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
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Social Mobility
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of policies and programmes to tackle social inequality in the UK; and what evidence exists to demonstrate that children and young people living in poverty and low-income households have been enabled by those policies and programmes to overcome the barriers to social mobility.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Social mobility is a top priority, and the department is taking action to remove barriers to opportunity at every stage of the education system. The department has set out a 10 year ambition to boost children’s early reading and communication skills. We have invested more than £15 billion in the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged pupils and we are reforming technical education. The evidence shows we are closing the educational attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and others, as measured by the disadvantage gap index, by around 13 % at key stage 2 and 9.5 % at key stage 4 since 2011. As well as increasing the proportion of disadvantaged 18 year olds entering full-time higher education from 13.3% in 2009 to 20.2% in 2018.

The department has invested over £137 million in the Education Endowment Foundation to help schools use the pupil premium in ways that are proven to have a positive impact.

We are committed to tackling the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and we are making good progress. Nationally, there are now over a million fewer workless households, and around 665,000 fewer children living in such households compared with 2010.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 1, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15621 | HL15622 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 2, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15622 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 3, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15621 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 4, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15621 | HL15622
Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Foxes
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of potential secondary uses of the estimated 400,000 foxes killed each year in Britain, including as a source of biofuel.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

In 2000, the Burns Report estimated that 400,000 foxes die each year in Britain on roads, by being shot or through natural causes.

It is the responsibility of those who wish to control foxes by culling to ensure that the carcases are disposed of in accordance with the law. We have made no assessment of potential secondary uses of fox carcases.

Animals killed on roads are typically sent for disposal by incineration, co-incineration or processing (rendering). The fat extracted from rendering is commonly sent to approved biodiesel plants for conversion into biodiesel.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture: Fire Resistant Materials
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the study Flame retardants in UK furniture increase smoke toxicity more than they reduce fire growth rate, published in the journal Chemosphere in December 2017; and what steps they are taking to ensure that UK furniture is safe.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

As part of the Government’s review of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988, we are taking account of a wide range of scientific evidence from external sources including academic papers and studies.

We are committed to reviewing these regulations to ensure that the highest levels of fire safety are maintained while minimising risks to health and the environment.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture: Fire Prevention
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Office for Product Safety and Standards has spent on product compliance testing under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 since its formation; and what were the results of such testing.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Office for Product Safety and Standards has made available £500,000 in 2018 and £600,000 in 2019 for Local Authority Trading Standards to carry out product compliance testing at accredited laboratories. This testing includes compliance testing under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

Local Authority Trading Standards take appropriate enforcement action as required in light of the results from this testing.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will respond to their 2016 consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

This is a complex issue and it is absolutely vital that the Government gets this right: we are committed to reviewing these regulations to ensure that the highest levels of fire safety are maintained while minimising risks to health and the environment.

The Department will publish its response to the 2016 consultation in due course.

Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Brexit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic impact of a Brexit scenario where the UK stays in a customs union with the EU.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The negotiated Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration outline the UK and EU’s shared commitment to a free trade area for goods with no tariffs, quotas or rules of origin requirements. We are not seeking membership of the Single Market, or Customs Union, after we leave the EU, but a bold and ambitious economic partnership.

The government has delivered on its commitment to provide appropriate analysis to Parliament with a robust, objective assessment of how exiting the EU may affect the economy of the UK, sectors, nations and regions in the long run. The analysis considers four analytical scenarios and compares them to today’s arrangements: the UK position set out in the July 2018 White Paper, a hypothetical FTA, an EEA-type relationship and a no deal scenario.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Iraq: Christianity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 5 February (HL13010), what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute of Development Studies The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East, published in 2017, that estimates that in 2003 there were approximately 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, and that in 2017 that number was between 200,000 and 250,000.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

While we are unable to confirm the exact numbers, we are gravely concerned about the decline in the numbers of Christians in Iraq in recent years as also cited in the independent interim report of the Bishop of Truro into the Persecution of Christians. We assess that a number of factors have resulted in this decline, including conflict and insecurity in Iraq and the particular threat posed by Daesh. We continue to engage with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government on the need to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. However, during a recent meeting with the Iraqi Foreign Minister on the 17 May and the Archbishop of Erbil on 21 May I heard of the steps being taken to reopen churches and the increased number of church services being help in Iraq.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with local authorities on plans to hold a festival of innovation and creativity in 2022.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 22 May 2019

We are in the early stages of planning the Festival. Any formal discussions with local authorities will be conducted by the appropriate delivery body in due course.

Q
Asked by John Healey
(Wentworth and Dearne)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Buildings: Insulation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 9 May 2019 to Question 249214 on Buildings: Insulation, what evidence he has received that all residents have been informed of the inclusion of their residences in his Department's Building Safety Programme monthly data release.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Building owners are responsible for ensuring residents are informed of fire safety issues in their buildings. We are engaging with building owners, managing agents, local authorities and others to ensure that remediation happens as quickly as possible, and that interim safety measures are in place in all buildings until the cladding is replaced.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Homelessness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of regional job centre closures on trends in the level of homelessness in those regions.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 22 May 2019

When closing or merging a Jobcentre, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) undertake an equality analysis as part of the detailed planning for service reconfiguration. This will include feedback from public consultation in those locations where this applied. Details of jobcentres that have closed and/or merged in the last two years can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-on-the-future-of-dwp-jobcentres

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government publishes local authority data on homelessness applications quarterly.

