• 249884 - Community Land Trusts: Capital Gains Tax (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to grant full Capital Gains Tax relief for land sales to a Community Land Trust for affordable homes.Mel StrideThe Government is committed to improving the supply of affordable homes. Since 2010, we have increased housing supply by over 1.3 million homes, including 407,000 affordable homes. We do not currently have plans to grant full Capital Gains Tax relief for land sales to a Community Land Trust. The Government considers that the extent to which a Capital Gains Tax relief for land sales to a Community Land Trust would incentivise such behaviour is uncertain. Tax reliefs have an Exchequer cost, and in contemplating such a relief the Government must consider the potential deadweight cost of any benefit going to people who would have sold the land to a Community Land Trust anyway.
  • 249886 - Community Land Trusts (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to support Community Land Trusts in making homes more affordable.Kit MalthouseThe Government supports the community-led housebuilding sector – of which community land trusts are an important part – through the annual £60 million Community Housing Fund. The Fund is delivered outside London by Homes England and within London by the Greater London Authority. Capital and revenue grants are available to community-based groups wishing to take forward schemes to build locally affordable housing. Through the Fund, the Government is also supporting a consortium of the major stakeholder groups (including the National Community Land Trust Network) to develop a network of technical advisors to support community-based groups though the process of developing their housebuilding schemes.The Community Housing Fund is currently scheduled to close in March 2020. Decisions on funding for 2020-21 onwards are a matter for the Spending Review, which will take place this year.
  • 237098 - Chemical Weapons (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what progress has been made in implementing an EU sanctions regime on the use of chemical weapons.Sir Alan Duncan​The UK played a key role in EU efforts to establish a new Chemical Weapons sanctions regime, which was adopted on 15 October 2018. This regime enables an asset freeze and travel ban to be imposed on those involved in the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, regardless of their nationality or location. On 21 January 2019, the EU added 9 individuals and 1 entity to the regime, which included those involved in the proliferation and use of chemical weapons in Syria, and members of the Main Intelligence Directorate responsible for the use of a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury in March 2018. This strong collective action sends a clear message that the use of these barbaric weapons will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
  • 237093 - Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the 2019 voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access affordability mechanism, whether his Department has conducted an impact assessment on the exemption of smaller companies from the rebate scheme.Caroline DinenageThe Department analysed the potential effects of the exemptions detailed in the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access. However, this analysis did not take the form of a published impact assessment, as that formal process is not required for the voluntary agreement. The exemption from payments for small companies (sales under £5 million) was also part of the previous voluntary scheme; the 2014 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme. As such, the Department was already familiar with the scope of the small company exemption in advance of agreement on the 2019 Voluntary Scheme. The Department believes that the continuation of exemptions for small companies and the new approach to medium sized companies (£5 million to £25 million) is appropriate as it supports the growth of the life sciences industry through small and medium sized companies.
  • 237095 - Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the 2019 voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access affordability mechanism, whether his Department has conducted an impact assessment on how the 36-month exemption of new medicines from contributing to the rebate scheme will effect the NHS's drug procurement Bill.Caroline DinenageThe Department analysed the potential effects of the exemptions detailed in the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access. However, this analysis did not take the form of a published impact assessment, as that formal process is not required for the voluntary agreement. In order to continue to support innovation and access to new medicines, the 2019 Voluntary Scheme includes a 36 month exemption from payments and freedom of pricing for new active substances (NAS). Under the previous 2014 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme that ended on 31 December 2018, NASs also had freedom of pricing and exemption from payments, but instead for the five year duration of that scheme. This means that under the 2019 Voluntary Scheme, payments will be received by the Department once that 36-month exemption has ended, sooner than under the previous Scheme, which will then be reinvested in the National Health Service.
  • 237096 - Organs: Donors (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to encourage organ donation.Jackie Doyle-PriceNHS Blood and Transplant is the organ and tissue donor organisation for the United Kingdom and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. NHS Blood and Transplant is currently implementing the UK-wide ‘Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020’ Strategy (2013), which aims to achieve world class performance in organ donation and transplantation. Objectives include to increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register to 30 million by 2020; to improve the consent/authorisation rate to 80% by 2020; and to portray donation as a positive step in the grieving process. While there is an urgent shortage of organs for transplant for people from all backgrounds the problem is particularly acute for black, Asian and minority ethnic patients, who are more likely to need an organ transplant. The Department launched a campaign in July 2018, delivered by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Minority Ethnic Transplant Alliance, to increase donation rates by raising awareness and breaking down barriers to donation within these communities. A toolkit is available at the following link: http://bit.ly/bameODtoolkit In addition, the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent Act) 2019 will be introducing a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England, from 2020, to help increase the number of donors. NHS Blood and Transplant will launch a 12-month communication campaign before the law comes into force, to raise awareness of the changes and the options available under the new system.
  • 237097 - Autism: Health Services (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve services for people with autism.Caroline DinenageThe Government is committed to improving services and support for autistic people. The Autism Act 2009 places a duty on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to publish a strategy for meeting the needs of autistic adults in England, and to review it periodically. England’s first Cross-Government Adult Autism Strategy, ‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives’, was published in 2010 and in April 2014 the Strategy was updated with the publication of ‘Think Autism’, supported by revised statutory guidance. On 5 December 2018, the Department announced that it was launching a comprehensive review of ‘Think Autism’. This is to ensure the Strategy remains fit for purpose. The Government wants an autism strategy that works for all autistic people, and that is why, working very closely with the Department for Education, we will be extending the strategy to include children. To inform our review of the autism strategy, on 14 March, we launched a national call for evidence on GOV.UK. We want to hear the views of autistic people, their families and carers, as well as those of professionals. We want to know what is working and where more need to be done to ensure that public services meet the needs of autistic people, their families and carers. Our refreshed cross-Government autism strategy, due to be published later this year, will help to deliver this.
  • 237101 - Christianity: Oppression (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps the Government is taking to help tackle the persecution of Christians overseas.Mark FieldThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to using our influence to defend Freedom of Religion or Belief as a universal human right which should be enjoyed by everyone. That is why the Prime Minister appointed Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon as her Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Lord Ahmad regularly raises this topic with international counterparts and through the Human Rights Council. In recent years we have seen reports of a particular rise in the persecution of Christians. The Foreign Secretary launched the independent review of FCO support for persecuted Christians on 30 January. The Review will be led by the Bishop of Truro, and will map levels of persecution and discrimination against Christians around the world, and provide robust recommendations on how the FCO can respond. A final report will be presented to the Foreign Secretary this summer.
  • 237102 - Defence: Employment (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to support defence industry jobs.Stuart AndrewI refer the hon Member to the Written Ministerial Statement (HCWS 1411) made by the Secretary of State for Defence on 14 March 2019 which provides an update on the Defence Prosperity Programme.
  • 233470 - Research: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent progress his Department has made on ensuring the UK meets its 2.4 per cent GDP target for R&D funding.Chris SkidmoreI refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow to Question 230812.
