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
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 March 2019
Home Office
Refugees: Families
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps he is taking to ensure that people arriving in the UK on a refugee family reunion visa receive a Biometric Residence Permit that contains their National Insurance number.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 19 March 2019

The Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions are currently developing plans for all migrants who are eligible for a National Insurance number, including those on a refugee family reunion visa, to have this printed on their Biometric Residence Permit as a matter of course.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 March 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wood-burning Stoves
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what criteria his Department uses to classify wood-burning stoves as a smoke exempt appliance.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 March 2019

An appliance exemption shows that fuel-burning appliances, for example stoves, ovens or boilers, emit smoke below the acceptable limits.

Applicants must be able to prove that their appliance meets the necessary requirements and has been tested using acceptable methods at an accredited test centre.

The emission limits applicable to appliances are dependent on the size of the appliance. Further details are provided in Hetas’ guidance which can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/761622/hetas-appliance-exemption-application-pack-181130.pdf

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 March 2019
Department for Transport
Cycleways
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2019 to Question 207270 on Cycleways, what representations he has received on commencing provisions in Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 to allow local authorities in England outside London to enforce moving traffic offences, and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 15 March 2019

The issue of moving traffic enforcement has been raised with the Department for Transport by a number of stakeholders over time, including representatives of local government and transport operators. The Department has no current plans to enable local authorities in England outside London to undertake the civil enforcement of these offences.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 March 2019
Department for Transport
Blue Badge Scheme
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to implement the recommendations in the document entitled, Blue Badge consultation: summary of responses and government response, published on 29 July 2018.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 14 March 2019

The Department for Transport is currently developing guidance, drawing on expertise from medical and healthcare professionals, as well as various disability organisations and local authorities, so that authorities will be able to assess applications under the expanded eligibility criteria for non-physical and hidden disabilities. The guidance will be published following forthcoming revisions of the statutory regulations, planned for the end of April. The changes will come into force at a later date, to allow time for local authorities to make appropriate arrangements once the guidance is published.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Radioisotopes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what representations he has received on alternative arrangements for breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures in the event that there is a shortage of radioisotopes in the UK.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 28 February 2019

A search of the Department’s Ministerial correspondence database has identified one item of correspondence received since 1 August 2018 about alternative arrangements for breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures in the event that there is a shortage of radioisotopes in the United Kingdom. This figure represents correspondence received by the Department’s Ministerial correspondence unit only.

We fully recognise that radioisotopes are vitally important to many people in this country including breast cancer patients. HM Revenue and Customs already has a process to identify ‘urgent goods’, such as medical radioisotopes, requiring faster handling to move through customs and border checks promptly. The Department has well established processes to manage and mitigate the small number of medicines shortages that may arise due to manufacturing or distribution issues. These processes include radioisotopes used in breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures.

From January 2019, it became a mandatory requirement that the pharmaceutical industry must report this information to the Department in a timely manner. Following notification and risk assessment, the Department’s medicine supply team will continue to work behind the scenes with relevant stakeholders and use a host of tools to help mitigate and prevent an issue from impacting patients including the consideration of alternative treatment options. The Department is not aware of any significant radioisotope shortages that are currently affecting breast cancer patients.

Grouped Questions: 224533
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Radioisotopes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of a shortage of radioisotopes on the number of breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 28 February 2019

A search of the Department’s Ministerial correspondence database has identified one item of correspondence received since 1 August 2018 about alternative arrangements for breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures in the event that there is a shortage of radioisotopes in the United Kingdom. This figure represents correspondence received by the Department’s Ministerial correspondence unit only.

We fully recognise that radioisotopes are vitally important to many people in this country including breast cancer patients. HM Revenue and Customs already has a process to identify ‘urgent goods’, such as medical radioisotopes, requiring faster handling to move through customs and border checks promptly. The Department has well established processes to manage and mitigate the small number of medicines shortages that may arise due to manufacturing or distribution issues. These processes include radioisotopes used in breast cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures.

From January 2019, it became a mandatory requirement that the pharmaceutical industry must report this information to the Department in a timely manner. Following notification and risk assessment, the Department’s medicine supply team will continue to work behind the scenes with relevant stakeholders and use a host of tools to help mitigate and prevent an issue from impacting patients including the consideration of alternative treatment options. The Department is not aware of any significant radioisotope shortages that are currently affecting breast cancer patients.

