Ban on new petrol and diesel cars in UK from 2030 under PMs green plan

New cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030, prime minister Boris Johnson has said.

But some hybrids would still be allowed, Mr Johnson confirmed.

It is part of what the prime minister calls a “green industrial revolution” to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear.

Critics of the plan say the £4bn allocated is far too small for the scale of the challenge.

The total amount of new money announced in the package is a 25th of the projected £100bn cost of high-speed rail, HS2.

The government says it is part of a broader £12bn package of public investment that is expected to draw in much more private sector funding.

A Downing Street source said it would send a clear signal to investors where to put their money for the future.

The plan includes provision for a large nuclear plant – likely to be at Sizewell in Suffolk – and for advanced small nuclear reactors, which it is hoped, will create an estimated 10,000 jobs at Rolls-Royce and other firms.

The government hopes that as many as 250,000 jobs will be created overall – especially in the north of England and in Wales, with 60,000 in offshore wind.

The clean energy revolution will also creep into some people’s homes.

The government will bring forward, to 2023, the date by which new homes will need to be cosy without using gas heating.

It will aim to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 – these are low-energy electrical devices for warming homes.

And it has extended the Green Homes Grant for home insulation for a year after the first tranche was massively over-subscribed.

Clean hydrogen will be blended into the natural gas supply to reduce overall emissions from gas, and the government is seeking a town to volunteer for a trial of 100% hydrogen for heat, industry and cooking.

The hydrogen – attracting a subsidy of up to £500m – will be produced in places such as north-east England, partly by energy from offshore wind.

The government wants to breathe new life into de-industrialised areas by teaming hydrogen production with the manufacture of wind turbines, and with four clusters of firms using carbon capture and storage.

This is when emissions from chimneys are captured and forced into rocks underground. The hope is to transform depressed areas into high-tech hubs. This will get subsidy of an extra £200m.

Another key point of the plan is a £1.3bn investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging points. Grants for EV buyers will stretch to £582m to help people make the transition.

There is also nearly £500m for battery manufacture in the Midlands and north-east England.

In the greener-than-thou race on the roads, the UK is now in second place after Norway, with its fossil fuel vehicle abolition date of 2025.

UK car makers have warned about the scale of the challenge, but the government believes that forcing technological change can give firms a competitive edge.

Mr Johnson said he hoped his policies would create and support up to 250,000 UK jobs. Experts said the £4bn would go a long way if it were spent on labour-intensive insulation, but not far if ploughed into expensive, mechanised carbon capture.

The prime minister said: “My 10-point plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

The prime minister made it clear that his plans aim to create jobs and address climate change at the same time. This time next year he will host an international climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP.

The COP26 UN summit, which was postponed 12 months because of the pandemic, is seen as the most important round of talks to tackle climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The plans are aimed to put the UK on track to meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband criticised the plan, saying that the funding “in this long-awaited” announcement doesn’t “remotely meet the scale of what is needed” to tackle the unemployment emergency and climate emergency.

“Only a fraction of the funding announced today is new. We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now,” the Labour MP said.

He said Labour wanted the government to bring forward £30bn of capital investment over the next 18 months and invest it in low-carbon sectors to support 400,000 additional jobs.

“Make no mistake,” he said, “this announcement from the government falls well short of what is required.”

The Green Party called for a transformation of the entire economy to reduce emissions, including scrapping the £27bn road building programme, which will actually increase emissions.

Mike Hulme, professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, said critics shouldn’t “nit-pick about precise details” of the plan as it was “far more important is to endorse the direction of travel that has been set for the next decade”.

He said: “The significance of this plan lies in the fact that this is a Conservative government committing substantial amounts of public money to secure medium and long-term welfare and environmental goals.”

Tanya Steele from WWF-UK said the government had “fired the starting gun on the action we need to see”.

She added: “We now need the chancellor to live up to the ambition expressed today through a spending review that tests every line of public spending to ensure it’s compatible with meeting our climate goals.”

Follow Roger on Twitter.

Covid in Scotland: Police to enforce travel ban in level 3 and 4 areas

People living in level three or level four local authorities will be breaking the law from Friday if they make non-essential journeys outside their own council area.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs police will have the powers to enforce the new restrictions.

The legislation was announced as 11 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities prepare to go into level four lockdown.

Police Scotland said officers will only use the new powers as a “last resort”.

Since last month the guidance has been that people should not leave their own area unless it is for essential purposes, such as work or caring for a vulnerable person.

