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Written Statements

Volume 700: debated on Monday 6 September 2021

Written Statements

Monday 6 September 2021

Treasury

Government Shareholding in NatWest Group

I can today inform the House that on 22 July 2021 the Government announced a trading plan to sell part of the Government’s shareholding in NatWest Group (NWG, formerly Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS). This is a further step forward in the Government’s plan to return NWG to the private sector.

Rationale

It is Government policy that where a Government asset no longer serves a public policy purpose the Government may choose to sell that asset, subject to being able to achieve value for money. This frees up public resource which can be deployed to achieve other public policy objectives.

The Government are committed to returning NWG to full private ownership, now that the original policy objective for the intervention in NWG—to preserve financial and economic stability at a time of crisis—has long been achieved. The Government only conduct sales of NWG shares when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow. The announcement of this trading plan represents a further step forward for Government in exiting the assets acquired as a result of the 2007 to 2008 financial crisis.

Format and timing

The Government, supported by advice from UK Government Investments (UKGI), concluded that selling shares by way of an on-market trading plan will deliver value for money.

A trading plan involves selling shares in the market through an appointed broker in an orderly way at market value over the duration of the plan. Trading plans are an established method of returning Government-owned shares to private ownership, while protecting value for the taxpayer. This method was used in the sell-down of the Government’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group (in that case, from a lower starting point in terms of the Government’s percentage ownership).

This is the first use of a trading plan for disposals of NWG shares by the Government. This follows previous disposals of NWG shares via accelerated book builds in August 2015 and June 2018, a directed buyback selling shares to the company in March 2021, and a further accelerated bookbuild in May 2021. UKGI and HMT will keep other disposal options open, including by way of further directed buybacks and/or accelerated bookbuilds. The decision to launch the trading plan does not preclude the Government from using other disposal options to execute future transactions that achieve value for money for taxpayers, including during the term of the trading plan.

The trading plan commenced trading no earlier than 12 August and will run for 12 months, terminating no later than 11 August 2022. Shares will only be sold at a price that represents fair value and delivers value for money for the taxpayer. The final number of shares sold will depend on, amongst other factors, the share price and market conditions throughout the duration of the trading plan.

The Government will provide Parliament with further details at the end of the term of the trading plan.

[HCWS259]

Defence

Sheffield Forgemasters: Acquisition

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has acquired Sheffield Forgemasters International Limited (SFIL), allowing HM Government to refinance the company and secure the supply of components for critical current and future UK defence programmes.

The MOD also intends to invest up to £400 million in SFIL over the next 10 years for defence-critical plant, equipment and infrastructure to support defence outputs. The acquisition has been assessed as the best value for money for the taxpayer due to SFIL’s unique capabilities and circumstances. The immediate cost of the acquisition is £2.56 million for the entire share capital of the company, plus debt assumed.

SFIL is the only available manufacturer with the skills and capability to produce certain large-scale high-integrity castings and forgings from specialist steels in an integrated facility to the highest standards required for specific defence programmes. SFIL’s ownership by the Government will not prevent other UK based manufacturers bidding for MOD contracts, which will continue to be run in an open and fair competition.

The MOD has already started working closely with the company to implement best practice governance that will ensure appropriate financial oversight to secure the company’s future success, with the aim eventually to return the business to the private sector.

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Armoured Cavalry Programme: Ajax

I wish to provide a further update to Parliament on the Ajax equipment project being delivered as part of the armoured cavalry programme.

Health and safety

Extensive work has been undertaken on the health and safety aspects of the noise and vibration concerns raised on Ajax. The report is being undertaken independently of the Ajax delivery team by the Ministry of Defence’s director of health and safety.

While the report has not yet been concluded it is apparent that vibration concerns were raised before Ajax trials commenced at the armoured trials and development unit in November 2019. In December 2018, an army safety notice introduced restrictions on use in relation to vibration and identified that, in the longer term, a design upgrade was needed to reduce vibration.

I will publish the health and safety report once it is finalised, which will contain a full timeline in relation to health and safety issues. Key themes likely to emerge from the report will include:

The importance of having a culture that gives safety equal status alongside cost and schedule.

The overlapping of demonstration and manufacturing phases added complexity, technical risk and safety risk into the programme.

The value of having strong risk governance for complex projects that promotes access to expert technical advice on safety issues.

