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
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Public Health England: Drinkaware Trust
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the press release, Public Health England and Drinkaware launch Drink Free Days, published on 10 September 2018, for what reason the decision was taken by Public Health England not to state clearly that Drinkaware is funded by the alcohol industry.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The content of the press release launching the Drink Free Days campaign, which is a collaboration between Public Health England and Drinkaware, focused on communicating to media the campaign’s aim and specifically its simple and pragmatic advice to the public to help them cut back on alcohol consumption by taking more drink free days. The purpose of the press release was to highlight this consumer facing campaign rather than describe the background to either organisation.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Ministry of Defence
Uganda: Military Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what military support the Government provides to Uganda.
A
Answered by: Mark Lancaster
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The majority of UK military support to Uganda is training to prepare Ugandan troops for duty in the African Union Mission to Somalia, which includes training officer cadets at Sandhurst and senior officers at the UK Defence Academy. In addition, we train officers from Uganda and other countries for future peace support operations by the Eastern Africa Standby Force. We also provide legal and staff training to the Ugandan People's Defence Force, and have been supporting the Ugandan Wildlife Authority and Ugandan Police Force in their work to combat the illegal wildlife trade, by providing training and secure facilities for weapons and recovered animal products. In partnership with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Czech Republic and others we have also funded and delivered training for Uganda and other East African Community countries on chemical risk assessment and response planning. All of our support emphasises the importance of professional forces operating within the framework of international law and, wherever appropriate, our training includes elements of International Humanitarian Law, Law of Armed Conflict, and Women, Peace and Security.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Education
Schools: Assessments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of children eligible for free school meals reached a Good Level of Development at age five in Stockton South constituency in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The requested data is shown in Annex A, which is attached.

The 2016/17 Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results show that the proportion of all children achieving a ‘good level of development’ is improving year on year – in 2017, 71% achieved a good level of development compared to 52% in 2013.

The proportion of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieving a good level of development is also increasing year on year. In 2017, 56% achieved a good level of development compared to 36% in 2013. The gap between disadvantaged children (children eligible for FSM) and others achieving a good level of development continues to narrow. It decreased from 19% in 2013 to 17% in 2017.

The department’s ambition is to provide equality of opportunity for every child, regardless of background or where they live. Good early years education is the cornerstone of social mobility and we are making record investment in this area, including providing 15 hours of free early education for disadvantaged two year olds and £100 million of investment through our ambitious social mobility action plan ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 09 October 2018
Home Office
Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the paper by Aveek Bhattacharya entitled How dependent is the alcohol industry on heavy drinking in England? published in August 2018, to what extent the alcohol industry is planned to be consulted as a stakeholder for the updated alcohol strategy, following the finding in that paper that alcohol industry revenue in England would decline by 38 per cent in the event that all consumers drank within the Chief Medical Officer's Low Risk Guidelines.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The Government’s new alcohol strategy will set out targeted action to prevent and reduce harmful drinking, support vulnerable people affected by others’ alcohol misuse and improve the pathways into treatment for people with alcohol dependency.

As we develop measures to include in the strategy, we are consulting widely across government and with a range of stakeholders including representatives of the alcohol industry, the health sector, academics, the voluntary sector and the licensed trade.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 12 September 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Government Departments: Telephone Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he is taking to steps to increase the powers that Ofcom and the Phone-paid Services Authority have to prevent intermediaries charging people to use freephone Government services; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 15 October 2018

Ofcom has a power under the Communications Act 2003 to regulate premium rate services, those higher rate services charged to telephone bills, which it has delegated to the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA).

Providers of intermediary connection services, known as information, connection and signposting services (ICSS) are subject to PSA’s strict mandatory Code of Practice if they operate under certain number and price ranges. Ofcom recently consulted on proposals to broaden the scope of the rules so that they would apply to all such services, meaning that all ICSS would be subject to the PSA’s remit. Ofcom aims to publish its decision before the end of 2018.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 03 September 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Uganda: Internally Displaced People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Government of Uganda on behalf of the thousands of people of Apaa village in Amuru/Adjumani District who have been and are still being forcibly evicted from their land by the Ugandan Army, Police and Wildlife Authority who claim that they are inhabiting a game reserve.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 11 September 2018

As part of our dialogue with the Government of Uganda on all aspects of democratic governance and human rights, we continue to stress the importance of resolving disputes fairly, peacefully and with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. I welcome the Government of Uganda’s 22 August announcement that a committee led by Prime Minister Rugunda, and involving representatives of the affected communities will be constituted to review the Government’s proposals to resolve the land disputes in Apaa.​