But from Friday, the first minister confirmed that advice would become law:

A further nine local authorities are in level three, in addition to the 11 council areas under the highest level of restrictions.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I know this is difficult, but it is essential. Broadly comparable restrictions have been or continue to be in force in England and Wales.

“And if we are to maintain a targeted approach and allow low prevalence areas to live with fewer restrictions, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all abide by these rules.”

Asked by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron how the travel ban will work, Ms Sturgeon replied: “The police will enforce the regulations in the way that the police have enforced all the regulations that have been in place, in other words it will be a last resort.”

She added that she expects people will be punished only where there is a “clear and flagrant breach”.

Since March police have made more than 300 arrests and issued over 3,600 fixed penalty notices to people who have breached Covid restrictions.

Fines start at £30, doubling to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to £960.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs encouraged people to take personal responsibility and “do the right thing” to prevent the virus from spreading.

He added: “We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach of the legislation.

“The Chief Constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.

“However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another. In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began.”

The Scottish government said updated travel guidance would be published ahead of the regulations being introduced at 18:00 on Friday.

A number of exceptions are currently listed on the Scottish government website under the following appeal: “Please do not see these as loopholes. It is important for everyone’s safety that we all minimise such travel as much as possible.”

They include travel for healthcare, social care, childcare and other essential services – including recycling – but only if they are not available in your local area.

Journeys to school, college or university are permitted where teaching is not provided remotely.

Travel for work, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, falls into this category but “only where that cannot be done from your home”.

Also included is travel for essential shopping “only where it is not possible in your local authority area”.

So too is travel for shared parenting or between the two parts of an extended household.

Other exceptions include travel to meet a legal obligation, to move house, for essential animal welfare reasons and for “life events” such as weddings or funerals.

People are permitted to transit through level three or four areas if the journey begins and ends outside such areas.

Ban on new petrol and diesel cars in UK from 2030 under the PMs green plan

New cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030, prime minister Boris Johnson has said.

But some hybrids would still be allowed, Mr Johnson confirmed.

It is part of what the prime minister calls a “green industrial revolution” to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear.

Critics of the plan say the £4bn allocated is far too small for the scale of the challenge.

The total amount of new money announced in the package is a 25th of the projected £100bn cost of high-speed rail, HS2.

The government says it is part of a broader £12bn package of public investment that is expected to draw in much more private sector funding.

A Downing Street source said it would send a clear signal to investors where to put their money for the future.

The plan includes provision for a large nuclear plant – likely to be at Sizewell in Suffolk – and for advanced small nuclear reactors, which it is hoped, will create an estimated 10,000 jobs at Rolls-Royce and other firms.

The government hopes that as many as 250,000 jobs will be created overall – especially in the north of England and in Wales, with 60,000 in offshore wind.

The clean energy revolution will also creep into some people’s homes.

The government will bring forward, to 2023, the date by which new homes will need to be cosy without using gas heating.

It will aim to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 – these are low-energy electrical devices for warming homes.

And it has extended the Green Homes Grant for home insulation for a year after the first tranche was massively over-subscribed.

Clean hydrogen will be blended into the natural gas supply to reduce overall emissions from gas, and the government is seeking a town to volunteer for a trial of 100% hydrogen for heat, industry and cooking.

The hydrogen – attracting a subsidy of up to £500m – will be produced in places such as north-east England, partly by energy from offshore wind.

The government wants to breathe new life into de-industrialised areas by teaming hydrogen production with the manufacture of wind turbines, and with four clusters of firms using carbon capture and storage.

This is when emissions from chimneys are captured and forced into rocks underground. The hope is to transform depressed areas into high-tech hubs. This will get subsidy of an extra £200m.

Another key point of the plan is a £1.3bn investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging points. Grants for EV buyers will stretch to £582m to help people make the transition.

There is also nearly £500m for battery manufacture in the Midlands and north-east England.

In the greener-than-thou race on the roads, the UK is now in second place after Norway, with its fossil fuel vehicle abolition date of 2025.

UK car makers have warned about the scale of the challenge, but the government believes that forcing technological change can give firms a competitive edge.

Mr Johnson said he hoped his policies would create and support up to 250,000 UK jobs. Experts said the £4bn would go a long way if it were spent on labour-intensive insulation, but not far if ploughed into expensive, mechanised carbon capture.

The prime minister said: “My 10-point plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

The prime minister made it clear that his plans aim to create jobs and address climate change at the same time. This time next year he will host an international climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP.

The COP26 UN summit, which was postponed 12 months because of the pandemic, is seen as the most important round of talks to tackle climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The plans are aimed to put the UK on track to meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband criticised the plan, saying that the funding “in this long-awaited” announcement doesn’t “remotely meet the scale of what is needed” to tackle the unemployment emergency and climate emergency.

