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 2017-19 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
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government how many workers aged 21 to 65 are recognised as self-employed; and what percentage of the total workforce this represents.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 July 2017

The latest ONS Labour Force Survey shows the number of people reporting to be self-employed was 4.8 million in the 4th quarter of 2016.

Due to the age categories in which ONS reports this data, it is not possible to get a figure for 21 to 65 year olds.

However, as a proportion of the total number of people in employment (31,713,000), self-employed people between the ages of 25 and 64 account for 13.1% of total employment. Self-employed people between the ages of 18 and 64 account for 13.7% of total employment.

Q
Asked by Lord Rennard
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether, and how, the wider social costs and benefits of regulations are taken into account by Government departments in (1) achieving their policy objectives for the business impact target, (2) the implementation of the One in, Three out rule announced by the Business Secretary on 3 March 2016, and (3) the application of the requirement to identify £3 in savings for each £1 of additional cost when assessing proposed new regulations.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 July 2017

HM Treasury’s Green Book guidance on policy appraisal and evaluation sets out how the economic, financial, social and environmental assessments of a policy, or specification of regulations, should be combined. The Government has not yet decided how its better regulation system will operate in this Parliament. This includes any One-In, Two-Out policy and the setting of a target in respect of the economic impact of new regulation on business for this Parliament as required under section 21 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Q
Asked by Lord Rennard
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether the Regulatory Policy Committee is empowered to rate an impact assessment as inadequate on the grounds that it does not adequately consider the wider social costs and benefits of proposed regulatory measures.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 July 2017

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) comments on the Government’s performance in assessing regulatory impacts as set out in Impact Assessments. These assessments should address the wider societal costs and benefits. The RPC sets out its view on the analysis contained in the impact assessments in its published Opinions and annual reports. Under its current remit, the RPC cannot rate an impact assessment as ‘not fit for purpose’ in relation to wider societal impacts at final stage. The Government has not yet decided what approach it will take to deliver better regulation during the current Parliament.

Q
Asked by Lord Rennard
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what estimates of (1) the value of lives saved, and (2) additional life years gained, they use when classifying proposed regulatory measures as “in”, “out” or “zero net cost” in departmental submissions to the Regulatory Policy Committee.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 July 2017

HM Treasury’s Green Book guidance on policy appraisal and evaluation sets out how the economic, financial, social and environmental assessments of a policy, or specification of regulations, should be combined. It includes guidance on appraising social impacts, such as health and welfare benefits and prevented fatality and how to weight such considerations against other impacts.

Asked on: 05 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the forecast by Barclay's Analysts that the Hinckley Point nuclear power station project will suffer cost overruns of £4.5 billion and a four year delay for completion, and what would be the cost per megawatt hour (MWH) of electricity if those forecasts were realised.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 July 2017

The Government negotiated a very competitive deal which ensures consumers won’t pay a penny until the station begins generating electricity.

Any construction cost overruns or schedule delays are the responsibility of the developer.

The Strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (2012 prices) set in the Hinkley Point C Contract for Difference will not change as a result of any construction cost increases or delays to completion.

Asked on: 05 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of forecasts of sharply increased costs and delays to the Hinckley Point nuclear power station project, they will review their support for it and state the estimated cost for bringing the project to an end.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 July 2017

There are no plans to review the Hinkley Point C contract, which the Government believes represents value for money and will deliver a number of benefits including 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships. The developer, NNB is responsible for the project’s funding and construction schedule. Any additional costs incurred are the responsibility of NNBG and will not fall on taxpayers or consumers.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 09 June 2016
Department of Health
S4C
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total cost to the NHS of insurance premiums for clinical negligence; which Foundation Trust pays the highest amount as a percentage of its budget; and what percentage of its budget that cost represents.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 14 June 2016

The question has been interpreted to mean contributions to the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) which provides indemnity for National Health Service bodies. These are not insurance premiums.

The total cost for 2014-15, which is the last available published figure, is £1,037,742,810.

The information as to which NHS Foundation Trust pays the highest amount as a percentage of its budget is not held centrally.

Q
Asked on: 27 June 2016
Department of Health
RAF Northolt
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what online resources are readily available for people struggling with alcohol misuse.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 07 July 2016

Local authorities and their health and wellbeing board partners have responsibility for planning the full range of alcohol services, from early intervention and prevention, through to commissioning alcohol treatment services to meet need in their area and ensure services are accessible to everyone. Furthermore in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance (PH 24) Alcohol-use disorders: preventing harmful drinking, Public Health England (PHE) encourages health and social care professionals to carry out Identification and Brief Advice through general practitioners and programmes such as NHS Health Checks and Making Every Contact Count. A copy of the NICE guidance is attached.

