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: 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
Antibiotics: 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
Antibiotics: 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
Antibiotics: 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

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 14 January 2019
Home Office
Refugees: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the British Red Cross report entitled Still an ordeal: the move-on period for new refugees published in December 2018, if he will increase the period in which refugees continue to receive asylum support after receiving a positive decision on their asylum application to 56 days.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Whilst there are currently no plans to extend the period, the Government is working on a number of important initiatives to ensure that refugees are able to access benefits and housing promptly once their Home Office support ends. We are ensuring that this work takes into account the views of the key voluntary sector groups, including the British Red Cross.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 14 January 2019
Department for Education
Apprentices: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help employers to ensure that apprenticeships provide an effective route into permanent employment for adults diagnosed with autism.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 January 2019

We are improving access to apprenticeships for people with learning difficulties or disabilities. For example, we have introduced legislation which allows the minimum English and maths requirements for apprenticeships to be adjusted to entry level 3 for a defined group of people with a learning difficulty or disability. This change will allow more people to benefit from the opportunities available through apprenticeships and work.

Our Pacesetter project is working with local partners to test our policy approaches and deliver tangible progress towards growing numbers of apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities. Pacesetters include councils, a school and the learning disability charity Mencap, who have themselves hired a number of apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities.

The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network has been developed to provide insight and guidance on best practice in how to make sure that apprenticeships are undertaken by people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and all members make a commitment themselves to increasing diversity when they join. The network aims to inspire and influence the behaviour of other employers to attract, recruit and support more people from underrepresented groups into apprenticeships. This includes people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBT+, women in science, technology, engineering and maths and members of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. For example, Health Education England, working with members including Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, have a supported apprenticeship scheme focussing particularly on learners with autism. The National Autistic Society has been invited to attend the network’s next meeting.

Our funding system is intended to encourage the take-up and likely completion of apprenticeships by particular groups, including people with learning difficulties or disabilities. The system is also intended to recognise where additional support is necessary, through extra funding where the costs of supporting an apprentice are higher, and making sure that these costs are met by government and not by the employer.

Our communications and guidance products aim to encourage employers to hire apprentices with a learning difficulty or disability and to demonstrate to people with learning difficulties or disabilities, such as autism, that apprenticeships are an option for them.

We have integrated the Department for Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident campaign into the apprenticeship recruitment service so that the Disability Confident logo is displayed on apprenticeship vacancies for campaign-registered employers.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 14 January 2019
Department for Education
Work Experience: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the supported internships scheme in helping young people diagnosed with autism achieve sustainable paid employment.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Supported internships offer young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities a clear pathway into employment.

A Department for Education led trial of supported internships in 2012 to 2013 was formally evaluated and found that of the 190 young people who completed a supported internship and participated in the research, 36% gained paid employment, including apprenticeships (5%).

Good practice examples of supported internships are also gathered by our delivery partner, the National Development Team for Inclusion, and published on the Preparing for Adulthood website.

We are keen to do more to increase the uptake of supported internships and are considering how we can build the evidence base further.

Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 14 January 2019
Home Office
Asylum
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it remains his Department's policy to consider an asylum-seeker's claim for asylum less favourably if that person did not claim asylum in the first safe country they reached; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 17 January 2019

The United Kingdom has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those in need of protection. Where we are responsible for deciding asylum claims we will consider all cases on their individual merits.

Our domestic legislation and Immigration Rules underline the importance of claiming asylum in the first safe country, which is reflected in section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants etc.,) Act 2004. This clearly states that a failure to take advantage of a reasonable opportunity to claim asylum in a safe country shall be taken into account in assessing the individual’s credibility.

In light of the recent sharp increase in the number of migrants attempting perilous Channel crossings to the UK in small boats, I have asked my officials to look at what more we can do to deter asylum seekers from travelling to the UK – often dangerously – from other safe countries in the first place.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Jobcentre Plus: Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to make an assessment of the effectiveness of the Autism and Hidden Impairment training for Jobcentre Plus staff in reducing the gap between national employment rates and rates of employment for people on the autistic spectrum.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 08 January 2019

There are currently no robust statistics on employment rates among autistic people, so we have not been able to make any assessment of the effectiveness of the Autism and Hidden Impairment training for Jobcentre Plus staff on employment levels among autistic people.

We are considering how to robustly measure the employment rate among autistic people, including whether it might be possible to collect this information through the Labour Force Survey.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Refugees
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department provides to refugees granted asylum that have made an application for universal credit.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 28 December 2018

Asylum Support is available to newly recognised refugees through the Home Office whilst their status is under consideration. This support continues for 28 days after refugee status is granted. A claim to Universal Credit can be made immediately once refugee status is granted and Asylum Support is not deducted from their Universal Credit award during the 28 days run on period. Work coaches receive training to help them identify and support vulnerable claimants, including refugees, and build supportive relationships with claimants to encourage them to openly discuss any barriers, concerns or problems as they emerge.

Provided the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit is met, we will always offer an advance payment to a refugee when making a new claim, and staff have access to information on a range of services and support available in their local area for vulnerable claimants, including refugees. This includes Universal Support, which provides help with using online services and budgeting advice. We also have access to a range of translation services to assist, should a claimant need support to overcome any language barriers.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to increase the number of languages available on the the universal credit online portal.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 28 December 2018

There are not currently any plans to increase the number of languages available on the online portal above English and Welsh.

When we need to communicate with a claimant who cannot communicate adequately in English or Welsh we use interpreters: this can be a customer’s own interpreter; a local community based interpreting service; a telephone interpretation service or a contracted face to face interpretation service.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 December 2018
Department for Education
Apprentices: Photography
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase promote photography apprenticeships.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 December 2018

To promote apprenticeships across all sectors, we are first and foremost ensuring that apprenticeships are a quality product recognised by individuals and employers. Our communications campaign aims to help increase the number of vacancies created by employers and to encourage young people to choose an apprenticeship as a high quality career route, signposting them to new vacancies on offer. We target potential apprentices, employers, parents and teachers using channels such as video adverts for TV, cinema and online channels, a national billboard campaign, digital advertising and social media, as well as through face-to-face engagement activities and events. Our communication continues to support employers to create new vacancies and to publicise them on the Find An Apprenticeship website.

New apprenticeship standards across all levels are being designed and driven by industry; creating higher quality training that will lead to a more skilled and productive economy. All starts will be on the new, high quality standards by the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year.

A level 3 Photographic Assistant standard is currently in development. Employers involved in creating the standard include Defence School of Photography, ScreenSkills, Creative Pioneers and Warwickshire College.

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