Independent certification and assurance of land environment capability should be adopted and modelled on best practice elsewhere in Defence.

Following the report’s conclusion, we will consider what further investigations are required to see if poor decision making, failures in leadership or systemic organisational issues contributed to the current situation not simply in relation to health and safety but more broadly as necessary.

Update on personnel

Initially 121 personnel were identified as requiring urgent hearing assessments as a result of recent noise exposure on Ajax. Subsequently, the MOD broadened the scope of those who should be tested to all those who had been exposed to noise on Ajax. To date, a further 189 individuals have been identified who should be offered an assessment, giving a total number of 310 personnel. Of these 304 have been contacted successfully; the remaining six are UK service personnel who have recently left service and are in the process of being traced.

The health of our service personnel is our top priority. Some 248 personnel, including 113 from the original cohort of 121, have now been assessed. The Army continues to identify and monitor the hearing of all personnel exposed to noise on Ajax, with additional testing put in place where required. The Army is also in the process of identifying any health effects in those potentially exposed to vibration. Veterans who have been exposed to noise or vibration on this project will be supported throughout and will have access to the same assessments as those still serving. I will update the House on the number of personnel affected by noise and vibration in due course, including if any trends become apparent once the data has been analysed.

Technical issues

At present all dynamic testing and training on MOD’s Ajax vehicles remains paused. A safety assurance panel for Ajax, comprising duty holders from MOD, General Dynamics, Millbrook and independent advisers, has been established to assure that independent testing can recommence safely at Millbrook proving ground. Subject to the panel’s final endorsement and General Dynamics’ own safety approvals, Millbrook trials are expected to resume imminently, initially deploying General Dynamics crew in MOD-owned vehicles, with real time monitoring of vibration and in-ear noise.

The independent trials at Millbrook are essential to provide the evidence to support fundamental root cause analysis and to enable the safe resumption of wider trials and training activity. The focus for the MOD and General Dynamics remains on identifying the root causes of the noise and vibration issues to develop long-term solutions to ensure Ajax meets the Army’s need.

I have made clear that no declaration of initial operating capability will be made until solutions have been determined for the long-term resolution of the noise and vibration concerns. Work continues on both with General Dynamics heavily committed to delivering a safe resolution.

Over the summer, work has been conducted to examine design modifications to reduce the impact of vibration. A design modification to reduce the risk of noise through the communication system is in development and is currently being tested. These may represent part of the overall solution but considerable work needs to be undertaken before any such assurances can be given.

Until a suitable suite of design modifications has been identified, tested and demonstrated, it is not possible to determine a realistic timescale for the introduction of Ajax vehicles into operational service with the Army. We will not accept a vehicle that is not fit for purpose.

As is often the case with defence procurement process, there have been a number of limitations of use (“LOUs”) placed on Ajax vehicles during the early phase of use. LOUs restricting speed and the maximum height for reversing over steps have now been removed and work continues on removing other LOUs.

Ajax is an important capability for the Army and we are committed to working with General Dynamics for its delivery. We have a robust, firm price contract with General Dynamics under which they are required to provide the vehicles as set out in the contract for the agreed price of £5.5 billion.

To assist in the delivery of Ajax we have identified the need for a full-time, dedicated senior responsible owner who will preferably be able to see the project through to completion, or indeed advise if the project is incapable of being delivered. A shortlist of candidates is currently under consideration. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority is also providing MOD with expert support to establish a recovery plan for the programme.

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Health and Social Care

Covid-19 Update

Through the covid-19 vaccines programme, we have administered over 90 million vaccine doses in the UK, with recent PHE data suggesting that this has prevented over 24 million infections, 105,900 deaths and 82,100 hospitalisations in England alone. The vaccines are the most effective way of protecting the most vulnerable and minimising hospitalisations and deaths.

The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) continues to consider emerging data. When Parliament was in recess the Committee provided advice in favour of:

offering initial vaccination to all remaining 16 and 17-year-olds;

offering a third dose in the primary vaccine schedule to all those aged 12 and over defined as severely immunosuppressed;

and expanding the groups of 12 to 15-year-olds defined as at risk.

Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) reviewed and accepted the advice. All four parts of the UK have accepted the JCVI’s advice and will align their deployment in each nation.

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. and right hon. Members to bring to their attention the contingent liabilities relating to the expansion of the covid-19 vaccine programme taken during the summer recess.

