Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Q
(Stockton North)
Asked on: 05 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Prison Sentences: Mothers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the effect on children's social care services of mothers receiving custodial sentences.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 15 May 2020

We recognise that maternal imprisonment can have an impact on children’s social care services, and that children whose mothers are in prison are a vulnerable group and may need additional help to address both the short and long-term impacts that maternal imprisonment can have. Although the responsibility for the children of offenders sits with the Secretary of State for Education, we recognise the importance of joined-up working across Government and, in our Female Offender Strategy (2018), encouraged a partnership-focused approach to address effectively the needs of female offenders.

We recognise the negative impacts on families of imprisoned mothers and the heightened risk of intergenerational offending. As part of the Female Offender Strategy, we commissioned Lord Farmer to undertake a review of the importance of family and other relational ties for women in the criminal justice system. The Farmer Review for Women (2019) makes recommendations for improving family ties across custody and the community. As set out in the Department’s response to the JCHR report in the Right to family life: children whose mothers are in prison, we are committed to taking these recommendations forward to best effect and working with other Government Departments where needed.

The Review made proposals to examine and encourage partnership working between children’s social care services and justice agencies, including a Case Review of the social work processes that have led to children being removed from primary carers when they entered prison to be carried out by the Chief Social Worker for England (Children and Families). We are working with the Chief Social Worker and officials from the Department for Education to scope and deliver this recommendation, the progress of which has been paused due to COVID-19. Similarly, we will liaise closely as we scope are scoping the delivery of the Review’s recommendation for an on-site social worker to be part of the multi-disciplinary teams to act as a point of liaison with community-based children’s social care services.

Q
(Shrewsbury and Atcham)
Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Transport
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to reinstate non-essential (a) vocational driving tests and (b) non-vocational car driving tests during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 15 May 2020

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has suspended most driver testing, including vocational and non-vocational car tests, for up to three months to support the Government’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. The DVSA has a reduced workforce but will continue, as a major priority, to make tests available for those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or who work in critical sectors such as health and social care.

The DVSA is continually evaluating the current situation and is working closely with key stakeholders from the car, motorcycle and vocational industries to establish how to begin resuming its service of providing driving tests. Before practical driving tests are reintroduced, the DVSA will inform the driver training industry. This will help candidates prepare and reach the standard of driving needed to pass their test.

The DVSA remains committed to resume testing as soon as it is safe to do so and in line with further Government advice.

Q
Asked by Gareth Thomas
(Harrow West)
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department for International Trade
Motor Vehicles: Turkey
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on the (a) manufacturer finances and (b) employment figures in the UK motor manufacturing industry of proposed post-transition customs arrangements with Turkey.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 15 May 2020

The UK’s manufacturing and motor manufacturing industry plays a vital role in the UK’s economy by driving exports, innovation, job creation and productivity. We want to ensure that it continues to succeed.

At the end of the transition period, the UK will no longer be a member of the partial EU-Turkey customs union. We are preparing to negotiate a trade agreement with Turkey that would allow businesses in both the UK and Turkey to continue to trade with each other under preferential terms and deliver continuity of current arrangements as far as possible.

This department continues to engage with businesses in the automotive industry to understand their priorities and inform the UK’s approach.

Q
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beef: Prices
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department plans to take to address falling beef prices for UK producers; and what steps he is taking to promote UK beef to international markets during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Victoria Prentis
Answered on: 15 May 2020

Beef producers, as with other sectors, have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to Covid-19. This has led to problems with carcass imbalance.

The Government has well established ways of working with the food and farming industry supply chain to address temporary disruption. Defra and the devolved administrations are sharing the latest stakeholder information and data to ensure we have an evidence base for what is happening in specific markets, or specific geographical regions during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Secretary of State is also having regular meeting with the NFU and representatives of the beef sector.

Covid-19 impacts are also manifesting in the loss of export markets which would normally give value to parts of the carcass for which there is little demand in the UK and the shift away from the hospitality and food service sector to the retail sector.

Prices for prime cattle are showing signs of stabilising as industry has adapted and evolved to the current climate. Prices are up 3%, which is a positive sign of recovery.