“Only a fraction of the funding announced today is new. We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now,” the Labour MP said.

He said Labour wanted the government to bring forward £30bn of capital investment over the next 18 months and invest it in low-carbon sectors to support 400,000 additional jobs.

“Make no mistake,” he said, “this announcement from the government falls well short of what is required.”

The Green Party called for a transformation of the entire economy to reduce emissions, including scrapping the £27bn road building programme, which will actually increase emissions.

Mike Hulme, professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, said critics shouldn’t “nit-pick about precise details” of the plan as it was “far more important is to endorse the direction of travel that has been set for the next decade”.

He said: “The significance of this plan lies in the fact that this is a Conservative government committing substantial amounts of public money to secure medium and long-term welfare and environmental goals.”

Tanya Steele from WWF-UK said the government had “fired the starting gun on the action we need to see”.

She added: “We now need the chancellor to live up to the ambition expressed today through a spending review that tests every line of public spending to ensure it’s compatible with meeting our climate goals.”

Follow Roger on Twitter.

Covid: £10k fines for gatherings can resume, say police chiefs

Forces in England and Wales can resume issuing £10,000 fines for breaches of Covid rules on gatherings of more than 30 people, police chiefs have said.

On Friday the NPCC advised forces to temporarily issue a court summons rather than a fixed penalty notice.

There were concerns about a potential disparity between the amount being paid by some upfront, compared to those who challenged the fixed penalty in court.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said this issue had now been addressed.

A spokesman said: “Following discussions with government, the issue we flagged last Friday has been fully addressed, and forces are advised that they can resume issuing £10,000 FPNs [fixed penalty notices] where appropriate.”

“People found to be in breach of the regulations relating to gatherings of over 30 people will be made fully aware of their options when faced with a £10k FPN, to ensure fairness.

“The option of summons will remain available to officers, as it always has been, should the unique circumstances of a case mean that this is the most appropriate course of action. However, the vast majority of cases can be dealt with by way of FPN.”

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, a government spokesperson said: “It is right that we have a strong deterrent. We are working with forces to ensure people are fully aware of their options when faced with a fixed penalty notice.

“If someone chooses not to pay their fixed penalty notice, the matter may be considered by a court and the individual could be subject to a criminal conviction.”

The NPCC said it had previously advised temporarily suspending the use of fixed penalty notices “because of a potential disparity between those who opt to pay the FPN and those who see their case reach the court where the FPN would be means tested against personal income”.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson had previously asked ministers for “urgent clarity” on the issue, and accused the government of failing to provide the police with “workable Covid legislation”.

In a letter to the policing minister Kit Malthouse, Labour’s Mr Jamieson said: “I feel thoroughly embarrassed that I have been personally supporting the government’s actions, which, at best, are questionable.”

West Midlands Police has already issued 13 of the fines, reserved for the most serious social-distancing breaches.

Coronavirus restrictions vary in each of the UK’s four nations.

A new lockdown is in force in England, and Wales has now ended a short “circuit breaker” lockdown, but still has some restrictions in place.

Elsewhere, Scotland has moved to a five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions, while Northern Ireland has extended its own temporary lockdown.

Jeremy Corbyn: Labour readmits ex-leader after anti-Semitism row

Labour has readmitted former leader Jeremy Corbyn following his suspension last month, the BBC understands.

He was suspended over his reaction to a report on anti-Semitism within the party, when he said the scale of the problem had been “overstated”.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Corbyn will face further sanctions, following a meeting of Labour’s ruling body.

New leader Sir Keir Starmer has spoken out against anyone who describes anti-Semitism in Labour as “exaggerated”.

But the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn was taken by the party’s general secretary David Evans, although Sir Keir endorsed it.

It followed the publication of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found Labour had breached the Equalities Act over its handling of complaints of anti-Semitism during Mr Corbyn’s time in charge.

The ex-leader reacted by saying that his opponents had “dramatically overstated” the scale of anti-Semitism within the party for political reasons.

A Labour spokesman said Mr Corbyn had been suspended “for a failure to retract” his words.

A panel made up of members from the party’s National Executive Committee met on Tuesday to decide whether to take further disciplinary action or to lift his suspension.

Following his reinstatement, Mr Corbyn said: “I’m grateful to the many thousands of Labour Party members, trade unionists and supporters in Britain and around the world, who have offered their solidarity.

“I hope this matter is resolved as quickly as possible, so that the party can work together to root out anti-Semitism and unite to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.”