Initial vaccination to all remaining 16 and 17-year-olds:

JCVI published further advice on the vaccination of children and young people on 4 August.

JCVI advised that all remaining 16 to 17-year-olds should be offered a first dose of Pfizer-BNT162b2 vaccine. This is in addition to the existing offer of two doses of vaccine to 16 to 17-year-olds who are in “at-risk” groups or in roles which present a high risk of transmission to vulnerable people.

Third dose in the primary vaccine schedule to all those aged 12 and over defined as severely immunosuppressed:

JCVI published its advice on vaccination for individuals with severe immunosuppression on 1 September.

JCVI advised that a third primary vaccine dose be offered to individuals aged 12 and above with severe immunosuppression in proximity of their first or second covid-19 vaccine doses in the primary schedule with a preference for mRNA vaccines for those aged 18 and over. Whether patients are eligible will be determine by their specialist clinician. For young people aged 12 to 17 years, the Pfizer-BNT162b2 remains the preferred choice.

A third primary dose is recommended for individuals with severe immunosuppression in order to bring these individuals up to nearer the same level of immunity that healthy individuals achieve through two primary doses, and this group will become eligible for a booster dose as part of a routine booster programme from around six months after their third primary dose, pending further advice.

Expanding the groups of 12 to 15-year-olds defined as at risk:

JCVI published further advice on expanding the vaccine offer to certain children and young people on 3 September.

JCVI advised that the offer of a course of vaccination should be expanded to include children aged 12 to 15 years with the following conditions:

Haematological malignancy

Sickle cell disease

Type 1 diabetes

Congenital heart disease,

Other health conditions as described in Public Health England’s Green Book

This is in addition to the conditions specified in the existing advice on at risk 12 to 15-year-olds published on 19 July. JCVI advised that this group is offered a two-dose course of vaccination with Pfizer-BNT162b2 vaccine as the preferred option.

With deployment of additional doses of vaccines to severely immunosuppressed individuals and new groups of young people over the parliamentary summer recess, I am now updating the House on the liabilities that HMG have taken on in relation to further vaccine supply via this statement and attached departmental minutes containing descriptions of the liability undertaken. The agreement to provide indemnity with deployment of further doses to the population increases the statutory contingent liability of the covid-19 vaccination programme.

Deployment of effective vaccines to eligible groups has been and remains a key part of the Government’s strategy to manage covid-19. Willingness to accept the need for appropriate indemnities to be given to vaccine suppliers has helped to secure access to vaccines with the expected benefits to public health and the economy alike much sooner than may have been the case otherwise.

Given the exceptional circumstances we are in, and the terms on which developers have been willing to supply a covid-19 vaccine, we along with other nations have taken a broad approach to indemnification proportionate to the situation we are in.

Even though the covid-19 vaccines have been developed at pace, at no point and at no stage of development has safety been bypassed. The MHRA approval for use of the currently deployed vaccines clearly demonstrates that this vaccine has satisfied, in full, all the necessary requirements for safety, effectiveness, and quality. We are providing indemnities in the very unexpected event of any adverse reactions that could not have been foreseen through the robust checks and procedures that have been put in place.

I will update the House in a similar manner as and when other covid-19 vaccines or additional doses of vaccines already in use in the UK are deployed.

HM Treasury has approved the proposal.

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Written Parliamentary Questions 155392 and 170718: Correction

I would like to inform the House that I wish to correct the formal record in relation to written answers to the hon. Member for Streatham (Bell Ribeiro-Addy) on 2 March 2021 and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy) on 25 March 2021.

The reply suggested that NHS England and Improvement was developing a case definition and model of care for children with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

The correct response was that NHSEI had run an initial workshop on long covid to discuss how best to develop a case definition and model of care for children at which the RCPCH was present.

The response was phased in a way that overstated the role of the RCPCH in producing clinical guidance. NICE is responsible for developing the clinical case definition of Long covid.

I would like to thank the RCPCH and its members for their contributions more broadly in improving the understanding of long covid in children.

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Statutory Storage Limits for Gametes and Embryos

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Innovation (Lord Bethell of Romford) has today made the following written statement:

Family units and family formation in the UK are vastly different today than they were when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (the HFE Act) was introduced and last reviewed. In a modern society, some individuals are choosing to start their families later in life and are increasingly choosing to use new and effective techniques to freeze their eggs, sperm, or embryos to preserve fertility. The reasons for this are diverse but can include not being ready or able to start a family, medical conditions that might lead to premature infertility, or undergoing gender reassignment.

