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 Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Home Office
Offensive Weapons
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) guns and (b) other weapons have been detected at ports and airports in the UK in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 21 November 2017

(a)The table below shows the number of guns seized by Border Force from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

12 - 13

13 - 14

14 - 15

15 - 16

16 - 17

12498

3699

2845

2299

6312

The firearms definition used by for Border Force seizure statistical purposes has changed during the last 5 years. The firearms definition for 2012-13 includes ammunition, fireworks, and explosive material. The firearms definition for 2013/14 excludes ammunition, but includes fireworks and explosives material. The firearm definition used for 2014/15 onwards excludes ammunition, fireworks and explosive material.

(b)The table below shows the number of offensive weapons seized by Border Force from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

12 - 13

13 - 14

14 - 15

15 - 16

16 - 17

6037

5419

6735

8931

10935

The figures quoted are management information, which is subject to internal quality checks and may be subject to change.

Q
Asked by Peter Kyle
(Hove)
[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: 06 October 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his policy is on a formal appeal process for decisions on early advances for universal credit.
A
Answered by: Damian Hinds
Answered on: 21 November 2017
Holding answer received on 11 October 2017

Advances are time sensitive because an advance payment meets the immediate need of the claimant. So there is no right of appeal to an independent tribunal against a refusal. We have an alternative process which enables a claimant to ask for a decision to be looked at again within the office, at pace.

The most common grounds for a refusal of an advance payment are because the claimant already has available funds, for example: savings, earnings, redundancy payments or support from the claimant or partner’s parents, family or friends. This list is not exhaustive.

Q
Asked by Vernon Coaker
(Gedling)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 12 October 2017
Home Office
Refugees: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many children have arrived in the UK under the Dubs amendment to date.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 21 November 2017

In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied children to the UK from Europe, including more than 750 from France. Over 200 of these children met the criteria for section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

We are fully committed to delivering our commitment to transfer the specified number of 480 children under section 67 and are working very closely with Member States, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners to identify and transfer children to the UK in line with each individual Member State’s national laws.

We have secondees in Greece and Italy working on transfers of unaccompanied children to the UK under both the Dublin III Regulation and section 67. More eligible children are expected to be transferred from Europe in due course.

Q
Asked by Andrew Gwynne
(Denton and Reddish)
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government: Pay
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how many (a) press officers, (b) internal communications officers, (c) external communications officers, (d) communications strategy staff and (e) other communications staff his Department employed in (i) 2016-17 and (ii) 2015-16; and what the total cost of salaries and on-costs was during those periods.
A
Answered by: Mr Marcus Jones
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The structure of the Communications function has changed substantially and the number of staff it employs has reduced considerably since 2009/10, when it cost £3.4 million which equates to approximately £3.8 million in today’s prices.

In 2015/16, the number of communications staff in the positions specified and total salaries (including oncosts) were as follows:

Press Officers – 23

Internal Communications – 5

External communications – NA

Communications strategy – NA

Other – 23

Some Press Officers and Other staff are categorised as external communications

Total Salaries – £2,509,060

In 2016/17, the numbers and total cost were:

Press Officers – 25

Internal Communications – 5

External communications – 16

Communications strategy – NA

Other – NA

Total Salaries – £1,991,542

Q
(Glasgow South West)
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Debts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to assist households facing debt as a result of social security delays.
A
Answered by: Damian Hinds
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The policy intention is that claimants receive the first payment 5 weeks after their date of entitlement (6 weeks if waiting days are served). The assessment period runs for a full calendar month from the date of entitlement, and the UC pay date will be 7 calendar days after the end of the assessment period. This mirrors the world of work and allows for a 1 month period in which to gather information about a claimants’ earnings. Advances and budgeting support are available to support claimants during this period. Advances can provide up to 50% of a claimant’s indicative award straight away.

Data published on 2 October 2017 shows that, in June 2017 81% of new Universal Credit households received their first payment in full and on time. Across the whole of Universal Credit 92% of all households received full payment on time.

Our internal data shows that for those cases where full payment has not been made, around a sixth have not signed their Claimant Commitment or passed identity checks and the others have outstanding verification issues, e.g. housing, self-employed earnings and child-care costs.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 01 November 2017
Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office: ICT
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department holds a central list of the IT and digital assets of its arm's-length bodies.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Cabinet Office does not hold a central list of IT/digital assets of its arms length bodies, only those assets held by the department itself.

Q
Asked by Layla Moran
(Oxford West and Abingdon)
[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: 02 November 2017
Home Office
Marriage Certificates
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to introduce legislation to amend marriage certificates to include mothers' names.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 21 November 2017

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given to the Hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn on 2 December 2016, UIN 55490.