But the Jewish Labour Movement called the decision to reinstate Mr Corbyn “extraordinary”, adding: “After his failure of leadership to tackle anti-Semitism, so clearly set out in the EHRC’s report, any reasonable and fair-minded observer would see Jeremy Corbyn’s statement today as insincere and wholly inadequate.”

After the EHRC report was published Sir Keir, who replaced Mr Corbyn as Labour leader in April, said it had brought “a day of shame” for the party.

The co-chairman of the Conservative Party, MP Amanda Milling, has written to Sir Keir, saying: “You have claimed that Labour is ‘under new leadership’, but now is the moment to prove it – Mr Corbyn should be expelled permanently.”

How Dolly Parton is playing an important role in Covid battle

A $1m (£750,000) donation made by singer Dolly Parton to vaccine research is “playing an important role in the Covid battle”, US researchers say.

In April, Parton announced she was giving the money to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

That was one of the trial sites for the Moderna vaccine, which early data shows is nearly 95% effective.

A Vanderbilt spokesperson said Parton’s “generous” gift was helping “several promising research initiatives”.

A portion of the singer’s money went towards funding an early stage trial of the Moderna vaccine.

Her donation is also supporting a convalescent plasma study and research involving antibody therapies, Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser said.

Convalescent plasma is used to treat people who are battling a Covid infection.

“Her gift provided support for a pilot convalescent plasma study that one of our researchers was able to successfully complete,” Mr Howser told BBC News.

“Funds from Dolly’s gift are also supporting very promising research into monoclonal antibodies that act as a temporary vaccine for Covid. Two of these antibodies are now being tested by a global pharmaceutical firm.”

Vanderbilt’s plasma pilot showed enough promise for the US NIH (National Institutes of Health) to step in with $34m (£26m) in additional support to conduct a national, multi-site clinical trial into the benefits of convalescent plasma.

Announcing her donation on Instagram in April, the star said: “My longtime friend Dr Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards that research of the coronavirus for a cure.

“I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”

Appearing on NBC’s Today Show, the star added: “What better time right now, we need this. I felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand, and try to help.”

Following Parton’s gift Jeff Balser, Vanderbilt’s president and CEO, said her “amazing generosity is a source of inspiration”.

He added: “She cares so much about helping others and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.”

The Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund was listed among the funders in a preliminary report into the Moderna vaccine that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

After her contribution to the trial was highlighted on Tuesday, fans took to Twitter to praise the Jolene and 9 To 5 singer.

This week, Moderna suggested its vaccine candidate was highly effective in stopping people getting ill and worked across all age groups.

It’s said to work in a similar way to the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate that researchers last week declared 90% effective after a separate preliminary trial.

Little Mix: Jesy Nelson takes break for medical reasons

Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson is to take an “extended” break from the pop group for “private medical reasons”, their publicist has said.

A statement didn’t give any further details about the 29-year-old’s condition.

It comes after Nelson recently missed the final of the girl group’s BBC One talent show, and their hosting of the MTV European Music Awards.

Little Mix’s latest album entered the UK chart at number two on Friday.

All six of the studio albums they have released since forming on The X Factor in 2011 have gone into the top five, and they have had four UK number one singles.

In a statement, the group’s publicist said: “Jesy is having extended time off from Little Mix for private medical reasons.

“We will not be issuing any further comment currently and ask media to please respect her privacy at this time.”

Nelson’s bandmates Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall were seen without her on the final of Little Mix: The Search on 7 November, and on the MTV EMAs the following night.

Last year, Nelson received widespread praise for discussing her mental health battle on the BBC Three documentary Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out. The documentary, which won a National Television Award, addressed body image and the impact of online bullying.

Jeremy Corbyn: Suspended former leader reinstated by Labour

Labour has reinstated former leader Jeremy Corbyn following his suspension last month, the BBC understands.

He was suspended over his reaction to a report on anti-Semitism within the party, when he said the scale of the problem had been “overstated”.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Corbyn will face further sanctions, following a meeting of Labour’s ruling body.

New leader Sir Keir Starmer has spoken out against anyone who describes anti-Semitism in Labour as “exaggerated”.

But the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn was taken by the party’s general secretary David Evans.

A panel made up of members from the party’s National Executive Committee met on Tuesday to decide whether to take further disciplinary action or to lift his suspension.

Why the PMs devolution disaster comments matter

Sunday 1 October 2017 in Manchester.

Prime Minister Theresa May stands beside Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson at a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference.

Moments later, Mrs May held Ms Davidson’s hand aloft and, in a rare display of euphoria, shouted into a microphone: “Together we saved the union”.

