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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UIN

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 David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Exiting the European Union
Borders: Northern Ireland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent representations he has made and discussions he has held with the EU on the future of the UK-Ireland land border.
A
Answered by: Mr Robin Walker
Answered on: 20 December 2017

The UK has made extensive representations on this issue throughout all negotiating rounds with the European Commission. There is much agreement between the UK and the EU on the proposals for how to address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and Ireland in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The joint report between the UK and the EU makes clear our steadfast commitment to the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement, including the principle of consent; the continuation of the Common Travel Area and associated rights; and the vital objective of avoiding any physical infrastructure on the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We are committed to finding a practical solution that recognises the unique economic, social and political context of the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We are clear that we will not agree anything that threatens the constitutional or economic integrity of the UK.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
[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: 20 December 2017
Northern Ireland Office
Apprentices: Northern Ireland
Commons
What steps he is taking to encourage the promotion of apprenticeships in Northern Ireland.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 20 December 2017

We are committed to reaching our pledge of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

Through our Industrial Strategy we are committed to helping young people across the country develop the skills they need for the future.

Promoting apprenticeships in Northern Ireland is, though, a devolved matter for a restored Executive to drive forward.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 28 November 2017
Cabinet Office
Public Sector: Employment
Commons
To ask the Minister of the Cabinet Office what the total number of Northern Irish workers currently employed by the public sector across the rest of the UK is.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 07 December 2017

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

UKSA response (PDF Document, 193.64 KB)
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of changes to his Department’s budget as a result of Autumn Budget 2017 and whether he plans to increase expenditure on army barracks in Northern Ireland.
A
Answered by: Gavin Williamson
Answered on: 05 December 2017

The Chancellor confirmed in the Autumn Budget that the Government will continue to meet its commitments to public spending made in Spending Review 2015. For defence this means that the Government will continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2% of the UK's GDP on Defence each year until 2020-21. Additionally, Defence's budget will continue to increase by 0.5% above inflation each year across the same period.

The Ministry of Defence is reviewing the existing funding arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Cybercrime: Small Businesses
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to help small and medium-sized enterprises to improve cyber security training and competency.
A
Answered by: Matt Hancock
Answered on: 05 December 2017

We are committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to live and do business online. This includes ensuring all UK organisations - including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - are resilient to cyber threats. A number of Government online cyber security training packages are available free of charge, including one specifically for SMEs. In addition, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched a new Cyber Security Small Business Guide in October 2017, which provides quick, easy and low-cost cyber security advice to small businesses. A series of short videos, based on the guide, will be released shortly and further campaigns will follow next year. Cyber Essentials, the Government-backed certification scheme, has also refreshed its website to make it more accessible to SMEs.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Youth Development Fund
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to extend Youth Development Fund grants to deprived areas beyond England.
A
Answered by: Tracey Crouch
Answered on: 05 December 2017

Government is investing £40 million through the Youth Investment and #iwill Funds to increase opportunities for young people to develop skills and undertake social action. This money is being matched by the Big Lottery Fund to create an £80million investment in young people. As this is a devolved policy area the UK Government only has the legal authority to fund projects that benefit England.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department of Health
Analgesics: Misuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he has taken to raise awareness of prescription painkiller addiction.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 05 December 2017

The Government takes seriously the issue of addiction to prescription medicines. People who feel that they might be dependent on either prescribed or over the counter medicines should seek help from a health professional in the first instance (such as a general practitioner or pharmacist). Help and advice is also available from, for example, the 111 helpline or the on-line NHS Choices service.

