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 2019-21 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
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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 May 2020
Home Office
Immigration Controls: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask Secretary of State for the Home Office, what border controls will be put in place to restrict transmission of covid-19 as other countries begin to ease lockdown measures.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 26 May 2020

In order to keep overall levels of infection down, as the Government prepares for social contact to increase, a series of measures and restrictions will be introduced at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible.

The Government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.

Further details, and guidance on measures including screening, will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Computer Software
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the protection of personal data within the coronavirus tracing app.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The app does not collect identifiable data from users. We have published a Data Protection Impact Assessment and Privacy Notice for the first phase of the app and will provide updates to these to keep app users fully informed if changes of the use of and access to data need to be made to continue to support the fight against COVID-19.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 18 May 2020
Cabinet Office
Ministerial Responsibility
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 11 May 2020 to Question 43737 on Ministerial Responsibility, and with reference to the oral contribution of 6 May 2020 of the Leader of the House, Official Report, column 583 on Business Statement, on what date he plans to update the list of ministerial responsibilities published on GOV.UK, last updated in October 2019 and before the last ministerial reshuffle.
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 18 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 test swabs have been sent for analysis overseas since the start of the outbreak of that disease.
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department for Education
Students: Fees and Charges
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to rebate students on their university fees for the period of the covid-19 lockdown.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The government continues to work with the higher education (HE) sector to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies to the best of their abilities.

Universities offering high-quality tuition online will continue to charge fees. Fee loans are paid directly to higher education providers at the start of the third term. We are working closely with sector representative bodies to understand the impact of COVID-19 and the immediate financial implications for students and providers.

We only expect full tuition fees to be charged if online courses are of good quality, fit for purpose and help students progress towards their qualification. If universities want to charge full fees, they will have to ensure that the quality is there. The government has made it clear that, if providers are unable to deliver adequate online teaching, then it would be unacceptable for students to be charged for any additional terms, which would effectively mean that they were being charged twice.

The government is also working with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, professional bodies and the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, to ensure that students continue to leave university with qualifications of value. The OfS has published guidance for registered providers about how it will approach the regulation of quality and standards during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is clear that standards must be maintained (further details are available at the following link): https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guidance-for-providers-about-quality-and-standards-during-coronavirus-pandemic/. Actions that providers are taking now may continue to be required in the 2020-21 academic year if there is prolonged disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is important that students receive a good standard of education. Whether an individual student is entitled to a reduction of their fees will depend on specific contractual arrangements between the HE providers and the student.

If a student is concerned about their education, or about the steps that their provider has taken to respond to the situation, they should speak to their HE provider in the first instance. The government expects student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by institutions to resolve any concerns. Students who are not satisfied with their provider’s final response can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint if their institution is based in England or Wales.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Department for International Trade
BAE Systems: Inspections
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when her Department last used its powers under Article 31 of the Export Control Order 2008 to undertake an ad hoc inspection of BAE System’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia; and what the outcome was of that inspection.
A
Corrected answer by: Mr Ranil Jayawardena
Corrected on: 13 May 2020
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 11 May 2020.
The correct answer should have been:

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences and not specific events such as regular freighter flights.

Their purpose is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences.

The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5 and 6 April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences, rather than specific events such as regular freighter flights.

The purpose of inspections is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences. The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5th and 6th April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

A
Answered by: Mr Ranil Jayawardena
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences and not specific events such as regular freighter flights.

Their purpose is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences.

The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5 and 6 April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences, rather than specific events such as regular freighter flights.

The purpose of inspections is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences. The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5th and 6th April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Housing Benefit: Housing Occupancy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of suspending the under-occupancy charge during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 12 May 2020

The Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) policy has helped to contain growing housing support expenditure, encourage mobility within the social rented sector, strengthen work-incentives and make better use of available social housing. There are currently no plans to change this policy. It would not be practical to make such temporary adjustments to the size criteria, which require regulatory changes, to reflect self-isolation or shielding when the household, property and rental costs have not changed.

Previously, Housing Benefit claimants who live in the social rented sector generally had their rents met in full and their entitlement was not affected by whether or not they under occupied their homes. However, this was no longer considered sustainable and from April 2013 Housing Benefit for working-age tenants in the social rented sector has been restricted. These restrictions apply where people live in a property that is too large for their needs.

As with all spending decisions difficult choices have to be made about priorities and where to focus additional resources. Those unable to meet a shortfall in their rent can seek assistance via the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHPs) scheme. DHPs can be paid to those in receipt of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting their rental housing costs.

