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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Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that people over the age of 75 who do not use the internet will be able to apply, and pay, for a TV licence from June 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The BBC is responsible for the cost and the administration of the over 75 licence fee concession from June 2020.

The BBC says that it will work with older peoples groups, charities and voluntary organisations to design a bespoke system to support all those over 75 affected by its decision. As part of this system, the BBC says that its licensing arm, TV Licensing, will write to all those all those affected, and will use suitable measures such as face to face visits and phone calls to make it as easy as possible for those transitioning to apply for and pay the licence fee.

Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they intend to offer to people who are just above the threshold of eligibility for pension credit to afford the additional £154.54 per year to pay for a TV licence from June 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The BBC is responsible for the cost and the administration of the over 75 licence fee concession from June 2020.

The BBC says that it will work with older peoples groups, charities and voluntary organisations to design a bespoke system to support all those over 75 affected by its decision. As part of this system, the BBC says that its licensing arm, TV Licensing, will be publicising the link between the concession and pension credit. It also says its will be introducing an easy payment system to help those affected spread the cost of the licence fee.

The Secretary of State has expressed his disappointment with the BBC decision to restrict the concession to the most narrowly defined review option. He has asked the BBC to do more for the most vulnerable pensioners, including considering measures around the margins of eligibility and those which further promote the take up of Pension Credit.

Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility of the BBC's decision to change the TV licence concession for people over the age of 75 from June 2020 with the Government's strategy to combat loneliness.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The future of the over 75 licence fee concession is a matter for the BBC. Parliament transferred responsibility in passing the Digital Economy Act in 2017. On loneliness, the Government is taking steps to address the effects of isolation and loneliness on the elderly. These include appointing a minister to lead work on tackling loneliness; publishing the world’s first government strategy on loneliness; and securing £20 million of new grant-funding for projects run by charities and community groups to bring people together.

Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Telecommunications: Compensation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16510), what data are collected by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the amounts of compensation paid by broadband and home phone providers due to delayed (1) repairs, and (2) service.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The automatic compensation scheme for fixed broadband and landline consumers was established by Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulator for communication services. The Department has not, to date, received any data from Ofcom about the scheme. As set out in our previous answer, the Department’s understands that Ofcom intends to review the scheme next year.

Grouped Questions: HL16992 | HL16993
Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Telecommunications: Compensation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16510), what (1) measures are being used, and (2) data are being collected, to assess the performance of Ofcom’s automatic compensation scheme for fixed broadband and landline consumers.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The automatic compensation scheme for fixed broadband and landline consumers was established by Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulator for communication services. The Department has not, to date, received any data from Ofcom about the scheme. As set out in our previous answer, the Department’s understands that Ofcom intends to review the scheme next year.

Grouped Questions: HL16991 | HL16993
Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Telecommunications: Compensation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16510), what data the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has so far received from Ofcom about levels of compensation paid out since Ofcom’s automatic compensation scheme for fixed broadband and landline consumers was launched.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The automatic compensation scheme for fixed broadband and landline consumers was established by Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulator for communication services. The Department has not, to date, received any data from Ofcom about the scheme. As set out in our previous answer, the Department’s understands that Ofcom intends to review the scheme next year.

Grouped Questions: HL16991 | HL16992
Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16507), where the UK’s rate of 53 per cent consumer access to 100Mbps places the UK in rankings of broadband accessibility of all EU countries; and what is their target for access to 100Mbps by 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The UK’s current ultrafast broadband coverage is currently low compared to European counterparts however the UK is amongst the leaders of superfast broadband coverage, ahead of Spain, France and Germany, thanks, in part, to over £1.8bn of public investment.

Superfast broadband, which is delivered through part-fibre part-copper networks, meets the needs of most consumers today . However, it is full fibre networks that will be needed to meet expected future demands with the focus not purely on speed, but also resilience and reliability. The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review published the Government’s targets for full fibre coverage.