  • 233469 - Productivity: West Midlands (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to increase economic productivity in the West Midlands.Robert JenrickPeople across the West Midlands are benefitting from investment that the Government is making to support productivity, with 315,000 more people in employment in the West Midlands than in 2010 and close to 91,000 more businesses. For example, the Government has agreed devolution deals with the West Midlands that include investment of £1.095bn over 30 years for local priorities. At Budget 2018, the Government also announced an additional £71.5 million for the West Midlands Combined Authority from the Transforming Cities Fund, bringing the total figure for the region to £321.5 million. In addition, the West Midlands was announced in the last year as the UK’s first large-scale 5G testbed, with up to £50 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund, and three areas in the region successfully bid for a total of £19.8 million from the £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund. North Herefordshire is also benefiting from £75.3m funding for the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) from the Local Growth Fund to support economic activity in the area.
  • 233471 - Research: EU Grants and Loans (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure the continuity of funding for research projects with EU funding in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.Chris SkidmoreLeaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority. If ratified, the provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement will ensure continued UK participation in EU programmes under the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), including Horizon 2020. As a responsible government, we are planning for every eventuality to ensure cross-border collaboration in research and innovation can continue after EU exit in all scenarios. In August 2016, the government committed to underwrite all successful competitive UK bids to Horizon 2020 submitted before EU exit, even if they are notified of their success after exit. In July 2018, the government extended the guarantee to cover successful UK participants’ funding in all Horizon 2020 calls open to third country participants from the date of exit. The guarantee and extension would cover the lifetime of their projects, even if they last beyond 2020.
  • 233472 - Pupils: Visual Impairment (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that modified versions of GCSE and A Level exams are available for young people with a visual impairment; and what steps his Department takes to monitor that availability.Nick GibbThis is a matter for Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write directly to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply will be placed in the libraries of both Houses.
  • 233473 - Pupils: Visual Impairment (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that young people with vision impairment are provided with past papers and exams in their stated preferred format in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.Nick GibbThis is a matter for Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write directly to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply will be placed in the libraries of both Houses.
  • 233475 - Bus Services: Rural Areas (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to provide more live information to bus users in rural areas.Ms Nusrat GhaniThe Department will publish the Government’s response to the Bus Open Data public consultation on 26 March 2019. The consultation sought views on proposals to require bus operators, through regulations, to openly publish data on local bus services across England. To enable a platform for bus data to be published, the Department is currently building a Bus Open Data Digital Service. The digital service will enable bus operators to publish their data, which can subsequently be used by application developers to create journey planning products for bus passengers across England, including in rural areas.
  • 233474 - Electric Vehicles: Charging Points (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.Jesse NormanThe Government’s vision remains to have one of the best electric vehicle chargepoint networks in the world. Current grant funding schemes support chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces and on residential streets. Alongside this, the £400m public-private Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more chargepoints installed across the UK.Overall, the Government’s Road to Zero strategy, published in July 2018, included a number of new commitments to expand electric and low emission vehicle infrastructure across the country. The Department will be launching a consultation shortly on the proposal for chargepoints to be installed in all new-build homes in England, where appropriate, and it is also looking at how all new lampposts can include charging infrastructure.The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act gives the Government powers to require the installation of chargepoints at motorway service areas, and to set reliability and maintenance standards for public chargepoints. We will monitor market developments and consider using these powers if the market does not deliver.
  • 233476 - UNRWA: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment she has made of the long-term viability of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.Alistair BurtFollowing US cuts in 2018, the international community was able to step up and meet the shortfall to UNRWA’s budget, allowing it to continue to provide essential basic services to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. However, we recognise that these refugee populations need UNRWA to be on a more secure financial footing. To that end, the UK is working with UNRWA and other donors to help ensure its sustainability. This includes finding further cost savings reforms, diversifying donor income, and encouraging multi-year funding commitments. The UK is a leading donor to UNRWA and we plan to provide up to £80m to UNRWA overall over the next two years. However, a long-term solution requires a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for Palestinian refugees. Until that happens the UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees.
  • 233467 - Infrastructure: North Herefordshire (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to allocate additional funding for infrastructure in North Herefordshire.Elizabeth TrussThis government is committed to ensuring that every part of the country has modern and efficient infrastructure, and public investment is set to reach levels not consistently sustained in 40 years. Access to Superfast Broadband in North Herefordshire has risen from 12% to 81% of premises since 2010, supported by the government’s Superfast Broadband programme. The routes around Herefordshire’s Enterprise Zone have received £5 million of investment from the Local Maintenance Highways Challenge Fund. This work has provided improvements to almost 40 miles of road. The new West Midlands Trains rail franchise is due to provide 400 new carriages by 2021. Decisions on future infrastructure funding will be made at the Spending Review.
  • 226587 - Biodiversity (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to prevent loss of biodiversity in the UK.Dr Thérèse CoffeyDomestic biodiversity policy is a devolved matter and the information provided relates to England only, except in relation to our plans internationally. Our 25 Year Environment Plan sets out over 200 actions to enhance the environment and has long-term goals for recovering nature. We are developing a new environmental land management system that will reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmental outcomes such as protection of habitats, which will support our biodiversity goals. At sea, we are expanding our protected areas. Last summer we consulted on an ambitious third tranche of 41 Marine Conservation Zones. Sites to be designated in this tranche will be announced and in place by 7 June. The ongoing declines in nature are a global problem that need a global solution. That is why the UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing a global post-2020 framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity that is ambitious and transformational. Our Darwin Initiative supports global action, awarding £10.6 million to projects in 2018, for example sustaining snow leopard conservation in Nepal. Defra’s contribution to Darwin Plus, our main funding source for UK Overseas Territories’ biodiversity, has totalled nearly £6million over the last three years. We continue to support activities to end poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, including introducing a ban on ivory sales which is the toughest in Europe and one of the strongest in the world.
  • 226588 - Terrorism: Northern Ireland (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment she has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland.Karen BradleyThe threat from dissident republican terrorism continues to be SEVERE in Northern Ireland. This Government’s first priority is to keep people safe and secure. Vigilance against this continuing threat is essential and we remain determined to ensure that terrorism never succeeds.
  • 226589 - Recreation Spaces (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans the Government has to increase the amount of green space in cities.Kit MalthouseOur National Planning Policy Framework states that planning policies and decisions should plan positively for the provision of open space, and that a network of high-quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity is important for the health and well-being of communities. In addition, through local or neighbourhood plans, communities can identify for protection Local Green Spaces of particular local importance. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has consulted on how a system of biodiversity net gain might be introduced through the planning system, which could also contribute to green space in cities. The responses to that consultation are being considered at present.
  • 226590 - Vacant Land (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to reduce building on green field sites.Kit MalthouseLast year we revised the National Planning Policy Framework. Its policies place much stronger emphasis on making effective use of land, with authorities expected to make as much use as possible of suitable brownfield and under-used sites, and optimise densities where there is a shortage of land for meeting identified needs. The Framework is supported by permitted development rights to allow appropriate re-use of existing buildings, and the requirement for every authority to publish and maintain a register of brownfield land suitable for housing. The £4.5 billion Home Building Fund provides support for new housing, much of it on brownfield land.