Asked on: 06 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sexual Offences
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations by the Henry Jackson Society to create international legal taskforces to gather evidence on the use of sexual violence against women as a tactic of (1) terrorists, and (2) traffickers, as set out in its report Trafficking Terror, published in October.
A
Answered on: 21 November 2017

We condemn the use of sexual violence by terrorist organisations and are committed to holding perpetrators to account. UK law enforcement agencies are already assessing with multilateral and bilateral partners the threat posed globally by terrorism and human trafficking. Our Team of Experts is also supporting efforts to gather evidence of sexual violence in conflict. The Henry Jackson Society's report makes a number of valid points and we will be giving them due consideration. As I set out in reply to the question from the noble Baroness Cox on 1 November 2017 the UK Government fully supports UN Security Council Resolution 2331 addressing the links between human trafficking, sexual violence and terrorism. In September, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UK-drafted UNSCR 2379, setting up an investigative team to gather evidence of crimes committed by Daesh, including sexual violence, beginning in Iraq. The team will be led by a Special Adviser with a mandate to promote the need to hold Daesh to account across the globe.

Q
Asked by Lord Grocott
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to realise that part of the Balfour Declaration relating to Palestinians that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
A
Answered on: 21 November 2017

As the Prime Minister has said the UK is proud of the role the UK played in helping to make a Jewish homeland a reality; however, we also understand and respect the sensitivities many have about the Balfour Declaration. Balfour remains unfinished business. That is why we are committed to ensuring that the whole of Balfour is fulfilled, through a two-state solution which provides security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as protecting Jewish communities across the Middle East. Our focus now is on encouraging the parties to take steps which bring them closer to peace, and Ministers are in regular contact with them. We remain absolutely committed to ensure the two state solution of a secure and stable Israel, and a sovereign and sustainable Palestinian State are achieved at the earliest time possible and will continue our efforts at all levels in pursuing this objective.

Asked on: 06 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Churches
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.
A
Answered on: 21 November 2017

At this point we have not made a detailed assessment of the Church Lands Bill which is being considered by the Israeli Knesset. We consider the bill primarily to be a domestic policy issue.

Asked on: 06 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Churches
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.
A
Answered on: 21 November 2017

We consider the Church Lands Bill to primarily be a domestic policy issue and as such we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities.

Q
Asked by Matt Western
(Warwick and Leamington)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Home Office
Refugees: English Language
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that refugees have access to English language classes after their arrive in the UK.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Government is committed to ensuring that all refugees in the UK have access to English language courses. For refugees resettled in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme the Government has provided additional funding which can be accessed by local authorities for these refugees only. Those who make their own way to the UK to claim asylum and are granted refugee status have access to English language courses without having to meet the normal qualifying requirement of three years ordinary residence. For refugees receiving work related benefits courses are free.

Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Ministry of Justice
Probation: Privatisation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will publish the risk assessment conducted prior to the part-privatisation of the probation service.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Transforming Rehabilitation programme delivered fundamental reform of the probation system, creating the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies and introducing supervision on licence to offenders serving custodial sentences of less than 12 months.

It is standard practice during any significant government programme to assess the potential risks and to seek to mitigate them. The risk assessment conducted during Transforming Rehabilitation contains commercially sensitive information and cannot be published at this stage.

Q
Asked on: 07 November 2017
HM Treasury
Occupational Pensions: Tax Allowances
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are planning to ensure that workers earning below £11,500 a year who are automatically enrolled into Net Pay Schemes are able to obtain the tax relief they are due; if so, how; and if not, whether they intend to introduce alternative measures to ensure that either (1) the employer, or (2) the pension provider, compensates such low earners for the money they lose out on.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Government recognises the different impacts on workers earning below the personal allowance. However, it has not been possible to identify any straightforward or proportionate means to align the effects of the net pay and relief at source mechanisms more closely for this population.

Workplace pension schemes are chosen by employers and the Pensions Regulator provides guidance on this in relation to automatic enrolment. The guidance covers the choice between net pay and relief at source schemes, and the implications of net pay schemes for employees who do not pay tax. It also says that some schemes that use the net pay arrangement may have lower charges than schemes that operate relief at source.

Asked on: 07 November 2017
Attorney General
Internet: Suicide
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 7 November and Lord Ashton of Hyde on 6 November (HL Deb, col 1594), what steps they are taking under the Suicide Act 1961 to prosecute those responsible for internet sites that incite, aid or abet the promotion of suicide.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Director of Public Prosecutions has published a ‘Policy for Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide’. In this policy, the DPP makes the CPS position clear that, in the context of websites that promote suicide, a suspect may commit the offence of encouraging or assisting suicide, if it is intended that one or more readers of such material will commit or attempt to commit suicide.