The HFE Act currently sets the statutory storage limits for eggs, sperm, and embryos at 10 years, with the possibility of extension up to 55 years for those who can demonstrate a clinical need. The Government recognise that these current arrangements are increasingly disadvantageous towards women and unnecessarily restrictive of individual freedom of choice about when to start a family.

In view of the significant scientific innovation and societal changes, the Government launched a public consultation on 11 February 2020, to seek views about changing the statutory storage limits. The consultation ran for 12 weeks and closed on 5 May 2020.

The Government are today announcing the publication of the Government response to the consultation.

We received 1,222 responses to the consultation, including 17 from key sector organisations. The responses were analysed and carefully considered by the Department of Health and Social Care giving due regard to the importance of equality, facilitating reproductive choice, administrative burden, and public acceptability.

In the light of these factors and the public response, the Government are announcing a change to this policy; to increase the statutory storage limits for eggs, sperm, and embryos for everyone, regardless of medical need, to 10-year renewable storage periods, with a maximum limit of 55 years. The legislation will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

The regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), will provide oversight during the introduction of these changes to ensure they are rolled out effectively and safely.

The proposed policy change is intended to facilitate greater reproductive choice and will allow for less stressful decision-making in family formation. Importantly, it will provide equity for all, regardless of medical need, and will help reduce administrative burden for clinics and the regulator.

A copy of the Government’s response to the consultation will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

A regulatory triage assessment has also been published alongside the consultation. It can be accessed on gov.uk and will also be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-09-06/HCWS256/.

[HCWS256]

Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry: Terms of Reference

On 21 January 2021, I announced the establishment of a non-statutory, independent inquiry into the circumstances of mental health in-patient deaths at the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, the former South Essex Partnership University Trust and the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which took over responsibility for mental health services in Essex from 2017.

I am pleased to inform you that I placed a copy of the inquiry’s terms of reference in the Libraries of both Houses on 24 August 2021.

This follows a consultation by the inquiry on its terms of reference which commenced on 26 May and concluded on 3 August 2021. The inquiry team reached out to and heard from affected families, patients, local community groups, charities, and other individuals and organisations with an interest in the issues laid out in my earlier statement.

The terms of reference have also been published on the inquiry’s website https://www.emhii.org.uk/.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Housing Delivery Test

The covid-19 pandemic has tested our country’s resilience like nothing else has during peacetime. The public have endured great sacrifices, but access to a home—whether owned or rented—should not be one of them. Therefore, despite the unprecedented challenge facing us, we must not lose sight of the need this country has for more homes.

The Housing Delivery Test exists to offer greater transparency on the level of housing delivery in an area. It is an annual percentage measurement calculated over a rolling three-year period, taking into account the homes delivered in an area against the homes required. The Housing Delivery Test will remain a key part of the reformed planning system under proposals set out in Planning for the Future White Paper.

The 2020 Housing Delivery Test measurement used data relating to financial years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. To respond to the disruption to local authority services and the construction sector caused by the first national lockdown in March 2020, the Government made a one-month adjustment to the 2019-20 housing requirement. Since then, the Government have been engaging closely with local authorities and the housing industry across the country and stands ready to support recovery. Ministers have been listening to our stakeholders and will continue to do so.

The 2021 Housing Delivery Test measurement will be calculated using data relating to financial years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. Over the course of the 2020-21 measurement year, there were considerable variations in levels of housing delivery as local authorities and construction industry continued to face disruption on a national, regional and local level due to the pandemic. As a result, the Government aim to publish the 2021 Housing Delivery Test as intended later this year but will apply a four-month adjustment to the housing requirement figures for 2020-21 in order to account for these fluctuations. This means that there will be a deduction of 122 days to account for the most disrupted period that occurred between the months of April to the end of July. The thresholds for consequences for under-delivery will be maintained, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

A nuance of the Housing Delivery Test is how the calculation is carried out for local authorities that undergo reorganisation to create unitary authorities. Until now, recently reorganised authorities anticipated having their Housing Delivery Test calculated at their former authority boundaries in only the first year following reorganisation. However, from the 2021 measurement, in order to support new unitary authorities, they will be able to choose to use their former authority boundaries or their new unitary boundaries for the purpose of the measurement until the fifth anniversary of the new authority’s existence. We will be updating planning guidance to reflect this. In such cases, unitary authorities will still be expected to deliver housing in line with their identified need.