Grouped Questions: 223789
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 February 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Cancer: Health Professions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Health Education England phase two cancer workforce plan co-ordinates with the workforce implementation plan in the NHS Long Term Plan.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 26 February 2019

Health Education England (HEE) published its first ever Cancer Workforce Plan in December 2017. HEE intended to publish a second phase, longer-term strategy that looked at the cancer workforce needs beyond 2021. This work was started and stakeholders from within the National Health Service and the charitable sector contributed to the early discussions. This work has since been superseded by publication of the NHS Long Term Plan in January 2019.

My Rt. hon. Friend Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has subsequently commissioned Baroness Dido Harding, working closely with Sir David Behan, to lead a number of programmes to engage with key NHS interests to develop a detailed workforce implementation plan. These programmes will consider detailed proposals to grow the workforce rapidly, including staff working on cancer, consider additional staff and skills required, build a supportive working culture in the NHS and ensure first rate leadership for NHS staff.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 February 2019
Department for Education
Students: Loans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to change the date for graduates with outstanding loans to the Student Loan Company to return information from the month of December to January.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 20 February 2019

The Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009 (as amended) make no requirements of borrowers to provide information to the Student Loans Company in December specifically.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 February 2019
Department for Transport
Great Western Railway Line: Electrification
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the decision to defer electrification of the Filton Bank section of railway on the health of residents along that line.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 11 February 2019

Running in diesel mode, the new Class 800 IEP trains are significantly more efficient, producing lower CO₂ and nitrogen oxides than a legacy intercity diesel train. Their engines meet the latest European emissions standards.

The four-tracking project at Filton Bank has already brought performance improvements, increasing capacity and contributing to reducing end-to-end journey times for Cross Country and Bristol to London services.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Home Office
Letting Agents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) tenants and (b) potential tenants of steps taken by letting agents to establish the right to rent.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The Home Office carried out an evaluation of phase one of the Right to Rent scheme in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton in 2015, published at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evaluation-of-the-right-to-rent-scheme

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Allergies: Medical Equipment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 10 December 2018 to Question 198805, what progress has been made on increasing the supply of Epipens; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 08 February 2019

Supplies of EpiPen and other adrenaline auto-injectors are currently available in volumes that are sufficient to meet United Kingdom requirements. The Department continues to work very closely with all the manufacturers of adrenaline auto-injectors and can confirm that the supply situation continues to improve going forward with further deliveries expected over the coming weeks. All patients who require an adrenaline auto-injector should now be able to obtain a device from their pharmacy.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Bacteriophages
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of phage therapy for tackling antimicrobial resistance.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The Department and the Wellcome Trust sponsored a strategic pipeline briefing into alternatives to antibiotics in 2015. The briefing reviewed the feasibility and potential clinical impact of alternatives to antibiotics, including bacteriophages, and considered approaches that were most likely to deliver new treatments in the next 10 years. The briefing concluded that bacteriophages were possible therapeutics, but too few were being progressed.

The Government continues to invest in research into new and alternative treatments. While there has been increased investment and unprecedented levels of research collaboration on antimicrobial resistance, there are still relatively few projects looking at the use of bacteriophages.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Antimicrobials: Drug Resistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to increase the level of investment and funding for training and employing NHS microbiologists on long term contracts to increase diagnostic capacity as part of the government strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 08 February 2019

‘Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (2019-2024): the UK’s five-year national action plan’ includes the commitment to assess current and future workforce needs to ensure capability and capacity for strong infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship. The assessment will cover a range of roles, including microbiology. The results of the assessment will be used to develop further workforce targets.

The NHS England Long Term Plan makes the commitment to implement the human health aspects of the national action plan.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Antimicrobials: Drug Resistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to establish an evidential basis on the time taken to diagnose disease in the NHS as part of the Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 08 February 2019

‘Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (2019-2024): the UK’s five-year national action plan’ recognises that stewardship programmes are needed for both therapeutics and diagnostics. Good diagnostic stewardship promotes appropriate and timely testing.

Evidence suggests that a third of prescriptions in primary care do not have an associated diagnosis recorded. The national action plan sets out an ambition to improve the evidence base about diagnoses and prescriptions by linking and analysing clinical data sets.

