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
(Neath)
Asked on: 18 January 2017
Ministry of Justice
Domestic Violence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment she has made of the effect of the eligibility criteria for family legal aid funding on the number of litigants in person in domestic violence cases.
A
Answered by: Sir Oliver Heald
Answered on: 27 March 2017

The Government is absolutely clear that victims of domestic violence must have access to the help that they need, including access to legal aid.

We are currently reviewing the arrangements for providing legal aid to victims of domestic violence in private family law disputes. The findings of this review will be used to develop regulations underpinned by evidence. While we consider longer-term options we have more than doubled the time limit for evidence. We have introduced a provision that will allow the Legal Aid Agency to grant legal aid if satisfied that an application demonstrates financial abuse.

For those seeking urgent protection from domestic violence via court injunctions, such as non-molestation orders or prohibited steps orders, we have made sure legal aid continues to be available to the full extent of the proceedings when such application is granted.

Asked on: 07 March 2017
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Toys and Games
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Price on 6 March (HL5447), what assessment they have made of concerns for child security and privacy presented by the marketing of My Friend Cayla dolls in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 27 March 2017

The Government is aware of reports that some internet-connected children’s toys potentially pose a risk in terms of cybersecurity. As with all internet connected devices, the quality of these products varies.

The cyber security of the UK is a top priority for the Government. Manufacturers of internet-connected devices should ensure those devices have appropriate security measures built in and seek to ensure emerging technologies are secure by default.

Where internet-connected products are collecting personal data, organisations that process that personal data in the UK must comply Data Protection Act’s (DPA) eight data protection principles.

These include requiring personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully; to be accurate and up-to-date; not to be kept for longer than is necessary; and to be processed in accordance with the rights of the data subjects under the DPA. Failure to comply with the Act is an offence. Further information about these obligations can be found on the ICO’s website at:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/

Q
Asked by Lucy Powell
(Manchester Central)
Asked on: 08 March 2017
Department for Education
Free Schools and University Technical Colleges: Closures
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which (a) free schools and (b) university technical colleges have closed since 2010; what the cost to the public purse was of each of those closures; and what each of those sites had been used for since each such closure.
A
Answered by: Edward Timpson
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Since 2010, six free schools and three university technical colleges (UTC) have closed. Please see list below for details of these confirmed closures and how the site has since been used.

The primary objective of the department when making a decision to close a school is to ensure the best possible educational outcomes for pupils and to secure value for money for the taxpayer. The department’s published accounts explain any assets that were written off because they could not be reused or recovered.

School Name

Type

Date closed

Details of how school site has been used since closure

Discovery New School

Primary

3/4/2014

The site was acquired from Crawley Borough Council on a peppercorn lease. This site is now being subleased to another school, TBAP Residential Broadfield Park, which is part of TBAP Multi-Academy Trust.

The Durham Free School

Secondary

27/3/2015

The temporary site for the school was acquired from Durham County Council on a peppercorn lease. Following closure the site was returned to Durham County Council.

Black Country UTC

UTC

28/8/2015

The site was acquired from Walsall Council on a peppercorn lease. Following closure the site was returned to Walsall Council.

Stockport Technical School

Secondary

28/8/2015

The site was acquired from a private vendor. Since the closure of Stockport Technical School the EFA has been exploring options to sublease the site.

Dawes Lane Academy

Alternative Provision

28/8/2015

A site was not acquired for the school. Dawes Lane Academy offered alternative provision for pupils attending schools in the wider trust, School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA). This provision was based in the trust’s existing buildings.

Hackney University Technical College

UTC

28/8/2015

The site was acquired from Hackney College on a peppercorn lease. The site is currently being used as a temporary site for The Olive School Hackney.

St Michael's Catholic Secondary School

Secondary

31/8/2016

The site was acquired from Cornwall Council. The site is now being used by the Cambourne International and Science Academy.

Central Bedfordshire UTC

UTC

31/8/2016

The site was acquired from Central Bedfordshire Council on a peppercorn lease. The site is currently being used by Bedford College for former UTC students to complete their studies and by the Academy of Central Bedfordshire to expand its Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).