This Government’s ambition is to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s and one million homes over this Parliament. Therefore, it is vital that work continues to support and facilitate housing delivery. It will help us to build back better, support the economy to rebound strongly from the pandemic and ensure the homes needed across England are provided.

We have been making strong progress. Last year alone, around 244,000 homes were delivered—this is the highest number of new homes for over 30 years, and the seventh consecutive year that net supply has increased.

This written ministerial statement only covers England.

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Justice

Civil Cases: Extending Fixed Recoverable Costs

The Ministry of Justice is today publishing its consultation response on extending fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in civil law cases in England and Wales. This follows the 2019 consultation paper, Extending Fixed Recoverable Costs in Civil Cases: Implementing Sir Rupert Jackson’s Proposals, which was based on the recommendations in Sir Rupert Jackson’s report on FRC, published on 31 July 2017. This consultation response has been delayed, principally because of the covid-19 pandemic.

As we build back a better justice system, we continue with renewed vigour to modernise the courts and how users interact with them. One area in need of further reform is costs, and particularly those that a losing party must pay the winner. This is especially true in lower value civil claims which people and businesses are most likely to face, either as claimants or defendants. Currently, the costs of these cases are too uncertain. Without being able to predict what the costs may be, it is difficult for either side to take an informed decision on the best way forward. We want cases to be resolved as early as possible, including those that proceed to litigation, with costs that are certain, proportionate, and fair to both sides.

FRC is a way of controlling the legal costs of civil litigation in advance by prescribing the amount of money that can be recovered by the winning party at set stages of litigation. They reduce overall costs, keep them proportionate, and enhance access to justice. FRC is already an important part of our justice system in lower value personal injury cases: their extension will be of particular benefit to those of more modest means, including individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and those who may otherwise be unable to litigate.

The Ministry of Justice has carefully considered the way forward in the light of responses to the consultation and developments since, including the Government’s desire to extend the use of FRC in other cases not covered in this response, such as clinical negligence claims and immigration and asylum judicial reviews. As is set out in our response, we propose to extend FRC to all cases in the fast track—generally those up to a value of £25,000, and to implement a new regime for ‘intermediate’ cases—simpler cases between £25,000 and £100,000. We will work with the Civil Procedure Rule Committee to ensure the smooth delivery of these reforms, to be implemented over the coming year.

The case for extending FRC remains strong: uncertainty of costs hinders access to justice, whereas certainty of costs set at a proportionate and fair level enhances it.

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Transport

Civil Aviation Noise: Independent Advice to Government

The aviation sector is vital to our future as a global trading nation as well as playing a critical role in local economies and in the Government’s commitment to level up the economy. However, aviation noise can affect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in the vicinity of airports and underneath flightpaths.

Since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic there has been a reduction in aircraft movements in most areas, and with it a reduction in associated noise, but as the Government focus on building back better and ensuring a successful UK aviation sector for the future, aviation noise will increase from current levels. It is therefore vital that Government have appropriate and credible advice on aviation noise related matters.

The Government established the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) in November 2018 to help ensure that the needs of local communities are properly taken into account when considering the noise impacts of airport expansion, and to help ensure that noise impacts of airspace changes are properly considered.

Following an independent review of ICCAN conducted earlier this year, I have concluded that many of ICCAN’s functions would be more efficiently performed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which already has a wider environmental remit. This will help ensure that noise is considered alongside other policy outcomes on the basis of high quality research and advice.

As a result, I can confirm that ICCAN will be wound down this month (September). This will be followed by a transitional phase during which my Department will work with the CAA, which will take on the majority of ICCAN’s former functions from April 2022. The CAA also plans to establish a new environment panel to provide it with independent expert advice on a range of environmental issues including carbon, air quality and noise. ICCAN’s existing functions not transferred to the CAA will remain within my Department.

[HCWS251]

International Travel: Summary of Updates

This statement provides an update on developments on international travel and on changes to the traffic light system made over the summer recess period.

