Written question – Travel [20/04/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the (a) Secretary of State for Transport and (b) devolved Administrations on the Global Travel Taskforce and restarting cruises as covid-19 restrictions are eased. (181331)

Tabled on: 15 April 2021

Answer:
Nigel Adams:

The FCDO continues to work closely with the Department for Transport about international cruise restart and the Global Travel Taskforce. On the domestic restart of cruises, officials from the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Northern Ireland Executive liaise with the Department of Transport and are closely involved in the taskforce’s work.

International cruises will restart alongside the wider restart of international travel, in line with the “traffic light” system. This will be subject to continued satisfactory evidence from the domestic restart and cruising in other countries. Travel advice will continue to be informed by the latest public health risk assessments.

For now, national restrictions on international travel remain in place, including only permitting travel abroad for a limited number of reasons set out in law. Holiday travel is not included.

The answer was submitted on 20 Apr 2021 at 16:51.

Written question – Access to cash [20/04/2021]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with relevant stakeholders on bringing forward legislative proposals to allow cashback without a purchase. (178727)

Tabled on: 12 April 2021

Answer:
John Glen:

The Government has supported an amendment to the Financial Services Bill that will introduce legislative changes to allow for the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase by shops and other businesses.

The Government’s view is that cashback without a purchase has the potential to be a valuable facility to cash users, and to play an important role in the UK’s cash infrastructure. The recent Call for Evidence on Access to Cash invited views on this issue. It noted that cashback with a purchase was the second most frequently used method for withdrawing cash in the UK behind ATMs in 2019. There were 123 million cashback transactions when using a debit card to make a purchase amounting to a total value of £3.8 billion.

Pre-existing legislation, which derives from the EU’s Second Payment Services Directive, has meant that if a merchant wanted to offer cashback without requiring the customer to make a purchase, that shop, or its agent, would have to be authorised or registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This presents a significant burden for many businesses.

This legislative change to enable cashback without a purchase will allow merchants to offer this service without being authorised or registered with the FCA. It is only possible now that the UK has left the EU and is a welcome step towards protecting access to cash for the future.

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel

The answer was submitted on 20 Apr 2021 at 16:12.

Gambling firms donating ‘insulting’ amounts to addiction charity

The gambling industry has diverted scrutiny and criticism of itself for years by trumpeting the claim that it funds support for gambling harm.

We need a statutory levy that raises substantial amounts of money and is allocated independently of the industry. The industry that is responsible for the damage cannot be independently responsible for the financing of the education, rehabilitation and support that is increasingly required.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/apr/16/gambling-firms-donating-insulting-amounts-to-addiction-charity

Greenock Telegraph 9th April 2021

Whether it was Jacques Cousteau teaching us all about marine conservation from the deck of the sailing boat Calypso, David Attenborough’s amazing documentaries or Greta Thunberg, young and brave campaigning to highlight climate change, surely we are all now aware that the clock is ticking and we must do something radical to slow, then repair the damage we have done to this vulnerable little blue planet spinning in a vast black universe that we call home.

The destructions of forests and habitat, the plastic polluting our rivers and oceans, the damage to the ozone layer, the burning of fossil fuels, the super trawlers in marine conservation areas, the pesticides killing bees, these things can’t have been missed, can they? Or do we acknowledge them and then pass responsibility on to others. Do we shrug our shoulders and think there is nothing we can do because the problem is so vast? But that plastic bottle floating amongst a million others came from somebody. All the rubbish and litter was discarded carelessly by someone. I am not asking you to single-handedly mend the hole in the ozone layer. Governments have to facilitate the opportunity, and energy companies have to develop viable and affordable technology. But you can do something, and it isn’t hard, and it won’t cost you a penny. Take responsibility for your own litter. That’s it. That may sound trivial amongst the environmental problems the planet faces but it’s something you can do. Don’t go to the beach and leave the tide to take away your trash. Don’t drop juice bottles when you are walking the cut. Don’t throw the detritus out of your pristine car into the hedgerow. Then together we can start mending the ozone layer.

Stay local from 2 April

People across Scotland can make non-essential journeys in their local authority area from Friday 2 April when a requirement to Stay Local will replace the Stay at Home rule.

Hairdressers, garden centres, car showrooms and forecourts, homeware stores and non-essential click and collect services will be able to open from Monday 5 April, subject to enhanced safety measures including physical distancing, face coverings and pre-booking where appropriate. More college students will be able to return to on-campus learning and 12-17 year-olds will be able to resume outdoor contact sports from this date.

Restrictions on non-essential travel across local authority boundaries will remain in place. People must stay within their council area for non-essential shopping and should only travel to another area for essential shopping if there are no practical alternatives. People should also continue to work from home where they can to prevent unnecessary contact that could risk transmission of the virus.

https://www.gov.scot/news/stay-local-from-2-april/

Greenock Telegraph 26th March 2021

I have grave concerns that while the UK government is trying to bypass the European Union, they are also trying to bypass Scotland. The outcome of which would be to make us the most insignificant part of an increasingly insignificant island.  Brexit will accomplish the first part of their ill-conceived master plan as is shown by the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics which showed UK exports of goods to the EU plunged by 40.7% in January, the biggest monthly decline in British trade for more than 20 years.

The latest figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that the agriculture and food sector has been one of the hardest hit with new checks and requirements for health certificates a significant barrier to trade. This is backed up by a report from a Scottish langoustine producer bemoaning the fact that he now has to produce 38 pages of paperwork and pay additional fees in excess of over £500 per shipment to export to France. He says it is crippling his business. Overall figures now show that food and drink exports collapsed in January, plunging overall by 75.5% year on year. And the second part of this journey to oblivion is facilitated by the UK government using the powers they gave themselves in the Internal Market Bill and making decisions on a UK wide basis, the latest being the Infrastructure Review, without any engagement with the devolved powers. Scotland is being press ganged into taking part in a hazardous journey and it is time to launch the lifeboats. All aboard.