Defra maintains a regular watching brief on the beef price and monitors all UK agricultural markets to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements and have continued to do so throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

To help overcome the current imbalance in retail sales of beef, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Quality Meat Scotland and Meat Promotion Wales are launching a £1.2 million ‘Make It Steak’, promotion campaign. The EU funded Private Storage Aid scheme also opened to the UK beef industry on 7 May.

Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign is raising the international profile and reputation of food and drink from across the UK. It builds global demand, drives awareness and increases positive perceptions of UK food and drink products amongst international trade audiences and consumers. The campaign promotes excellent food and drink products from across the four nations of the UK. For instance, most recently the campaign showcased British beef, Northern Irish gin, Scotch Whisky, Welsh lamb, Scottish Salmon and English Sparkling Wine to Japanese consumers, trade and media in events coinciding with the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. Defra also continues to work in partnership with industry and other Government departments to open new markets for the meat sector. This has included recently opening beef and lamb markets to Japan and progressing towards opening of the beef market to China for the first time in over 20 years.

Q
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what comparative analysis they have undertaken of the number of dairy farmers affected by COVID-19 provided (1) in the letter sent to Peers by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 22 April, and (2) in the briefing by the National Farmers Union provided to MPs on 15 April; whether they found any significant variation between those figures; and if so, what steps they intend to take in response.
A
Answered on: 14 May 2020

Dairy farmers are crucial in ensuring that food supplies remain resilient in this difficult period. While the vast majority of the UK's dairy farmers are largely unaffected some have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to COVID-19. Between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the food service trade. We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK to ensure that those most affected are supported.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector on 7 May we announced a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The AHDB, together with Dairy UK, have launched a new £1 million campaign to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign will highlight the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

The dairy industry can also access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to dairy farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme applies to businesses operating in agriculture and will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

We also took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and those in other sectors. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers' hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder and butter also continues to be available. Industry can sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. This provides a floor price for dairy products. UK processors are also eligible for the recently opened private storage aid scheme for dairy.

Furthermore, the statutory instrument (SI) temporarily relaxing some elements of competition law for the dairy industry was laid before Parliament on 1 May 2020 and applies retrospectively from 1 April 2020. This makes it easier for the dairy industry to collaborate to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency in order to avoid wastage and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. The AHDB and Dairy UK have offered to work with the dairy industry to support the enactment of the powers under the SI. We and the Devolved Administrations are working closely with them on this.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Grouped Questions: HL3680 | HL3681
Q
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letter sent to Peers by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 22 April, when they expect to receive the proposals by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK about the alleviation of overproduction in the dairy farming sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered on: 14 May 2020

Dairy farmers are crucial in ensuring that food supplies remain resilient in this difficult period. While the vast majority of the UK's dairy farmers are largely unaffected some have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to COVID-19. Between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the food service trade. We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK to ensure that those most affected are supported.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector on 7 May we announced a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The AHDB, together with Dairy UK, have launched a new £1 million campaign to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign will highlight the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

The dairy industry can also access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to dairy farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme applies to businesses operating in agriculture and will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

We also took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and those in other sectors. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers' hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder and butter also continues to be available. Industry can sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. This provides a floor price for dairy products. UK processors are also eligible for the recently opened private storage aid scheme for dairy.

Furthermore, the statutory instrument (SI) temporarily relaxing some elements of competition law for the dairy industry was laid before Parliament on 1 May 2020 and applies retrospectively from 1 April 2020. This makes it easier for the dairy industry to collaborate to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency in order to avoid wastage and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. The AHDB and Dairy UK have offered to work with the dairy industry to support the enactment of the powers under the SI. We and the Devolved Administrations are working closely with them on this.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Grouped Questions: HL3679 | HL3681
Q
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the actual number of dairy farmers who require support given the COVID-19 pandemic; and what steps they have taken to ensure that appropriate and prompt support is provided to those that need it most.
A
Answered on: 14 May 2020

Dairy farmers are crucial in ensuring that food supplies remain resilient in this difficult period. While the vast majority of the UK's dairy farmers are largely unaffected some have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to COVID-19. Between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the food service trade. We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK to ensure that those most affected are supported.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector on 7 May we announced a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The AHDB, together with Dairy UK, have launched a new £1 million campaign to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign will highlight the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

The dairy industry can also access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to dairy farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme applies to businesses operating in agriculture and will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

We also took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and those in other sectors. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers' hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder and butter also continues to be available. Industry can sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. This provides a floor price for dairy products. UK processors are also eligible for the recently opened private storage aid scheme for dairy.