Southwark Free School*

Primary

31/3/2017

The temporary site was acquired from Southwark Council on a peppercorn lease. The temporary site was returned to Southwark Council. The permanent site was acquired from a private vendor and will be used for educational purposes from 2018.

* We have included Southwark Free School in this list. Formal closure is expected to be finalised at the end of this month and there are no pupils remaining at this school.

Asked on: 08 March 2017
Home Office
Free Movement of People
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 28 February (HL5522), whether they intend to remove from the UK those EU citizens who are residing in the UK otherwise than in accordance with the Free Movement Directive.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Under EU law, EU nationals who wish to stay in the UK for longer than three months can only do so if they are exercising a Treaty right. This means that they must be a jobseeker, worker, self-employed, self-sufficient or a student. The Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC) requires students and self-sufficient persons to have comprehensive sickness insurance and sufficient resources to support themselves and their families to not become a burden on the UK’s social assistance system.

At present the UK remains in the EU, and as such, EU nationals continue to be subject to the rights and responsibilities set out in existing legislation which governs the exercise of free movement in the UK. EU nationals that do not meet the requirements of the Free Movement Directive are not lawfully resident in the UK and may be liable to removal.

However, because it is relatively straight forward to rectify and establish a right to reside in the UK, longstanding Home Office practice is not to seek the removal of EU nationals solely because they do not have comprehensive sickness insurance but have otherwise met the requirements under EU law.

Asked on: 13 March 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Assassination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that North Korea has issued orders to assassinate a British businessman who helped to facilitate the defection of North Korea's then deputy ambassador to London.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Any credible threat to the safety of a British national or a resident of the UK is matter for the relevant police authority to investigate.

Asked on: 13 March 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to introduce human rights sanctions against North Korea, in line with those imposed by the United States.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

As I set out in written question HL2194, we will always carefully consider the impact and benefits of sanctions measures before they are imposed. These considerations include our ability to defend the legality of the sanctions should they be challenged under EU law and the likelihood of achieving our objectives of stability on the Korean peninsula and improved human rights for North Koreans.

Q
Asked by Lord Berkeley
Asked on: 13 March 2017
HM Treasury
National Infrastructure Commission
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy on whether members of the House of Lords who vote against the Government may continue to act as members of the Board of the National Infrastructure Commission.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 27 March 2017

The responsibilities of Commissioners on the National Infrastructure Commission are set out in their Framework Document [[1]]. These include complying with the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public bodies [[2]]. The Framework Document does not include specific guidance on political activity.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585374/NIC_framework_document_web.pdf

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409604/code-of-conduct_tcm6-38901.pdf

Q
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department of Health
Abortion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the number of medical doctors who need to be trained in abortion care each year, to ensure the availability of safe care for all women needing this service.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 27 March 2017

No assessment has currently been made centrally of the number of medical doctors who need to be trained in abortion care each year. The President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has initiated a programme of work to increase the number of doctors trained to provide abortion treatment and care and is working with the Department and other national organisations.

Q
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department of Health
Abortion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that women needing an abortion can afford the travel costs necessary to access services offered by independent abortion providers.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Normally abortion provision is specifically commissioned ‎to provide a service within a local area. When care is not available locally, such as in later gestations or for women with more complex needs, the commissioning organisation will meet the costs of travel. Where women face particular hardship, most independent providers will provide support with travel costs as they consider this part of their charitable remit.

Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Exiting the European Union
EU Action: Parliamentary Scrutiny
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each Government department, from July to December 2016, on how many occasions a scrutiny reserve resolution in (1) the House of Lords, and (2) the House of Commons, was overridden; and in respect of how many documents an override occurred in (a) both Houses, or (b) either House.
A
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Between July and December 2016, 557 Explanatory Memoranda on EU documents were submitted for scrutiny.

Across both Houses there were 33 occasions when the Government supported decisions in the EU Council of Ministers before the scrutiny procedures had been completed by either one or both Scrutiny Committees.

In each case the Government explained to the Scrutiny Committees why it was important for the proposal to be supported before clearance had been provided. As with previous six-monthly periods, the largest category of instrument were fast-moving and sensitive EU restrictive measures where there were 22 such instruments (67% of the total number) adopted before scrutiny could be completed.