  • 226591 - Fracking: Research (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding has been allocated to research on fracking in 2019.Claire PerryWe are committed to ensuring a rigorous, evidence-based approach to oil and gas extraction, and other sub-surface technologies such as geothermal heat. Fundamental research is the responsibility of research councils - independent from Government in their decision making - who are funding a number of relevant programmes.The Natural Environment Research Council’s Geo Energy Observatories (UK GEOS) is a government funded project (£31m) with two world-leading centres for research, technology and monitoring of the subsurface that will provide open-data for academia, industry and regulators. Researchers will be able to use the observatories to determine the effect of subsurface energy technologies like those used in geothermal and shale gas extraction. UK GEOS could capture valuable data on nearby shale sites if operations go ahead. It is anticipated that the facilities will be operational by autumn 2019.NERC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have also invested £8 million in a research programme on unconventional hydrocarbons in the UK energy system: environmental and socio-economic impacts and processes. The outcome of this research programme will be to update the independent scientific evidence base to understand potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of unconventional hydrocarbon development.A list of the successful bids, details of their funding and timescales of the research can be found here: http://gotw.nerc.ac.uk/list_them.asp?them=Uncon+Hydrocarbons&cookieConsent=AThe Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also currently grant funds a research consortium led by the British Geological Survey (BGS) to deliver an environmental monitoring programme in and around the first shale sites in Lancashire and North Yorkshire where applications for shale gas wells have been made. Since January 2015, researchers have been gathering baseline data on a number of environmental parameters including ground water & air quality, seismicity, radon and ground motion.This information is made freely available to the public and supports peer-reviewed science. It will also inform future best practice, enable new technologies to be developed, and develop the UK skill base. The cost to grant-fund this programme is £1 million for the 2018/19 financial period.Since 2015, the Department has also funded a research consortium led by Bristol University with the aim of developing a better understanding of natural induced microearthquakes and the application of microseismic monitoring to the oil and gas industry, to support regulatory decisions and improve public engagement. The cost to fund this is £19,000 per annum.
  • 226592 - Arts: West Midlands (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps he has to support the arts in the West Midlands.Michael EllisOver the last 18 months, Arts Council England (ACE) has invested over £87 million into arts projects and organisations in the West Midlands. This has included £5 million to develop the Dance Hub Birmingham, with £3 million for the creation of a production and administrative space, and the remaining £2 million supporting additional dance activity, firmly placing Birmingham on the map as a national and international centre for dance. ACE has also invested £5 million of National Lottery Funding in Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, which will support the Coventry City of Culture Trust in delivering a year of cultural events and celebrations across the city.
  • 227054 - Rural Areas: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to replace EU funding for rural communities when the UK leaves the EU.Dr Thérèse CoffeyDefra is working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop the ways the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will support the rural economy after we leave the EU, taking into account the needs of rural businesses and communities. The Government intends to consult widely on the design of the fund. Decisions on how the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will operate, its priorities and quantum will be determined at the forthcoming spending review.
  • 226594 - Children: Day Care (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to make childcare more accessible in North Herefordshire.Nadhim ZahawiThe government provides the following significant childcare support to parents and carers:15 hours of free childcare a week for all 3 and 4-year-olds, worth around £2,500 a year on average.15 hours of free childcare a week for disadvantaged 2-year olds, i.e. all those families in receipt of Universal Credit, with an annual net earned income equivalent to or less than £15,400; families in receipt of benefits that currently qualify them for free school meals; those receiving working tax credits (with an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190); and children entitled to certain benefits or support for a disability or special educational need, looked-after children and certain children who have been in care, including those who’ve been adopted.30 hours of free childcare a week, for working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds. 30 hours is available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each parent earns a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage. This also includes self-employed parents.Childcare vouchers provided through some employers, allowing parents to save money by paying for childcare from their pre-tax salary.Help with up to 70% of childcare costs for people on low incomes through working tax credits, which in April 2016 increased to 85% through Universal Credit, subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children.Tax-Free Childcare, for which 1.5 million families who have childcare costs will be eligible. For every £8 parents pay into an online account, the government will pay £2 – up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year, for children aged under 12. Parents of disabled children will receive extra support (worth up to £4,000 per child, each year and until their child is 17).It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that every child that is eligible for the 15 and 30-hours free childcare entitlement is able to access a place. Local authorities receive the funding from central government in order to provide these places, and in turn, pass the funding they receive on to the front-line providers of childcare service. Local authorities also have a statutory duty to provide parents with information, advice and guidance on their websites about how these childcare offers can be accessed locally.
  • 226593 - Lone Parents: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to increase financial support for single-parent families.Justin TomlinsonUnder Universal Credit, working families can claim back up to 85% of their registered childcare costs each month. This can be claimed up to a month before starting a job. In the Autumn Budget 2017, the Department introduced a range of measures to support claimants and ensure no one has to experience hardship within the initial assessment period. These include making advances more generous, removing the 7 waiting days, providing an additional transitional payment of 2 weeks of Housing Benefit and changing how claimants in temporary accommodation receive support for their housing costs We recently announced that parents may be eligible to receive a Flexible Support Fund Award or a budgeting advance to enable them to take up a job offer or increase their working hours. We are also piloting a more flexible approach to claimants reporting childcare costs, which will allow people to be reimbursed for childcare even if they aren’t able to provide immediate evidence. Once the pilots have concluded, we will consider whether to roll out this approach further. Additionally, there will be a £1000 increase in work allowances from April 2019, which will provide a £630 boost for households with children, and for people with disabilities.
  • 217494 - Cider: Excise Duties (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions his Department has had with the National Association of Cider Makers on duty thresholds for craft cider makers.Robert JenrickMinisters and officials regularly meet with stakeholders to discuss alcohol duty and related issues. The Exchequer Secretary met with NACM and the member for North Herefordshire in advance of the budget to discuss the cider industry. Details of ministerial meetings can be found at this link on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel
  • 217495 - Cider: Excise Duties (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal support his Department is providing to promote the growth of craft cider makers.Robert JenrickThe Chancellor announced a freeze in duty on most ciders at Autumn Budget 2018 for the second successive budget. The government keeps all taxes under review at fiscal events, and we will consider this issue carefully as part of future Budget processes.
  • 217496 - Education: Visual Impairment (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve the provision of education services for visually impaired children.Nadhim ZahawiIn April 2018, the Department for Education announced £3.4 million funding over 2018-2020 to equip the school workforce to deliver high quality teaching across all types of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including for children and young people with vision impairment. The SEND schools’ workforce contract, which will be delivered by the whole school SEND consortium and led by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (Nasen), will help schools identify and meet their training needs in relation to SEND, as well as building the specialist workforce.We are also reviewing the learning outcomes of specialist SEND qualifications, including the mandatory qualifications for teachers of classes with visual impairment, to ensure they reflect the changing needs of the education system.
  • 217497 - Accident and Emergency Departments: Standards (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to achieve the 95 per cent four-hour A&E waiting time in (a) Herefordshire and (b) England.Stephen HammondWye Valley NHS Trust is taking several steps to improve accident and emergency performance in its locality. The Trust received £3.6 million capital funding in 2018 to create a modular build 24 bedded ward – increasing its overall bed base capacity to 246. The Trust has also established a ‘front-door frailty service’ within the Emergency Department to support patients outside of hospital admissions where clinically appropriate. In addition, the Trust is currently recruiting to additional clinical staff within the Emergency Department, including consultant posts across medical specialities to deliver robust seven-day working. Nationally, NHS England’s ‘Operational and Planning Guidance for 2019/20’ sets out deliverables against key performance areas and the Government expects the National Health Service to deliver these actions in full as key steps towards fully recovering performance against core access standards. The NHS Long Term Plan, launched by the NHS on 7 January 2018, will transform urgent and emergency care. The plan is supported by a £20.5 billion real terms investment by 2023/24. The Government has also supported the NHS with an additional £1.6 billion for 2018/19 to improve emergency and elective performance. In addition, more than £420 million has been provided specifically for this winter.
