Committee Selection Rules

In response to the campaign on committee selection rules, David said:

"These motions have been designed to ensure that the Government's working majority is available right across Parliament, both on the floor of the House and in committees. Where there is an even number of members on a committee there will be equality with other parties. A committee with an odd number of members will see a majority of one. 

This is simply about ensuring that detailed legislation can be dealt with in committee, rather than the Commons at Report Stage having to reverse amendments made by an Opposition-controlled committee. When the Labour Government was faced with a similar situation in 1976 they passed a motion for a majority of one in Standing Committees. 

Parliament plays a vital constitutional role, scrutinising, and often enhancing legislation. However it is also important that the Government is provided with the opportunity to implement the legislative commitments made in the Queen's Speech and to ensure that we leave the European Union in an orderly fashion."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Air Passenger Duty

In response to the campaign on Air Passenger Duty (APD), David said:

"The Government has continued to reform APD in the interests of passengers. Duties on long flights have been reduced and duties on short flights have been frozen, and will only rise by inflation from 2018-19. Children travelling in Economy Class are also exempt from APD. Together, these reforms provided a tax saving to the aviation sector of over £300m in 2016/17 alone.

Furthermore, there is no tax on aviation fuel or VAT charged for aviation travel. Therefore, the Government needs to ensure that the aviation sector plays its part in contributing towards general taxation through APD. Due to these duties the sector contributes £3.1 billion a year, funding that would otherwise have to be found elsewhere.

I am pleased that the aviation sector continues to grow strongly. Passenger numbers at UK airports have grown by 19 per cent since 2010 and the Government’s recent reforms to APD have helped sustain this growth."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

#NoBrexit Campaign

In response to the #NoBrexit campaign, David said:

"The Prime Minister has been clear that she wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the Repeal Bill is being introduced and why I support it. This bill will transfer EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law once the UK leaves the EU. This will provide the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity for the UK.

I also believe that a future partnership between the UK and the EU is in the interests of both sides. As the Prime Minister has explained, a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe are not competing alternatives and they are not mutually exclusive. The Prime Minister reiterated this in her speech made on the 22 September 2017 in Florence. The full transcript of the speech can found here.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not want or expect an outcome with no deal. A responsible government should, of course, prepare for all eventualities and this is exactly what my ministerial colleagues are doing. This includes the unlikely scenario where no agreement can be reached.

The bill recently passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday, with 318 votes for and 301 against. The full debate can be found here."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

NHS Takeback Campaign

In response to the NHS Takeback campaign, David said:

"The NHS is a crucial part of the United Kingdom and the Government is dedicated to protecting it and its values. Ministers have guaranteed that it will always provide treatment free at the point of need, regardless of the ability to pay. The Government will not privatise the NHS.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to increase NHS spending in England by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years. This will enable the NHS to implement its ‘Five Year Forward View’ plan in order to further improve health care in the future.

The focus throughout the NHS is to provide the highest quality of care to patients. This is why competition between public and private providers in the NHS acts only as a means to an end in improving services for patients, never as an end in itself.

The use of private providers and the voluntary sector in the delivery of NHS services is not a new concept. The Labour Government between 1997 and 2010 introduced the independent sector and competition into the NHS. The use of private providers in the NHS represents just over seven pence in every pound the NHS spends, an increase of just two and a half pence in the pound since 2010, and a slower rate of growth than under Labour."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Personal Independence Payment

In response to the campaign on disability benefits, David said:

"The aim of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is to ensure support is focused on those with the greatest barrier to independence. Around £50 billion of public money a year is spent to support people with disabilities and health conditions. Spending on disability benefits has risen by over £3 billion in real terms since 2010, and will remain higher in each year to 2020 than in 2010. PIP is an important part of this. It has been designed to focus more support on people who have higher costs associated with their condition. Entitlement is not based on what condition a person has, but on how their condition affects their ability to live an independent life.

I appreciate your concerns about the assessment process. The Department for Work and Pensions is continually reviewing and refining the PIP process in order to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. New claims are now being cleared in under a third of the time they were in July 2014, at a current average of 13 weeks from registration to decision. The Government is committed to further improving this process.

