Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2015-16 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Swansea East)
Asked on: 24 May 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Packaging: Electronic Equipment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with which organisations Ministers of his Department have met to discuss the review of enforcement of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in respect of copycat packaging of branded electrical goods in the last three months.
A
Answered by: Nick Boles
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The Government concluded its review of the enforcement provisions of the Consumer Protection against Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) in respect of copycat packaging in October 2015, and the Minister of State for Skills discussed the review with the British Brands Group the following month. The Intellectual Property Office have subsequently been working with industry stakeholders to deliver awareness training to trading standards about copycat packaging and the Government have committed to continue to provide training in the recently published IP Enforcement Strategy 2020.

Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 03 June 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Consumer Protection Measures in the Ticket Resale Market Review
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, when he plans to respond to the Independent review of consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities, published on 26 May 2016; and if he will present his response in a format similar to that of a government response to a select committee report.
A
Answered by: Nick Boles
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The Government will publish its response to Professor Waterson’s independent review in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 08 June 2016
Department for Education
Children's Centres: Closures
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many county councils have closed down their children's centres.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 29 June 2016

Local authorities have a duty under the Childcare Act 2006 to ensure sufficient children’s centres to meet the needs of local families. Local authorities must also consult fully before any significant changes are made to children’s centre services.

All 27 county councils in England have children’s centre sites open to families and children providing children's centre services as part of a network.

According to data supplied to the department by local authorities, at end May 2016, eight county councils had closed some sites within their children’s centre networks.

An independent survey carried out by the national children’s charity, 4Children (published October 2015) estimated more than a million children and families were using children’s centres.

Asked on: 13 June 2016
Home Office
Police: Public Records
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendation of the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in September 2012 that police records in England and Wales should come under the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967; and whether they intend to implement that recommendation through the current Policing and Crime Bill.
A
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The Government is considering the options for achieving greater transparency and accessibility of police records in England and Wales, including whether to extend the Public Records Act 1958 to include police records.

No decision about implementation has been taken at this time, while careful consideration is given to potential administrative and cost burdens.

Q
Asked by Cat Smith
(Lancaster and Fleetwood)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Pay
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will conduct a review into the effect of the use of payment intermediaries on pay transparency before the end of 2016.
A
Answered by: Nick Boles
Answered on: 29 June 2016

This is a complicated issue and we are considering the most appropriate way to ensure more transparency.

Q
Asked by Julian Knight
(Solihull)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
HM Treasury
Bank Services
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will discuss with the banking sector steps to ensure that individuals seeking to switch their current account are able to access their historical transaction data to better enable them to secure a similar overdraft to their existing one with a new provider.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The Government is committed to increasing competition in banking to ensure banks have to work hard to offer the best possible products and services to their customers. A key part of that is making the process for customers switching their current accounts as easy and as effective as possible, to ensure customers are able to hold their banks to account by voting with their feet.

The Government has already undertaken a lot of work to improve the process for customers switching their current accounts, including helping to deliver the Current Account Switch Service to enable customers to switch banks simply, quickly and reliably, and delivering midata, to enable customers to compare which bank is best for them based on how they use their current account.

As part of its retail banking market investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering what additional improvements could be made to the process of customers switching current accounts, including requiring banks to make historical transaction data available and making it easier for customers to switch their overdraft when they move banks. The CMA is also considering other additional measures designed to support overdraft users.

The Government welcomes the CMA’s investigation, and stands ready to take action as necessary once it publishes its final report in the summer.

Q
Asked by Julian Knight
(Solihull)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
HM Treasury
Money Advice Service
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether any of the successor organisations to the Money Advice Service will have a specific remit to promote financial education amongst young people.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The government is committed to improving financial capability among the public and recognises that increased financial capability for consumers will lead to better outcomes for both individuals and the wider economy. Helping hard-working people achieve their aspirations at every stage of their lives is at the heart of our long term plan. That is why we launched the Public Financial Guidance consultation in Budget 2016 to seek input on what role the government should play in promoting financial capability, and how the public provision of free-to-client, impartial financial guidance should be structured to give consumers the information they need to make financial decisions. The consultation closed on 8 June. The government is currently considering the responses and will respond in the Autumn. The government recognises the importance of giving young people the skills they need to make financial decisions, which is why financial education has been on the national secondary school curriculum in England since September 2014.