  • 217500 - Railways: Environment Protection (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of potential improvements to the environmental performance of railways.Andrew JonesRail is generally an environmentally friendly way to travel or move goods. While recognising the difficulty of making comparisons between different modes of transport, the rail industry estimates that emissions are less than 115 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometre for rail compared to over 130 grams for private cars and over 150 grams for air travel. Each tonne of freight transported by rail reduces carbon emissions by 76 per cent compared to road haulage. We are nevertheless committed to ensuring that the environmental performance of rail continues to improve. As part of a programme of ongoing work across government and industry to evaluate the railway's impact on carbon emissions, air quality, environmental noise and biodiversity, reports have recently been published on decarbonisation and lineside vegetation.
  • 217501 - Prisons: Security (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government is taking to improve security in prisons.Rory StewartOur prisons face a range of security challenges including the availability of drugs in prison, and psychoactive substances in particular. As a priority we must toughen security and searching to make it much more difficult for anyone to get contraband such as drugs or mobile phones into prisons. Through the Ten Prison Project we are emphasising the use of technology to search letters, bags and people. Alongside making it much harder to get contraband though the prison gate, we are also closing down other routes, such as by using netting to prevent drones and throw-overs. Improved physical security combined with good existing work on intelligence will help inform priority areas for future investment and development right across the prison estate. In the meantime, across our prisons, we have previously invested £2 million in modern technology such as handheld and portable detection devices. This was followed by another £7 million last year to enhance security in prisons through scanners, improved searching techniques and phone- blocking technology. More recently we have introduced dedicated regional search teams that can target specific individuals or parts of our estate on an intelligence-led basis and vulnerability assessments that cover gate security. We are also seeking to improve the resilience of our prisons to specific security threats through, for example, our investment in intelligence teams, a new Financial Investigations Unit, a new Serious Organised Crime Unit and the changes we are making to our dedicated counter-corruption unit as part of our new anti-corruption strategy.
  • 217498 - Research: Science (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has plans to increase the level of funding allocated to science research after the UK leaves the EU.Chris SkidmoreThrough our modern Industrial Strategy we have committed to the highest R&D increase on record. We have announced increases in public R&D spending worth £7bn up to 2021/2022, and we are working with UK Research and Innovation and other key partners to develop a roadmap that sets out how government and industry will work together to reach our target of increasing R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and 3% in the longer-term.
  • 217499 - Roads: North Herefordshire (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to increase funding for the repair of local roads in North Herefordshire.Jesse NormanHerefordshire County Council, as local highway authority is responsible for the maintenance of the local road network, including North Herefordshire. The funding provided by the Department for Transport for highway maintenance, including pothole repair, to Herefordshire County Council since 2015 is shown in the table below. The table highlights the Department for Transport allocated the authority an additional £5.1 million this financial year to support local highways maintenance services, including the repair of roads. YearFunding Stream Funding £m 2015/16Highways Maintenance Block11.5232016/17Highways Maintenance Block (including Incentive Element)11.2102016/17Pothole Action Fund0.6742017/18Highways Maintenance Block (including Incentive Element)11.2292017/18Pothole Action Fund1.5292017/18Flood Resilience Fund0.6102018/19Highways Maintenance Block (including Incentive Element)11.2182018/19Pothole Action Fund0.6422018/19Budget £420 million5.108Total 53.743
  • 211166 - Fire Prevention: Prosecutions (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many prosecutions there have been in the last five years for failing to complete annual checks on fire dampers; and how many of those prosecutions have been successful.Mr Nick HurdThe Home Office has responsibility for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which requires that any facilities, equipment and devices provided to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, such as fire dampers, are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.The Home Office holds data on the number of prosecutions leading to conviction related to a failure to comply with Article 17 of the FSO which covers maintenance generally. We do not hold any data specifically relating to fire dampers.
  • 211168 - Fire Resistant Materials: Inspections (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his Department has plans to increase the frequency of the requirement for fire dampers to be inspected from annually to six-monthly.Mr Nick HurdThe Home Office has responsibility for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which requires that any facilities, equipment and devices provided to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, such as fire dampers, are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 does not specify the frequency of testing for specific fire protection measures. The requirement for annual testing is set out in BS9999:2017 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings. This is a matter for the British Standards Institute.
  • 209304 - Mental Health Services: Children (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding has been allocated to training for professionals working with child mental health in North Herefordshire constituency in each of the last five years.Jackie Doyle-PriceThe information is not available in the format requested.
  • 208789 - Cystic Fibrosis (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people with cystic fibrosis.Steve BrineSpecialised services for the support and treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are commissioned by NHS England. CF services are delivered in about 20 Paediatric Cystic Fibrosis Centres and about 20 Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centres. There are separate service specifications for adults and children. These specifications are important in clearly defining what NHS England expects to be in place for providers to offer evidence-based, safe and effective care and they support equity of access to a nationally consistent, high quality service. The specifications can be found via the following links: http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Cystic-fibrosis-adult.pdf http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/a01Sb-spec-cystic-fibrosis-child.pdf In October 2017, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published new guidance for the diagnosis and management of CF. This includes specific details on how to monitor the condition and manage the symptoms to improve quality of life. This guidance can be found via the following link:www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng78#
  • 208790 - Universal Credit: North Herefordshire (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure the effective roll-out of universal credit in North Herefordshire constituency.Alok SharmaUniversal Credit is now fully rolled out. From 12 December 2018, it has been available for new claims across the country. Universal Credit replaces six benefits with one, to simplify the system and make work pay. As a result, people claiming Universal Credit move into work faster, stay in work longer and spend more time looking to increase their earnings. Universal Credit also provides more help with childcare costs, a dedicated Work Coach, scraps the 16-hour ‘cliff edge’ and the prohibitive tax rates should someone start work. Under the legacy system £2.4 billion of welfare benefits did not get paid at all because claimants could not navigate the complexity of the system. Universal Credit is putting this right, ensuring this money goes to 700,000 claimants who need it. The next stage of the Universal Credit process will be to move claimants on the existing legacy benefits onto Universal Credit. Once this process has been completed there will be an additional £2.1 billion spend per year on Universal Credit compared to the current legacy system it replaces. Earlier this month, in Written Statement HCWS1243, I set out our revised plans on how we intend to do this over the next few years.
  • 208784 - Yemen: Peace Negotiations (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to support a peace process in Yemen.Alistair BurtThe UK is playing a leading role in seeking a political solution to end the conflict and incalculable suffering in Yemen. On 16 January, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to back the UK-led resolution which bolsters the UN Yemen peace process. It will establish a six month UN mission to monitor the Hodeidah ceasefire. The ceasefire is an important step towards peace but by no means guaranteed. It is therefore vital that all parties act in good faith and take urgent steps to implement these agreements.