A public consultation has just closed which asked how the assessment process could be made easier and quicker, with particular focus on how information can be shared between decision makers, lessening the amount of paperwork for claimants. Additionally, a new feedback system will be introduced for claimants to talk about their experience claiming PIP, which will help focus reforms where they matter to claimants.

PIP is an important source of support for many disabled people, and these changes will ensure those people continue to be supported."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Anthony Nolan 'Who Cares?' Campaign

In response to the Anthony Nolan 'Who Cares?' campaign, David said:

"It is highly important to increase the number of stem cell donors in the UK, so I understand and welcome the vital work undertaken by Anthony Nolan.

In 2015 the Government announced an extra £3 million in additional funding for stem cell services. This is part of £19 million in additional investment that the Government has committed since 2010 to improve the provision of cells in the UK.  This funding is being used to encourage young adults to become donors, as well as those from under-represented populations, such as black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, who find it difficult to secure a suitable match.

It is encouraging that the total number of registered stem cell donors continues to expand. In 2010, the total number of registered donors in the United Kingdom was 770,000, increasing to over one million by the end of 2014. This enabled more UK patients to receive a stem cell transplant in 2014 than ever before.

Aiding recovery should be a high priority. In February 2017, NHS England confirmed that it will fund second stem cell transplants for patients who suffer relapses following a first transplant. A large number of hospitals offer an Enhanced Recovery programme for those who have received major surgery, helping patients enjoy a quick and successful recovery."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Delegated Powers and the EU Repeal Bill

In response to the campaign on the delegated powers granted by the EU Repeal Bill, David said:

"The Prime Minister has been clear that she wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the Repeal Bill is being introduced and why I support it. This bill will transfer EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law at the point of the UK's departure from the EU. This will make sure that the UK has a functioning statute book when it leaves the EU and it will provide the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity.

When closing the Second Reading of the Bill on Monday 11th September, I addressed its 3 main criticisms: the inclusion of underlying principles of EU law; the matter of devolution and the powers of devolved Administrations; and the issue of the delegated powers that are granted by the Bill. My full speech, as well as the full debate on the Bill, can be found here:

The Bill will also give ministers in the UK Government and in the devolved administrations a temporary power to make legal corrections to transposed EU legislation. This power will be limited to two years after exit day. It is important to emphasise that this power could only be used to make corrections to transposed law, rather than implement major policy changes. Crucially, Parliament or the devolved legislatures will also be able to scrutinise any statutory instrument made under this power.

I can also assure you that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 and that this means leaving the single market and the customs union at that point. The single market and the customs union are the main and essential elements of the EU. To remain in either would mean not really leaving the EU at all. Leaving these will ensure that the referendum result is respected in full and that the UK has more control over the issues you mention.

The Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Monday 11th September by 326 votes to 290 votes."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

In response to the campaign on Alzheimer's, David said:

"Dementia is a priority for the Government. In 2015, the Challenge on Dementia 2020 was launched and the Government remains committed to delivering this. This plan will provide more funding for dementia care, support and research, whilst also increasing public awareness.

In March 2016, the Government published an Implementation Plan to support the 2020 Challenge which has been produced with key partners across the health and care sectors. Alongside this, a joint declaration has been published setting out an ambition to improve the quality of post-diagnostic care.

Progress in the care, support and treatment of people with dementia has been made, with more people receiving a diagnosis of dementia than ever before. Over 660,000 NHS staff have received dementia training with further training opportunities rolled out to all NHS staff by the end of 2018. Additionally, over 100,000 social care workers have received some form of dementia awareness training.

Research is crucial to understanding and tackling dementia and the Government has doubled research spending on dementia. This will be maintained to total over £300 million by 2020, with the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute receiving £150 million.

I believe it is important to increase public awareness of dementia and I am encouraged that there are over 1.7 million Dementia Friends and 175 Dementia Friendly Communities in England."

More details about the Government's plans to tackle dementia and Alzheimer's disease can be found here.