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 03 September 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Uganda: Internally Displaced People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he has been in contact with the UN Human Rights Offices in Gulu, northern Uganda, where 250 internally displaced people are camped; and if he will make representations to the Ugandan Government on behalf of those people.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 11 September 2018

We are in regular contact with United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) representatives in Uganda. Those that were camped at the UN OHCHR office in Gulu departed on 16 August and returned to their community.​

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Electronic Government
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps are being taken to (a) make the HMRC Gateway service more accessible and (b) enable improved access to Government services for people with no online or digital access.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 05 September 2018

(a) DWP are key stakeholders in the development of the new HMRC Government Gateway Service. HMRC are leading on user research around accessibility with DWP participation via Government Departmental Working Groups.

(b) We are working with partner organisations and with other departments to understand the level of support users of government services need. As part of this programme of work we are looking at the current internet devices we have in our Jobcentre Plus Offices, this includes Digital propensity, Digital Inclusion and the level of support DWP provides. DWP assures all our digital services meet the quality requirements of the Digital Service Standard which, includes both accessibility and assisted digital needs. Face to face appointments’ for claimants and free phone lines are part of the breadth of services we also have available to people without digital access.

Q
(Stockton South)
[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: 23 July 2018
Department for Education
Home Education: Stockton South
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information his Department holds on trends in the number of people being home-schooled in Stockton South constituency.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 04 September 2018

The information requested is not held centrally. A consultation on home education, and call for evidence on the issues of registration, monitoring and support for home educating families, closed on 2 July 2018 and responses are now being considered.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Department for Education
Music: GCE A-level
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many colleges in England offer music at A-Level.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 04 September 2018

The number of further education sector colleges that had at least one student entering A level music, or music technology, in 2016/17 was 103. [1],[2],[3]

[1] Includes: sixth form colleges, general further education colleges, agriculture and horticulture colleges & art, design and performing art colleges.

[2] Only includes colleges with A level students at the end of their 16-18 study in the 2016/17 academic year. Where qualifications taken by a student are in the same subject area and similar in content, ‘discounting’ rules have been applied to avoid double counting qualifications.

[3] The Department publishes this information at the following link: https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/download-data. Select the academic year, then ‘All of England’, then ’16 to 18 qualification and subject data’ and then download the Excel file.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 18 July 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
General Dental Council
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the performance of the General Dental Council; and what steps he is taking to hold that body to account.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 24 July 2018

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the healthcare regulatory body responsible for the regulation of dentists and dental care practitioners in the United Kingdom and is independent of the Government.

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) annually reviews each professional regulator’s performance against its Standards of Good Regulation and publishes its findings.

The most recent GDC report was published by the PSA in November 2017 and covered the 2016/17 period. It found that the GDC met all but one of the 24 standards of good regulation.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 12 July 2018
Ministry of Justice
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will set a target for the maximum time limit for people to wait for a personal independence payments appeal to be heard.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 20 July 2018
Holding answer received on 20 July 2018

The Ministry of Justice is not planning to set a target for the maximum time limit for people to wait for a Personal Independence Payment appeal to be heard. This is because waiting times fluctuate geographically owing to a number of factors including venue capacity, the volumes of benefit decisions made locally, the complexity of the case and the availability of panel members. Furthermore, the listing of appeals, including consideration of whether a hearing should be expedited, is a function of the Tribunal’s judiciary. We are however working on measures to improve the capacity and performance of the Tribunal, including the appointment of additional judges and panel members.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 10 July 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Cystic Fibrosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to exempt people with Cystic Fibrosis from prescription charges.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 17 July 2018

We have no current plans to review the list of medical conditions which provide for exemption from prescription charges because arrangements exist to ensure that prescriptions are affordable for everyone. A broad range of prescription charge exemptions are in place, for which someone with cystic fibrosis may qualify. To support those with greatest need who do not qualify for an exemption, prescription prepayment certificates are available. A holder of a 12 month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just £2 per week.

Q
(Stockton South)
Asked on: 10 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wood-burning Stoves
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 8 January 2018 to Question 120689 on Wood-burning Stoves, what steps he is taking through (a) planning regulations and (b) otherwise to reduce the primary emissions of harmful particulate matter from the use of wood-burning stoves.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 July 2018

Planning is the responsibility of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). My Department is working with MHCLG on their update on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPPF requires that planning policies should sustain compliance with and contribute towards EU limit values or national objectives for pollutants.

