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 Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government: Advertising
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 21 September 2017 to Question 3402, on advertising, how much of that spend was (a) through Carat Ltd and (b) on the departmental procurement card.
A
Answered by: Mr Marcus Jones
Answered on: 17 October 2017

Government advertising is purchased by our media buying agency, Carat Ltd. Carat has held the contract for UK government media buying since January 2015. There has been no spend on the departmental procurement card.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government: Advertising
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 21 September 2017 to Question 3402, on advertising, what the reasons were for the large increase in spend in March 2017.
A
Answered by: Mr Marcus Jones
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The increase in spend in March was due to the Regional Mayoral Elections, accounting for 73 per cent of the spend in that month.

The objective of the campaign was to raise public awareness ahead of the regional elections held on 4 May 2017.

This is in support of the Government's aim to enable a shift in power from central to local government, with decentralisation bringing power closer to local communities. My department wants cities to have more control over transport, housing, skills and healthcare with elected mayors.

Grouped Questions: 106718
Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Education
Students: Loans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the total amount, including interest, is of student loans owed by (a) all students and (b) students who commenced their studies after 2011.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Statistics covering English student loans are published annually by the Student Loans Company (SLC) in the Statistical First Release (SFR) ‘Student Loans in England’.

http://www.slc.co.uk/official-statistics/full-catalogue-of-official-statistics/student-loans-debt-and-repayment.aspx.

Information on English higher education loans outstanding by repayment plan can be found in Table 1a of the SFR.

At the end of the financial year 2016-17, around £89.3 billion was outstanding in English higher education loans, of which £45.0 billion was held by post-2012 undergraduate borrowers and a further £0.3 billion by master’s loan borrowers.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Education
Students: Loans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much of the outstanding total on the student loan book for students is interest.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Statistics covering English student loans are published annually by the Student Loans Company (SLC) in the Statistical First Release (SFR) ‘Student Loans in England’.

http://www.slc.co.uk/official-statistics/full-catalogue-of-official-statistics/student-loans-debt-and-repayment.aspx.

Interest added to student loans is capitalised. This means that it is not possible to separate the amount associated with the loan principal from the interest accrued on the total loan book in the way requested.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for International Development
Overseas Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what proportion of the UK's international aid budget is managed by the EU.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 16 October 2017

In 2015, 10.9% of UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) was made up of core assessed contributions to the EU and spending managed through the European Development Fund (EDF).

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Buildings
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he will publish the Memorandum of Terms of Occupation for each building that his Department occupies.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 October 2017

All Memorandum of Terms of Occupation arrangements for buildings occupied by the Scotland Office will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Social Media
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to the Answer of 6 July 2017 to Question 1974, on social media, how much of that spend was (a) through Carat Ltd and (b) on the departmental procurement card.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The Scotland Office does not currently contract Carat Ltd for media services. The spend of £16,880.82 which covers a period of 18 months was paid for directly by the department. Department procurement cards were used to make these payments to both Facebook and Twitter. Spend for use of department procurement cards over the value of £500 is published on gov.uk at:

https://www.gov.uk/search?q=Scotland+Office+Government+Procurement+Card

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Social Media
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to the Answer of 21 July 2017 to Question 5447, on Scotland Office: social media, if he will make the advertisements available in an alternative format accessible to people who lack access to online facilities and social media.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The Scotland Office is committed to communicating its important messages to as wide an audience as possible.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Education
Students: Loans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information her Department hold on how much and what proportion of outstanding student loan debt owed by students attributable to tuition fee payments.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Statistics covering English student loans are published annually by the Student Loans Company (SLC) in the Statistical First Release (SFR) ‘Student Loans in England’.

http://www.slc.co.uk/official-statistics/full-catalogue-of-official-statistics/student-loans-debt-and-repayment.aspx.