Bees and Neonicotinoids

In response to the campaign on bees and neonicotinoids, David said:

"Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to protect them, most recently through its National Pollinator Strategy.

While we remain in the EU the UK will continue to meet its obligations under EU law, including restrictions on neonicotinoids.

As part of the preparation for exiting the EU, Ministers are considering future arrangements for pesticides. Their highest priority will continue to be the protection of people and the environment and, taking the advice of the independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, they will base these decisions on a careful scientific assessment of the risks."

Asylum for Victims of Torture

In response to the campaign on asylum for victims of torture, David said:

"Granting protection to those who need it and refusing those who do not, in an efficient and effective a way, is crucial.

I have been assured that all members of staff who make asylum decisions receive a comprehensive level of training. This includes a dedicated five-week Foundation Training Programme that includes training on international and domestic law and safeguarding issues, which is supplemented by a mentoring programme with an experienced decision maker that lasts from three to six months.

The course is explicit that decision makers must not make clinical judgements and must properly consider evidence and give appropriate weight to all evidence presented in order to reach an informed decision, only rejecting claims when there is a significant reason to do so. It includes example medico-legal reports which the trainees must analyse and interpret as part of a number of practical exercises. 

Following training, there is a quality assurance process in place involving technical specialists embedded within each team, senior caseworkers within each unit and a national internal quality audit team who ensure that all policies are complied with when decisions are made.

I should also highlight that Asylum Operations recently received funding from the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund to review and redevelop its training manual. Asylum Operations is cooperating with a range of charities and non-governmental organisations, to ensure that there is effective safeguarding training.

The cases of those who have been abused who claim asylum in the UK must be processed quickly and efficiently, and I am assured the procedures are in place to do so."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Executive Pay

In response to the campaign on executive pay, David said:

"As you may be aware the Government has now announced its plans on corporate governance reform following a thorough consultation process. A focus of these reforms will be to tackle abuses and excesses in the boardroom, specifically that of executive pay.

Previous reforms introduced by the Government in 2013 have gone some way to strengthening and increasing transparency in the UK executive pay framework - in particular the requirement to gain shareholder approval for executive pay policies every three years and the need to disclose the pay of each director as a single figure. However, I appreciate that executive pay has continued to be a key factor in public dissatisfaction with large businesses, and a source of frustration to UK investors.

That is why action is being taken which will address concerns that a minority of companies are not responding adequately when they encounter significant shareholder opposition to levels of executive pay. Under new measures the Government will name listed companies on a public register if 20 per cent or more of their shareholders revolt over proposals for executive pay package.

In addition, the Government will require listed companies to reveal the pay ratio between bosses and workers. At the same time, remuneration committees will be made to do more to engage with the workforce to explain how pay at the top relates to wider company pay policy. The Financial Reporting Council has also been asked to revise the UK Corporate Governance Code to extend the recommended minimum vesting and post-vesting holding period for executive share awards from three to five years to encourage companies to focus on longer-term outcomes in setting pay."

Home Energy Efficiency

In response to the campaign on home energy efficiency, David said:

"I agree that the sustainability of buildings is crucial to tackling climate change in the UK, and recognise that energy efficiency and decarbonising buildings will be key to meeting our domestic commitments.

All households should be able to invest in energy efficiency improvements and there is a range of programmes designed to support different houses and locations. All homes are eligible for insulation measures, including solid wall insulation, through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. In addition, a package of changes incentivise energy suppliers to deliver more heating and insulation measures in non gas-fuelled homes, including oil fired boiler replacements. Over two million energy efficiency measures have been installed in over 1.6 million homes since 2013, and a further 1 million homes will be insulated by 2020.

For non fuel-poor households, however, the priority is to help create a sustainable market for energy efficiency and low carbon products, rather than rely primarily on subsidy. That is why the Government commissioned the Each Home Counts review of quality, standards and advice in home energy efficiency and renewables, which reported in December 2016. Ministers are now working with industry on its approach to implementing the findings of that review and I will be following the outcome of this closely.

