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
(East Renfrewshire)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Pensions: Consumer Information
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much funding (a) has been and (b) is planned to be allocated to the Money and Pensions Service for the delivery of pensions dashboards in (i) 2019-20 and (ii) each of the three subsequent years from (A) the financial services levy on FCA-regulated firms, (B) the general levy on pension schemes and (C) general taxation.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Pensions dashboard are a priority of this Government. The Government is committed to ensuring that the Money and Pensions Service has the funding necessary to develop the non-commercial dashboard and to work with industry, through the Industry Delivery Group (IDG), to develop the dashboard architecture.

The Money and Pensions Service has £8.2m funding for 2019/20 to begin development of the non-commercial dashboard and the dashboard architecture. This funding consists of:

  • £1.2m from the Department’s Autumn Budget 2018 settlement to cover the initial set up costs for the Industry Delivery Group.
  • £4.7m from the pensions guidance element of the Financial Services Levy.
  • £2.3m from the General Pensions Levy.

We will continue to work with the Money and Pensions Service to understand the future development and ongoing maintenance costs over future years, including over the next three years to ensure sufficient funding is allocated from the levies.

Grouped Questions: 254867
Q
(East Renfrewshire)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Pensions: Consumer Information
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how funding for the Money and Pension Service for delivery of pensions dashboards will be allocated between (a) the delivery of a non-commercial dashboard hosted by the Money and Pensions Service and (b) the Industry Delivery group for implementation of the wider project.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Pensions dashboard are a priority of this Government. The Government is committed to ensuring that the Money and Pensions Service has the funding necessary to develop the non-commercial dashboard and to work with industry, through the Industry Delivery Group (IDG), to develop the dashboard architecture.

The Money and Pensions Service has £8.2m funding for 2019/20 to begin development of the non-commercial dashboard and the dashboard architecture. This funding consists of:

  • £1.2m from the Department’s Autumn Budget 2018 settlement to cover the initial set up costs for the Industry Delivery Group.
  • £4.7m from the pensions guidance element of the Financial Services Levy.
  • £2.3m from the General Pensions Levy.

We will continue to work with the Money and Pensions Service to understand the future development and ongoing maintenance costs over future years, including over the next three years to ensure sufficient funding is allocated from the levies.

Grouped Questions: 254866
Q
Asked by Helen Hayes
(Dulwich and West Norwood)
[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: 15 May 2019
Women and Equalities
Sexual Harassment: Employment
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference to the Government response to the Seventh Report of the Women and Equalities Committee, Sexual harassment in the workplace HC1801, when she plans to launch the public consultations.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Government will launch a consultation shortly covering:

  • the evidence for introducing a new duty on employers to prevent harassment;
  • extending the protections of the Equality Act to volunteers and interns;
  • strengthening and clarifying the laws in relation to third party harassment;
  • the evidence for changing employment tribunal time limits for Equality Act 2010 cases.

The Government consultation on tackling the misuse of confidentiality clauses in situations of workplace harassment or discrimination closed on 29 April and we are now considering the responses.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Boilers: Natural Gas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 15 May 2019 to Question 250740, for what reason the 35 per cent of boilers that did not comply with the legal efficiency standards were allowed to be sold.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The assessment referred to in answer of Question 250740 was carried out before the Boiler plus standard came into force. There is no evidence that boilers with an efficiency below 92% continued to be sold beyond the coming into force date of the current standards.

Efficiency standards for products are always carried out under standard test conditions. This ensures a reliable value for the product itself, irrespective of the capability of the installer, the diverse range of buildings into which they are installed, or how optimally the product is used by the consumer. This provides the ability to compare products fairly.

The research carried out on real-world boiler performance is available from the SAP website:

www.bregroup.com.

Grouped Questions: 255265 | 255266
Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Boilers: Natural Gas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 15 May 2019 to Question 250740, whether the boilers that met or exceeded the minimum efficiency requirement of 92 per cent were in test situations or in real-world situations when installed.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The assessment referred to in answer of Question 250740 was carried out before the Boiler plus standard came into force. There is no evidence that boilers with an efficiency below 92% continued to be sold beyond the coming into force date of the current standards.

Efficiency standards for products are always carried out under standard test conditions. This ensures a reliable value for the product itself, irrespective of the capability of the installer, the diverse range of buildings into which they are installed, or how optimally the product is used by the consumer. This provides the ability to compare products fairly.