Through the joint sepsis/Antimicrobial Resistance Commissioning for Quality Innovation data we know that the number of patients being identified with a suspicion of sepsis or severe infection has increased and that a majority of those patients have their treatment reviewed within 24-72 hours, following the confirmation of diagnostic test results.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Antimicrobials: Drug Resistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Government's strategy entitled Tackling antimicrobial resistance 2019–2024: The UK’s five-year national action plan, published in January 2019, what plans his Department has to educate the public on the use and misuse of antimicrobials and their role in tackling antimicrobial resistance.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 08 February 2019

Public Health England has developed a number of initiatives for educating the public which support the Government’s recently published strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance; including a major national campaign, ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’, following a successful pilot in the North West in October 2017, to alert the general public to the issue of antibiotic resistance, with the aim of reducing patient pressure on general practitioners to prescribe. The multi-media campaign, which features advertising on television, radio, outdoor, digital, social media, public relations and extensive partnership support, has run for a consecutive year in 2018. Further information is available at the following link:

https://antibioticguardian.com/keep-antibiotics-working/

The United Kingdom wide Antibiotic Guardian campaign, now in its fifth year, aims to stimulate behaviour change and increase engagement to tackle antimicrobial resistance by healthcare professionals and engaged members of the public. The e-Bug programme, now celebrating its 10th year, aims to educate children, young people and communities about microbes, hygiene, infections and antibiotics. Further information on the e-Bug programme is available at the following link:

www.e-Bug.eu

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 29 January 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Renewable Energy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to support community energy generation after the closure of the feed-in-tariff scheme in March 2019.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 07 February 2019

The Government is considering its future approach and what measures might be taken to support the efforts of community organisations who want to invest in low-carbon energy installations as part of its consultation on a Smart Export Guarantee which was published on 8 January. The consultation is open until 5 March and can be assessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-for-small-scale-low-carbon-generation

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 29 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Influenza: Vaccination
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of availability of the 2018-19 seasonal flu vaccine.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 06 February 2019

Public Health England (PHE) provides influenza vaccines centrally for the children’s influenza programme. Centrally purchased influenza vaccines are carefully monitored by PHE to ensure there is equitable distribution across England and sufficient in-date vaccine for patients who present throughout the season.

General practitioners and other providers are directly responsible for the influenza vaccine supplies used to deliver the national influenza programme to the other eligible groups. PHE maintains oversight to help facilitate a constant supply of vaccine, liaising with vaccine manufacturers to ascertain whether there are any manufacturing problems which could impact the running of the programme at a national level.

This winter, eligible adults aged 18-64 were offered a quadrivalent influenza vaccine, and those aged 65 and over were offered a newly licensed adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV). There were a number of short-term localised shortages of both vaccines reported, particularly for aTIV due to staggered deliveries from the manufacturer between September and November. The NHS managed these shortages locally, but some patients had to wait longer than usual to be vaccinated. However, there was no overall shortage of either vaccine.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 29 January 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Furs: Farms
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations his Department has made to foreign Governments on ending the practice of fur farming.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 05 February 2019

Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2000 making it clear to other countries that that this practice is not consistent with British values on animal welfare.

Once the UK retakes its independent seat on international bodies, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, we will have an opportunity to promote progressive views on animal welfare and to support improved animal welfare standards internationally.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 31 January 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Letting Agents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to review the practice of letting agencies requiring 12 months' rent in advance from clients who are below a specified minimum income threshold.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 05 February 2019

Landlords and letting agents are free to ask for rent payments upfront if they wish, but very few ask for 12 months' rent upfront.

The Government is determined to ensure that tenants’ rent money held by agents is protected. We will require letting agents to obtain membership of a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme and to repay any client money without delay where it is due to the tenant. We intend this protection to be mandatory from 1 April 2019.

We are also developing a new regulatory regime for letting agents. The Regulation of Property Agents working group, led by Lord Best, will make recommendations about a joined-up framework to guide, monitor and police the actions of letting agents. The working group will report in July 2019.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 December 2018
Home Office
Refugees: Welfare State
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Post Grant Appointment Service in ensuring that refugees are able to access the welfare system following a decision to grant asylum.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 25 January 2019

As described by the British Red Cross in their report ‘Still an ordeal: the move-on period for new refugees’, the Post Grant Appointment Service is effective in setting up an early appointment for the refugees with their local Jobcentre, thus enabling them to make an application for mainstream benefits before they leave the asylum support system.

We will provide more information about the service when we respond to the British Red Cross report in due course

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