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Medical appointments, university students and environmental behaviour change in Lords Questions

16 November 2020

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At the start of business each day in the House of Lords, members question government activities and decisions in Lords questions.

This week, from Monday 16 to Thursday 19 November, members quiz the government on the spread of COVID-19 due to students returning to university, the resumption of face to face medical appointments and encouraging environmental behaviour change. 

Find out more: checking and challenging government



Catch Up: Monday 16 November 


Lord Storey (Liberal Democrat) quizzed the government on the impact on the spread of COVID-19 caused by students returning to universities. Members discussed student accommodation costs and mass testing.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (Liberal Democrat) questioned the government on the process for child victims of trafficking seeking leave to remain in the UK. Members discussed topics including anti-slavery legislation and tackling the backlog of cases in the National Referral Mechanism.

Baroness Coussins (Crossbench) pressed the government on plans to remove visa requirements for visitors to the UK from Peru. Members discussed subjects including secure visa-free travel and removing travel limitations to support the economy.

Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour) asked the government about incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation. Members discussed school holiday meals and well-being activities for children in need.

Catch up: Tuesday 17 November 


Baroness Doocey (Liberal Democrat) quizzed the government on the report by the Children's Commissioner 'Unregulated Children in care living in semi-independent accommodation'. Members discussed topics including appropriate checks on staff, the proportion of care leavers who go to university and monitoring all forms of care for quality standards.

Baroness Cox (Crossbench) questioned the government on reform of the law on marriage and religious weddings. Members discussed topics including the Law Commission’s review into reforming marriage law, gender equality and the legal rights of vulnerable girls and women.

Lord Bradshaw (Liberal Democrat) questioned the government on the publication of the outcome of the Williams Rail Review. Members discussed reforming fares to match current market conditions, the effect of increasing rail fares and methods to maximise public transport fare revenue.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat) quizzed the government regarding comments by the Prime Minister of Canada about the UK's prospects of a trade deal with Canada. Members discussed strengthening continuity of trade with Canada, the number of ‘rollover agreements’ in place by the end of the Brexit transition period and advice to UK businesses.

Baroness Thornton (Labour) asked the government a ‘private notice question’ on the appointment of ministerial advisers. Members discussed topics including confidentiality rules for advisors and  improvements in government transparency.


Catch up: Wednesday 18 November 


Baroness Helic (Conservative) questioned the government on reports on treatment of migrants and asylum seekers at the border of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Members discussed topics including the exploitation of migrants by human traffickers and the UK’s work in areas of conflict to deescalate the migrant crisis.

Baroness Boycott (Crossbench) pressed the government on plans for campaigns on environmental behaviour change before COP 26. Members discussed topics including the overall costs of zero carbon, improving children’s education on the impact of plastic waste and including solar and onshore wind in the government’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution.

Lord Farmer (Conservative) questioned the government on cross-government policy to strengthen families. Members discussed topics including mental health support for children of families in conflict and considering the needs of families when making policy.

Lord Scriven (Liberal Democrat) questioned the government on its assessment of conflicts of interest before engaging specialist advisers to inform government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members discussed topics including the code of conduct for special advisors.

Catch up: Thursday 19 November 


Lord Balfe (Conservative) questioned the government on the resumption of face to face medical appointments. Members discussed the benefits of face to face appointments, learning from Iceland in its approach to telemedicine and the impact of virtual appointments on mental health services.

Lord O'Shaughnessy (Conservative) pressed the government on support for research into therapies and treatments for people with brain tumours. Members discussed government plans to discuss funding with representatives of brain cancer research charities, and the work by the University of Bristol and Queen’s University Belfast on precision medicine.

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury (Bishop) asked the government about encouraging fossil fuel intensive businesses to accelerate their move to net zero emissions. Members discussed topics including the work of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and the Transition Pathway Initiative in establishing a standard for net-zero, and the current costs of decarbonisation technologies on businesses.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Labour) questioned the government on the publication of the Dunlop Review into UK Government Union capability. Members discussed subjects including a potential review of government policies concerning Scotland and how soon the government plans to act on the recommendations in the review.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Labour) asked the government a ‘private notice question’ on the transparency and reporting requirements of the procurement of PPE. Members discussed producing a publicly available list of failed COVID-19 contracts and human rights concerns when making procurement deals with the Chinese government.