  • 208785 - Japan: Whales (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations the Government has made to the government of Japan to support the international ban on whaling.George EusticeDuring the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe’s, visit to the UK on the 9 January, the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment at Japan’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and encouraged the Government to reconsider.
  • 208786 - China: Dogs (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Chinese Government on banning the Yulin dog meat festival.Mark FieldThe Government is committed to raising standards of animal welfare at home and abroad. The sale and consumption of dog meat remains legal in parts of many countries, including China. However, there are no international norms, laws or agreements governing this trade. We believe that it is necessary to work with governments around the world to gain agreement to animal welfare standards. We have raised our concerns on specific animal welfare issues with the Chinese authorities and will continue to do so.
  • 208787 - Iran: Prisoners' Release (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to secure the release of UK-Iranian nationals imprisoned in Iran.Alistair BurtThe treatment of all British-Iranians detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a priority for the Government. We raise these cases with the Iranian Government at every opportunity. On 14 January, the Foreign Secretary summoned the Iranian Ambassador to the UK. The Foreign Secretary called for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe immediately to be given the healthcare she requires and for her and other British-Iranian dual nationals to be released. The Iranian authorities have since confirmed that access to external medical treatment will be permitted. We will continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case, as well as our other consular cases, with the Iranian Government at every opportunity, including requesting consular access, and will continue to take action in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.
  • 208788 - Press Freedom (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect the rights and freedoms of journalists throughout the world.Mark FieldThe UK is committed to the promotion of media freedom and the protection of journalists worldwide. A free and independent media is the lifeblood of democracy. My RHF the Foreign Secretary has announced the launch an international campaign throughout 2019 to end the climate of impunity and mobilise a consensus behind the protection of journalists. In the coming year and beyond, we are going to increase the global spotlight on media freedom as an important issue and raise the costs to Governments, and Others, that abuse media freedom. Later this year we plan to host an international conference on media freedom with the aim of bringing the issue to the attention of opinion-formers across the globe, promoting the value and benefits of a free media to a wide audience, and mobilising an international consensus behind the protection of journalists.
  • 174002 - Schools: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to increase core funding for schools.Nick GibbThis year the core schools budget has increased to £42.4 billion and will rise further to £43.5 billion in 2019‑20. This increase follows the additional £1.3 billion announced last year, over and above what was promised at the last Spending Review, which is being provided by prioritising front-line spending within the Department’s budget.This means that funding for the average primary school class this year is £132,000, which is £8,000 more in real terms than in 2008. The same children will receive on average £171,000 when they move to secondary school, a real terms rise of £10,000 compared to a decade ago. Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that real terms per-pupil funding in 2020 for five to sixteen year olds will be more than 50% higher than it was in 2000.Funding after 2019-20 will be determined at the next spending review.
  • 174000 - Spreading Bellflower: Conservation (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support the conservation of the Spreading Bellflower.Dr Thérèse CoffeySpreading bellflower is listed as a species of principal importance under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Actions underway include monitoring its populations and establishing appropriate habitat management at its known sites. As a part of the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government is committed to creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat, to complement and connect our best wildlife sites, as part of a Nature Recovery Network and provide opportunities for conservation of species such as spreading bellflower.
  • 174001 - Pupil Premium (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of whether the Pupil Premium is being used to supplement core funding.Nick GibbThe pupil premium is additional funding that schools are allocated to help support pupils from financially disadvantaged family backgrounds and those who are currently looked after or who have left care through adoption or other routes. We give schools flexibility over how they spend this funding, as they are best placed to determine how to use it most effectively to support those pupils who it is intended to benefit. We hold schools to account for their use of the pupil premium through a specific focus in Ofsted inspections and through analysis of school performance tables on the progress and attainment of disadvantaged pupils.While it is for schools to decide how to use the totality of their funding to support the education of their pupils, we require all local authority maintained schools to publish details online about how much pupil premium funding they have been allocated, the ways in which that funding has been spent and the impact this has had on eligible pupils.We also encourage schools, when planning their strategy for use of the pupil premium, to draw on high quality research evidence about effective and cost effective approaches to increasing the progress and attainment of eligible pupils. This is reflected in the work of the Education Endowment Foundation, which has received £137 million of Government funding to identify what works to improve disadvantaged pupils’ academic progress.
  • 174003 - Apprentices: Taxation (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to review the effectiveness of the apprenticeship levy on primary schools.Anne MiltonAs with other parts of the public sector, the Department for Education (DfE) will be monitoring the uptake of apprenticeships by the school workforce. Public sector bodies in scope of the public sector apprenticeships target - including primary schools - are required to annually publish and report to DfE on the number of apprenticeship starts in their workforce. The first reports (covering the period 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018) will be published later in the Autumn. In June 2018, we published updated guidance for schools on apprenticeships to support them in getting the most from our reforms: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeships-reforms-guide-for-schools. This includes case studies of good practice, myth-busting frequently asked questions and an up-to-date list of apprenticeship standards for schools to use.A range of new apprenticeship standards for the school workforce are now available, including for trainee teachers, teaching assistants and school business managers.
  • 174004 - Special Educational Needs: Finance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that higher needs funding for people with additional educational needs is targeted effectively.Nadhim ZahawiThe government has reformed the funding for children and young people with high needs to make it fairer, by introducing a new national funding formula for high needs. The formula takes into account an up to date assessment of the level of need in each area.Allocations to local authorities in 2018-19 were calculated on the basis of the national funding formula, and provisional allocations for 2019-20 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs-2019-to-2020.The department is monitoring the impact of the national funding formula on local authority spending decisions, and are keeping the overall amount of funding for high needs under review.
  • 167164 - London Stock Exchange (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential contribution of the London Stock Exchange to the UK economy after the UK leaves the EU; and if he will make statement.John GlenThe London Stock Exchange is a key institution in the UK’s financial services sector and makes a valuable contribution to the UK economy. The financial services sector provides necessary services for the healthy functioning of the UK economy, and the Government takes very seriously our responsibility to protect the future of the UK’s global financial services sector, including the London Stock Exchange. We are working closely with financial services firms in the UK to ensure a smooth transition to our future relationship with the EU. We are confident in securing a deal with the EU on financial services that allows cross-border trade to continue because this is the mutually beneficial outcome of our withdrawal from the EU.