Public Health England has been involved in a range of work to raise awareness of addiction to medicines, including:

- Providing advice and data for commissioners on treating dependence on prescription and over-the-counter medicines, such as the guide for National Health Service and local authority commissioners available at:

http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/pheatmcommissioningguide.pdf

- Outlining an option for sustainability and transformation partnerships to consider reviewing prescriptions of medicines liable to dependence within primary care, which is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-health-and-care-planning-menu-of-preventative-interventions

- Supporting the recent update to the drug treatment clinical guidelines, which offers new guidance to clinicians treating people with drug problems including the misuse of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. The guidelines can be downloaded at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/drug-misuse-and-dependence-uk-guidelines-on-clinical-management

- Producing advice with NHS England for prescribers on the risks of the misuse of pregabalin and gabapentin. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pregabalin-and-gabapentin-advice-for-prescribers-on-the-risk-of-misuse.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Subsidies
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the cost to the public purse has been of energy subsidies to private energy companies in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Richard Harrington
Answered on: 01 December 2017

There are no direct Government energy subsidies to private energy companies.

The costs of renewable energy schemes for electricity are funded through consumer energy bills rather than from general taxation.

The Government provides financial support to non-domestic renewable heat generators and producers of biomethane through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The RHI payments made to all participants including energy companies are to bridge the cost differential of installing renewable plant over fossil fuel alternatives.

The Department publishes data of renewable heat generation (or equivalent energy for biomethane injected to the gas grid) broken down by Standard Industry Classification Code (SIC) but does not hold data on payments by SIC code.

This information may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rhi-deployment-data-october-2017

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles: Grants
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many grants have been awarded to the owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 24 October 2017

From January 2011 to the end of June 2017 more than 100,000 purchasers of ultra low emission cars have received support from the plug-in car grant (currently up to £4,500) and more than 3,000 purchasers of ultra low emission vans have received up to £8,000 support from the plug-in van grant. Since its launch last year the plug-in motorcycle grant has also supported the purchase of a small number of zero emission motorcycles. In addition more than 37,000 installations of domestic chargepoints have been supported by the electric vehicle homecharge scheme since September 2014.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
HM Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans the Government has to introduce legislation to restrict promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
A
Answered by: Mel Stride
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The government has taken significant steps to tackle the promoters of tax avoidance schemes. It introduced the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) regime in Budget 2013 to tackle high-risk promoters, and Finance Bill 2017-2019 goes further by introducing a new penalty on the enablers of tax avoidance.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Education
Truancy: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans she has to review her Department's policy on fining parents whose children are absent from school because of term-time vacations.
A
Answered by: Mr Robert Goodwill
Answered on: 17 October 2017

Parents should avoid taking their children out of school during term-time, except in exceptional circumstances. The evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.

We have a robust local control regime to enforce this, which enables the school or local authority to issue a penalty notice that where parents have failed to secure their child’s regular attendance at school, including if they take their child out of school for a vacation without permission.

Every local authority must draw up a Code of Conduct for issuing penalty notices, in consultation with governing bodies and head teachers in their area. The Code will set out the occasions when it will be appropriate to issue a penalty notice. This can, for example, include circumstances where a pupil is persistently late to school without a valid reason. A penalty notice must be issued in accordance with that Code.

In April 2017 the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with our position that no child should be taken out of school without good reason.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department of Health
Eating Disorders
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many people in the UK have an eating disorder.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The information requested, about numbers of people with eating disorders in England and overall expenditure for severe eating disorder services, is not collected centrally.

NHS England is investing £150 million over 2016/17 to 2020/21 to develop eating disorder services in England.

Grouped Questions: 106452
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department of Health
Eating Disorders
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how much the NHS has spent on treating severe eating disorders in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The information requested, about numbers of people with eating disorders in England and overall expenditure for severe eating disorder services, is not collected centrally.

NHS England is investing £150 million over 2016/17 to 2020/21 to develop eating disorder services in England.

Grouped Questions: 106446
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the transfer of benefits from disability living allowance and employment and support allowance to personal independence payment.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reassessment process only applies to Disability Living Allowance claimants (DLA) who were aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 (the date PIP was introduced) or who reach the age of 16 after that date. Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants will not be invited to claim PIP unless they are also in receipt of DLA.

