Foreign policy and COVID-19 infection rates in Lords questions for government
14 January 2021
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 11 to Thursday 14 January, members quiz the government on climate change, shelter for the homeless during lockdown, animal welfare and the impact of households mixing over Christmas on infection rates.
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (Green Party) asked the government about its plans to support the initiative for an Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability. Members discussed methods to help businesses lower their environmental footprint and government plans to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Viscount Hanworth (Labour) questioned the government on National Grid capacity and plans to commission the construction of small modular reactors to address capacity issues identified. Members discussed funding the construction of nuclear power stations and the role of nuclear power in producing low-carbon electricity.
Baroness Morgan of Cotes (Conservative) quizzed the government on the resumption of grassroots sporting fixtures and the re-opening of sport facilities. Members discussed re-opening sports that enable social distancing such as tennis and golf, plus methods to increase physical activity for school children and young people.
Lord Lexden (Conservative) asked the government about discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive on extending the Defamation Act 2013 to Northern Ireland. Members discussed work by the Northern Ireland Executive to update the defamation laws in the region and the timescale for bringing these laws in line with the rest of the UK.
Baroness Grender (Liberal Democrat) asked the government a ‘private notice question’ on reinstating the ‘Everybody In’ scheme in England to provide shelter for homeless people during the current national lockdown. Members discussed including asylum seekers and refugees in any plans to provide shelter for the homeless during the pandemic, plus evictions over rent arrears contributing to homelessness.
Baroness Hayman of Ullock (Labour) pressed the government on its plans to improve enforcement rates for animal welfare and wildlife crime offences. Members discussed further scrutiny of the animal welfare bill, and government plans to make wildlife crimes a recordable offence.
Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) quizzed the government on the costs of replacing gas boilers and heaters in all homes in the UK. Members discussed replacing gas boilers and heaters in flats and social housing, plus the potential running costs of new heating systems.
Lord Greaves (Liberal Democrat) questioned the government on the reliance on the use of technology for the provision of essential services. Members discussed implementing methods suggested by the National Infrastructure Commission to prevent and better respond to cyber attacks, plus using technology in care settings to support the social care sector.
Baroness Walmsley (Liberal Democrat) asked the government about the legal availability of cannabis oil to patients when prescribed by a physician. Members discussed ensuring the continued supply of hormone therapies produced by the EU, and government plans to provide training to healthcare staff for prescribing cannabis oil.
Baroness Deech (Crossbench) asked the government a 'private notice question' on the impact of delaying a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Members discussed performing targeted vaccine research trials, and ensuring the NHS has the resources in place to administer both vaccines.
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Labour) questioned the government on how many people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities participated in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Members discussed ensuring that the COVID-19 treatments are effective for everybody, and working with Black-led research and impact agencies to help with the rollout of the vaccine in Black communities.
Lord Scriven (Liberal Democrat) asked the government about the impact of household mixing from 23-27 December on COVID-19 infection rates. Members discussed the risks of the COVID-19 mutation affecting the efficacy of vaccines, and the number of people in the UK who may be immune from the new variant.
Lord Thomas of Gresford (Liberal Democrat) pressed the government on the arrest and transfer of suspects between the EU and the UK. Members discussed reasons for the decrease in extradition cases at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, plus the additional costs of trials for those wanted in the UK having to take place in the accused’s home country.
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour) questioned the government on the number of small businesses which could close permanently as a result of the restrictions to address COVID-19. Members discussed retargeting government support for sectors with a high level of freelance, seasonal and self-employed workers, plus government plans to help high street businesses improve their online presence.
Lord Young of Cookham (Conservative) quizzed the government on its plans to establish the Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights Commission. Members discussed developing a cross party, independent approach to the commission and ensuring that the commissions remit covers the impact of press and media on the unity of the UK.
Baroness Northover (Liberal Democrat) questioned the government on enabling regular dialogue between the UK and the EU about foreign policy matters. Members discussed the mechanisms in place to ensure regular contact with the UK’s bilateral partners in the EU 27, plus creating alliances with other nations against human rights abuses in China.
Lord Aberdare (Crossbench) questioned the government on the steps it has taken since publication of the responses to its consultation on retention payments in the construction industry. Members discussed preventing small construction firms from closing and developing legislation to avoid late and non-payments to small companies by larger firms.
Lord Randall of Uxbridge (Conservative) asked the government about the impact on biodiversity of the decision to grant authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet in 2021. Members discussed the potential harm of pesticides entering soil and water, plus enabling innovative breeding technologies to allow both conventional and organic farmers to use fewer pesticides.
Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Labour) asked the government a 'private notice question' on what steps they are taking to monitor the quality of food parcels currently being supplied to families in lieu of free school meals. Members discussed the option of offering parents cash over vouchers, and the need for a review into child poverty.