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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Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Amnesty International's recommendation that, following recent military attacks on villages in Adamawa State, the Nigerian Air Force should submit its video footage and all relevant information it holds to the Nigerian authorities, specifically the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
A
Answered on: 22 February 2018

It is essential that actions taken by the Nigerian Armed Forces and security services are in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian laws. We urge the Nigerian government to investigate allegations of human rights violations and, where allegations are confirmed, hold those responsible to account.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Nigeria in response to reports of Christian villages in Adamawa State being simultaneously attacked by the Nigerian Air Force and Islamist Fulani herders.
A
Answered on: 22 February 2018

​It is essential that actions taken by the Nigerian Armed Forces and security services are in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian laws. We call on the Nigerian Air Force to comply with investigations by the Nigerian authorities and ensure accountability on all sides.

We are concerned by recurrent clashes involving pastoralists and local farmers of all faiths. We have raised our concerns at State and Federal government levels and urge the Nigerian Government to work with the affected populations. We urge the Nigerian Government to investigate allegations of human rights violations and, where allegations are confirmed, hold those responsible to account.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Radicalism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 20 December 2017 (HL Deb, col 2112), whether they have undertaken the investigation into UK Government funding of bodies in Syria allied to jihadists; and what were the findings of that investigation.
A
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The British Government does not fund extremists or any organisation with links to extremists in Syria. The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa wrote to all members of both Houses on 10 January about the outcome of the investigations that we conducted into Adam Smith International (ASI) following allegations by the BBC's Panorama that funding we had provided to ASI may have been diverted. In that letter the Minister confirmed that both internal and third party investigations had concluded. These found no evidence that either Her Majesty's Government or ASI had acted inappropriately. The investigations concluded that the allegations were either (i) untrue, (ii) misleading or (iii) were dealt with appropriately by the project and donors at the time through the robust risk management and monitoring procedures in place.

Asked on: 08 February 2018
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the deadline for responses to immigration applications.
Answered on: 22 February 2018

UKVI service standards for immigration applications can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration/about-our-services#service-standards

Where an application is defined as non-straightforward due to complexity, the customer will be written to within the normal processing time to explain why it will not be decided within the normal standard, and to explain what will happen next.

Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Speech and Language Disorders
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, whether the current tender for the provision of strategic support to the workforce in mainstream and special schools includes specialist speech, language and communication needs provision; and if not, how they intend to fund such specialist provision for children beyond March.
Answered on: 22 February 2018

In March 2017 the department agreed a one year contract with I CAN, on behalf of The Communication Trust (TCT), to develop sustainable programmes and resources to help the workforce develop their skills in supporting children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). That contract is due to end, as planned, at the end of March 2018.

The department is currently procuring a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) strategic workforce contractor, to help schools develop improved knowledge and skills among their staff, in relation to specific impairments. This contract will include work to promote existing resources and training, as well as identifying and filling any gaps in provision.

The government is committed to supporting those with SLCN and will do more to embed knowledge and ensure good practice is disseminated and understood widely. The new Social Mobility Action Plan (SMAP), ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’, attached, prioritises work in the early years to close the word gap and improve early language acquisition for disadvantaged children. The SMAP includes proposals for continuing professional development training and an early language assessment tool for health visitors and early years practitioners, to ensure that any language delays can be picked up and the right support put in place quickly. The department expects to invite tenders for this work and welcomes bids from all suitably qualified organisations or consortia.

The department is also encouraging bids for the Strategic School Improvement Fund and the Teaching Leadership Innovation Fund, which focus on improving provision for pupils with SEND. The Education Training Foundation is also being funded to increase the capability and capacity of the workforce to respond to the needs of students in further education.

The department will continue to respond to all correspondence on this issue, setting out how the department will ensure that children with SLCN have the right support in place.

The government wants to ensure that all practitioners continue to be able to make good use of the wealth of materials, resources and training that the TCT have developed. It is expected that the member organisations of the TCT will share the training and materials, supported by our new SEND strategic workforce contractor. The department is in regular discussion with TCT about how best to achieve this beyond March 2018.

Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential (PDF Document, 2.63 MB)
Grouped Questions: HL5553 | HL5554
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Speech and Language Disorders
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they intend to make to the petition signed by 22,000 teachers, early years practitioners and speech and language therapists opposing the cuts in funding announced by the Department for Education; and whether they will communicate the reasons for their funding decision to those working in the sector.
Answered on: 22 February 2018

In March 2017 the department agreed a one year contract with I CAN, on behalf of The Communication Trust (TCT), to develop sustainable programmes and resources to help the workforce develop their skills in supporting children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). That contract is due to end, as planned, at the end of March 2018.

The department is currently procuring a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) strategic workforce contractor, to help schools develop improved knowledge and skills among their staff, in relation to specific impairments. This contract will include work to promote existing resources and training, as well as identifying and filling any gaps in provision.

The government is committed to supporting those with SLCN and will do more to embed knowledge and ensure good practice is disseminated and understood widely. The new Social Mobility Action Plan (SMAP), ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’, attached, prioritises work in the early years to close the word gap and improve early language acquisition for disadvantaged children. The SMAP includes proposals for continuing professional development training and an early language assessment tool for health visitors and early years practitioners, to ensure that any language delays can be picked up and the right support put in place quickly. The department expects to invite tenders for this work and welcomes bids from all suitably qualified organisations or consortia.

The department is also encouraging bids for the Strategic School Improvement Fund and the Teaching Leadership Innovation Fund, which focus on improving provision for pupils with SEND. The Education Training Foundation is also being funded to increase the capability and capacity of the workforce to respond to the needs of students in further education.

The department will continue to respond to all correspondence on this issue, setting out how the department will ensure that children with SLCN have the right support in place.

The government wants to ensure that all practitioners continue to be able to make good use of the wealth of materials, resources and training that the TCT have developed. It is expected that the member organisations of the TCT will share the training and materials, supported by our new SEND strategic workforce contractor. The department is in regular discussion with TCT about how best to achieve this beyond March 2018.

Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential (PDF Document, 2.63 MB)
Grouped Questions: HL5552 | HL5554
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Education
Communication Trust
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to support the work of the Communication Trust after March 2018; and if so, how.
Answered on: 22 February 2018

In March 2017 the department agreed a one year contract with I CAN, on behalf of The Communication Trust (TCT), to develop sustainable programmes and resources to help the workforce develop their skills in supporting children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). That contract is due to end, as planned, at the end of March 2018.

The department is currently procuring a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) strategic workforce contractor, to help schools develop improved knowledge and skills among their staff, in relation to specific impairments. This contract will include work to promote existing resources and training, as well as identifying and filling any gaps in provision.

The government is committed to supporting those with SLCN and will do more to embed knowledge and ensure good practice is disseminated and understood widely. The new Social Mobility Action Plan (SMAP), ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’, attached, prioritises work in the early years to close the word gap and improve early language acquisition for disadvantaged children. The SMAP includes proposals for continuing professional development training and an early language assessment tool for health visitors and early years practitioners, to ensure that any language delays can be picked up and the right support put in place quickly. The department expects to invite tenders for this work and welcomes bids from all suitably qualified organisations or consortia.

The department is also encouraging bids for the Strategic School Improvement Fund and the Teaching Leadership Innovation Fund, which focus on improving provision for pupils with SEND. The Education Training Foundation is also being funded to increase the capability and capacity of the workforce to respond to the needs of students in further education.

The department will continue to respond to all correspondence on this issue, setting out how the department will ensure that children with SLCN have the right support in place.

The government wants to ensure that all practitioners continue to be able to make good use of the wealth of materials, resources and training that the TCT have developed. It is expected that the member organisations of the TCT will share the training and materials, supported by our new SEND strategic workforce contractor. The department is in regular discussion with TCT about how best to achieve this beyond March 2018.

Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential (PDF Document, 2.63 MB)
Grouped Questions: HL5552 | HL5553
Q
Asked by Baroness Wyld
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Exhibitions: North of England
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to promote the Great Exhibition of the North 2018.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Great Exhibition of the North will be the largest event in England in 2018 and a game- changing moment for the North of England. The Exhibition will run from 22 June – 9 September 2018.