Grouped Questions: 40579
Q
Asked by Julian Knight
(Solihull)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
HM Treasury
Money Advice Service
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether any successor organisations to the Money Advice Service will have a remit to promote financial capability amongst the public.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The government is committed to improving financial capability among the public and recognises that increased financial capability for consumers will lead to better outcomes for both individuals and the wider economy. Helping hard-working people achieve their aspirations at every stage of their lives is at the heart of our long term plan. That is why we launched the Public Financial Guidance consultation in Budget 2016 to seek input on what role the government should play in promoting financial capability, and how the public provision of free-to-client, impartial financial guidance should be structured to give consumers the information they need to make financial decisions. The consultation closed on 8 June. The government is currently considering the responses and will respond in the Autumn. The government recognises the importance of giving young people the skills they need to make financial decisions, which is why financial education has been on the national secondary school curriculum in England since September 2014.

Grouped Questions: 40576
Q
(Brent North)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Communities and Local Government
Planning Permission
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to paragraph 7 on page 2 of the National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012 whether his Department has made an assessment of the extent to which the UK's carbon budgets and 2050 climate target is taken into account by planning authorities when making planning decisions.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 29 June 2016
Holding answer received on 27 June 2016

The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that sustainable development should be at the heart of planning, and should be pursued in a positive and integrated way. It makes it clear that policies set out in paragraphs 18 to 219, taken as a whole, constitute the Government's view of what sustainable development in England means in practice for the planning system – both in preparing local plans and taking decisions on individual planning applications. It is for the decision-maker to take these policies into account when considering applications for development.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Communities and Local Government
Fracking: Planning Permission
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will wait until the Committee on Climate Change report on the compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting UK carbon budgets and the Government's response is published before taking any decision to reverse (a) the planning decision against fracking made by Lancashire County Council and (b) any other planning decisions that are made by local authorities concerning the extraction of shale gas.
A
Answered by: James Wharton
Answered on: 29 June 2016

Secretary of State planning casework decisions are taken on the basis of the material considerations before the Secretary of State.

Q
(Mid Dorset and North Poole)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Communities and Local Government
Local Plans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what requirements his Department places on local authorities to demonstrate that their Local Plans will meet identified national house-building need.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 29 June 2016

This Government does not set national housing targets. The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that Local Plans should meet the full, objectively assessed needs for housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in the Framework. As part of this, local authorities should identify, and update annually, a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years of housing against their housing requirements. Local authorities also have a duty to cooperate on strategic planning priorities such as providing the homes that are needed.

Grouped Questions: 40989
Q
Asked by Zac Goldsmith
(Richmond Park)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to (a) ratify the Cape Town agreement and (b) otherwise tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the High Seas.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The UK supports ratification of the Cape Town agreement and will ratify when legal priorities allow, which is a matter for the Department of Transport. The UK already applies the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels through the Fishing Vessels (EC Directive on Harmonised Safety Regime) Regulations 1999.

The UK Government, through the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), has been at the forefront of international measures to tackle Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, which remains a major threat, not just to the world’s fish stocks, but to its marine biodiversity and the livelihoods and security of coastal communities. The UK acts, alongside other European Union nations, to deny market access to products from IUU fishing, and to support third countries in developing their capability to detect and deter IUU fishing. Ground breaking work has also recently taken place between the MMO and UK based insurance companies to promote and encourage compliance with IUU regulations.

Q
Asked by Zac Goldsmith
(Richmond Park)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Atlantic Ocean Islands
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what his Department's five-year strategy and vision statement objectives are for (a) South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and (b) Ascension Island.
A
Answered by: James Duddridge
Answered on: 29 June 2016

A new five year Strategy for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, Strategy 2016 - 2020, was published in November 2015. The Strategy brings together HMG and the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands’ objectives. The Strategy aspires to world-class environmental management underpinned by the highest standards of governance, and sets out five strategic objectives. A copy of the Strategy can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/zfjbpn4

The FCO is currently working with the Ascension Island Government to identify the island’s infrastructure needs. This is the first step in identifying long-term requirements for Ascension.

Q
(Dewsbury)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department of Health
NHS: Conditions of Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the Answer of 28 April 2016 to Question 35252, how many staff within the scope of the HM Treasury guidance on senior off-payroll engagements were paid off-payroll in (a) NHS trusts in 2013-14 and (b) NHS foundation trusts in 2012-13.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 29 June 2016

Information collected by the NHS Trust Development Authority showed that as of 31 March 2014 there were 961 staff engaged by National Health Service trusts within the scope of the HM Treasury guidance. Information collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre indicated that at 31 March 2013 there were 1,267 such staff engaged by NHS foundation trusts (FTs).