Furthermore, the statutory instrument (SI) temporarily relaxing some elements of competition law for the dairy industry was laid before Parliament on 1 May 2020 and applies retrospectively from 1 April 2020. This makes it easier for the dairy industry to collaborate to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency in order to avoid wastage and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. The AHDB and Dairy UK have offered to work with the dairy industry to support the enactment of the powers under the SI. We and the Devolved Administrations are working closely with them on this.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Grouped Questions: HL3679 | HL3680
Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 30 April 2020
Ministry of Justice
Administration of Justice: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 on the administration of justice, and in particular on (1) victim services, (2) litigants in person, and (3) defendants.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 14 May 2020

HM Courts & Tribunals Service is working hard to keep our justice system functioning during this unprecedented public health emergency. Our priorities are to maintain access to justice and to protect the safety of all who work in the courts and tribunals.

We are continuously reviewing our approach in light of PHE advice and to understand impacts on our all our users, particularly those who are vulnerable.

(1) Victim services

We are committed to ensuring victims continue to receive the support they need during this challenging time, and have robust and flexible plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver key services across the justice system, including the support of victims.

We have been working across government and with justice partner agencies to ensure that there will be comprehensive support for victims and witnesses across England and Wales.

(2) Litigants in person

The recently agreed Legal Support for Litigants in Person Grant will invest £3.1m over two years to enhance support for litigants in person. We are working closely with delivery partners in the advice sector to ensure the department’s grant funding to litigants in person support services remains responsive to the needs of those self-representing in the justice system, including the impacts of COVID-19. This new funding is in addition to the approximately £8m invested through the Litigants in Person Support Strategy (LIPSS) since 2014/15.

(3) Defendants

We are working very closely with the judiciary to prioritise caseload and case types, and continually reviewing procedures to support access to justice during the emergency period, particularly for the most time-critical and sensitive cases. In the Crown and magistrates’ courts, bail applications and cases where the defendant is in custody awaiting sentence have been prioritised.

Q
(Torfaen)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 06 May 2020
Home Office
Serious Violence Taskforce
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the serious violence taskforce last met.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 14 May 2020

The Serious Violence Taskforce was established in 2018 to oversee the implementation of the Serious Violence Strategy. It last met on 26 June 2019.

The Government remains incredibly grateful for the work of the Taskforce which brought together Ministers, senior leaders and key partners. The Taskforce influenced additional action and investment in this area, for example through the creation of the new £200m Youth Endowment Fund, the consultation on the new duty on agencies to reduce serious violence and the launch of the Independent Review of Drugs Misuse.

The Government’s Manifesto set out an ambitious package of reforms to deliver on the people’s priorities and tackle violent crime and safeguard people’s streets and neighbourhoods. The Prime Minister and Home Secretary are driving this with a new cross-Whitehall Crime and Justice Taskforce to ensure we use every lever at our disposal to fight crime.

We will consider the future role for the Serious Violence Taskforce in delivering these priorities, within this context.

Grouped Questions: 43990
Q
(Torfaen)
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Home Office
Serious Violence Taskforce
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the serious violence taskforce next plans to meet.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 14 May 2020

The Serious Violence Taskforce was established in 2018 to oversee the implementation of the Serious Violence Strategy. It last met on 26 June 2019.

The Government remains incredibly grateful for the work of the Taskforce which brought together Ministers, senior leaders and key partners. The Taskforce influenced additional action and investment in this area, for example through the creation of the new £200m Youth Endowment Fund, the consultation on the new duty on agencies to reduce serious violence and the launch of the Independent Review of Drugs Misuse.