In addition, we have just announced an extra £40 million for DHPs in 2020/21 in England and Wales.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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 May 2020
Department for Education
Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether free school meal vouchers will continue to be offered throughout the (a) May half-term and (b) summer holidays.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 12 May 2020

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, during the Easter holidays the department met the costs of offering free school meals to eligible pupils not attending school during term time weeks. This was in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time. We currently have no plans to extend the scheme into future holiday periods.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure the maintenance of labour (a) supply and (b) standards in the farming industry during covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Victoria Prentis
Answered on: 11 May 2020

(Part A)

The ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak have meant that there will be a shortfall in the numbers of workers who usually travel to the UK from Europe to work during the harvest season, with the demand for workers peaking from late May through the summer.

Farming leaders have already kick-started a recruitment drive for work on farms, with thousands of British people already expressing an interest in picking up seasonal agricultural work over the coming weeks and months. With many British workers furloughed from their jobs, and students having to put their summer plans on hold, the Government is supporting industry efforts to help farmers bring in this year’s harvest, working to build on these numbers.

The majority of roles for the early part of the harvest season have already been filled. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will shortly be launching a public- facing campaign to highlight the roles available from late May onwards and to encourage people to apply. The Government has confirmed that those who have been furloughed from their jobs due to coronavirus, and who are contractually allowed to work for another employer, can take on this seasonal work.

A new government-industry digital hub for seasonal work information and job opportunities has been launched to provide guidance on getting into farm work and links to the available jobs and recruiters. The website can be found at pickforbritain.org.uk and will be updated regularly over the coming weeks to help match jobs to workers as the demand grows.

(Part B)

The UK is proud of its world-leading standards of food safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare. We will not compromise our standards nor put the UK’s biosecurity at risk whatever the circumstances.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
RAF Akrotiri
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for what reason BAE Systems’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia routinely goes via RAF Akrotiri; and what interaction personnel at RAF Akrotiri have with the aircraft, its passengers and its cargo.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

These BAE Systems operated flights provide logistics support for UK-supplied aircraft and systems operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force, which play a key role in the defence and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These flights night-stop at RAF Akrotiri, both inbound and outbound from Saudi Arabia, for the wellbeing of the crew, to refuel and to assure the security of the aircraft and its cargo.

These flights do not carry passengers, nor is cargo loaded or off-loaded at RAF Akrotiri. During the present Covid-19 crisis the crews are provided with dedicated on-base accommodation, which allows them to be isolated fully from RAF Akrotiri personnel.

Grouped Questions: 43124 | 43203
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
BAE Systems: Freight
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what cargo on carried by BAE Systems’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia via RAF Akrotiri.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

These BAE Systems operated flights provide logistics support for UK-supplied aircraft and systems operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force, which play a key role in the defence and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These flights night-stop at RAF Akrotiri, both inbound and outbound from Saudi Arabia, for the wellbeing of the crew, to refuel and to assure the security of the aircraft and its cargo.

These flights do not carry passengers, nor is cargo loaded or off-loaded at RAF Akrotiri. During the present Covid-19 crisis the crews are provided with dedicated on-base accommodation, which allows them to be isolated fully from RAF Akrotiri personnel.

Grouped Questions: 43123 | 43203
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Iraq: Military Intervention
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Royal Air Force’s airstrike against Daesh in an isolated location west of Tuz Khurma in Northern Iraq on 10 April 2020 was in response to an attack by Daesh on Hashd al-Shaabi fighters in the district of Tuz Khurma on that day, and whether Hashd al-Shaabi requested that air strike.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The Royal Air Force airstrike on 10 April 2020 was not in response to an attack by Daesh on fighters from the Popular Mobilisation Forces, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, and it was not in response to a request from that organisation.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Oman: Military Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Government has an agreement to provide pilots for (a) non-combat and (b) combat situations for the Typhoon aircraft purchased by the Royal Air Force of Oman from BAE Systems.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The UK provides fewer than five RAF Typhoon pilots in role to serve on Loan Service. The Loan Service team is in place across the Sultan's Armed Forces to deliver advice, capability development and training directly to the Sultan's Armed Forces and is employed in a variety of roles to achieve this.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Oman: Air Force
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many UK personnel serve with the Royal Air Force of Oman’s (a) No. 8 Squadron and (b) No. 6 Squadron; and what the (i) rank and (ii) task is of those personnel.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Under the Loan Service agreement with Oman, the UK currently has fewer than five Loan Service personnel working with No. 8 and No. 6 Squadron. I am withholding the exact number of UK personnel to mitigate the risk of them being identified by the information provided. I am also withholding details relating to rank and role as disclosure would, or would likely, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another state.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 05 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 14 January 2014 to Question 182081, if he will list the current appointments of all British forces personnel to foreign armed forces and governments by rank and task.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

