I begin this week by thanking the military personnel who were sent to support the evacuation effort in Kabul. British servicemen and women were called to this dangerous deployment and have served as they always do, with huge professionalism and distinction. My thoughts are also with the families of the American personnel who were killed in action, and the many Afghan civilians who also tragically died in the attack on Kabul Airport.
Although Parliament is on recess for the summer the government work continues. I am very pleased that we have announced £50 million in new funding for T Levels across England to improve and expand teaching space – helping students fulfil their potential and progress into well-paid jobs. I am a great advocate of T Levels as they provide young people with high-quality technical equivalents to A Levels that are recognised by leading employers, as well as the skills needed to succeed. That is why we are investing £50 million in 65 projects across England, building on the £133 million provided in 2020 and 2021, giving thousands of students industry-quality equipment and high tech classrooms to support their training. By supporting our young people to develop skills and fulfil their potential we are levelling up opportunity across the country and I look forward to working with North Cornwall’s education providers and employers to see how we can roll out courses in the area.
We have also announced plans to release beavers into the wild – as we cautiously reintroduce native species for the benefit of our environment. We are committed to giving legal protection to beavers in England and sensitively reintroducing native species where there are benefits for our natural environment. That is why we are engaging with landowners, building on the Code of Best Practice for Introductions which we published in May, while giving legal protection to beavers and making it an offence to deliberately capture, kill, disturb, injure them, or damage their resting places. Beavers are ecosystem engineers who will play a key role in restoring habitats and improving water quality – helping us restore our environment as we build back better.
The Government has also published our plans to tackle cruel puppy smuggling and ban the import of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails to safeguard the welfare of imported puppies and dogs. Puppy smuggling increased by 260 per cent from 2019 to 2020 – it is a cruel trade that we are determined to stamp out to protect puppies’ welfare. That is why we are building on our commitment in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare by setting out our proposals to raise the minimum age for puppies imported into the UK and banning the importation of dogs which been victims of ear cropping and tail docking. We will protect dogs from unnecessary suffering and the public from criminals seeking to profit from cruel practices towards animals.
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