The Government’s Manifesto set out an ambitious package of reforms to deliver on the people’s priorities and tackle violent crime and safeguard people’s streets and neighbourhoods. The Prime Minister and Home Secretary are driving this with a new cross-Whitehall Crime and Justice Taskforce to ensure we use every lever at our disposal to fight crime.

We will consider the future role for the Serious Violence Taskforce in delivering these priorities, within this context.

Grouped Questions: 43989
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they are doing in relation to the measures to react to SARS-CoV-2 to support the adoption of agroecological farming practices in the dairy sector, which require small, largely grass-fed operations rather than factory farming.
A
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Defra is working very closely with the dairy and other agricultural sectors through this period of disruption to manage the impact of Covid-9 on the dairy supply chain.

The Government encourages environmentally-friendly farming. Each farming method has its own benefits and it is a farmer’s commercial decision to choose the system that best suits their farm. Environmentally-friendly farming and food production can go hand in hand.

To support the dairy industry through impacts of Covid-19, we have introduced a wide range of measures, which will also benefit dairy farmers employing agro-ecological practices.

We have eased some elements of competition law to make it easier for dairy processors to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and ensure as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products.

Moreover, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector we announced on 7 May a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

AHDB together with Dairy UK have also launched a new £1m campaign to drive consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign will highlight the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

Alongside the Covid-19 Business Interruption Loans Scheme, HMT has announced the new Bounce Back Loan scheme which will also apply to businesses operating in agriculture. This will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan, to give lenders the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country. We will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees charged to the business by the lender.

The existing public intervention scheme for skimmed milk powder and butter continues to be available. This provides a floor price for dairy products, supporting the dairy industry to sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. In addition from 7 May, UK dairy processors are also eligible to apply for EU funded private storage aid in respect of skimmed milk powder, butter and cheese.

For organic dairy farmers whose milk is being sold as conventional milk, we offered a derogation to allow these farmers to provide their cows with conventional feed in order to reduce costs.

The new Environmental Land Management scheme will be the cornerstone of our future agricultural policy. It will reward farmers and land managers for the delivery of public goods with public money. The ELM scheme is being designed collaboratively with stakeholders. We are considering how more environmentally-sustainable farming approaches, including organic farming and agro-ecological approaches, may fit within ELM where these contribute towards the delivery of environmental public goods. Land managers will be paid for delivering the following public goods set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan: clean air; clean and plentiful water; thriving plants and wildlife; protection from and mitigation of environmental hazards; beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment; mitigation of and adaptation to climate change

Meanwhile, Countryside Stewardship (CS) provides a stepping stone to the future scheme, paying for environmental enhancements now as area-based payments are phased out. CS supports Defra’s Strategic Objective of ‘a cleaner, healthier environment, benefitting people and the economy’. Through the scheme, farmers can apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands to managing flood risk.

We will continue to offer Countryside Stewardship agreements in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Q
Asked by Baroness Rock
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to grant schemes to support dairy and tenant farmers.
A
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Defra is working very closely with the dairy and other agricultural sectors through this period of disruption to manage the impact of COVID-19 on the dairy supply chain.

We have eased some elements of competition law to make it easier for dairy processors to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and ensure as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products.

Moreover, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector we announced on 7 May a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board together with Dairy UK have launched a new £1 million campaign running over 12 weeks to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

Alongside the COVID-19 Business Interruption Loans Scheme, HMT has announced the new Bounce Back Loan scheme which will also apply to businesses operating in agriculture. This will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan, to give lenders the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country. We will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees charged to the business by the lender.

A vibrant tenanted sector is vital to a successful future for agriculture, a third of agricultural land in England is tenanted. Tenant farmers can access the business support schemes the government has put in place to help in these unprecedented times.

In addition, Defra has worked closely with the Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association on a joint initiative to encourage all rural landlords and tenants to work together collaboratively and compassionately at this time in respect of all tenancy matters, but particularly regarding rent payments, notices to quit and finalising new tenancy agreements. Furthermore, from 27 March 2020, court possession proceedings have been suspended for a 90-day period. This is in line with public health advice to limit all nonessential movement and it provides agricultural tenants with additional assurance that they are protected from eviction proceedings during this difficult time.