The figures requested are set out below:

Department

(1). House of Lords Override

(2). House of Commons override

(1). No. of overrides in both Houses

(2). Total no. of overrides

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

0

1

0

1

Culture, Media and Sport

1

2

1

2

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1

2

1

2

Foreign and Commonwealth Office*

22

26*

22

26

HM Treasury**

1

1

1

1

International Trade

0

1

0

1

Totals

25

33

25

33

* In addition to the formal overrides listed here, there were 40 occasions when Council Decisions were adopted prior to scrutiny by the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee due to their limite marking (ie internal EU limited distribution marking for content not intended to be in the public domain).

** An override on the Proposal for a Council Directive laying down rules against tax avoidance practices that directly affect the functioning of the internal market, was identified to have occurred at the 27 June 2016 ECOFIN, after the answer had been published for the override figures for January-June 2016 (HL 1405).

Asked on: 13 March 2017
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many further leave to remain applications, made on the basis of (1) family, and (2) private, life were made in each year since 2014.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Data on UK Visas and Immigration temporary and permanent migration activities including In-Country Work In Progress Casework, and Percentage of Temporary and Permanent Migration in-country visa applications for each Route, processed within Service Standards, is published on the .GOV.UK website. The relevant Routes are ‘Spouse/Partner’ and ‘HR/Complex Case’ as indicated on worksheet InC_01 and InC_01a.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data

The relevant tables are also attached to this answer.

2014 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 29.66 KB)
2015 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 38.02 KB)
2016 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 40.81 KB)
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many further leave to remain applications made on the basis of (1) family, and (2) private, life were determined within usual Home Office service standards in each year since 2013.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Data on UK Visas and Immigration temporary and permanent migration activities including In-Country Work In Progress Casework, and Percentage of Temporary and Permanent Migration in-country visa applications for each Route, processed within Service Standards, is published on the .GOV.UK website. The relevant Routes are ‘Spouse/Partner’ as indicated on worksheet InC_02.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data

2014 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 29.66 KB)
2015 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 38.02 KB)
2016 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 40.81 KB)
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the average length of time taken to determine an initial further leave to remain application made on the basis of (1) family, and (2) private, life in (a) 2015, and (b) 2016.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Data on UK Visas and Immigration temporary and permanent migration activities including In-Country Work In Progress Casework, and Percentage of Temporary and Permanent Migration in-country visa applications for each Route, processed within Service Standards, is published on the .GOV.UK website. In this instance the data provided on worksheet InC_05 gives an overall picture across Temporary and Permanent Migration and is not determined by Route.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data

The relevant tables are also attached to this answer.

2014 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 29.66 KB)
2015 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 38.02 KB)
2016 figures (Excel SpreadSheet, 40.81 KB)
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the average length of time taken to determine a second or subsequent further leave to remain application made on the basis of (1) family, and (2) private, life in (a) 2015, and (b) 2016.
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Home Office Systems cannot be interrogated in a way that will provide any meaningful response to the question. A manual review of all applications submitted within the stipulated timeframe would be needed in order to provide an accurate response and this would incur a disproportionate cost to the public purse.

Therefore, the average length of time taken to determine a second or subsequent further leave to remain application made on the basis of (1) family, and (2) private, life in (a) 2015, and (b) 2016 cannot be provided.

The versions for previous years are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/temporary-and-permanent-migration-data-november-2014

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/temporary-and-permanent-migration-data-february-2015

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/temporary-and-permanent-migration-data-november-2016

These tables have also been attached to this answer.

2014 data (Excel SpreadSheet, 29.66 KB)
2015 data (Excel SpreadSheet, 38.02 KB)
2016 data (Excel SpreadSheet, 40.81 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Watts
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Social Enterprises: Offenders
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Buscombe on 9 March (HL5605), whether they will clarify whether their commitment to social enterprises includes social enterprises which support or employ ex-prisoners.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Social enterprises play an important role in the government’s mission of building an economy that works for everyone and we recognise the value of social enterprises in helping offenders find employment. The government is building on its role as a world leader in social enterprise by championing procurement for social value, supporting social enterprise awareness campaigns, building the social investment market, using social enterprises to address issues at scale and expanding social investment tax relief. Social enterprises employing or supporting ex-prisoners, or indeed anyone with a disadvantage that makes it difficult for them to access the job market, are included in the government’s social enterprise support set out above.

Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
National Parks
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will refer to the National Parks in their 25-year plan for the environment; and whether this plan will set out arrangements for the National Parks' long-term protection and enhancement.
A
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Our environment is enormously valuable and we have long-standing protections for our most precious landscapes through our network of national parks.

We are committed to the goal of being the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than that in which we found it and we will publish a 25 year environment to deliver this ambition.

The plan has not yet been written but it is a manifesto commitment to publish in the course of this parliament and we will engage with interested stakeholders, including national parks, to help inform its development.

We have an 8-Point Plan for England’s National Parks, launched on 23 March 2016. It sets out our priorities for improving National Parks in England over the period from 2016 until 2020.

Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
National Parks
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the high level of planning protection afforded to National Parks, and the specific responsibilities and duties that apply to development decisions both within the Parks and their adjacent settings; and whether this will be reflected in the new 25-year plan for the environment.
A
Answered on: 27 March 2017

The National Planning Policy Framework is clear on the protections in place for national parks. We would only expect to see major development in exceptional circumstances. Our environment is enormously valuable, and we have long-standing protections for our most precious landscapes through our network of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

On 23 March 2016, we launched an 8-Point Plan for England’s National Parks. It sets out our priorities for improving National Parks in England over the period from 2016 until 2020.

We are committed to the goal of being the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than that in which we found it and we will publish a 25 year environment plan to deliver this ambition.

The plan has not yet been written but it is a manifesto commitment to publish in the course of this Parliament and we will engage with interested stakeholders, including national parks, to help inform its development.

Q
Asked by Mrs Anne Main
(St Albans)
Asked on: 14 March 2017
Department for Education
Overseas Students: Loans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 8 March 2017 to Question 65926, on overseas students: loans, for what reasons 4.8 per cent of borrowers residing in the UK are not required to repay their student loans.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 27 March 2017

Student loan borrowers who are liable to repay their loan and known to be in the UK can be categorised as ‘status that does not require repayment at this point’ for a number of reasons. Most typically these are borrowers who were known by Student Loans Company to have been resident in the UK and had confirmed they were not working, or HMRC or DWP advised that they had been receiving benefits.

Further information on how the repayment statuses are categorised can be found in the ‘Notes for Users’ section of the Statistical First Release.

http://www.slc.co.uk/media/7594/slcsfr012016.pdf

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 14 March 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many contracts procured by his Department and its arms-length bodies are covered by TUPE regulations in each of the last three financial years.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 27 March 2017

In the FCO, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE) are included as standard in commercial contracts. Clauses are excluded only if the specific contract does not require it and this is agreed between the parties. In the last three years, we are only aware of TUPE regulations being applicable in five major contracts (defined as those with a whole life cost of over £15m).

In the last three years, FCO Services are only aware of TUPE being active in four major contracts (defined as those with a value of more than £2m) , two of which have since expired.

TUPE has been included as a clause within an additional five major (>£2m) contracts accessed through Crown Commercial frameworks, two of which have since expired.

Since April 2014, one contract was procured for the British Council in the UK for catering, where TUPE regulations apply.

Q
Asked by Lord Lipsey
Asked on: 14 March 2017
Department of Health
Care Homes: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of research from Reform indicating that the number of deferred payments issued by local authorities has not risen since 2012, whether they plan to widen access to the Deferred Payment Scheme by raising the £23,500 means threshold.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 27 March 2017

The Care Act 2014 introduced universal Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs) so that people should not be forced to sell their homes in their lifetimes to pay for care. The eligibility criteria for DPAs are designed to ensure that they are available to those who would otherwise be at risk of having to sell their homes.

The Department is continuing to monitor the success of the scheme, and data on the uptake of DPAs across all local authorities will be available later this year.

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