Written question – Home Office [12/02/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when her Department will announce more details on the drugs summit taking place in Glasgow on 27 February 2020. (12956)

Tabled on: 05 February 2020

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what relevant organisations and stakeholders have been invited to attend the drugs summit in Glasgow on 27 February 2020. (12957)
    Tabled on: 05 February 2020

Answer:
Kit Malthouse:

The Summit will be an opportunity for dialogue between partners from all parts of the UK on the challenges of, and potential solutions to tackling the harms of, drug misuse. There will be representation at the Summit from all parts of the UK, including contributions from Glasgow, from public health leads of all four nations, and from UK Government Ministers as well as Ministers from each of the devolved administrations.

The Summit will bring together different perspectives across healthcare, law enforcement, prevention and recovery. As part of this there will be discussion of the forthcoming findings of the independent Review of Drugs, hearing from Professor Dame Carol Black about the demand and supply landscape and the nature of drug misuse. Dame Carol’s work will make an important contribution to the evidence base that we can use to take action to tackle drug misuse and the harms it causes.

Announcements on the Summit were made on 23 October 2019 and 24 January this year. Further information will be issued in due course. The full list of invitees is being finalised, taking account of suggestions from the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as from a range of UK Government departments and others. Invitations that have so far been issued include those to the chief medical officers for each part of the UK and chief scientists in relevant departments and in the devolved administrations. Further invitations will be issued over the coming days.

The answer was submitted on 12 Feb 2020 at 15:53.

Westminster diary w/b 3rd February

Monday

No need to rush to Westminster so I catch a midday flight. It’s a routine day. After the turbulent years since the 2017 election this Parliament is threatening to be too predictable. It is Monday so the chamber sits until 10pm then we vote and the government wins. It’s a debate on the agriculture bill and despite SNP, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Independent, Green Party, Liberal Democrat and Alliance all combining to vote for the Labour amendment we can’t get close to the 318 Conservative and Unionists votes. That is worrying given that this UK Government seriously needs to be scrutinised on every vote.

Tuesday

I sit in on Foreign and Commonwealth questions but don’t get taken. I take the opportunity to attend an evidence session in the House of Lords. The Gambling Industry Committee chaired by Michael Grade is taking evidence from GVC (Ladbrokes and Coral), William Hill, Bet365, Sky Betting and Gaming, Paddy Power Betfair and the Betting and Gaming Council. It strikes me that all the concessions they say they are making are the changes that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling related harm have demanded they make. The gambling industry still needs dragged and kicking to the table if we are going to reduce the harm. In the evening there are three votes on the NHS. Normally the SNP and Plaid Cymru would not vote as it is defined as ‘an EVEL division’. English Votes for English Laws was created by David Cameron the day after the Scottish independence referendum to stop MPs that don’t represent English seats voting in matters that only concern England. Truth is the SNP never did anyway but on this occasion the vote will determine the finances of the NHS and therefore there should be a knock-on effect to the Barnet formula consequentials. We vote but our votes are not included in the count. This is the first time that we have been excluded from voting on a matter that potentially affects Scotland.

Wednesday

I am picked up by a taxi at 6:45 to take me to broadcasting house (BBC) for a string of radio interviews on Medical Cannabis provision. It slightly embarrassing as the driver tells me the interviews are now taking place in Millbank studios, he drops me off four hundred yards from my house. And on the same say the BBC announced a rise in the TV licence! The interviews went well and I am struck by how non combative the interviewers are compared to the national stations. Prime Ministers Question time is once again restricted to 30 minutes. I think the new format is better. After that I drop in to meet parents of children with epilepsy that are trying to gain access to Medical Cannabis on prescription. Many are part of an organisation End Our Pain. Sixty MPs signed their letter to the Prime Minister. The numbers are increasing but we still have some way to go.

Thursday

I spend the day in my constituency office. Even in this day of email and social media there is always a lot of paper correspondence to catch up on.

Friday

In the morning I have surgeries in my constituency office and then in the Oak Mall. In the afternoon I have a meeting at Inverclyde Council Health and Social Care Partnership and then the Basic Income Hub to catch up on the proposed pilot basic income projects in Scotland.

Written question – Transport [07/02/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to include e-scooters in the cycle to work scheme. (10396)

Tabled on: 30 January 2020

Answer:
George Freeman:

The Department has no plans to include e-scooters in the Cycle to Work Scheme. The Cycle to Work Scheme is an employee tax-benefit scheme that enables employees to hire cycles and cycle safety equipment for active travel to work from their employer, or from a third party, in return for a deduction from their earnings via salary sacrifice. The Future of Mobility Regulatory Review is considering appropriate legislation and support framework for emerging micro-mobility vehicles including electric scooters.