Information on English higher education loans outstanding can be found in Table 1a of the SFR. A breakdown showing the proportion attributable to tuition fee loans is not available in the requested format.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
HM Treasury
Clinical Psychologists: Training
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether trainee clinical psychologists are eligible for tax and national insurance relief under the NHS Widening Access Training scheme.
A
Answered by: Mel Stride
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The tax treatment of trainee clinical psychologists will depend on the circumstances of their contract and the type of studies they undertake.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Ministry of Defence
Cyprus: Military Bases
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to prevent the illegal trapping of migratory songbirds in sovereign base areas of Cyprus.
A
Answered by: Mark Lancaster
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Illegal trapping of migratory songbirds is one of the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) Administration's priorities. The SBA Administration prosecuted 78 people for bird trapping and poaching offences in the SBA last year and the SBA Police conducted 39 major mist netting clearance operations, resulting in the seizure of over 1,000 mist-nets and over 450 limesticks. This enforcement has impacted on bird trapping activity and this kind of intervention is continuing during this year's autumn migration. In addition to last year's successful use of motion activated cameras to catch trappers at Cape Pyla ranges, a SBA Police drone has been acquired and has provided enhanced capability to track and catch those carrying out this activity across the Eastern SBA.

The Administration has also begun a programme to remove irrigation piping, which is placed by trappers to promote the growth of invasive acacia bushes, which are used by birds for roosting. Since July 2017, soldiers in support of the civil administration successfully destroyed up to 5.8km of irrigation piping on the Cape Pyla ranges during night time operations. This has already resulted in a significant deterioration and withering of many acacia bushes, and they can no longer be used for bird trapping.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: South America
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what the costs were to the public purse of his recent visits to (a) Paraguay and (b) Argentina, by heading.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The following costs have been incurred for the visit to Paraguay and Argentina:

Air travel

£18,014

Subsistence and Hotels

£136

Miscellaneous travel costs

£74

Events and Gifts

£197

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: South East Asia
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what the costs to the public purse of his visits to Singapore and Myanmar were, by heading.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The following costs have been incurred for the visit to Singapore and Myanmar:

Air travel

£13,371

Subsistence and Hotels

£728

Events and Gifts

£51

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Transport
Rescue Services: Firth of Forth
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the expected response time is of a coastguard search and rescue helicopter to an incident in the Firth of Forth.
A
Answered by: Mr John Hayes
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Her Majesty’s Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base at Prestwick is geographically closest to the Firth of Forth. It would take approximately 28 minutes to reach an incident in the Firth of Forth once a SAR helicopter has taken off from its base.

This is dependent however on the weather, helicopter availability and location. The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) will consider all these factors and task the most appropriate asset to respond to an incident. HM Coastguard also has the ability to surge up to five Coastguard SAR helicopters to a single incident in the Firth of Forth, should it be necessary to do so.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Transport
Rescue Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many fatalities occurred around the UK coastline in each of the last five years to which coastguard services were called.
A
Answered by: Mr John Hayes
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The number of incidents that included a fatality, in the UK search and rescue region when Her Majesty’s Coastguard was called, in each of the last five years is shown below:

Year

Fatalities

2012

416

2013

427

2014

424

2015

407

2016

381

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Transport
Rescue Services: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to review the location and number of HM Coastguard (a) employees and (b) search and rescue helicopters serving the Firth of Forth and south-east Scotland.
A
Answered by: Mr John Hayes
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency continually monitors the services that Her Majesty’s Coastguard provides around the whole of the United Kingdom.

As a result, there are currently no plans to specifically review the number or the location of Coastguard employees across its whole UK operation.

Coastguards on the national network do not operate with fixed geographic boundaries and are able to coordinate any incident around the UK Coast, irrespective of their physical location. Workload is balanced across the whole network rather than on a centre by centre basis and incidents managed locally, supported by the whole network when required.

The current contract for the UK’s search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service will operate until 2023-2024. As part of the contract renewal process, an assurance review of the existing SAR helicopter service will be undertaken independently, which will feed in to the tender for the next contract.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Transport
Rescue Services: Firth of Forth
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many incidents in the Firth of Forth required a response from coastguard services in the last three years; and what the time was from callout to arrival for each incident.
A
Answered by: Mr John Hayes
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The number of incidents that required a response coordinated by Her Majesty’s Coastguard in the Firth of Forth in each of the last three years was 4 in 2014, 26 in 2015 and 27 in 2016.