I am withholding the information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 05 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what his Department's definition is of UK personnel in each of the categories of (a) loan service personnel, (b) exchange officers, (c) liaison officers, (d) embeds and (e) secondees.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The definitions of these categories are as follows:

Loan Service. Loan Service is defined as being the loan of Service personnel from the United Kingdom Armed Forces to assist a Commonwealth or foreign country. Loan Service personnel are subject to United Kingdom Service regulations; they are administered and receive pay and allowances in the usual way and are consequently subject to United Kingdom income tax. They are not subject to Host Nation taxation.

Exchange Officers. Exchange officers are deployed into key posts globally. They may be deployed for Service-specific or joint operational reasons. They work for the HN, usually in exchange for a HN officer working in the UK. They create Defence Engagement effect by projecting a positive image of the UK, generating understanding of host nation tactics, procedures and capability, and symbolising the close cooperative relationship between services. Exchange officers provide an opportunity to assist UK efforts in other ways, such as by gaining insight into another nation's ways of thinking or working practices.

Liaison Officers. Defence deploys a wide range of liaison officers to foreign militaries and sometimes elsewhere within a foreign partner's security architecture. Liaison officers are specifically intended to facilitate information sharing and provide a means to deliver persistent influence on the HN. In general, liaison officers remain under the command and control of the sending nation.

Embedded Officers. The UK also has a significant number of embedded officers, mainly serving in US headquarters. Embedded officers create tailored DE effect, depending on their role and the agreement of the HN. In general, embedded officers come under the command and control of the HN.[1]

Secondee Service. Secondee Service places UK military personnel within a company, such as BAE Systems or NETMA. While such service is considered a tour of duty it is governed by bespoke TACOS for the duration of the secondment, agreed between the Company, the individual and the RAF. Seconded personnel temporarily leave the Air Force, are paid by the company but retain their right to promotion etc. Seconded service supports DE access and influence in a similar way to loan service.

[1] Embedded UK personnel operate as if they were the host nation's personnel under that nations' chain of command, but they remain subject to UK domestic, international and host nation law'.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 05 May 2020
Cabinet Office
Ministerial Responsibility
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish an update of the document entitled, Government ministers and responsibilities; and if he will make it his policy to publish that document in (a) CSV and (b) PDF formats.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Details of ministerial responsibilities can be found on GOV.UK. The List of Ministerial Responsibilities document was last updated in October 2019 and was made available in PDF and CSV formats. An update will be published in due course.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of removing the £16,000 savings threshold for eligibility for universal credit.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 07 May 2020
Holding answer received on 05 May 2020

A key principle of UC is that it supports people who do not have assets available to meet their basic needs. While it is important to protect the incentive to save for claimants on low earnings, people with substantial capital can take responsibility for their own support. This is to ensure that we can maintain our focus on getting money to citizens who need it and safeguarding the most vulnerable.

If capital exceeds £16,000 there will be no entitlement to UC, unless the capital can be disregarded, for example personal injury compensation payments. Capital above £6,000 will reduce the amount of UC paid by £4.35 per month for every £250 of capital or part thereof.

If someone has money in their account that is to be used for business purposes, for example for paying tax, it will not be counted towards their capital, but they may be asked to prove that the money is for business purposes. People should make clear in their application the savings that are business assets, and note it in their online journal.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 01 May 2020
Department for Transport
Roads: Closures
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what powers local authorities have been granted to close roads to create more cycling and pedestrian space during the covid-19 outbreak; and for how road closures can be in place for.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 06 May 2020

Local traffic authorities already have powers to close roads and to make changes to their use, including making space for cyclists and pedestrians, through the use of Traffic Orders. My Department has recently published guidance for authorities on how to deal with some practical difficulties with publicising and making orders during current restrictions, for example, publication in local newspapers when these may have either closed or moved online and posting site notices. This guidance has been circulated to local authorities already and will be kept under review. It is temporary and will be withdrawn when circumstances allow. It is available on our website at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-orders-advertising-during-coranavirus-covid-19

We will continue to consider other assistance and support that we can offer to authorities as part of our response to coronavirus and plans for restart and recovery.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 01 May 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the provision of laptops to vulnerable and disadvantaged young people during the covid-19 outbreak to university students.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 06 May 2020

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Higher Education (HE) Providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes. Where students do not have access to the internet, a computer at home, or cannot afford to purchase it, the expectation is that HE Providers will provide support through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April and May, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

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