to recall to prison if necessary.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the (a) process of, (b) timeframe for and (c) allocation of funding for the establishment of a freeport in Wales.

Freeports will regenerate communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.

I have regular discussions with the Welsh Government on a range of issues, including Freeports. The UK Government remains committed to establishing at least one Freeport in Wales. We wrote to the Welsh Government on 11 July and I would welcome the support of the Welsh Government to ensure Freeports are introduced in Wales as soon as possible.

The Welsh Government is due to receive Barnett in the usual way and it should be for the Welsh Government to decide how much seed funding to provide to a Freeport in Wales. Through the application of the Barnett formula at the 2020 Spending Review, the Welsh Government is receiving around £123 per head in 2021-22 for every £100 head spent by the UK Government on devolved matters in England. However, it is important to recognise that the seed funding is only one part of the offer available to ports and businesses. There are a variety of benefits from Freeports, including on tax, customs, planning and innovation, many of these which will be delivered by the UK Government.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what discussions he has had with representatives of the Welsh fishing industry on the effect on that sector of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

I have regular discussions with stakeholders, including those from the seafood sector on maximising opportunities from the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK has secured tariff-free access for fisheries products and a substantial transfer of quota from the EU benefitting fishing communities across the UK including those in Wales. The transfer is equivalent to 25% of the value of the EU’s historic catch in UK waters worth £146 million delivered over 5 years. All fisheries administrations will have regulatory control, giving the Welsh Government powers over part of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) adjacent to Wales.

14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of a freeport on Anglesey on (a) jobs and (b) employment opportunities (i) on Anglesey and (ii) in North Wales.

Freeports will increase trade, create employment and attract investment. We want to ensure that the whole of the UK can benefit, and remain committed to establishing at least one Freeport in Wales as soon as possible.

4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, how traffic flows through (a) Holyhead Port and (b) the land bridge route for hauliers have developed since 1 January 2021; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the effect of direct ferry links from the Republic of Ireland to Europe on the Welsh economy.

There has been a steady, continual increase in the roll-on roll-off freight flow through the port of Holyhead since the start of the year. Freight flows have increased each week since the start of the year and data for the last week in February showed there was almost double the number of HGVs travelling via Holyhead compared to the first week of January. However, freight volumes at Holyhead remain below 2020 levels.

I am having regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues about traffic levels at the Welsh ports and the effects of increased direct ferry links between Ireland and continental Europe on the land bridge route. The Government is confident in the prospects for Welsh ports over the medium to long-term. We are clear that the land bridge continues to be the most advantageous route for hauliers travelling between Ireland and much of mainland Europe in terms of costs and time. We are continuing to work with hauliers in the UK and the EU to ensure they fully understand the new systems and processes following the end of the Transition Period.

22nd Apr 2020
What steps the Government has taken to repatriate Welsh citizens stranded abroad as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is fully committed to helping stranded British nationals return home. Through our work with airlines and with foreign governments, we estimate over 1.3 million British nationals have returned to the UK via commercial routes and we have brought back more than 13,000 people on 63 chartered flights.

I am in regular contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Welsh Government on this vital work.

David T C Davies
Lord Commissioner (HM Treasury) (Whip) (Jointly as unpaid Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Wales Office)