Ministers have visited NewcastleGateshead and met with local business, key partners and the Exhibition delivery team. Further visits are planned for the opening weekend and at key stages throughout the 80 days of the Exhibition.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), a public private partnership established in 2000, will deliver the Exhibition and is responsible for all operational aspects including promotion of the Exhibition. The department is supporting all aspects of promotional activity.

Grouped Questions: HL5556
Q
Asked by Baroness Wyld
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Exhibitions: North of England
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what ministerial visits are planned to the Great Exhibition of the North 2018.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Great Exhibition of the North will be the largest event in England in 2018 and a game- changing moment for the North of England. The Exhibition will run from 22 June – 9 September 2018.

Ministers have visited NewcastleGateshead and met with local business, key partners and the Exhibition delivery team. Further visits are planned for the opening weekend and at key stages throughout the 80 days of the Exhibition.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), a public private partnership established in 2000, will deliver the Exhibition and is responsible for all operational aspects including promotion of the Exhibition. The department is supporting all aspects of promotional activity.

Grouped Questions: HL5555
Q
Asked by Bob Blackman
(Harrow East)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
India: Social Security
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, if he will take steps to establish an India-UK social security totalisation agreement; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 22 February 2018

​Ministers and officials are working with counterparts in India on a range of social and economic issues to promote the UK as a place to do business and trade. We are seeking to further improve our relationship. We value our international agreements with India and continue to work together to support our shared ambition for an even stronger partnership.

Q
Asked by Ross Thomson
(Aberdeen South)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Offshore Fixed Structures: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the decommissioning of oil platforms on the economy in north east of Scotland.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 22 February 2018

With increasing numbers of offshore oil and gas fields reaching the end of their economic life, forecasts from industry estimate that the annual expenditure for decommissioning over the next 5 years will be in the region of £1.7 to £2 billion. While decommissioning is a major cost for industry, and the taxpayer, it offers significant opportunities for the supply chain that will deliver the constituent elements of decommissioning activity. This encompasses a wide range of activities, covering a broad range of skills and expertise.

With recent estimates from industry suggesting that decommissioning will represent around 11 per cent of total expenditure on oil and gas for 2017, decommissioning is already benefitting the north east of Scotland and the rest of the UK’s economy. Whilst we don’t have specific figures around the economic impact of the increase in decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations, we expect to see an increasing proportion of the offshore oil and gas industry focussing on decommissioning activities in the coming years.

Q
Asked by Kate Green
(Stretford and Urmston)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Travellers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to encourage registered social landlords to apply for the Affordable Homes Grant to build new sites for Travellers.
A
Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Department published an addendum to the Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 prospectus and supplementary information, which set out that funding is now available for new build traveller pitches within the Programme.

Local authorities and housing associations are invited to submit their bids which will be assessed based on the criteria set out in these documents.

The addendum to the prospectus and supplementary information are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/shared-ownership-and-affordable-homes-programme-2016-to-2021-guidance

Q
Asked by Henry Smith
(Crawley)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment he has made of the key potential economic benefits for UK (a) businesses and (b) consumers of the UK agreeing trade agreements with other countries after leaving the EU; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Greg Hands
Answered on: 22 February 2018

As part of its preparations for future trade negotiations, the Department for International Trade (DIT) is conducting analysis of potential agreements with other countries. DIT has provided a qualitative summary of existing literature on the impacts of signing free trade agreements in the Impact Assessment accompanying the Trade Bill, available here: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA17-010.pdf

The Department currently provides impact assessments to Parliament when EU trade agreements are ratified. As outlined in the White Paper “Preparing for our future trade policy”, we are committed to a transparent approach to international trade, and will ensure Parliament has an appropriate role to play in the scrutiny of new UK trade treaties.

Q
Asked by Bob Blackman
(Harrow East)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Religious Freedom
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will provide additional compulsory training on religion and freedom of religion or belief for diplomats and Government officials working in countries where violations of those freedoms are most prevalent.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 22 February 2018

​A specific course in Religion and Diplomacy is available to FCO staff designated to take up roles where an understanding of religion is key to their work. We will keep attendance at the course under review, but so far we do not see a need to make this training mandatory.