  • 167165 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions has he had with the London Stock Exchange on the qualification criteria for the FTSE 100 (a) before and (b) after Unilever's announcement that it would seek to unify its headquarters outside of the UK.John GlenCriteria for inclusion within an index are a matter for the benchmark administrator, rather than for the government or regulator. It is therefore FTSE Russell’s decision as a private company and not for HM Treasury to comment on an ongoing decision. FTSE’s methodology is made publicly available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf) and discretion is available within this framework. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167166 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has received from representatives of the investment management industry in London on (a) Unilever unifying its dual headed corporate structure to the Netherlands and (b) the effect of that unification on the company remaining a constituent of the FTSE 100 index.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167167 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with representatives of the financial services industry on the potential (a) unification by Unilever of its dual-headed corporate structure to the Netherlands and (b) implications of that unification for Unilever's remaining a constituent of the FTSE 100 index; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167168 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority on the potential (a) unification by Unilever of its dual-headed corporate structure to the Netherlands and (b) implications of that unification for Unilever's remaining a constituent of the FTSE 100 index; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167169 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with Unilever on its proposal to unify its dual-headed corporate structure to the Netherlands; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167170 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made representations to the London Stock Exchange on (a) the proposed unification by Unilever of its dual-headed corporate structure to the Netherlands and (b) Unilever's potentially no longer being a constituent of the FTSE 100; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167171 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the level of discretion that the London Stock Exchange subsidiary FTSE-Russell will have over a decision on whether to continue to include Unilever in the FTSE 100 index; and if he will make a statement.John GlenCriteria for inclusion within an index are a matter for the benchmark administrator, rather than for the government or regulator. It is therefore FTSE Russell’s decision as a private company and not for HM Treasury to comment on an ongoing decision. FTSE’s methodology is made publicly available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf) and discretion is available within this framework. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167172 - FTSE Russell (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has discussed with the London Stock Exchange the amount of discretion that its subsidiary FTSE-Russell has over decisions on constituents of the FTSE 100; and if he will make a statement.John GlenCriteria for inclusion within an index are a matter for the benchmark administrator, rather than for the government or regulator. It is therefore FTSE Russell’s decision as a private company and not for HM Treasury to comment on an ongoing decision. FTSE’s methodology is made publicly available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf) and discretion is available within this framework. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167173 - FTSE Russell (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he is aware of the role of the policy advisory board of the London Stock Exchange subsidiary FTSE-Russell in advising which companies are assigned UK nationality and therefore qualify for inclusion in the FTSE 100; and if he will make a statement.John GlenFTSE Russell’s methodology, including nationality requirements, for inclusion in the FTSE 100 is available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf). Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel
  • 167174 - FTSE Russell (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has asked the London Stock Exchange for the names of the members of the policy advisory board of FTSE-Russell.John GlenFTSE Russell’s methodology, including nationality requirements, for inclusion in the FTSE 100 is available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf). Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel
  • 167175 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has discussed with the London Stock Exchange the potential implications for the reputation of the UK investment management industry of Unilever unifying its headquarters in the Netherlands and no longer being a constituent of the FTSE 100 index.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167176 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the London Stock Exchange divulged to him details of its discussions with Unilever on (a) the potential effect on its ability to remain a constituent of the FTSE 100 index and (b) other potential effects of its proposal to unify its dual-headed corporate structure; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167177 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to write to the London Stock Exchange on the level of flexibility of its FTSE-Russell subsidiary in relation to granting FTSE 100 index membership to Unilever; and if he will make a statement.John GlenCriteria for inclusion within an index are a matter for the benchmark administrator, rather than for the government or regulator. It is therefore FTSE Russell’s decision as a private company and not for HM Treasury to comment on an ongoing decision. FTSE’s methodology is made publicly available at (http://www.ftse.com/products/downloads/FTSE_UK_Index_Series.pdf) and discretion is available within this framework. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors, including the London Stock Exchange, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 167178 - Unilever (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the London Stock Exchange has informed him of the steps it will take in relation to Unilever (a) remaining and (b) leaving as a constituent member of the FTSE 100 index; and if he will make a statement.John GlenTreasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel
  • 160706 - Orkambi (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many times NHS England has met Vertex to discuss Orkambi; and whether any steps have been taken as a result of those meetings.Steve BrineNHS England has advised that it has met Vertex 5 times since July 2017 to discuss Orkambi. We are further advised that discussions are ongoing to seek to agree a commercial deal that would make Orkambi available to National Health Service patients.
  • 160705 - Local Government: Broadcasting (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to review the ten-year commitment for the BBC to pay for the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.Margot JamesThe Government has no plans to review the BBC's commitment to fund and administer the Local Democracy Reporting scheme, which forms part of the BBC Royal Charter. The impact of the scheme may be considered by Dame Frances Cairncross as part of the review she is carrying out on behalf of the government into the sustainability of high-quality journalism in the UK.
  • 160123 - Fire Prevention (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the Health and Safety Executive has the capacity to act on four residential fires in one building in the course of one year.Sarah NewtonThe Health and Safety Executive is not the enforcing authority for fire safety and general fire precautions in residential properties. Fire safety in certain types of residential accommodation is enforced by Local Authorities under the Housing Act 2004 and Fire & Rescue Authorities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
  • 160124 - Housing: Fire Prevention (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he has taken to ensure the adequacy of the powers of local authorities to maintain the safety of residential properties which have suffered four fires in the course of twelve months.Dominic RaabLocal authorities have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality unsafe accommodation and they have a statutory duty to keep housing conditions in their areas under review. They should take enforcement action against owners of buildings in their areas that are not acting responsibly in respect of hazards, and we encourage them to use these powers to the fullest to ensure residents are safe.
  • 160125 - Antisocial Behaviour: Fires (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps he is taking to ensure that Fire Authorities are able to investigate antisocial behaviour in properties that have suffered four fires in a 12 month period.Mr Nick HurdFire and rescue authorities are able to work in collaboration with their local partner agencies such as the police and local authorities to investigate and tackle anti-social behaviour.
  • 152070 - Personal Independence Payment: Appeals (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department paid out to Capita for personal independence payment assessments which were overturned on appeal in 2017.Sarah NewtonThe information is not available and could only be provided at disproportionate costs.
  • 152069 - Local Press (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the BBC to ensure that the BBC's local democracy reporting service scheme stories are available to all licence-fee payers.Margot JamesMinisters and officials have regular discussions with the BBC on a range of matters, including Local Democracy Reporter Service.
  • 149949 - Local Press (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, by what mechanism Local Democracy Reporter Service journalists are held accountable to BBC standards of impartiality.Margot JamesThe organisations which employ Local Democracy Reporter Service reporters are contractually obliged to produce and supply content and services to the BBC. In doing so they must adhere to a number of criteria including adherence to the Editors’ Code and the BBC Guidelines, which include impartiality.
  • 149950 - Local Press (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether stories written by Local Democracy Reporter Service reporters are available to access free of charge for BBC licence fee payers.Margot JamesLicence fee payers can access content from Local Democracy Reporter Service reporters, free of charge, via BBC News outlets, as well as through the newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV channels which make up the 800 other outlets in the Local News Partnerships.
  • 146133 - Independent Press Standards Organisation (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the Independent Press Standards Organisation to apply for approval under the Press Recognition Panel.Margot JamesSeeking approval from the Press Recognition Panel is a decision for independent press regulators. The Government is committed to the system of independent self-regulation for the press.
  • 146132 - Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which clinical commissioning groups fund endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy operations.Steve BrineInformation on which clinical commissioning groups fund endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy operations is not held centrally. It is the responsibility of each clinical commissioning group to decide which treatments they fund. Each decision must be based on clinical evidence, and clinical commissioning groups must ensure they meet their statutory duties when taking this decision.
