Stuart Andrew: No Wales Office civil servants have been provided with an official car.
Stuart Andrew: As part of the Government’s transparency agenda, departments publish annual information on the number of awards and spend on end-year and in-year Non-Consolidated Performance Related Pay. This information can be found on the Office of the Secretary for Wales’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D...
Stuart Andrew: The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales is committed to providing apprenticeship opportunities in a variety of posts within the Department. We offer both level 3 and level 4 apprenticeships, and the number of starts for each level for the last three years is set out below: Year Starts at level 3 Starts at level 4 2015 3 1 2016 1 1 2017 2 2
Stuart Andrew: Due to national security concerns it would be inappropriate to publicly supply a list of applications approved for use on mobile phones issued by the Department, as to do so facilitates attacks against official systems by hostile actors.
Stuart Andrew: Welfare reforms in Wales are working. Since 2015, 54,000 more people have been employed; 25,000 fewer people are unemployed; and 25,000 fewer people are economically inactive. This demonstrates that welfare reforms are transforming lives across the country. As research shows, universal credit claimants spend more time looking and applying for work than those on previous benefits.
Stuart Andrew: We have been taking time to roll out universal credit and have responded to some of the needs and suggestions put forward, which is why people now get two weeks’ extra housing benefit, but I would add that not every council has used its discretionary payments for housing.
Stuart Andrew: I have already written to my colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions about this because I recognise the importance of claimants being able to access the service in the Welsh language. That is exactly why the roll-out has been delayed in areas with a high proportion of people who speak Welsh. In addition, Welsh speakers can access some services via a free-phone line.
Stuart Andrew: We have been very careful to consult with a wide range of experts—both people working for disability charities and medical professionals—to make sure we get these assessments right. The hon. Gentleman is right that mental health needs to be looked at very carefully, and I will take up his invitation: I will meet my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Stuart Andrew: The Government understand that police demand is changing and becoming increasingly complex. That is why, after speaking to all forces in England and Wales, we have provided a comprehensive funding settlement which will increase total investment in the police system by over £460 million in 2018-19.
Stuart Andrew: As I said earlier, we have consulted all the police and crime commissioners and chief constables, as they are ultimately best placed to understand their local needs. Following the police funding settlement, most PCCs have set out plans either to protect or to increase frontline policing this year. I acknowledge the hon. Lady’s point on Cardiff; that is part of a national formula, but I...
Stuart Andrew: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I saw an interesting statistic recently: if we increase productivity through the better use of digital technology, we could save each police officer an hour a day, when they could be on the frontline. That would be the equivalent of 11,000 extra police officers a year on the streets of the country.
Stuart Andrew: In the conversations I have had with many businesses around north Wales, they have welcomed the apprenticeship levy—
Stuart Andrew: Well, I have been round a number of businesses, and they welcome the levy. The fact is that training in Wales is devolved, as the hon. Lady has said, and the amount of money that the UK Government have given to the Welsh Government exceeds the amount that the Welsh Government are spending on training.
Stuart Andrew: There have been extensive discussions with the Welsh Government, and they have recognised that the UK Government have come a long way and that the levy is beneficial to the whole of the United Kingdom. I hope that other Governments will follow suit.
Stuart Andrew: As the hon. Gentleman will know, the responsibility for overseeing NPAS lies with its strategic board, which is made up of police and crime commissioners and chief constables, including the Dyfed-Powys PCC. Both NPAS and the National Police Chiefs Council have already announced that they are undertaking work to address the issues that he has raised, and Mark Burns-Williamson has said that...
Stuart Andrew: The Secretary of State and I hold regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and the Welsh Government on modernising cross-border rail connectivity. Improving connectivity drives economic growth and spreads prosperity to our communities on both sides of the border.
Stuart Andrew: I was about to be very complimentary and say that the hon. Gentleman had been a doughty campaigner on this issue, as have many people across the House. The western rail link to Heathrow would significantly improve rail journey times, and it is named in Network Rail’s enhancement pipeline. Network Rail is progressing the design and development of the link, and a final consultation on the...
Stuart Andrew: It is a line that I have used many times myself, and my hon. Friend is right to say that parts of his constituency are very beautiful. We have ensured that there is an agency agreement between the UK Government and the Welsh Government, so that English passengers—and Members of this House—can go to the Secretary of State for Transport and he can raise their questions directly with...
Stuart Andrew: Continuing the success of the “Wales reducing reoffending strategy,” the Prison Service in Wales, working with the Welsh Government, recently launched a joint framework to support those at risk of offending in Wales by focusing on early intervention to reduce the number of people entering the criminal justice system.
Stuart Andrew: My hon. Friend knows more about the Homelessness Reduction Act than anyone, and I congratulate him on the hard work he did to introduce the Act. He will be pleased to hear that the Ministry of Justice recently reached its target early to recruit 2,500 additional prison officers so that prisons can start to introduce a key worker model. This new model will mean prisoners have a dedicated...