Since July 2015 all DLA claimants who reach 16, report a change in needs or whose existing awards are ending have been reassessed for PIP. For those claimants with longer or indefinite awards, the reassessment process (Full PIP Rollout) has been in progress nationally since October 2015. Full PIP Rollout cases are selected at random and volumes are managed according to DWP and Assessment Provider capacity.

The latest available data on personal independence payment (PIP) clearances split by type of clearance (i.e. whether the claim was awarded, disallowed or withdrawn) can be found at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html

Please note that PIP statistics are published at Great Britain level.

Grouped Questions: 106448
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) disability living allowance and (b) employment and support allowance claimants were not awarded personal independence payments following reassessment.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reassessment process only applies to Disability Living Allowance claimants (DLA) who were aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 (the date PIP was introduced) or who reach the age of 16 after that date. Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants will not be invited to claim PIP unless they are also in receipt of DLA.

Since July 2015 all DLA claimants who reach 16, report a change in needs or whose existing awards are ending have been reassessed for PIP. For those claimants with longer or indefinite awards, the reassessment process (Full PIP Rollout) has been in progress nationally since October 2015. Full PIP Rollout cases are selected at random and volumes are managed according to DWP and Assessment Provider capacity.

The latest available data on personal independence payment (PIP) clearances split by type of clearance (i.e. whether the claim was awarded, disallowed or withdrawn) can be found at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html

Please note that PIP statistics are published at Great Britain level.

Grouped Questions: 106447
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Motor Vehicles: Waste Disposal
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a vehicle scrappage scheme.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 17 October 2017

In July this year the Government launched the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. The Government has required local councils to produce local air quality plans which reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time.

The Government is considering how to support people impacted by local plans and will consult in the autumn on measures to support affected motorists, residents and businesses. This could, for example, include retrofitting vehicles, support for car clubs, improved public transport offers or targeted vehicle scrappage.

A number of vehicle manufacturers have recently launched their own national scrappage and trade in schemes that offer substantial discounts off the purchase of a new vehicle.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Cancer
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what financial support the Government provides to people who have terminal cancer and their families.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 18 September 2017

Children and young people with serious or critical illnesses such as cancer are able to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if they are aged under 16 or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if aged 16 and above. DLA and PIP are tax free allowances, which are designed to contribute to the extra costs incurred as a result of long-term health conditions and/or disabilities. Children and young people in receipt of DLA or PIP can receive up to £141.10 a week. Entitlement to DLA and PIP depends on the effects that severe disability has on a person’s life and not on a particular disability or diagnosis. This is because people living with the same illnesses or disabilities may not necessarily have the same care or mobility needs.

Special considerations do however apply to children and adults who are terminally ill, and our arrangements recognise the particular difficulties faced by people who have only a short time to live. Their claims are fast-tracked and they are awarded the highest rate of the care component of DLA and the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP automatically without having to complete a qualifying period. This means that, if they claim straight away, they can get benefit as soon as they have been diagnosed as being terminally ill. The arrangements ensure that claims are dealt with quickly and sensitively. The legislation defines a person as terminally ill if ‘he suffers from a progressive disease and his death can reasonably be expected within six months’.

People over the age of 16 who are unable to work due to an illness or disability can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which has both a contributory strand accessible via a National Insurance contribution test and an income-related strand accessible via an income test. For cancer sufferers, a light touch evidence gathering process exists, to help determine eligibility. There is also a presumption that claimants receiving or recovering from cancer treatment will be placed in the Support Group which could entitle them to up to £109.65 per week, subject to suitable evidence from a healthcare professional such as a GP or oncologist.