Things have changed since then.

In 2017, the Scottish Tories had just had their best general election result in years.

Mrs May and Ms Davidson were close – and on the same page when it came to tactics over independence.

Ms Davidson was invited to cabinet meetings to talk about the issue.

Fast forward to now and the relationship between Scottish and UK Tories is strained.

In recent months, the Scottish Tories have been trying to distance themselves from Boris Johnson – and the new Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has launched some thinly-veiled attacks on senior Tories in London, accusing them of defeatism and disinterest when it comes to the union.

Many, he has warned, want a UK government focussed on England.

Mr Ross has cast doubt on whether the PM is an asset to his party in Scotland.

That relationship will not have been helped by the prime minister telling MPs privately that devolution had been a disaster.

No 10 has insisted he is a fan of devolution – he was London mayor, of course – but not when it’s “used by separatists and nationalists to break up the UK”.

But Mr Ross was forced to come out and say the PM doesn’t believe devolution is a problem and to urge against “distractions”.

There are many in Whitehall who find devolution tricky.

There are more still who believe Nicola Sturgeon has communicated well during the pandemic – and that’s increased support for independence.

There are some in Tory circles who remain sceptical about devolution and think it has given nationalism a platform.

But very few in the public eye would argue against the Scottish Parliament.

And the timing of this row is far from ideal for Conservatives in Scotland.

In six months, there will be another crucial Holyrood election.

The SNP look set for a landslide win – based on a number of polls – and will use that victory to demand another independence referendum.

As we’ve reported before, the UK government strategy is to argue Scotland is served well by having two governments, talking up more of what the UK government does, particularly through the Treasury – in essence, that devolution works.

But the SNP Scottish government have argued for months that the UK government wants to interfere in devolved issues – they call the Internal Market Bill a “power grab” which will undermine devolution, for example.

And now, for the next few months, they are likely to point to Mr Johnson’s words as an example that Whitehall doesn’t like devolved governments having power.

Independence supporters will also point to 2014 – where Holyrood was promised extensive powers if Scotland rejected independence.

It has had more powers since, but Mr Johnson also said last night that he didn’t see the case for further devolution, just at a time when some are saying exactly that could help stop the rise in support for independence.

So, this creates an awkward debate for Scottish Tories which they’d rather not be having.

As one told me this morning: “It certainly doesn’t help”.

But it also shows just how bitterly divided unionists are.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are absolutely furious with Mr Johnson’s comments and have been the most outspoken critics today.

The Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, who was Scottish Secretary in the coalition years at the time of the 2014 referendum, told me for BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “Boris Johnson is now, I think, probably the greatest threat to the continuation of the United Kingdom – much bigger than Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond could ever hope to be.”

He added: “Let’s not pretend this is anything other than a bad moment for those of us who want to remain part of a United Kingdom”.

This matters because if there is another independence referendum, it’s almost impossible, as things stand, to see Labour and Lib Dem politicians working with Conservative unionists like they did in 2014.

The unionist case is split between those who think the answer is more powers and those who don’t.

The SNP has its troubles too.

There are divisions in the party and it’s record in government is coming under scrutiny ahead of May’s vote. More on that soon.

But it is riding high in the polls and the Conservatives – and other unionists – desperately need to crawl back some ground.

Unforced errors do not help – especially from the prime minister.

Amazon launches online pharmacy service

Amazon has launched its own online pharmacy that will allow customers to buy prescription medicines.

Amazon Prime members are eligible for free two-day delivery and discounts of up to 80% on generic medicines and 40% on prescribed brand-name drugs.

Customers need to provide some basic health information, such as whether they are pregnant, as well as date of birth, gender and insurance details.

Some questioned the wisdom of giving health data to a tech corporation.

Amazon Pharmacy vice-president TJ Parker said it was hoping to transform an industry that “can be inconvenient and confusing”.

“We work hard behind the scenes to handle complications seamlessly so anyone who needs a prescription can understand their options, place their order at the lowest available price and have their medication delivered quickly,” he said.

Doctors can send prescriptions directly to Amazon Pharmacy, currently available in the US only, or patients can request a transfer from their existing retailer.

Amazon, which acquired online pharmacy Pillpack for $753m (£568) in 2018, said health data would remain separate and distinct from that on its retail site and no information would be shared with advertisers without permission.

But former Amazon executive James Thomson previously told BBC News he could imagine Amazon offering gym equipment, specific groceries or other products based on the health data of a particular customer.

“When those types of things start to happen, I believe it will become much more apparent that we have a major major data problem here,” he said.

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