The last EU report on broadband coverage had the UK at 26th of all Member States for full fibre at just over 2% coverage. However, we have since started to increase deployment at pace and our current full fibre coverage is 8% which represents almost 2.5 million homes and businesses. Our target to reach 15 million premises by 2025 represents around half of the homes and businesses in the UK. We are driving take-up and demand for full fibre. Our £67 million Gigabit Voucher Scheme, launched in April 2018, provides small grants for residents and small businesses to upgrade to a gigabit-capable connection, and support the take up of faster services. Vouchers are also available under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, with higher values to reflect the greater costs of connecting in rural and remote areas.

Grouped Questions: HL16995
Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16507), where the UK’s rate of eight per cent access to full fibre places the UK in rankings of broadband accessibility of all EU countries; and what proportion of consumers they estimate will have access to full fibre if the target of 15 million premises having access by 2025 is met.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The UK’s current ultrafast broadband coverage is currently low compared to European counterparts however the UK is amongst the leaders of superfast broadband coverage, ahead of Spain, France and Germany, thanks, in part, to over £1.8bn of public investment.

Superfast broadband, which is delivered through part-fibre part-copper networks, meets the needs of most consumers today . However, it is full fibre networks that will be needed to meet expected future demands with the focus not purely on speed, but also resilience and reliability. The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review published the Government’s targets for full fibre coverage.

The last EU report on broadband coverage had the UK at 26th of all Member States for full fibre at just over 2% coverage. However, we have since started to increase deployment at pace and our current full fibre coverage is 8% which represents almost 2.5 million homes and businesses. Our target to reach 15 million premises by 2025 represents around half of the homes and businesses in the UK. We are driving take-up and demand for full fibre. Our £67 million Gigabit Voucher Scheme, launched in April 2018, provides small grants for residents and small businesses to upgrade to a gigabit-capable connection, and support the take up of faster services. Vouchers are also available under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, with higher values to reflect the greater costs of connecting in rural and remote areas.

Grouped Questions: HL16994
Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 3 July (HL16508), what plans they have to instruct Ofcom to undertake a review of the Universal Service Obligation; and when they estimate the target of 75 per cent take-up of superfast broadband will be reached in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Government intends to direct Ofcom to carry out a review of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) when at least 75% of premises have taken-up superfast broadband of 30 Mbps or more. In their 2018 Connected Nations report, Ofcom reported that 45% of the UK has taken-up superfast broadband but neither Ofcom nor Government has conducted a formal estimate of when 75% take-up is likely to be reached. However, Ofcom will continue to monitor the progress of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), and wider connectivity trends, through its Connected Nations report. These reports will inform Government’s ongoing assessment of whether a review of the USO before the 75% threshold has been reached is appropriate.

Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Football: Females
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to develop the profile of women’s football in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Lionesses’ fantastic performance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year has inspired the nation. This is an opportunity for everyone involved in the sport to build on this momentum to continue to raise the profile of women’s football and women’s sport in general.

The government is determined to get more girls and women playing sport, something we set out in our sport strategy, Sporting Future. Football is the second most played team sport for adult women and the top ranked team sport in terms of participation for girls.

We are investing £14.6million into the Football Association (FA) through Sport England between 2017-2021, to support their grassroots participation, talent and coaching programmes. £2.6million of this is specifically reserved for women and girls talent programmes and the FA also receive an additional £2million each year towards improving diversity in its coaching workforce.

Government is also investing £18million into the Football Foundation charity each year to help deliver a programme of new and improved community sports facilities in towns and cities across the country.

All public funding provided is used to benefit men’s, women’s and disability football; for example investment in a mixed coaching programme or facility will benefit all groups within that community.

Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Shingles: Vaccination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to establish a GP-operated call/recall system to invite older people to receive the shingles vaccination.
Answered on: 19 July 2019

As outlined in both the NHS Long Term Plan and Investment and evolution: a five-year framework for GP contract reform to implement The NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently undertaking a Review of vaccinations and immunisations. The Department would not wish to pre-empt the outcome of this Review. Investment and evolution sets out the purpose of the Review as being to:

- Ensure the system incentivises achievement of appropriate uptake rates for immunisations in line with national public health uptake rates;

- Reduce the administrative burden on general practices by simplifying the system if possible;

- Clarify what is expected on call/recall for immunisations delivered through the general practitioner (GP) contract;

- Address anomalies in the system that directly incentivise some vaccines but not others;

- Look at how we deal with outbreaks and catch-up programmes; and

- Consider whether we extend the list of chargeable travel vaccines.