The research carried out on real-world boiler performance is available from the SAP website:

www.bregroup.com.

Grouped Questions: 255264 | 255266
Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Boilers: Natural Gas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 15 May 2019 to Question 250741 on boilers: natural gas, if he will publish (a) the research carried out on real-world boiler performance referred to in that answer and (b) where on the BRE website further information can be found.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The assessment referred to in answer of Question 250740 was carried out before the Boiler plus standard came into force. There is no evidence that boilers with an efficiency below 92% continued to be sold beyond the coming into force date of the current standards.

Efficiency standards for products are always carried out under standard test conditions. This ensures a reliable value for the product itself, irrespective of the capability of the installer, the diverse range of buildings into which they are installed, or how optimally the product is used by the consumer. This provides the ability to compare products fairly.

The research carried out on real-world boiler performance is available from the SAP website:

www.bregroup.com.

Grouped Questions: 255264 | 255265
Q
Asked by Alberto Costa
(South Leicestershire)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Transport
Model Aircraft
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the forthcoming Drone Registration Scheme on aero modellers flying of small air vehicles that are not drones.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Drone Operator Registration Scheme will apply from November 2019 and is one of several new measures to address the safety and security challenges that unmanned aircraft pose. It will help law enforcement agencies to tackle the misuse of such aircraft effectively, alongside new Police powers, which will be introduced in the upcoming Drones Bill.

In response to the Department’s 2018 consultation on unmanned aircraft, the Government stated that any alternative approach for model flyers must be achieved without imposing undue burden on the state and the taxpayer, whilst also being efficient and enforceable, without compromising the integrity of the policy. Any blanket exemption from registration and competency tests for aero modellers, or having the associations register their members into the registration scheme, will not meet these criteria.

Q
Asked by Sammy Wilson
(East Antrim)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Occupational Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to provide for collective defined contribution pension schemes.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 24 May 2019

This Government has recently published a response to a Collective Defined Contribution schemes consultation, and have engaged extensively with key stakeholders. In this response we have committed to facilitate Collective Defined Contribution schemes and have stated that the Government will bring forward Primary legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The response can be viewed here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/789051/response-delivering-collective-defined-contribution-pension-schemes.pdf

Q
(Barnsley East)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Homosexuality
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the Bahraini ambassador on that country's laws on gay rights.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Government of Bahrain is aware that we consider that the criminalisation of same-sex relations and the persecution of gay people is wrong.

Q
(Argyll and Bute)
Asked on: 17 May 2019
Cabinet Office
Ministerial Responsibility
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish an updated list of Ministerial responsibilities.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Details of Ministerial responsibilities can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers

The List of Ministerial Responsibilities was last updated in December 2018. An update to the document is expected in the summer.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Home Office
Thames House: Pedestrian Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 11 April (HL14894), whether the Security Service sought permission from Westminster City Council or Transport for London before they closed the pedestrian footpath on Horseferry Road.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Security Service has taken all appropriate and reasonable steps to ensure the safety of pedestrians on Horseferry Road.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government: Constituencies
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following an election that has changed the political composition of a local authority, that authority is able to withdraw a submission made to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England on a local boundaries review in their area and replace it with an alternative submission.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

This is a matter for the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England, which is accountable to the Speaker’s Committee of the House of Commons.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 8 May (HLWS1504), whether they expect local authorities will offer extra placements to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC); and whether offers from individual British families to adopt or to foster UASC will be taken up.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Home Office recognises the highly valuable work that local authorities undertake in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) and that is why we significantly increased the funding paid as a contribution to their costs. It is hoped that this will enable more local authorities to feel able to offer placements for vulnerable UASC, and we will be working with them and partners to encourage this.

It is unlikely that adoption will be an appropriate option for unaccompanied children. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as well as other humanitarian charities, advise that no new adoption applications should be considered in the period after a disaster or fleeing from war. It is not uncommon for children in these circumstances to be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members who may be looking for them. Efforts to reunite children with relatives or extended family should therefore be given priority.

Foster parents are recruited by fostering services which include local authorities or independent fostering agencies. The decision to let someone foster a child, including UASC, is a very important one to get right. Anyone who wants to become a foster parent must undergo a full assessment and be approved by a fostering service before any child can be placed in their care. Regulations set out in detail the requirements of the approval process, including the information that must be collected in the assessment and the requirement for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. In 2013 Department for Education streamlined and strengthened the assessment and approval process for foster carers, introducing a two-stage process to ensure efficiency and transparency.