  • 141727 - Social Security Benefits (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average payment has been to the top (a) one, (b) five and (c) 10 per cent of benefit claimants by amount received in each of the last two years.Kit MalthouseAnnual estimates for the UK are presented in the table below (in nominal terms): Year(a) The average annual payment to the top one per cent of benefit claimants(b) The average annual payment to the top five per cent of benefit claimants(c) The average annual payment to the top ten per cent of benefit claimants2015/16£30,000£23,000£20,0002016/17£31,000£23,000£20,000 These figures have been estimated using data collected by the DWP’s Family Resources Survey (FRS). The FRS is a continuous household survey which collects information on the income and circumstances of a representative sample of 20,000 private households in the United Kingdom each year. 2016/17 is the latest year for which FRS data is currently available. Estimates have been adjusted for non-response using grossing factors that control for tenure type, Council Tax Band and a number of demographic variables. However, as with all surveys, FRS estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining non-sampling bias. Compared to administrative records, the FRS is known to under-report benefit receipt. This analysis considers total income from benefits and tax credits for a benefit unit, rather than at an individual level. This is because entitlement to many forms of state support is assessed at a benefit unit level. A benefit unit is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, as well as any dependent children. An adult is defined as those individuals aged 16 or over, unless defined as a dependent child. An individual may be defined as a child if aged 16-19 years old, and not married nor in a Civil Partnership nor living with a partner; and living with parents; and in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged government training. Analysis includes all income from DWP and HMRC benefits and tax credits, plus council tax benefit. This includes statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay. Estimates are gross of High Income Child Benefit charge. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1,000 and have not been adjusted for inflation. The median rather than the mean average has been used, as the distributions requested are non-normal.
  • 141718 - Dental Health: Children (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the benefits of gamifying tooth brushing for children.Steve BrineNo assessment has been made of the benefits of gamifying tooth brushing for children.
  • 141719 - Press Recognition Panel (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to abolish the press recognition panel.Margot JamesThe Press Recognition Panel remains an important part of the regulatory framework.
  • 141720 - Sports: Disability (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with Sport England on progress in increasing disability participation in (a) sport and (b) shooting.Tracey CrouchI have regular meetings with Sport England to discuss increasing disabled people’s participation in sport and physical activity as participants, spectators and in the workforce. The importance of increasing participation by underrepresented groups was highlighted in our strategy 'Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation' which was published in December 2015. Sport England’s strategy ‘Towards an Active Nation’ also places a clear emphasis on targeting those who are hardest to reach, including disabled people. As such, they are ensuring that each of their investment programmes impacts directly on disabled people. For the financial year 2017/2018 Sport England invested £1.2 million into the English Federation of Disability Sport, now known as the Activity Alliance, to provide expertise and services in marketing and communications, research and insight, and engaging with disabled people and the disability sector. In addition, all of Sport England’s major capital investments are required to make their facilities accessible, and Sport England publish online tools and guidance to help designers, building owners and operators create accessible facilities. Government recognises the value of shooting as an outdoor recreation and is keen to ensure that everyone who wants to be involved has the opportunity to do so. Between 2017 and 2021, Sport England is investing £1,290,000 in British Shooting to continue to support more people to get involved in shooting sports and to develop talented athletes within the sport. The investment has also supported British Shooting to integrate Disability Shooting GB into its own governance and operation from April 2017.
  • 141721 - Commonwealth Games: Gun Sports (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Commonwealth Games Federation on the participation of Britain's elite shots in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.Tracey CrouchIn 2015, at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly, the entire Commonwealth of Nations made the decision for shooting to be an optional sport at all Commonwealth Games. This was reaffirmed in 2016 when the new CGF Constitution was approved. Its status as an optional sport is not, therefore, a decision for UK government.
  • 141722 - General Practitioners: North Herefordshire (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether any of the £20,000 bursaries for newly qualified GPs have been assigned to locations in North Herefordshire.Steve BrineThe Targeted Enhanced Recruitment scheme was launched in 2016 and offers a £20,000 salary supplement to attract doctors to enter general practitioner (GP) speciality training in parts of the country where there have been consistent shortages of GP trainees. The scheme is open to GP trainees committed to working their three years of specialty training in areas identified by the GP National Recruitment Office as having the hardest to recruit to training places in England. 238 trainees have entered the scheme so far. 265 places have been made available in 2018. Places were available on the scheme in Hereford and Worcester in 2017 and further places have been made available in 2018.
  • 141723 - Insurance (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Data Protection Bill on the ability of insurance companies to verify claims made on individual insurance applications.Margot JamesThe Government has engaged with a number of representatives from the insurance sector, sector regulators and other government departments to understand the impact of the General Data Protection Regulations on the sector, and how best to design the derogations found in the Data Protection Bill. Insurance sector representatives were particularly concerned about the implications of the general prohibition on processing special categories of data and criminal conviction and offences data found in Article 9 and 10 of the GDPR. Paragraph 20 of Schedule 1, to the Data Protection Bill, ensures that insurance companies can process special category data and criminal conviction and offences data for insurance purposes. It is the responsibility of each organisation to ensure their compliance with the GDPR which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has provided guidance on compliance with the new data protection rules on its website at;www.ico.org.uk.
  • 141726 - Personal Independence Payment (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether Capita are paid for PIP Assessments which are later overturned on appeal.Sarah NewtonCapita are paid based on the number of assessment reports completed which meet the Department’s quality standards. Decisions on entitlement to Personal Independent Payment are made by DWP Case Managers not the assessment provider. When a decision is overturned at appeal it does not necessarily mean that the original decision and the assessment report considered in the decision making process, was wrong. Often additional written evidence not available to either the DWP Case Manager or the assessor at the time of the assessment is made available.
  • 141717 - Royal Bank of Scotland: Fees and Charges (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to prevent Royal Bank of Scotland from charging additional fees to companies employing politically exposed persons.John GlenDecisions on fees and charges are a commercial matter for firms. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires firms to treat their customers fairly, and has broad and robust powers to enforce breaches of its rules. The latest Money Laundering Regulations are clear that firms must apply a risk-sensitive approach to identifying politically exposed persons (PEPs) and then applying enhanced due diligence (EDD) measures appropriately. This extends to assessing the circumstances in which the beneficial owner of a company is a PEP. The FCA has published guidance on how firms should identify and apply EDD measures to PEPs. This makes clear that UK PEPs should be treated as a low risk of money laundering, unless an FCA-regulated firm assesses that other risk factors not linked to their position as a PEP mean they pose a higher risk.
  • 141724 - Tidal Power: Swansea Bay (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether there is commercially sensitive information which prevents the disclosure of details of Government meetings with representatives of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon Project.Claire PerryThe Department takes into account a range of matters, including commercial sensitivities and the impact disclosure of information may have on, for example, ongoing discussions with stakeholders and other interested parties in considering whether to release information.
  • 141725 - Tidal Power: Swansea Bay (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the his Department intends to disclose information regarding the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.Claire PerryThe Department takes into account a range of matters, including commercial sensitivities and the impact disclosure of information may have on, for example, ongoing discussions with stakeholders and other interested parties in considering whether to release information.
  • 134981 - Animal Welfare: Convictions (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of people convicted under animal cruelty legislation received a life ban from keeping animals.George EusticeIn 2016 there were over 800 people convicted for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 however records of disqualification orders are not held centrally and so it is not possible to provide an accurate reply.