Finally, in the last six years, energy performance for new homes has increased. The Government is carrying out a review to determine whether minimum standards should be further strengthened. It has always been clear, however, that carbon reduction needs to be achieved in the most practical and cost-effective way possible."

More information about this campaign can be found here.

Environment Laws

In response to the campaign on environment laws after the UK leaves the EU, David said:

"Ministers are committed to safeguarding our natural environment. Until we leave the European Union, the existing arrangements remain in place. The Treasury has confirmed that any structural fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before our departure from the EU will be honoured for their lifetime even if they run beyond this point.

Following the vote to leave, Ministers will work with environmental organisations and the public to develop new policies. Leaving the EU means we can tailor them to the needs of our precious habitats and wildlife, instead of following a one size fits all approach for 28 different countries. Ministers are committed to seizing this opportunity as they work on an ambitious 25 Year Plan for the environment.

I am proud of the Government’s record in creating and improving habitats, and I welcome the commitment to plant 11 million more trees by 2020. Tackling air quality is another priority. Alongside national action and continued investment in cleaner technologies, in those cities with the most persistent air quality challenges Ministers will legislate to implement Clean Air Zones.

The UK will continue to play a leading role in combatting climate change, as we did at the Paris Conference. Britain’s share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Bowel Cancer

In response to the campaign on bowel cancer, David said:

"Over eight in ten cases of bowel cancer occur in the over 60s and I agree that early diagnosis is key.

Under the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England, people aged 60-74 years old are sent a home testing kit every two years. Those aged above the eligible age limit are also able to self-refer for screening. As part of the programme, a new test is being introduced which is easier to complete and it is hoped that 200,000 more people per year will take up the opportunity to be screened.  An additional one-off bowel scope screening test is also being introduced for those aged 55 years old. 

All hospital trusts are able to offer screening for patients if clinically appropriate. New cancer referral guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published in June 2015 state that GPs should refer patients for testing in hospital if they present with relevant symptoms at relevant ages. 

Cancer survival rates in the UK have never been higher, however, I am aware that there is still more to be done. The Government is working with the NHS, charities and patient groups to deliver the new cancer strategy developed by the independent Cancer Taskforce. By 2020, everyone urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer will receive either a definitive diagnosis or the all-clear within four weeks.

The £1.2 billion Cancer Drugs Fund has helped over 95,000 people and I continue to support the Government’s commitment to increase NHS spending in England by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

NSPCC's 'Keeping Children Safe' Campaign

In response to the NSPCC's 'Keeping Children Safe' campaign, David said:

"Schools have a vital role to play in keeping children safe and should provide young people with a curriculum that equips them for adult life. The Government has legislated to make Relationships and Sex Education mandatory for all secondary school aged children, and Relationships Education for all primary school aged children, giving pupils the knowledge they will need to stay safe and develop healthy relationships.

This is especially important for this generation of young people, who are growing up with more access to technology and the internet than their parents and teachers. While the internet provides a range of valuable benefits, it also exposes young people to very real dangers. On top of protecting children from being able to access inappropriate material, steps are being taken to educate them about these dangers. The internet safety strategy was announced earlier this year which aims to make the UK the safest country in the world for children and young people to go online. More details about the strategy can be found on the below webpage:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-major-new-drive-on-internet-safety

Tackling all forms of abuse and exploitation of children by anyone is a priority of this Government. Ministers are continuing to reassess how police, social care and other agencies can work together to protect vulnerable children."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Keep Pubs Afloat

In response to the Keep Pubs Afloat campaign, David said:

"Pubs play a crucial role in the social and economic life of our nation. The British Beer and Pub Association estimate that each pub contributes £80,000 each year to its local economy. I am glad that the pub sector is being supported in a range of ways.

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, such as pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. There are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.

Many pubs have also benefited from the Government’s package on business rates for small businesses. The Spring Budget also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 – 90 per cent of pubs in England.

Tax on beer will only increase by RPI inflation this year, in line with previous forecasts. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented freeze in beer duty.