On 22 May, we published our Clean Air Strategy for consultation which aims to cut air pollution and save lives. The strategy includes plans to introduce new environmental legislation which will ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels will be available for sale and only the cleanest stoves will be available to buy and install in England, preventing 8,000 tonnes of harmful particulate matter from entering the atmosphere each year. Cleaner fuels and stoves produce less smoke, less soot and more heat.

We will be launching a further detailed consultation later this year on our proposals to phase out the most polluting domestic fuels.

Ahead of introducing new legislation, my Department has been working with industry sectors to introduce voluntary initiatives. This has seen the introduction of Ecodesign Ready labelling by the stove industry in February 2017 which brings in emission standards ahead of the EU Regulatory deadline of 2022.

We have also worked with the wood fuel industry on the Ready to Burn scheme which was launched in Autumn 2017. The scheme informs consumers about the importance of using clean, quality wood-fuel to improve air quality which will reduce harmful emissions.

In addition, my Department have also been working with other industry sectors, such as chimney sweep organisations to provide advice to consumers in their own homes. This has resulted in an information guide (https://tinyurl.com/y8clbglu) which provides clear advice on the procedures to follow when lighting a stove, to minimise smoke emissions.

Q
(Stockton South)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Foreign Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who is responsible for making a decision on whether a patient qualifies for an exemption under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and as set out in his Department's accompanying guidance; and to what extent clinicians are involved in such decisions.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 13 June 2018

The NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 place a legal obligation on providers of National Health Service-funded secondary care to identify patients who are not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom (‘overseas visitors’) and make and recover charges from them unless an exemption from charge category applies to either the patient or the service they access.

The Department has issued guidance to the NHS called ‘Guidance on overseas visitors hospital charging regulations’ in which it strongly recommends that trusts appoint a designated Overseas Visitors Manager to oversee the charging regime however all staff including clinicians have a responsibility to ensure that the charging rules work effectively.

Clinicians provide appropriate healthcare for patients and make decisions on their treatment based on their clinical needs. The charging regulations do not change that. However, clinicians will at times, be required to make a decision on whether treatment is urgent or immediately necessary for those patients identified as not eligible for NHS-funded care.

It is only a clinician who can make an assessment of whether a patient’s need for treatment is immediately necessary, urgent or non-urgent for patients whose status is unknown or have been identified as being chargeable.

Q
(Stockton South)
[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 June 2018
Department for Education
Sign Language: GCSE
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing British Sign Language as a GCSE qualification.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 11 June 2018

There are no plans to introduce any new GCSEs in this Parliament, to allow schools a period of stability following the recent reforms. The Government is open to considering a proposal for a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE for possible introduction in the longer term. The Department has indicated this to Signature, the awarding organisation proposing to develop a GCSE in BSL, and the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous expectations for subject content, which are set by the Department. It would also need to meet the expectations for assessment and regulatory requirements, which are set by Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator. The Department and Ofqual will consider carefully the merits of any proposals put forward in due course.

Q
(Stockton South)
[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 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Post Offices: North East
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much and what proportion of the £370m investment funding the Department has allocated to Post Office branches has been allocated to (a) the North East and (b) Thornaby Post Office.
A
Answered by: Andrew Griffiths
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Government has provided nearly £2 billion in investment since 2010, and is providing a further £370 million between April 2018 and March 2021. The allocation of funding to specific branches and regions is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. However, branches all over the country have benefited, with the network at its most stable in decades. Over 7,500 branches have been modernised, there are nearly a million additional opening hours per month and over 4,400 branches open on Sunday.

Q
(Stockton South)
[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: 05 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Foreign Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that exemptions to charging under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and as set out in his Department's accompanying guidance are being applied to qualifying patients.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Department has made information on the rules around entitlement to free National Health Service treatment publicly available for several years. The Department has issued guidance to providers of NHS funded secondary care that sets out the rules and best practice processes to follow to identify chargeable patients where no exemption from charge category applies to either the patient or the type of service they are accessing. This guidance is publicly available on Gov.uk.

The rules around charging overseas visitors for NHS care, including the list of exemption categories, are also set out for the public on NHS Choices, so that patients can be aware of their chargeable status prior to accessing NHS care. We continue to work closely with the NHS on best methods of communicating more effectively to patients, including revising guidance, translated letters in foreign languages, tools and support frameworks to support NHS providers and frontline staff, to ensure patients are made aware of the Charging Regulations.