In considering whether or not to bring charges under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961, a Crown Prosecutor will apply the Full Code Test as set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, giving consideration to both the evidence and the public interest in prosecuting, as they would with any other offence.

Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department of Health
Internet: Suicide
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 7 November and Lord Ashton of Hyde on 6 November (HL Deb, col 1594), what assessment they have made of the presence of sites that promote suicide on the internet, in the light of research published by the University of Manchester in May 2016 which found that 22 per cent of suicide victims had been bullied and 27 per cent of victims had been experiencing academic pressures at school, college or university.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 21 November 2017

We are aware of the positive and negative impacts that the internet can have on mental wellbeing and the potential harmful effect of websites with content that promotes suicide. We expect online providers to take action where harmful content is identified or online abuse is reported and breaches their policies. The recently enacted Digital Economy Act will help to ensure that online abuse is effectively tackled by requiring a code of practice to be established, which will set out guidance for social media providers on what they should do in relation to harmful or inappropriate conduct on their platforms. We also support organisations such as the Samaritans, which works with online providers to improve the way that online users can report harmful content and encourages providers to take action.

The Government provided £1.5 million to fund research through the Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy and this included research into the use of the internet by people with experience of suicide. It showed that people with experience of suicide have used the internet to find information and support online as well as searching suicidal content and that we should seek to harness the positive effects of the internet and support vulnerable people online. The Government is consulting on the National Internet Safety Strategy until 7 December, which seeks to improve safety online for everyone.

We welcome the study by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness on Suicide by Children and Young People in England (May 2016) and we considered its findings when updating the Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy this year.

Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department of Health
Suicide: Internet
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 7 November and Lord Ashton of Hyde on 6 November (HL Deb, col 1594), what assessment they have made of a study published in the British Medical Journal in April 2008 which found that websites providing information about suicide were more likely to be encouraging the act of suicide than offering support to potential victims.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 21 November 2017

We have made no formal assessment of the 2008 British Medical Journal study.

We are aware of the positive and negative impacts that the internet can have on mental wellbeing and the potential harmful effect of websites with content that promotes suicide. We provided £1.5 million of funding through the Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy for further research on suicide prevention. This included research undertaken by Lucy Biddle for Bristol University, who was involved in the study referenced in 2008. This further research was published last year and showed that people with experience of suicide have used the internet to find information and support online as well as searching suicidal content and that we should seek to harness the positive effects of the internet and support vulnerable people online. A summary of this research, Priorities for suicide prevention: balancing the risks and opportunities of internet use, is attached. We also support organisations such as the Samaritans, which works with online providers to improve the way that online users can report harmful content and encourages providers to take action.

The Government is committed to making the United Kingdom the safest place online and until 7 December is consulting on the National Internet Safety Strategy, which seeks to improve safety online for everyone.

Suicide prevention (PDF Document, 204.22 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Ministry of Justice
Serco
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to review Serco's involvement, whether or not involving a contract, in the provision of prison, probation and other public services, in the light of reports concerning the content of the Paradise Papers.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 21 November 2017

As a listed company on the London Stock Exchange, Serco must comply with strict financial and governance requirements. Cabinet Office has also issued a Supplier Code of Conduct for Government suppliers which is attached.

This matter relates to a sale of Serco’s business abroad and does not have any bearing on its performance in UK public sector or suitability to carry out public contracts. Should any discrepancies or concerns arise the department will take the appropriate action.

We have robust processes in place to closely monitor performance and compliance of our contracts and will not hesitate to take action when standards fall short.

Attachment (PDF Document, 379.36 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Bird
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Poverty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the Institute for Fiscal Studies report, Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017–18 to 2021–22, what steps they will take to prevent the projected increase in the level of absolute child poverty.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 21 November 2017

Employment is key to helping people out of poverty and our welfare and tax reforms are designed to support people into employment. Employment is at historically high levels and the number of children living in a household where no one is working is 608,000 lower than it was in 2010.

This Government is committed to action that will make a meaningful difference to the lives of the most disadvantaged children and families. Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families, published on 4 April, set out a framework for a continued focus on improving children’s outcomes, now and in the future. A copy of this report is attached.

Q
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department for Education
Wheelchairs: Access
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of buildings owned or managed by service-providers, as defined by section 29(1) of the Equality Act 2010, that are not accessible to wheelchair users.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 21 November 2017

The Government last made an estimate of the wheelchair accessibility of service providers in 2014 and there are no plans to conduct a further study at present.

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not hold current data on the number of accessible shops; however, all new building works are required to meet accessibility standards and these apply to all new buildings owned or managed by service providers.

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