There is also greater flexibility on weights and measures, allowing beer and wine to be sold in different sizes. It easier now for pubs to play live music and £350,000 has been provided for the Pub is The Hub initiative and the Plunkett Foundation to help landlords diversify and provide essential services such as village shops and post offices."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Factory Farming

In response to the campaign on factory farming, David said:

"The UK's strong commitment in this area is reflected in World Animal Protection's recent Animal Protection Index, which judged 50 countries on their policy and legislation for animals and saw the UK ranked joint top alongside New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland. Recent changes to legislation regulating the quality of cages for hens shows this protection in action.

I believe animals should be slaughtered locally wherever possible. I am pleased the Government has announced plans to make CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses. However, under European Union single market rules, it is illegal to ban the export of animals to other EU countries; there are instead EU and UK laws to protect the welfare of live animals during transport. You are right to highlight that as the UK withdraws from the EU, it would be possible to re-evaluate existing rules.
 
Mandatory labelling for method of production has to be weighed against the costs involved for businesses, which could be significant. Legislation already provides scope for producers to label their products voluntarily, and several assurance schemes are also in place. Consumers who have a preference for a particular farming method can therefore readily find meat products labelled with information to inform their choice.
 
Ministers are fully committed to ensuring that antibiotics are used responsibly. In September 2016 further plans were announced to tackle the issue, including a commitment to reduce antibiotic use in animals significantly. Long term, sector-specific reduction targets are being set that will bring sustainable change across the agricultural industry, from farm to fork."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

The Ramblers' Manifesto

In response to the campaign on the Ramblers' Manifesto, David said:

"The Secretary of State for EFRA will soon launch a public consultation on the future of agricultural and rural policy after the UK has left the EU. I would encourage the Ramblers Society and individuals to contribute their policy ideas to that consultation.

It is very important for the government and Buckinghamshire County Council to protect access to our public footpaths and bridleways. Our network of public rights of way plays an important role in this effort, so the process of recording them is being simplified to ensure no historic rights of way are lost. Work is also ongoing with Natural England to establish the England Coast Path. We must also ensure that our countryside remains inviting to visit."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Freedom of Religion

In response to the campaign on freedom of religion, David said:

"We fully support the right of people of all religions, and non-religious people, to practise their beliefs in peace and safety. The British Government works bilaterally to lobby host governments to raise individual cases and highlight laws that discriminate against people on the basis of religion or belief. Multilaterally, the Government works to sustain consensus support for United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions which promote freedom of religion. 

The UK supports a number of projects at grass roots level. In 2017/18, the FCO will spend approximately £760,000 on freedom of religion and belief projects. In Syria and Iraq, where religions have suffered such appalling persecution and violence at the hands of Daesh, the UK's main contribution to ending the persecution of religious minorities is by taking part in the campaign to defeat Daesh and return the region to stability and peace. The UK is also collaborating with human rights and faith-based organisations across the world through project work; particularly those which bridge sectarian divides and promote dialogue and understanding between religions. The Government is building on its work in the previous Parliament to correct the views of those who seek to create conflict for their own divisive means, such as claiming Christianity in the Middle East is an import of ‘the West’. A key focus this year has been support for the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, encouraging countries to promote freedom of religion as one way of tackling the root causes of extremism.

Last year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) hosted a conference on freedom of religion or belief here in London bringing together inspiring speakers from across the world to share very practical examples of how they are working to build a more open society. The FCO has also made available to staff a new Freedom of Religion or Belief toolkit to assist officials on how to promote freedom of religion or belief in their local context."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Puppy Smuggling

In response to the campaign on puppy smuggling, David said:

"Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so in response to a previous report the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the authorities in the highlighted countries to remind them of their duties. 
 
An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 brought further measures to strengthen enforcement. The new-style passport is harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination assists compliance checking and restricts the movement of very young animals. As the UK withdraws from the EU, there will be opportunities to re-evaluate the rules.
 
There is a robust checking regime for pets travelling here. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving in the UK.
 
However, we must also acknowledge that as individuals we need to take care not to fuel demand for these animals by providing a market for the people that exploit them. Government advice is very clear: people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and, if it is found to have been imported illegally, will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees."

More information about the campaign can be found here.