The numbers of Board off-payroll staff have declined consistently since the introduction of the HM Treasury guidance in August 2012. In 2012/13 there was a total of 2,403 engagements in trusts and FTs of which 200 were Board members or senior officials with significant financial responsibility. In 2013/14, there was a total of 2,070 of which 118 were Board members or senior officials with significant financial responsibility. In 2014/15, there were 1,193 in NHS trusts of which 52 were senior officials with significant financial responsibility. Figures for FTs in 2014/15 are not yet available. The Department continues to work with NHS Improvement to ensure that all off-payroll engagements comply with tax law and HM Treasury guidance.

Q
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Repatriation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with which other EU countries the UK does not have arrangements for the return of non-UK nationals to prisons in their country of origin.
A
Answered by: Andrew Selous
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The United Kingdom has prisoner transfer arrangements with all Member States of the European Union. With the exception of the Ireland and Bulgaria, all Member States have implemented Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA (the EU Prisoner Transfer Agreement). Poland has a partial derogation which expires in December 2016. Transfers to Ireland and Bulgaria may take place under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons until such time as they implement the EU PTA.

Q
(Ealing, Southall)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for International Development
Developing Countries: HIV Infection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 5 March 2014, to Question 902851, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that the 12 collaborative TB-HIV activities recommended by the World Health Organisation are being implemented through its bilateral programmes; and what assessment has been made of the effect to date of the steps taken.
A
Answered by: Mr Nick Hurd
Answered on: 29 June 2016

DFID actively seeks to incorporate WHO guidance into its programmes. WHO urges national TB and HIV programmes to incorporate its recommendations, so our investments contribute to them implementing the 12 point package of collaborative TB/HIV activities. We have ensured our health advisers are aware of the WHO guidance so that they are able to discuss these with the TB and HIV control programmes in the countries we support.

Assessments of progress are drawn from publically available UNAIDS and WHO Global reports; these show significant advances in recent years. UK support, notably through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, has been instrumental in the achievement of these gains.

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Transport
Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department has received in credit card fees from people renewing vehicle tax online in the years (a) 2013-14, (b) 2014-15 and (c) 2015-16.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 29 June 2016

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) receipts from credit card fees from people renewing vehicle tax online or by phone for the previous three financial years are set out below.

Financial Year

Total number of Vehicle Excise Duty renewals*

Credit card fee receipts

£’000

2013-14

44,570,000

8,941

2014-15

47,300,000

8,730

2015-16

46,560,000

8,000

*covering renewals by all financial transaction types, not just credit cards.

The DVLA introduced the option to pay for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) by credit card during 2004-05. To meet the additional costs of processing credit card payments, the DVLA applies a charge of £2.50, which is prescribed in legislation.

It should be noted that Direct Debit is now offered as an additional way for people to pay their VED.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Transport
Bus Service Operators Grant
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to paragraph 4.30 of his Department's Bus reform workshops: background document, published in September 2015, if he plans to devolve the bus service operators grant to those local authorities granted franchising powers in the Bus Services Bill.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 29 June 2016

Where an authority implements franchising, Government plans to devolve the Bus Service Operators Grant that would have been paid to commercial bus operators in the area to the local authority.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Transport
Bus Services Bill (HL)
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has received from (a) private bus operators, (b) municipal bus operators and (c) local authorities on Clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 29 June 2016

I am not aware of any representations having been made to the Department by private bus operators, municipal bus operators or local transport authorities with respect to clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill.

Q
(Barking)
Asked on: 14 June 2016
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) consultancy firms and (b) people have been employed by his Department to work on the Universal Credit programme in (i) the 2015-16 financial year and (ii) this financial year to date; and how much his Department has spent on those firms and people in those financial years.
A
Answered by: Priti Patel
Answered on: 29 June 2016

(i) For the financial year from 1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016, the Universal Credit programme paid for consultancy services from two firms at a total cost of £4.3m. These were service based contracts and we are unable to specify the number of people employed by these firms.

(ii) For the current financial year, costs from 1st April 2016 to 31st May 2016 are available. Over this period £54k was paid to one firm for consultancy services. Again we are unable to clearly specify the number of people employed.

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