As the situation evolves Defra will continue frequent engagement with farming (including tenant farming) and processor representatives to understand the urgent support needed to help ensure the continued viability of all parts of the sector.

Q
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure long-term sustainability of the British dairy sector; and whether service contracts have been checked to ensure that all public services source milk from UK dairy farmers.
A
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The Government is working closely with our agriculture sectors to manage the impact of COVID-19 and is determined that our dairy sector will emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis with a sustainable future. While the vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at the usual price, between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the service trade, and these farmers have been impacted by the significantly reduced demand following the closure of the food service sector.

To support the sector we have temporarily eased of some elements of competition law to make it easier for the dairy industry to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and ensure as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. This approach will allow the market for milk to adjust to the change in demand for milk while allowing production to be restored when shops, restaurants and pubs are able to open again. Exempted activities have been developed in conjunction with the dairy industry.

Moreover, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector on 7 May we announced a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board together with Dairy UK have launched a new £1 million campaign running over 12 weeks to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

The dairy industry can also access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loans scheme is available to farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, which will apply to businesses including those operating in agriculture, will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

In the longer term the Government is keen to see greater levels of collaboration between producers and we will continue to support farmers who want to harness the benefits of working together. Our Agriculture Bill includes powers to introduce a new domestic system for recognising producer organisations, which will be better tailored to the requirements of UK producers.

The Bill also includes powers to introduce and enforce statutory codes of practice to address unfair trading practices which can occur between milk producers and purchasers. We will carry out a full consultation on dairy contracts to take account of the range of stakeholder views and anticipate launching the consultation later this year.

British food and drink are renowned around the world for its quality and integrity and we want consumers, including public service organisations, to be able to benefit from our nutritious dairy and other agricultural products. Respecting our World Trade Organization commitments on public procurement, central Government and its executive agencies in England are mandated to source produce that meets UK minimum production standards, as outlined in the "Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering”.

Q
Asked by Lord German
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners were, are, or will be within two months of the end of their release date in (1) March, (2) April, (3) May, and (4) June 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 13 May 2020

In the prison population serving a determinate sentence (excluding recalls) as at 31 March 2020, there were:

  • 7,346 with a release date from 31 March 2020 to 31 May 2020 (inclusive)
  • 5,503 with a release date from 30 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 (inclusive)
  • 4,503 with a release date from 31 May 2020 to 31July 2020 (inclusive)
  • 4,185 with a release date from 30 June 2020 to 31 August 2020 (inclusive)
Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Department for Transport
East West Railway Company: Trains
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he had with the East-West Rail Company prior to their tender for diesel units; and what assessment he has made of the merits of that line being an electrified railway.
A
Answered by: Chris Heaton-Harris
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The Department is investing in transport infrastructure that meets the needs of people and businesses, and is driving forward the development of policy on the decarbonisation and sustainability of rail. The East West Rail Company is currently seeking to procure rolling stock on an interim basis to enable services to be delivered as soon as possible whilst ongoing discussions about the case and options for the electrification of the railway in the long term are concluded.

Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Remand in Custody
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what was the (a) mean and (b) median number of days (i) women and (ii) men spent remanded in custody in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Centrally held court data does not include the amount of time spent remanded in custody, and therefore obtaining this information would result in a disproportionate cost to the department.

Prison receptions data has enabled an approximation of the data that has been requested. The attached tables provide information on the mean and median amount of time that men and women were remanded in custody up to the point that they were sentenced (Table 1), and remanded in custody pre-trial up to the point that they were admitted to prison between conviction and sentencing (Table 2), in each of the last five years. It has not been possible to estimate the mean and median amount of time that unconvicted men and women were remanded in custody during a trial process that resulted in no conviction because this specific data could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost to the department.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 21.07 KB)
Grouped Questions: 42958 | 42959
Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Remand in Custody
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what was the (a) mean and and (b) median number of days unconvicted (i) women and (ii) men spent remanded in custody in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Centrally held court data does not include the amount of time spent remanded in custody, and therefore obtaining this information would result in a disproportionate cost to the department.