The details of the times from callout to arrival for each of these incidents is show below:

Year

Incident date

Time taken from the creation of the incident to the on-scene time (hh:mm:ss)

2014

23/05/2014

00:38:00

26/06/2014

00:44:52

20/09/2014

00:27:22

12/10/2014

00:32:54

2015

03/07/2015

00:32:11

05/07/2015

00:32:23

06/07/2015

00:27:15

15/07/2015

00:30:26

22/07/2015

00:22:08

06/08/2015

00:09:45

14/08/2015

00:48:45

16/08/2015

00:26:08

21/08/2015

00:45:00

22/08/2015

00:22:38

23/08/2015

00:06:47

26/08/2015

00:28:33

29/08/2015

00:14:03

29/08/2015

00:04:42

05/09/2015

00:15:09

15/09/2015

00:34:34

19/09/2015

00:16:58

30/09/2015

01:20:26

06/10/2015

00:29:42

20/10/2015

00:36:45

01/11/2015

00:19:52

07/11/2015

00:58:57

12/11/2015

00:22:18

12/11/2015

00:54:23

13/11/2015

00:44:06

19/12/2015

00:21:13

2016

15/01/2016

00:29:36

25/01/2016

00:55:26

09/02/2016

00:36:00

03/03/2016

00:21:06

15/03/2016

00:23:00

28/03/2016

00:01:35

24/04/2016

00:08:22

30/04/2016

00:17:21

30/04/2016

00:21:43

09/05/2016

00:26:30

24/05/2016

00:03:01

28/05/2016

00:14:30

02/06/2016

01:40:33

04/06/2016

00:31:56

07/06/2016

00:21:19

18/06/2016

00:41:55

20/06/2016

00:26:59

07/07/2016

00:25:16

19/07/2016

01:04:18

01/08/2016

00:57:33

01/08/2016

00:29:00

06/08/2016

00:21:16

13/08/2016

00:27:44

27/08/2016

00:25:33

11/10/2016

00:18:58

20/10/2016

00:09:30

31/12/2016

00:43:01

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Consumers: Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to expand the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 which apply to consumers to (a) sole traders and (b) small and medium-sized enterprises.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Currently there are no plans to bring forward legislative proposals to expand the provision of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 to sole traders or small and medium-sized enterprises.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 14 September 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Malaysia: Religious Freedom
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the Government of Malaysia on that government's treatment of atheists and apostates.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 13 October 2017

​The UK remains committed to standing up for the freedom of all individuals, both religious and non-religious, so that they may practice their beliefs free from fear. We are aware of, and concerned by, the recent response to a meeting of the Atheist Republic in Malaysia, which included death threats being made on social media. We regularly discuss human rights with the Malaysian government, including at Ministerial level. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London meet periodically with representatives of Malaysian Civil Society to hear their concerns. We will continue to monitor human rights issues and internal developments in Malaysia, working with the EU and other foreign missions in Kuala Lumpur, raising our concerns as appropriate. We actively promote Freedom of Religion or Belief at the UN Human Rights Council, where we support resolutions designed to foster greater tolerance.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 14 September 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Yemen: Armed Conflict
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to help de-escalate the conflict in Yemen; and whether the Government supports a UN-led independent investigation into alleged violations of human rights by all sides of that conflict.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 12 October 2017

The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the conflict in Yemen, including bringing together key international actors to try to find a peaceful solution. The UK proposed a UN Security Council Presidential Statement (PRST) which was agreed on 15 June. This statement called for a return to UN-led peace talks and an end to the fighting. We support the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in facilitating a credible peace process in Yemen and we are providing £1 million to the Special Envoy's office to bolster UN capacity to facilitate the peace process.

The UK is concerned by the human rights situation in Yemen and takes allegations of violations of international human rights law very seriously. That is why we strongly supported the Human Rights Council resolution passed on 29 September. We welcome the agreement of an impactful, single consensus resolution on the human rights situation in Yemen. This text has the potential to make a real difference for Yemeni people. We will work to ensure it is fully implemented.

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