Global travel taskforce July checkpoint review

As announced on 29 July, and as part of the second global travel taskforce checkpoint review, the Government extended the policy on fully vaccinated passengers arriving from amber list countries to include those who have been vaccinated in Europe (EU member states, European Free Trade Association countries and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and US residents vaccinated in the United States. These changes came into force at 4 am on 2 August and mean that amber list arrivals vaccinated in the US and in Europe no longer have to take a day 8 test or quarantine. However, they are still required to take a pre-departure test before arrival as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 after arrival.

Children (under 18s) who are ordinarily resident in the US or Europe are also exempt from quarantine and the day 8 test, the same as children ordinarily resident in the UK. Children aged 11 and over will still need to complete a pre-departure and day 2 test. Children between the ages of five and 10 will only need to complete a day 2 test, and children aged four and under do not need to take any tests.

Passengers vaccinated in Europe with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency are required to provide proof via an EU digital covid certificate, and those vaccinated in the US are required to provide proof via the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card. The policy does not currently cover those who have proof of recovery from covid-19.

Additional restrictions for France were applied on 19 July due to the persistent presence of cases in France of the beta variant. These temporary additional restrictions were removed at 4 am on 8 August and the fully vaccinated policy now applies to France.

Unvaccinated passengers, or passengers whose vaccines were not provided in the UK, Europe or United States through MHRA, EMA and FDA-approved vaccines, respectively, arriving in the UK from an amber list country are required to quarantine at home, provide a valid notification of a negative test result prior to travel and take a test on day 2 and 8 after their arrival.

The Government will explore how to expand this approach to other countries, where it is safe to do so.

Further to this, international cruises also fully restarted on 2 August. Passengers travelling on international cruises are subject to the same rules as other international passengers and should therefore follow the traffic light system. FCDO advice has been amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad.

Traffic light system review

During parliamentary recess there have been two reviews of the country allocations within the traffic light system, on 5 August and 26 August. The following countries and territories have been added to the Government’s green list:

At 4 am on 8 August:

At 4 am on 30 August:

Austria

Canada

Germany

Denmark

Latvia

Finland

Norway

Liechtenstein

Romania

Lithuania

Slovakia

Switzerland

Slovenia

The Azores

Passengers arriving from green list destinations need to provide evidence of a negative covid-19 test result prior to travel and take a further test on or before day 2 of their arrival in the UK.

The following countries have been added to the amber list at 4am on 8 August:

Bahrain

India

Qatar

United Arab Emirates

The following countries and territories have been added to the red list, reflecting the increased case rates in these countries as well as presenting a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern:

At 4 am on 8 August:

At 4 am on 30 August:

Georgia

Montenegro

La Reunion

Thailand

Mayotte

Mexico

Passengers arriving from these destinations, irrespective of vaccination status, are required to self-isolate in a managed quarantine hotel, provide a valid notification of a negative test result prior to travel and take a test on day 2 and 8 after their arrival.

All arrivals into the UK must continue to complete a passenger locator form.

Managed quarantine service

From 12 August, the cost for staying in a managed quarantine facility when arriving from a red list country increased to £2,285 for a single adult and £1,430 for a second adult to better reflect the total costs involved. The price remains unchanged for children.

Testing

Testing remains an important part of ensuring safe international travel. The Government continue to work with the travel industry and private testing providers to further reduce testing costs, while ensuring travel is as safe as possible. The Government have recently reduced NHS test and trace costs for travel testing for a second time to £68 and £136 for day 2 and days 2 and 8 testing packages respectively, to send a clear signal to industry and encourage a reduction in private sector pricing.

The Health Secretary has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an urgent review of private testing providers to explore whether individual PCR providers may be breaching their obligations under consumer law; to report on any structural problems in the PCR market affecting price, reliability, or service quality; and whether there are any immediate actions that the Government could take in the meantime. The CMA has also sent and published an open letter to providers of PCR tests on how they should comply with consumer law.

On 23 August the Government also announced that, following a rapid review of the pricing and service standards of day 2 and day 8 testing providers listed on gov.uk, more than 80 companies have had their misleading prices corrected on the Government’s website and given a final warning, and a further 57 firms have been removed. The action will help ensure consumers can trust the testing providers listed on gov.uk and only the most reliable companies are available.

While public health is a devolved matter, the Government work closely with the devolved Administrations on any changes to international travel and aim to ensure a whole UK approach.

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