The FCO also runs seminars on specific themes. For example, Bishop Jonathan Goodall spoke to the FCO about Orthodox Christianity and foreign policy.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Cabinet Office
Crown Commercial Service
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with whom was the new Behavioural Insights Crown Commercial Services framework developed.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Government’s Behavioural Insights framework was developed using the knowledge and expertise of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and government departments, including behavioural insights specialists across government Cabinet Office . Feedback was also received from interested suppliers via a survey and an open engagement event, advertised following the publication of a Prior Information Notice on 25 May 2017.

The estimated value of the framework is based on the aggregated potential demand of public sector buying organisations, as collated through the customer engagement process.

Information on framework, including the successful bidders, can be found on GOV.UK:

http://ccs-agreements.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm6004

Grouped Questions: 127584 | 127594
Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Cabinet Office
Crown Commercial Service
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, who the suppliers are of the new Behavioural Insights Crown Commercial Services framework.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Government’s Behavioural Insights framework was developed using the knowledge and expertise of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and government departments, including behavioural insights specialists across government Cabinet Office . Feedback was also received from interested suppliers via a survey and an open engagement event, advertised following the publication of a Prior Information Notice on 25 May 2017.

The estimated value of the framework is based on the aggregated potential demand of public sector buying organisations, as collated through the customer engagement process.

Information on framework, including the successful bidders, can be found on GOV.UK:

http://ccs-agreements.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm6004

Grouped Questions: 127583 | 127594
Q
Asked by Kate Green
(Stretford and Urmston)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Travellers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions Minsters of his Department have had with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the effect of the revised definition of Traveller in PPTS 2015 in relation to local planning authorities’ policy provision.
A
Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 22 February 2018

We have no record of any discussions between Ministers in this Department and the Equality and Human Rights Commission regarding the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites published in 2015.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Cabinet Office
Government Departments: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Government news story of 2 February 2018 entitled Government harnesses advances in Behavioural Insights with new framework, what the evidential basis is for the sum of £16 million cited.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 22 February 2018

The Government’s Behavioural Insights framework was developed using the knowledge and expertise of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and government departments, including behavioural insights specialists across government Cabinet Office . Feedback was also received from interested suppliers via a survey and an open engagement event, advertised following the publication of a Prior Information Notice on 25 May 2017.

The estimated value of the framework is based on the aggregated potential demand of public sector buying organisations, as collated through the customer engagement process.

Information on framework, including the successful bidders, can be found on GOV.UK:

http://ccs-agreements.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm6004

Grouped Questions: 127583 | 127584
Q
(Central Suffolk and North Ipswich)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Planning Authorities
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he plans to introduce penalties for local planning authorities that fail to introduce a five-year land supply.
A
Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 22 February 2018

In order to build the homes this country needs it is vital that local authorities produce a plan, in consultation with their local communities, for the homes that are needed in their area.

The National Planning Policy Framework introduced the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which applies where a local authority cannot demonstrate a five year land supply. This has been effective in bringing forward more land for housing but has been a blunt tool.

The Housing White Paper included proposals to continue this policy while offering more certainty to those authorities who are identifying enough land for housing. Subject to consultation, this will be taken forward through the revised National Planning Policy Framework, which will be published for consultation before Easter.

Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 08 February 2018
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice: Recruitment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department's recently advertised roles which are paid, except in circumstances where the successful applicant already receives a salary for full-time work paid for from public funds, what proportion of applications are from people employed in the public sector which (a) do not pay a salary to those already in receipt of a full-time salary from public funds, (b) are unpaid and (c) are paid irrespective of an applicant's existing public-sector pay.
A
Answered by: Dr Phillip Lee
Answered on: 22 February 2018

With respect to Ministry of Justice public appointments (defined as posts regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments in the Order in Council 2017), we do not hold information on the salary arrangements of candidates who are employed in the public-sector.

Where appropriate, arrangements are made to ensure that an appointee may not receive a double payment from the public purse if they are already in receipt of a full-time public-sector salary, in addition to their public appointment role.

The Ministry of Justice has not conducted an assessment on the effects of this policy on those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 in respect of public appointments for which it is responsible.

Grouped Questions: 127615
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