Reference should also be made to the response given on 9 February 2018 in the reply to PQ 126480.

Q
Asked by Lucy Powell
(Manchester Central)
[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 May 2019
Department for Education
Academies: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions (a) he (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had with AET on the benchmarking exercise for AET secondary schools in London; and whether his Department approved benchmarking process; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark against which AET secondary schools in London are being assessed.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 22 May 2019
Holding answer received on 20 May 2019

The department, including ministers and officials, have held no detailed discussions with the Academies Enterprise Trust on a benchmarking exercise for their London Academies. We have not approved a benchmarking process, as this is for the trust to determine, and do not have a copy of any benchmark London Academies are currently being assessed against.

The department does publish a range of financial benchmarking tools, and signposts trusts to these. They include the Schools Financial Benchmarking tool which can be accessed publicly here: https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
European Parliament: Elections
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, if the Electoral Commission will make and publish an urgent assessment of how many local returning officers failed performance standard one in relation to European Parliament elections because polling cards were delivered without adequate time to allow people to (a) change their registration details and (b) apply for an absent vote; what the (i) earliest, (ii) latest and (iii) average date was that local authorities sent out polling cards for the European Parliament elections; what effect the delay between commencement of the statutory election timetable on 15 April 2019 for all regions and formal Cabinet level confirmation on 7 May 2019 that the European Parliamentary elections would go ahead had on the decisions of local authorities on when to send out polling cards; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Bridget Phillipson
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Commission has collected information on the estimated despatch dates for the first issue of poll cards to registered electors for the European Parliamentary election. The earliest estimated dates were in the week commencing 15 April 2019 and the latest dates were in the week commencing 6 May 2019; the average dates for despatch were in the week commencing 22 April 2019.

The timing of despatch of poll cards varies by local authority area and will depend on factors such as the ability of print suppliers to meet RO requirements.

Returning Officers (ROs) are required to send out poll cards to electors as soon as practicable after the publication of the notice of election. The confirmation received on 7 May 2019 that the election would proceed would therefore have had no impact on the decisions of ROs as to when to send out poll cards.

The Commission continues to provide guidance, support and challenge to Regional and Local ROs. It will report on the administration of the poll and the performance of ROs against the performance standards after the election.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Treasury
Small Businesses: Tax Yields
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the amount of tax revenue accrued was from UK small businesses in 2017-18.
A
Answered by: Mel Stride
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Total tax revenue accrued from micro and small sized businesses combined was estimated to be approximately £120 billion in 2016/17. An estimate for 2017/18 will not become available until Autumn 2019.

The estimate given includes Self-Assessment Income Tax and Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs), Corporation Tax, VAT, and Pay As You Earn Income Tax and Class 1 NICs. The definition of micro and small sized businesses used is consistent with the EU definition where possible. HMRC works to collect tax due under UK law from all businesses, regardless of size, in the most cost effective way.

The government has also taken a number of steps which benefit small businesses through the tax system. Since Budget 2016 the government has announced reductions to business rates worth more than £13bn over the next five years. NICs bills are also reduced by up to £3,000 for over one million employers, and the UK is also highly competitive, with the lowest overall corporation tax rate in the G20 at 19%. The rate is legislated to fall further to 17% in 2020.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Social Media: Freedom of Expression
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that social media companies respect freedom of speech when regulating content.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Government is committed to upholding free speech, and legislation is already in place to protect these fundamental rights. However, this freedom cannot be an excuse to cause harm or spread hatred.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out the Government's proposals for making the UK the safest place to be online. The proposed independent regulator will have an obligation to protect users' rights online, particularly rights to privacy and freedom of expression. It will ensure that the new regulatory requirements do not lead to a disproportionately risk averse response from companies that unduly limits freedom of expression, including by limiting participation in public debate.

Q
Asked by Mr Steve Reed
(Croydon North)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Buildings: Insulation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 7 May 2019 to Question 249313 on Buildings: Insulation, when the BS 8414 test of a High Pressure Laminate cladding system will be carried out by the Fire Protection Association.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Department is working with the contractor to ensure that the test is carried out as soon as reasonably practicable. The exact timing will depend on factors such as the time needed to source the necessary components for the test and the time needed to build the test rig.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Department for Exiting the European Union: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, how many and what proportion of officials in his Department took sick leave for reasons relating to stress in the last 12 months; what proportion that leave was of total sick leave taken in his Department; and what the cost was to his Department of officials taking sick leave over that period.
A
Answered by: Kwasi Kwarteng
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Health and Wellbeing forms part of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s commitment to making the Department a great place to work. The Department has an attendance management policy, and Employee Assistance Programme and a dedicated mental health and wellbeing network who have been leading on a number of wellbeing activities across the Department to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of staff employed in the Department.

We are not in a position to release this data as individuals may be identifiable due to fewer than 10 individuals being absent in the last 12 months due to stress. The total cost to the Department of all recorded sickness absence in the last financial year was approximately £72k based on the estimated cost of working days lost.

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