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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Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 29 April 2019
Home Office
Home Office: Departmental Records
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department has taken to locate the 114 documents in relation to child sexual abuse and hon. Members which were misplaced by his Department.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

In February 2013, the Permanent Secretary commissioned an investigation into information the Home Office received in relation to child abuse allegations, between 1979 and 1999. That investigation was unable to locate 114 potentially relevant Home Office files.

On 7 July 2014 the Home Secretary appointed Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC to carry out an independent review of the 2013 investigation.

On 29 July 2014, the Home Office Permanent Secretary directed that a physical search targeted on specific areas of the Department be undertaken to see if any of the 114 missing files could be located. This did not uncover any of the 114 missing files, though one was found prior to this exercise. As part of their Review, Wanless and Whittam interrogated what was known about each of the 114 files. They published their analysis within their final report, published November 2014.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Probation: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of trends in the level of wellbeing of probation officers; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The National Probation Service (NPS) conducts an annual survey of its staff, which includes questions on well-being (relating to respondents’ life as a whole, not simply their employment) and also their engagement with the NPS. The survey results cover everyone employed by the NPS, both operational and administrative staff. In relation to both well-being and positive engagement, there has been a steady upward trend since the first survey in 2014.

We do not hold comparable data on staff employed by the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), as the CRCs are responsible for the management of the people they employ.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Probation: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he has taken to undertake a review the quality of the clinical supervision provided to probation staff; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Following the expiry of the previous clinical supervision contract in March 2018, an expert group was created comprising representatives of the probation and prison services and psychology to determine the likely future needs of prison and probation staff for clinical support. A new provider was commissioned to deliver the service (now known as Structured Professional Support) in April 2018. Delivery of this service is kept under constant review.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Boko Haram
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about reports of recent attacks by Boko Haram in Molai, Borno State.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

We are concerned about reports of continuing attacks by insurgents in Borno State. We continue to urge the Nigerian Government to develop a clear strategy to tackle the conflict. The Foreign Secretary met the Nigerian Vice President during his visit in April to discuss long-term solutions to improve security, increase livelihoods and provide opportunities in the region. We will continue to look at how best to support the Nigerian Government in tackling the threat of terrorism, along with options for how the UK could further support dialogue and peacebuilding efforts.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Civil Proceedings
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money the NHS spent as part of legal settlements in each year from 2009 to 2018; and how much of each year's spend relates to legal fees.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

NHS Resolution has provided the following information:

NHS Resolution has provided tables which cover:

- total expenditure for NHS Resolution Clinical Negligence Schemes and NHS Resolution non-clinical negligence schemes from 2009 to 2018;

- the total legal costs per financial year; and

- the draft budget for legal fees/damages 2019 for NHS Resolution Clinical Negligence Schemes and NHS Resolution non-clinical negligence schemes.

The data is attached due to the size of the data.

National Health Service spend on legal fees for matters other than clinical/non-clinical negligence settlements since 2009 has been interpreted as spend relating to NHS providers and commissioners.

This includes NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and NHS England and clinical commissioning groups. NHS spend on legal fees for non-negligence matters is shown in the following table.

Year

Total legal fees (£000s)

2013-14

110,747

2014-15

171,806

2015-16

162,273

2016-17

172,135

2017-18

160,140

Prior to 2013-14, expenditure on legal fees was not separately classified by primary care trusts and strategic health authorities who both carried out NHS commissioning and NHS trusts. Therefore, comparable information pre 2013-14 is unavailable.

There is no specific category of expenditure that isolates spend relating to legal settlements in the NHS.

We have interpreted the request for data for the amounts set aside in 2019 as the value of said provisions as at the end of the financial year, 31 March 2019. This data is still subject to audit and will not be available until after publication of the Annual Report and Accounts in July 2019.

The budget totals for legal fees relating to NHS spend in 2019 is not available.

HL15667_HL15668_data (Word Document, 24.77 KB)
Grouped Questions: HL15668
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Civil Proceedings
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money the NHS has set aside for potential legal settlements in 2019; and how much they have budgeted for legal fees.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

NHS Resolution has provided the following information:

NHS Resolution has provided tables which cover:

- total expenditure for NHS Resolution Clinical Negligence Schemes and NHS Resolution non-clinical negligence schemes from 2009 to 2018;

- the total legal costs per financial year; and

- the draft budget for legal fees/damages 2019 for NHS Resolution Clinical Negligence Schemes and NHS Resolution non-clinical negligence schemes.