Carers may also be able to qualify for Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £62.70 a week if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Trudi Hills, our Sector champion for banking, has been working with Macmillan to improve how the banking industry supports people when they receive a cancer diagnosis

Grouped Questions: 9397 | 9398
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Cancer
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is currently available to children and young people diagnosed with cancer for claims for (a) disability living allowance and (b) personal independence payments.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 18 September 2017

Children and young people with serious or critical illnesses such as cancer are able to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if they are aged under 16 or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if aged 16 and above. DLA and PIP are tax free allowances, which are designed to contribute to the extra costs incurred as a result of long-term health conditions and/or disabilities. Children and young people in receipt of DLA or PIP can receive up to £141.10 a week. Entitlement to DLA and PIP depends on the effects that severe disability has on a person’s life and not on a particular disability or diagnosis. This is because people living with the same illnesses or disabilities may not necessarily have the same care or mobility needs.

Special considerations do however apply to children and adults who are terminally ill, and our arrangements recognise the particular difficulties faced by people who have only a short time to live. Their claims are fast-tracked and they are awarded the highest rate of the care component of DLA and the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP automatically without having to complete a qualifying period. This means that, if they claim straight away, they can get benefit as soon as they have been diagnosed as being terminally ill. The arrangements ensure that claims are dealt with quickly and sensitively. The legislation defines a person as terminally ill if ‘he suffers from a progressive disease and his death can reasonably be expected within six months’.

People over the age of 16 who are unable to work due to an illness or disability can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which has both a contributory strand accessible via a National Insurance contribution test and an income-related strand accessible via an income test. For cancer sufferers, a light touch evidence gathering process exists, to help determine eligibility. There is also a presumption that claimants receiving or recovering from cancer treatment will be placed in the Support Group which could entitle them to up to £109.65 per week, subject to suitable evidence from a healthcare professional such as a GP or oncologist.

Carers may also be able to qualify for Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £62.70 a week if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Trudi Hills, our Sector champion for banking, has been working with Macmillan to improve how the banking industry supports people when they receive a cancer diagnosis

Grouped Questions: 9396 | 9398
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Cancer
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to ensure access to benefits for children and young people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 18 September 2017

Children and young people with serious or critical illnesses such as cancer are able to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if they are aged under 16 or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if aged 16 and above. DLA and PIP are tax free allowances, which are designed to contribute to the extra costs incurred as a result of long-term health conditions and/or disabilities. Children and young people in receipt of DLA or PIP can receive up to £141.10 a week. Entitlement to DLA and PIP depends on the effects that severe disability has on a person’s life and not on a particular disability or diagnosis. This is because people living with the same illnesses or disabilities may not necessarily have the same care or mobility needs.

Special considerations do however apply to children and adults who are terminally ill, and our arrangements recognise the particular difficulties faced by people who have only a short time to live. Their claims are fast-tracked and they are awarded the highest rate of the care component of DLA and the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP automatically without having to complete a qualifying period. This means that, if they claim straight away, they can get benefit as soon as they have been diagnosed as being terminally ill. The arrangements ensure that claims are dealt with quickly and sensitively. The legislation defines a person as terminally ill if ‘he suffers from a progressive disease and his death can reasonably be expected within six months’.

People over the age of 16 who are unable to work due to an illness or disability can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which has both a contributory strand accessible via a National Insurance contribution test and an income-related strand accessible via an income test. For cancer sufferers, a light touch evidence gathering process exists, to help determine eligibility. There is also a presumption that claimants receiving or recovering from cancer treatment will be placed in the Support Group which could entitle them to up to £109.65 per week, subject to suitable evidence from a healthcare professional such as a GP or oncologist.

Carers may also be able to qualify for Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £62.70 a week if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Trudi Hills, our Sector champion for banking, has been working with Macmillan to improve how the banking industry supports people when they receive a cancer diagnosis

Grouped Questions: 9396 | 9397
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Cabinet Office
Cybercrime
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to review UK cyber-security capabilities.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 15 September 2017

The National Cyber Security Strategy sets out objectives focused on defending against cyber threats, deterring adversaries and developing the skills and capabilities required to make the UK more cyber secure.

Cabinet Office have implemented a comprehensive framework for assessing performance against the objectives of the strategy.

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