Recommendations from the Review will be implemented through the 2020 and 2021 GP contracts.

A copy of Investment and evolution: a five-year framework for GP contract reform to implement The NHS Long Term Plan is attached.

Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Asthma: Death
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal College of Physicians The National Review of Asthma Deaths, published on 6 May 2014; and what plans they have to implement that report's recommendations.
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Department collaborated with the Royal College of Physicians on the National Review of Asthma Deaths and welcomed this report. Since its publication, significant improvements have been made in asthma care.

Respiratory disease, including asthma, is a clinical priority within the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to improve outcomes for patients through earlier diagnosis and increased access to treatments. The Respiratory Delivery Board will take forward respiratory proposals set out in the Plan by working with key partners.

The National Health Service is supporting the national asthma audit programme which provides data on a range of indicators to show improvements and opportunities in asthma outcomes. NHS RightCare will be publishing an asthma toolkit later this year to support local commissioners and systems in delivering quality care. A best practice tariff for asthma, which aims to reduce variation in asthma care, is also in development.

The current quality outcomes framework indicators for asthma are in consultation and changes for the annual review indicators may include data on asthma control; exacerbations; and written personalised action plans.

As set out in the Long Term Plan, pharmacies in primary care networks will undertake medicine reviews for asthma patients. This will include education on inhaler use and uptake of dry powder and smart inhalers where clinically appropriate.

Asked on: 09 July 2019
Department for Education
Schools: Census
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are used when reaching decisions on the monthly matching and handovers of school census data about children by the Department for Education (DfE) to the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes; what algorithms are used by the DfE to process such data; and what is the role of the Secretary of State for Education in making such decisions.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 19 July 2019

Where the Home Office have clear evidence of criminal activity, including illegal immigration, limited data, including a pupil’s address and school details, may be requested from the Department for Education’s (DfE) National Pupil Database (NPD).

In such cases, the Home Office provide the DfE with the child’s name, gender, date of birth and address (including postcode). The DfE will match this data against the records held on the NPD and, if there is a clear match, they will provide the Home Office with information relating to those individuals.

This process, and the data shared, is fully documented in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Home Office and DfE. A copy of this agreement is available in the Libraries of both Houses and is attached.

HL17037_PDF (PDF Document, 266.97 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 09 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which third countries have been recognised by the EU as providing adequate data protection.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The European Commission has so far made a full finding of adequacy in respect of: Andorra, Argentina, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland and Uruguay. The Commission has made partial findings of adequacy in respect of Japan, Canada and the USA. You can find more information about these decisions on the Information Commissioner’s website.

When the UK leaves the EU the power to make adequacy decisions will be repatriated to the Secretary of State. In February 2019 Parliament passed a Statutory Instrument (SI) setting out the criteria and process. The SI recognises and effectively rolls over all existing adequacy decisions that have been made by the EU as well as recognising EU states themselves as adequate. The SI also replicates the EU adequacy regime in UK law with a number of technical changes to make it work properly. The factors that the Secretary of State would need to take into account in reaching an adequacy decision include the rule of law, respect for human rights, and other relevant legislation in the third country being assessed.

Grouped Questions: HL17041 | HL17042
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 09 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which (1) businesses, (2) territories of, or (3) specified sectors within, third countries have been recognised by the EU as providing adequate data protection.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The European Commission has so far made a full finding of adequacy in respect of: Andorra, Argentina, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland and Uruguay. The Commission has made partial findings of adequacy in respect of Japan, Canada and the USA. You can find more information about these decisions on the Information Commissioner’s website.