The majority of services offer interventions that are non-religious and are based on cognitive behavioural principles with motivational enhancement techniques.

There are a number of online resources to help with alcohol issues, including the One You and NHS Choices websites. One You is an integrated social marketing campaign run by PHE which aims to engage adults in making changes to improve their own health. This includes offering users advice and information about alcohol as well as tools which help monitor their drinking. NHS Choices offers a range of information about alcohol dependence and includes an on online directory of local alcohol services that those worried about their alcohol use can approach for assistance.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 05 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether they regard the technology and payments company Worldpay to be a strategic national asset, and whether it intends to intervene to order a review of the proposed takeover of the company by a non–British purchaser.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 18 July 2017

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, Ministers have powers to intervene in mergers which raise public interest concerns in relation to national security, financial stability and media plurality. If the Government decides that there are grounds for intervention and that it should exercise its powers under the Enterprise Act in this case, it will make an announcement.

Asked on: 25 May 2016
Department of Health
Religious Hatred: Islam
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of visits to hospital Accident and Emergency departments during 2015 resulted in admission to hospital.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 07 June 2016

In 2015 there were 22,434,007 attendances at accident and emergency departments in England. For 18.2% of these attendances, the patient was admitted as an emergency.

Asked on: 03 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what assessment have they made of the contribution to the economy of the brick industry.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 July 2017

The Annual Business Survey 2015, published 9 June 2017, showed that the “manufacture of bricks, tiles and construction products, in baked clay” sector in 2015 employed 5,000 people across 125 enterprises, with a turnover of £925million.

Whilst there are no individual statistics on the brick industry other data suggests well over half of this sector is brick manufacture. This represents 0.01% of enterprises and 0.03% of turnover and employment in the non-financial business economy.

Asked on: 03 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the proportion of raw materials in the UK house building industry that is sourced in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 July 2017

The Office of National Statistics, UK input output analytical tables, shows 86% of goods and services consumed in the construction industry are UK sourced.

We do not hold any specific statistical data that contains only the proportion of raw material used in house building that are sourced from within the UK.

Q
Asked on: 03 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government why products are not required to carry labels which indicate exactly what flame retardant materials they contain, including those materials which were permitted at the time of production but have since been banned, in order to (1) enable people to avoid those products if they so wish, and (2) ensure that people are aware that it may not be possible to recycle or sell on those products.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 14 July 2017

Product safety legislation requires products to be safe when they are placed on the market. It does not specifically require products to be labelled with information about fire retardant material used in the products.

The Government is currently reviewing the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. One of the proposals under consideration is specific labelling to show the presence of fire retardant chemicals to help inform consumers and to aid consumer choice. A consultation on this issue was held in late 2016. The responses to the consultation will help to inform our decisions on this question and will be included in the Government response, to be issued in due course.

Asked on: 06 June 2016
Department of Health
Nuclear Weapons: Safety
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 12 October 2015 (HL1940), what plans they have to commission or financially to support further studies that might meet the "specific and relatively narrow criteria" of the 2015 Cochrane review Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries, in the light of the point made in that review’s abstract that "the applicability of the results to current lifestyles is unclear because the majority of the studies were conducted before fluoride toothpastes and the other preventative measures were widely used".
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 June 2016

The 2015 Cochrane review Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries was an update of a Cochrane review first completed in 2000. A panel of experts agreed the search criteria in the original review, and the update kept these largely unchanged.

The National Institute for Health Research is currently funding an evaluation of a water fluoridation scheme in Cumbria. This started in 2013 and the final report is expected to be published in 2021. Findings from the evaluation will be available for consideration in any subsequent systematic reviews relating to water fluoridation.

Asked on: 06 June 2016
Department of Health
Nuclear Weapons: Safety
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 17 November 2015 (HL3315), why the Executive Summary of the report by Public Health England Water fluoridation: Health monitoring report for England 2014 concludes that "The report provides further reassurance that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure", when the Limitations section of the report states that "there was potential for considerable misclassification of exposure status" and the Conclusion section states that "the population-based, observational design does not allow conclusions to be drawn regarding any causative or protective role of fluoride".
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 15 June 2016

The Public Health England report, Water Fluoridation: Health Monitoring Report for England 2014 was, of necessity, an ecological study. An ecological design is appropriate for monitoring health outcomes in fluoridated and non-fluoridated populations. All academic research has limitations. In designing and conducting research consideration must be taken regarding timescales for publication and cost to the public purse. Stating the limitations of the study within the body of a paper is considered good scientific practice.

