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Lords questions government in oral questions on 6 May

5 May 2020

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The House of Lords questioned government on Wednesday 6 May in virtual proceedings.

You can watch the full session on Parliament TV. A transcript will also be available via Lords Hansard around three hours after proceedings, and a short summary of what was discussed is available below.

Questions asked on Wednesday 6 May:

  • Baroness Doocey asked the government how it plans to ensure those accommodated by the National Asylum Support Service are able to follow social distancing guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Topics discussed include: reports from charities on the experience of asylum seekers in detention; suspension of deportations; provision of PPE for coastguard and border force staff; advice and support regarding Covid-19 for asylum seekers; numbers of people in hotels and other accommodation; and provision of healthcare and Covid-19 testing.

  • Lord Oates asked the government what support they are providing to African countries in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Topics discussed include: planning for long-term support to African countries following the Covid-19 pandemic; collaboration and support across Commonwealth countries; support for farmers in the UK and African countries; debt relief; supporting the call for a global ceasefire; advice to counter fake news; provision of PPE to African countries; ensuring any future Covid-19 vaccine is available to all; and UK representation on the ground in Commonwealth countries.

  • Lord Clement-Jones asked the government what action they are taking to protect the privacy of users and provide oversight of the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing application and, in particular, whether the application will meet Apple's privacy standard for Bluetooth.

    Topics discussed include: gaining public trust for the Covid-19 contact-tracing app; anonymisation of data; lessons learned from other countries regarding testing and trading;  usage of location tracking; app interoperability with other countries; government plans to support those without access to smartphones, particularly vulnerable groups; and data retention and safeguarding policies.

  • Lord Campbell of Pittenweem asked the government what assessment it has made of the announcement by the government of Israel of its intention to commence discussions from 1 July on applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and other territory in the occupied West Bank.

    Topics discussed include: the government position on moves by Israel towards annexation in the West Bank; land swaps between Israel and Palestine; support for a two state solution; support for any future international criminal court investigations; and support for bilateral talks between Israel and Palestine.

The Lord Speaker has also accepted the following urgent question (Private Notice Question) from Lord Blunkett:

  • Lord Blunkett asked the government what steps will be taken to protect the quality and accessibility of Higher Education as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on this sector.

    Topics discussed include: confirming a timeline for decision-making on underwriting research costs in universities; steps being taken to encourage overseas students to come to the UK; support for higher education institutions across the four nations of the UK; tuition fees and online course delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic; government steps to ensure students with disabilities are adequately accommodated during the Covid-19 pandemic; university expenditure; accessibility of remote teaching; and financial support to stabilise the sector.

Further information

Image: House of Lords / Roger Harris