When the UK leaves the EU the power to make adequacy decisions will be repatriated to the Secretary of State. In February 2019 Parliament passed a Statutory Instrument (SI) setting out the criteria and process. The SI recognises and effectively rolls over all existing adequacy decisions that have been made by the EU as well as recognising EU states themselves as adequate. The SI also replicates the EU adequacy regime in UK law with a number of technical changes to make it work properly. The factors that the Secretary of State would need to take into account in reaching an adequacy decision include the rule of law, respect for human rights, and other relevant legislation in the third country being assessed.

Grouped Questions: HL17040 | HL17042
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 09 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what factors they will take into account when making data adequacy decisions after Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The European Commission has so far made a full finding of adequacy in respect of: Andorra, Argentina, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland and Uruguay. The Commission has made partial findings of adequacy in respect of Japan, Canada and the USA. You can find more information about these decisions on the Information Commissioner’s website.

When the UK leaves the EU the power to make adequacy decisions will be repatriated to the Secretary of State. In February 2019 Parliament passed a Statutory Instrument (SI) setting out the criteria and process. The SI recognises and effectively rolls over all existing adequacy decisions that have been made by the EU as well as recognising EU states themselves as adequate. The SI also replicates the EU adequacy regime in UK law with a number of technical changes to make it work properly. The factors that the Secretary of State would need to take into account in reaching an adequacy decision include the rule of law, respect for human rights, and other relevant legislation in the third country being assessed.

Grouped Questions: HL17040 | HL17041
Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 09 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Elections: Disinformation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to establish an official agency before the next general election to expose and refute lies and misinformation, spread through social media and other means from Russia or other countries; and whether they intend to discuss any such plans with other European states and the EU to urge them to take similar action.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Government is working closely with industry, civil society and international partners to do what is necessary to safeguard against the use of online disinformation to undermine our democratic values and processes. Ahead of the European Parliamentary elections, the Government worked to enhance coordination and information sharing across HMG to ensure an effective response in the event of a significant disinformation threat.

We have seen no evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes, but we are not complacent. We are at the forefront of a growing international consensus on the need to take action against disinformation, whatever its source or intent. We are working with international partners, including in the EU, to create a sustained platform for international cooperation among like-minded nations.

Q
Asked by Andrew Selous
(South West Bedfordshire)
Asked on: 10 July 2019
Department for Transport
Cycling: Bedfordshire
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much per capita funding has been allocated from the public purse to cycling in Central Bedfordshire in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Department estimates that on average around £3 to £4 per capita has been allocated from the public purse to cycling and walking in Central Bedfordshire in each of the last three financial years. This estimate is based on both ring-fenced funding streams (including grants from the Sustainable Transport Transition Fund, Access Fund, and Small Business Research Initiative, as well as Bikeability training in schools in Central Bedfordshire), and non-ringfenced funding streams (including the Integrated Transport Block and Maintenance Block) of which a certain percentage is spent on measures which benefit cyclists and pedestrians. Local authorities are also able to use other local funds for cycling and walking projects, making it difficult to give a more precise estimate.

Q
(Tooting)
Asked on: 10 July 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Vehicles
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential environmental benefits of permitting use of light electric vehicles on (a) roads and (b) public paths.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Department has made no assessment of the potential environmental benefits of light electric vehicles, however cycling and walking do offer active travel benefits. The Future of Mobility regulatory review will address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future. This is a broad programme of work, and we expect to publish an initial consultation in autumn this year.

Q
Asked by Jo Swinson
(East Dunbartonshire)
Asked on: 10 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hungary: Academic Freedom
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with (a) his Hungarian counterpart and (b) other EU counterparts on (i) the closure of the Central European University and (ii) restrictions on academic freedom in Hungary.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The British Embassy in Budapest have discussed this with the Hungarian government on various occasions, stressing that Central European University's (CEU) relocation to Vienna is a great loss for Budapest and Hungary. We regret that the Hungarian government and CEU could not find a mutually acceptable solution as a vibrant and diverse education sector brings substantial benefits to any country.

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