  • 137492 - Tidal Power: Swansea Bay (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he last met with representatives of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project.Claire PerryMeetings between BEIS Ministers and external organisations are published quarterly on the Department’s website.
  • 136537 - Local Government: Advertising (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what statutory requirements rest on local authorities with regard to having to advertise in local print media.Rishi SunakThere are over 600 requirements to publish statutory notices in one or more local newspapers circulating in the area of where the order relates is situated. Each Government Department has its own requirements, examples of which include planning notices, traffic orders and alcohol licensing notices. Some, like Planning Notices or Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders, must be publicised on a frequent basis. There is no single place to find the legislation for Statutory Notices. Each Notice has its own piece of either primary or secondary legislation.
  • 136538 - Local Government: Advertising (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the cost to local authorities of their duty to advertise in local print media rather than the just online.Rishi SunakThere are over 600 requirements to publish statutory notices in one or more local newspapers circulating in the area of where the order relates is situated. Each Government Department has its own requirements, examples of which include planning notices, traffic orders and alcohol licensing notices. Some, like Planning Notices or Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders, must be publicised on a frequent basis. There is no single place to find the legislation for Statutory Notices. Each Notice has its own piece of either primary or secondary legislation.
  • 136539 - Gannett UK and Newsquest Media Group: Taxation (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether HMRC plans to investigate the tax status of Gannett Corporation and the losses at Newsquest.Mel StrideHM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a strong track record in tackling avoidance, fraud and evasion and non-compliance in the system. Since 2010, HMRC compliance activity has brought in more than £175 billion which would otherwise have gone unpaid. HMRC cannot comment on the tax affairs of identifiable businesses given their duty of maintaining taxpayer confidentiality.
  • 136540 - Newsquest Media Group: Taxation (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, when HMRC last investigated Newsquest's tax status.Mel StrideHM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a strong track record in tackling avoidance, fraud and evasion and non-compliance in the system. Since 2010, HMRC compliance activity has brought in more than £175 billion which would otherwise have gone unpaid. HMRC cannot comment on the tax affairs of identifiable businesses given their duty of maintaining taxpayer confidentiality.
  • 135276 - Tidal Power: Swansea Bay (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has undertaken an assessment of the potential effect of the Welsh Government's proposed investment in the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project on the (a) level of the average strike price and (b) tenure of contract requested by the prospective developer.Claire PerryThe Department has had a number of constructive discussions with the Welsh Government in relation to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project.
  • 134906 - Press Recognition Panel (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he next plans to meet the Press Recognition Panel.Margot JamesDCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders, including the Press Recognition Panel, to discuss a range of issues.
  • 134976 - Agriculture: Education (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to (a) provide for and (b) promote the study of (i) agriculture and (ii) related land-based subjects as academic subjects in non-rural areas.Nick GibbSubject to meeting legal requirements, it is for individual schools and colleges to decide which subjects to include in their curriculum. A number of GCSEs contain content relevant to agriculture. In GCSE geography, pupils are taught about resources and resource management, including the modification and change of ecosystems in order to obtain food, energy and water. In the food preparation and nutrition GCSE, the economic, environmental, and ethical influences on food availability and production processes are covered. There are a number of vocational qualifications that count in 16-18 performance tables, covering agriculture and other land-based subjects. Apprenticeship standards already exist in land-based service engineering, and there are a number of further standards in development, including crop technician, farrier, poultry technician and stockperson. The Department is also reforming technical education. This includes the introduction of T levels in an agriculture, environment and animal care route.
  • 134980 - Palm Oil: Imports (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) palm oil imports are sustainably sourced and (b) the effect of those products on deforestation is assessed effectively.Dr Thérèse CoffeyIn 2006, the Government published a study into the environmental impacts of a number of commodities; it noted that the principle environmental impact of palm oil was deforestation. In 2012 we published the UK Statement on the Sustainable Production of Palm Oil; which was signed by trade associations, NGOs and Government. The 2017 review notes that signatories have achieved a high level of success in delivering the Statement’s ambition of working towards 100% sourcing of credibly certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015. The government is committed to supporting the implementation of deforestation-free supply chains for key commodities, including palm oil. We are signatory to the Amsterdam Declarations and have endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests which support a fully sustainable palm oil supply chain from 2020. We are also a member of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020; a public-private co-operation working to help organisations achieve their deforestation-free commitments, eliminate illegality from supply chains and improve the quality and availability of deforestation and supply chain data.
  • 134982 - General Practitioners: Rural Areas (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on recruiting additional GPs in rural locations.Steve BrineThe Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme funds a £20,000 salary supplement to attract general practitioner (GP) trainees to work in areas of the country where GP training places have been unfilled for a number of years. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot in 2016 and was extended for a further year in 2017 and again in 2018. The scheme is open to GP trainees committed to working for three years in areas identified by the GP National Recruitment Office as having the hardest to recruit to training places in England. At the end of January 2018, 238 GP trainee vacancies were filled, of which, 105 trainees entered the scheme in its first year in 2016, and a further 133 entered the scheme in 2017. The fill rate increased from 86% in 2016 to 92% in 2017. 250 places are being made available in 2018. In addition, NHS England are working with partners such as Health Education England, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs, and the General Medical Council, on International GP Recruitment. The programme was extended in August 2017, and will now aim to recruit at least 2,000 GPs into England from overseas by 2020. Recruitment is now underway in a number of areas across England, including in rural communities. NHS England has also provided funding to increase the number of GP training places in England each year to 3,250 and invested additional resources to attract former GPs back to practice. Both of these initiatives will support rural communities by building the overall GP workforce. At the same time, NHS England is supporting rural practices by building the wider general practice workforce, including significant investment in other patient facing roles such as clinical pharmacists and practice nurses. NHS England’s expectation is that these programmes, in conjunction with the range of other initiatives being delivered as part of the General Practice Forward View, will help alleviate some of the pressures that general practices currently face.
  • 134916 - Countryside Stewardship Scheme (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans reduce the size of the guide for the mid-tier manual and supplements.George EusticeOfficials are currently reviewing the Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier manual and information on GOV.UK to look at ways to simplify and improve information provision for applicants. In addition, the Rural Payments Agency and Natural England have been tasked with simplifying Countryside Stewardship, to save farmers time and cut down on paperwork. We have introduced four new Countryside Stewardship Offers for Wildlife with a simplified manual this year and farmers who meet the eligibility requirements will be guaranteed funding. The new Offers are simpler and quicker to apply for, complement existing Higher Tier and Mid-Tier agreements and make the scheme available to even more farmers and land managers. The burden of EU law constricts our ability to fully reorganise the way such schemes are administered and the threat of EU penalties means that some farming stakeholders prefer more comprehensive guidance for their members. However, when we leave the EU, we will be free to pursue better policy models needing less administration.
  • 134977 - Dogs: Animal Breeding (Answered)
    Bill WigginTo ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to tackle the breeding of dogs with severe genetic health problems.George EusticeIn February 2018, the Government laid before Parliament The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. The new regulations will require all licensed dog breeders not to breed from a dog if, by doing so, it could be reasonably expected on the basis of its genotype, phenotype or state of health to have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or welfare of its offspring. The regulations, which were debated in both Houses, will come into force on 1 October 2018 and will be enforced by local authorities.