The report discusses the limitations of this study design, including the potential for mis-classification of fluoride exposure status, using an ecological level of measurement with regard to water fluoridation rather than individual fluoride intake. The report’s findings, however, concur with those of numerous authoritative reviews of water fluoridation that finds levels of tooth decay are lower in fluoridated areas and that there is no convincing evidence that water fluoridation causes adverse health effects.

For these reasons the author’s conclusion "The report provides further reassurance that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure" is appropriate.

With over 70 years’ experience of water fluoridation internationally and over 50 years’ experience in the United Kingdom, there has been no convincing scientific evidence to indicate that water fluoridation has caused harm to health.

Asked on: 06 June 2016
Department of Health
Nuclear Weapons: Safety
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the statement in the Executive Summary of the Water fluoridation: Health monitoring report for England 2014 that there is "no evidence of a difference in the rate of hip fractures between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas", what account Public Health England took of the article "Adding fluoride to water supplies" by Cheng KK et al in the British Medical Journal of 7 October 2007, in which the authors state that if the population of England had an average lifetime exposure of ≥0.9 ppm fluoride in drinking water a modest association between fluoride and hip fracture, if such exists, would have a less than one in five chance of being detected despite potentially causing more than 10,000 excess fractures a year.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 June 2016

The possible effects of fluoride in water have been extensively studied and reviewed over the last 50 years. In the United Kingdom the most recent review prior to the publication of Public Health England’s (PHE) Health Monitoring Report was undertaken by the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination based at the University of York and published in 2000. The Medical Research Council subsequently, in 2002, reported to the Department of Health its advice on future research priorities. The US National Research Council reported in 2006 and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council reported in 2007. PHE drew on these authoritative sources in selecting a number of indicators of health conditions for inclusion in the 2014 water fluoridation health monitoring report.

The chosen indicators of various health conditions were selected based on the evidence base, theoretical plausibility, potential impact on population health, the quality and availability of data, and the validity of the indicator. The selected indicators will be reviewed for future reports in the light of emerging evidence.

The article by KK Cheng et al did not provide any new evidence regarding hip fractures, but comments on the chance of detecting an increased risk of hip fracture for a speculated odds ratio of 1.2 in a previous study by Hiller et al. 2000. This only refers to a single study and it is important to consider the overall weight of evidence.

The overall weight of evidence and the consensus of opinion from authoritative reviews do not indicate that a drinking water concentration of 1 part fluoride per million parts of water presents an increased risk of hip fracture.

A more recent review of potential health effects from water fluoridation was published in 2015 by the Irish Research Board. The report concluded that a summary of the existing literature indicates that the relationship between fluoride in drinking water and bone health is inconsistent, with no definitive proof of protective or harmful effects.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 29 June 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to produce a new Energy White Paper.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 July 2017

The Government has set a clear direction of travel on energy policy, through our legislative framework for reducing carbon emissions, by taking a range of key decisions including on Hinkley Point C and funding for renewable electricity, and by ensuring high levels of security through the capacity market.

Our Clean Growth Plan will set out proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s. We intend to publish that plan when Parliament sits again after summer recess. We are also committed to action to reduce the cost of energy, including tackling unfair practices in the energy market.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 29 June 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to bring forward legislation to (1) treat non-fracking drilling as permitted development, (2) make major shale planning decisions the responsibility of the National Planning Regime, and (3) make changes to the proposed Shale Wealth Fund, as outlined in the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 July 2017

The Government has been recently elected and its approach to implementing the manifesto proposals has yet to be finalised.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 29 June 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their new Emissions Reduction Plan.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 July 2017

We want the plan to be an ambitious, robust and clear blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future, and are working with colleagues across Government to ensure it meets these criteria.

We intend to publish the plan when Parliament sits again after summer recess.

Q
Asked by Lord Bird
Asked on: 03 July 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lords
Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to authorise a moratorium on fracking in England until all available evidence relating to its environmental, economic and social impacts has been independently reviewed and assessed.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 July 2017

A moratorium on hydraulic fracturing was previously imposed in the UK after the detection of two small tremors related to shale gas development in Lancashire in 2011. The Government asked the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to conduct an independent review of the scientific and engineering evidence on the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, which concluded that “The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation”. The Government lifted the moratorium in December 2012 and supports the safe and environmentally sound exploration of shale gas to determine the potential of the UK’s resources.

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