Where an NHS patient is unhappy with the healthcare they have received, it is right that they, or someone on their behalf and with their consent, can use the NHS complaints procedure. Relevant providers need to ensure that they and patients charged for NHS services are aware of the complaints procedure and that there are effective operational links with the organisation’s complaints manager that reflect the extant guidance on managing complaints.

If a patient considers that they have been charged incorrectly, they should collaborate with the overseas visitor manager to discuss on what basis they have been found to be chargeable and whether the provision of further documentary evidence is required. Where there continues to be a disagreement about how the Charging Regulations have been applied to a particular patient, the patient may want to seek the services of the relevant body's Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

The NHS complaints procedure can be found at NHS Choices:

https://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/complaints-and-feedback/pages/nhs-complaints.aspx

Grouped Questions: 150251 | 150253
Q
(Stockton South)
[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: 05 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Foreign Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has (a) implemented a public awareness strategy and (b) issued guidance to ensure that patients eligible for exemptions under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors (Amendment) Regulations 2017 are made aware that they are exempt from such charges.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Department has made information on the rules around entitlement to free National Health Service treatment publicly available for several years. The Department has issued guidance to providers of NHS funded secondary care that sets out the rules and best practice processes to follow to identify chargeable patients where no exemption from charge category applies to either the patient or the type of service they are accessing. This guidance is publicly available on Gov.uk.

The rules around charging overseas visitors for NHS care, including the list of exemption categories, are also set out for the public on NHS Choices, so that patients can be aware of their chargeable status prior to accessing NHS care. We continue to work closely with the NHS on best methods of communicating more effectively to patients, including revising guidance, translated letters in foreign languages, tools and support frameworks to support NHS providers and frontline staff, to ensure patients are made aware of the Charging Regulations.

Where an NHS patient is unhappy with the healthcare they have received, it is right that they, or someone on their behalf and with their consent, can use the NHS complaints procedure. Relevant providers need to ensure that they and patients charged for NHS services are aware of the complaints procedure and that there are effective operational links with the organisation’s complaints manager that reflect the extant guidance on managing complaints.

If a patient considers that they have been charged incorrectly, they should collaborate with the overseas visitor manager to discuss on what basis they have been found to be chargeable and whether the provision of further documentary evidence is required. Where there continues to be a disagreement about how the Charging Regulations have been applied to a particular patient, the patient may want to seek the services of the relevant body's Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

The NHS complaints procedure can be found at NHS Choices:

https://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/complaints-and-feedback/pages/nhs-complaints.aspx

Grouped Questions: 150250 | 150253
Q
(Stockton South)
[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: 05 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Foreign Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) complaints and (b) redress procedures are available for patients (i) whose treatment has incorrectly been withheld by a hospital demanding payment for treatment upfront and (ii) who have been billed for treatment under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and as set out in his Department's accompanying guidance.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Department has made information on the rules around entitlement to free National Health Service treatment publicly available for several years. The Department has issued guidance to providers of NHS funded secondary care that sets out the rules and best practice processes to follow to identify chargeable patients where no exemption from charge category applies to either the patient or the type of service they are accessing. This guidance is publicly available on Gov.uk.

The rules around charging overseas visitors for NHS care, including the list of exemption categories, are also set out for the public on NHS Choices, so that patients can be aware of their chargeable status prior to accessing NHS care. We continue to work closely with the NHS on best methods of communicating more effectively to patients, including revising guidance, translated letters in foreign languages, tools and support frameworks to support NHS providers and frontline staff, to ensure patients are made aware of the Charging Regulations.

Where an NHS patient is unhappy with the healthcare they have received, it is right that they, or someone on their behalf and with their consent, can use the NHS complaints procedure. Relevant providers need to ensure that they and patients charged for NHS services are aware of the complaints procedure and that there are effective operational links with the organisation’s complaints manager that reflect the extant guidance on managing complaints.

If a patient considers that they have been charged incorrectly, they should collaborate with the overseas visitor manager to discuss on what basis they have been found to be chargeable and whether the provision of further documentary evidence is required. Where there continues to be a disagreement about how the Charging Regulations have been applied to a particular patient, the patient may want to seek the services of the relevant body's Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

The NHS complaints procedure can be found at NHS Choices:

https://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/complaints-and-feedback/pages/nhs-complaints.aspx

Grouped Questions: 150250 | 150251
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