The answer was submitted on 07 Feb 2020 at 13:43.

 

Network rail apprenticeship scheme now open

Network Rail is recruiting for future rail leaders through our apprenticeship scheme. Applications are now open for a September 2020 start and will close when all places have been filled.

We would be grateful if you could share this information with your contacts and publicise on your communication channels to help us raise awareness about the apprenticeship scheme.

Our apprentices receive expert training, earn while they learn and develop skills for life. What’s more, they have the opportunity to build a career at one of Britain’s biggest employers.

Applicants will need to be available to start their apprenticeship scheme with us on 29th September 2020 if they apply for this intake.

We currently 26 Apprentice positions at various locations throughout Scotland.  

Whichever career path the apprentice takes, they’ll spend their first 24 weeks at Westwood, Network Rails’ training centre in Coventry developing the technical knowhow and leadership abilities they’ll need for the many exciting challenges ahead. During this time, apprentices will also have periods of time away from Westwood to carry out additional training. For example, they will visit their depot/route for a local route induction and meet their teams.

For the rest of the programme apprentices will be able to put their training into practice and will join an engineering team at a depot close to home. They’ll be out and about on the network, learning alongside more experienced colleagues. Apprentices can specify a preferred depot close to home at application stage, however it should be noted that we recruit based on demand of discipline and delivery needs. 

A Network Rail apprenticeship is just the beginning of an exciting career journey that can lead to varied career options.

For further information about the Network Rail apprenticeship Scheme please visit our website www.networkrail.co.uk/careers/early-careers/apprenticeships, email the apprentice recruitment team at advancedapprenticeshipcareers@networkrail.co.uk  or post a question via our Facebook page (NetworkRailCareers)

Candidates can also WhatsApp our virtual careers advisor with any questions they may have: 07789336038

 

The cost of cash: Banks save hundreds of millions while consumers are left footing the bill just to access cash

The UK’s major banks have made hundreds of millions of pounds from cash machine cuts and bank branch closures in the last two years, while fees paid by consumers to access their own cash have soared, new research from Which? reveals.

New figures obtained by the consumer champion show the amount paid by consumers to withdraw cash jumped by £29m to £104m last year – as many free machines vanished or were converted to charge fees.  

In contrast, this seismic shift in the cashpoint network has saved the banks £120m since January 2018, according to the new figures from Link, which runs the UK’s largest cashpoint network. 

More than 8,700 free ATMs have closed since changes to how the Link cashpoint network is funded were pushed through with no regulatory oversight in January 2018, following lobbying by the banks.

Between 2018 and 2019 the percentage of fee-charging machines jumped by 37 per cent (from 11,120 to 15,277) and they now comprise a quarter (25%) of the entire network of 60,291 machines  – leaving countless communities having to pay up to £2 just to withdraw their money.

These changes have seen the number of times people have had to pay to withdraw cash increase from 46m in 2018 to 73m in 2019 – a rise of 59 per cent in a single year.

The banks are also saving vast sums through branch closures – with 1,203 having closed since January 2018 alone. These ongoing closures have drastically reduced people’s ability to access free withdrawals across the UK.

Which? first raised the alarm in December 2017 that incoming cuts to the way cashpoints are funded would lead to a rapid reduction in access to free withdrawals across the country. 

And two years on these new figures show the sheer mismanagement of the cash landscape, which is seeing people cut off from cash – or forced to pay significant fees to access it.

Which? previously revealed that deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent ones across the UK – hitting those who can afford it the least.

Digital banking and payments have brought many benefits to consumers in the UK, but it’s crucial that the transition is better managed to ensure all those still reliant on cash aren’t forced to pay just to access it.  

Which? is calling on the government to intervene with legislation that protects free access to cash for as long as it is needed.

 

Written question – medical cannabis [04/02/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to expedite the processes for granting import licences for cannabis-based products for medicinal use. (8362)

Tabled on: 27 January 2020

Answer:
Kit Malthouse:

All applications are considered individually on their merits and with regards to our obligation under International Conventions and Domestic law. Applications for importation of CBPMs are already expedited, where documentation and regulatory approval is provided, in recognition of the need to ensure continuity of the supply of unlicensed medicines. Applications for import licences are normally decided within a few working days.

The answer was submitted on 04 Feb 2020 at 15:54.