Existing foster parents may also be able to provide suitable homes for unaccompanied children and over the past two years the Department for Education has funded over 2000 training places for existing foster parents and support workers who wish to care for UASC, with places being prioritised for local authorities participating in the National Transfer Scheme.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Furniture: Fire Resistant Materials
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prosecutions were made by Trading Standards for offences under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 between 2014 and 2019; and how many of these prosecutions resulted in a conviction.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Ministry of Justice has published data for prosecutions and convictions up to the end of December 2018. Data for 2019 will be published in May 2020.

The number of prosecutions and convictions for offences under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 between 2014 and 2018 are shown in the table below.

Table: Prosecutions and convictions under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988, 2014–18

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Prosecuted

4

9

2

11

2

Convicted

3

6

2

7

1

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Christianity: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a departmental, or cross-governmental strategy, was devised to prevent or ameliorate the global persecution of Christians between 2003 and 2018; and if so, whether they will place a copy of the relevant documents in the Library of the House.
A
Answered on: 23 May 2019

There has been no cross-government strategy on the global persecution of Christians between 2003 and 2018, however the promotion of human rights has and remains at the heart of our foreign policy and we regard freedom of religion or belief as a universal human right. In my role as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, I regularly raise the importance of this issue with international counterparts. We condemn instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith or belief, including Christians, wherever it happens and whatever the religion or belief.

Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
British Nationals Abroad: Syria
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many UK nationals have returned from Syria in the last three years for which figures are available.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

Since the beginning of the conflict around 900 people of national security concern have travelled from the UK to Syria and Iraq, against the advice of the Foreign Office. Of these, around 40% have returned to the UK.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pakistan: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Pakistan to continue to uphold  the right to freedom of religion or belief in that country.
A
Answered on: 23 May 2019

​The UK has a long history of supporting Freedom of Religion or Belief for all people. We stand up for everyone's right to practise or not practise a religion that is in line with their conscience, wherever they are in the world.

We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. I raised the treatment of religious minority communities with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February, and in subsequent telephone calls.

Under the Government's Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the UK has supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom. In November 2018, the Government announced a new £12 million fund to bolster the work of civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations to promote respect, and the value of religious diversity and tolerance.

On 30 January 2019, the Foreign Secretary and the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, launched an Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians overseas. The Bishop submitted his interim report on 3 May; he will submit his final report in the summer.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Finance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they intend to take, if any, in the next Spending Review to ensure that councils can continue to meet their statutory duties towards those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 23 May 2019

We recognise that high needs budgets are under pressure and that is why we allocated an additional £250 million in high needs funding for 2018-19 and 2019-20 in December. This brings the total allocation for high needs this year to £6.3 billion.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the government will hold a Spending Review alongside the Budget where spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be agreed. The government will need to balance competing priorities across a broad range of areas, but we will be taking careful account of the importance of providing the right funding for education, and for high needs in particular. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has made clear that as we approach the next Spending Review, he will back head teachers to ensure they have the resources they need to deliver a world class education.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Telephones: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the cap on the cost of phone calls between EU member states will apply to UK consumers until the end of any transition period, in the event that a Brexit deal is agreed.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 23 May 2019
Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement, EU law will continue to apply in the UK during the Implementation Period (subject to certain exceptions), including EU law that comes into force during the Implementation Period. That will include the Regulation that caps the cost of phone calls via landline and mobile phone or SMS made from one EU country to another.  
Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, 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: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The number of employees in the Department for International Trade from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 who were absent due to mental health reasons including stress was 39. This represented approximately 1% of employees. The proportion of sickness absence related to stress related reasons was 8.6% of the overall sickness absence for the department for the same time period.

Recorded sickness absence figures include employees working in the UK and overseas and for UK Export Finance. They do not include contractors, secondees from other organisations or military staff.

The estimated cost to the department from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 for employees taking sickness absence due to mental health reasons, including stress is estimated at £116,920.

DIT continues to recognise and take seriously the wellbeing of its employees. DIT has in place policies and processes to identify, prevent and manage stress. The DIT policies introduced the provision of mental health first aiders who can provide a range of support to both employees and managers including access to our Employee Counselling Service.

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