Prison receptions data has enabled an approximation of the data that has been requested. The attached tables provide information on the mean and median amount of time that men and women were remanded in custody up to the point that they were sentenced (Table 1), and remanded in custody pre-trial up to the point that they were admitted to prison between conviction and sentencing (Table 2), in each of the last five years. It has not been possible to estimate the mean and median amount of time that unconvicted men and women were remanded in custody during a trial process that resulted in no conviction because this specific data could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost to the department.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 21.07 KB)
Grouped Questions: 42957 | 42959
Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Remand in Custody
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an estimate of the (a) mean and (b) median number of days unconvicted (i) women and (ii) men spent remanded in custody during a trial process that ended without them being convicted in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Centrally held court data does not include the amount of time spent remanded in custody, and therefore obtaining this information would result in a disproportionate cost to the department.

Prison receptions data has enabled an approximation of the data that has been requested. The attached tables provide information on the mean and median amount of time that men and women were remanded in custody up to the point that they were sentenced (Table 1), and remanded in custody pre-trial up to the point that they were admitted to prison between conviction and sentencing (Table 2), in each of the last five years. It has not been possible to estimate the mean and median amount of time that unconvicted men and women were remanded in custody during a trial process that resulted in no conviction because this specific data could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost to the department.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 21.07 KB)
Grouped Questions: 42957 | 42958
Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Remand in Custody: Females
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in the number of women held on remand in the year to March 2020.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The number of women in custody on remand has declined significantly over the past 15 years, having decreased from around 1,000 (as at June 2005) to 559 (as at March 2020).

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) includes a real prospect of custody test. This sets out that a court can only consider a remand in custody if the defendant, if convicted, would face a custodial sentence.

While there was an increase of 8% (520 to 559) in the number of women on remand in the year to March 2020, this figure is comparable with the 564 women on remand at 31 March 2018.

We are working on a number of areas for male and female offenders which should assist and support the courts in their decision-making. This includes the implementation of a national Bail Information Service as a priority service in those courts that remain open, which aims to ensure the identification of defendants who might be eligible for bail, and to provide sufficient information to the courts to enable them to make fully informed decisions in each individual case.

The National Probation Service has developed an Aide Memoire for use when court reports are being completed about women. The Aide Memoire for Reports on Women is designed to prompt probation officers writing presentence reports to consider all areas related to a woman’s offending and to make a robust proposal for a community sentence whenever appropriate.

In addition, the Female Offender Strategy (2018), set out an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders at all stages of the justice system, and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver.

Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Offenders: Females
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent progress his Department has made on the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The Female Offender Strategy (2018) set out our vision to see fewer women entering the justice system and reoffending; fewer women in custody, particularly on short custodial sentences, with more managed successfully in the community; and a custodial environment that enables rehabilitation. The strategy launched an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver.

Almost two years on from publication of the Strategy we are making good progress. We have invested £5.1 million Strategy funding in 30 different women’s services across England and Wales, helping to sustain and enhance existing services, fill gaps in provision, and provide properties for new women’s centres. Other achievements include publication of a new Women’s Policy Framework; roll-out of new training for staff working with women in custody and the community; improvements to the preparation of pre-sentence reports; publication and ongoing implementation of the recommendations in Lord Farmer’s review into family ties for female offenders; undertaken a review of police forces’ responses to our guidance on working with vulnerable women; piloting a new offender management model for women under supervision in the community; commissioning research to inform our policy on BAME female offenders; and a review of the operational policy on Pregnancy, Mother and Baby Units, and Mothers separated from children under the age of 2 in prison which is due to report shortly.

On 5 May 2020, we announced the investment of a further £2.5m in women’s community services in England and Wales in 2020/21, supporting them to tackle the root causes of offending and help women to turn their lives around. We also announced that the first site of our residential women’s centre pilot will be located in Wales. This will provide accommodation for vulnerable women with complex needs who would otherwise be sentenced to custody, enabling them to stay closer to home and maintain important family ties, and will directly tackle the issues which often underlie offending, like substance misuse and mental health. We will now work with Welsh Government and partners in Wales to identify a provider and site, with the aim of opening the centre by the end of next year.

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