The data is attached due to the size of the data.

National Health Service spend on legal fees for matters other than clinical/non-clinical negligence settlements since 2009 has been interpreted as spend relating to NHS providers and commissioners.

This includes NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and NHS England and clinical commissioning groups. NHS spend on legal fees for non-negligence matters is shown in the following table.

Year

Total legal fees (£000s)

2013-14

110,747

2014-15

171,806

2015-16

162,273

2016-17

172,135

2017-18

160,140

Prior to 2013-14, expenditure on legal fees was not separately classified by primary care trusts and strategic health authorities who both carried out NHS commissioning and NHS trusts. Therefore, comparable information pre 2013-14 is unavailable.

There is no specific category of expenditure that isolates spend relating to legal settlements in the NHS.

We have interpreted the request for data for the amounts set aside in 2019 as the value of said provisions as at the end of the financial year, 31 March 2019. This data is still subject to audit and will not be available until after publication of the Annual Report and Accounts in July 2019.

The budget totals for legal fees relating to NHS spend in 2019 is not available.

HL15667_HL15668_data (Word Document, 24.77 KB)
Grouped Questions: HL15667
Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Independent Office for Police Conduct: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average time taken for the Independent Office for Police Conduct to investigate a public complaint about police behaviour.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The information you requested is available on the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) website, published via their annual reports. The 2017/18 report can be accessed

https://policeconduct.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Documents/Who-we-are/accountability-performance/IOPC_annual_report_and_accounts_2017-18.pdf with previous reports available https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/who-we-are/accountability-and-performance/annual-report-and-plans The police conduct accountability and performance annual report: describes our work over the past year, including the investigations we have carried out, the appeals we have handled, and our work to increase public confidence in the complaints system. It also outlines what we have been doing over the past year to review and implement changes to the way we work.

The 2017/18 performance year, the figures include 9 months of IPCC data (April to December) and 3 months of IOPC data (January to March).

Figures for the 2018/19 performance year will be included in the IOPC’s next annual report which will be laid before Parliament and published later in the year.

OPC Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18 (PDF Document, 3.29 MB)
Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Conflict Resolution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what involvement the UK currently has in conflict resolution in Cameroon; what plans they have, if any, to raise the conflict in Cameroon at the UN Security Council; and what representations they have made to the government of France about the impact of its policies on the government of Cameroon.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

​The UK continues to be deeply concerned at high levels of violence in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon, reports of human rights violations and abuses and the severe impact the deteriorating humanitarian situation is having on ordinary civilians. We continue to call for an end to violence on all sides and urge the Government of Cameroon to establish a credible political dialogue to address the root causes of the crisis. The UK has shared experiences with the Government on conflict resolution; we remain ready to provide further support. On 13 May, the UK participated in an informal discussion on Cameroon at the UN Security Council, noting that dialogue and humanitarian assistance were needed to exit the crisis. The UK also raised concerns in a statement at the bi-annual UN Office for Central Africa briefing in the UN Security Council on 13 December 2018, calling for urgent action by the Government to prevent further conflict. The UK regularly discusses developments in Cameroon with international partners, including France and the US, to encourage and support efforts to resolve the crisis.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Euthanasia: Vulnerable Adults
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the current law permitting mentally competent adults to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment has ever been proven inadequate in the courts to protect vulnerable people from being pressured to end their life prematurely.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 24 May 2019

We have not seen evidence from the courts that the current provisions permitting mentally competent adults to refuse life-sustaining treatment provide inadequate protection for vulnerable people.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Euthanasia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent research from the UK's Assisted Dying Coalition, published on 8 February, which found that more than one person a week now travels from the UK to Switzerland to end their life; and in light of that research, whether they plan to review the UK's assisted dying law.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 24 May 2019

It remains the Government’s view that any change to the law in this area in England and Wales is an issue of conscience and a matter for Parliament to decide rather than one for Government policy.

Parliament has not so far voted to legalise assisted suicide in any circumstances.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
National Preventive Mechanism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to implement the recommendation of the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that the National Preventive Mechanism be placed on a legislative basis.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 24 May 2019

In 2009, the UK Government established the UK’s independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which currently comprises 21 inspection, visiting and monitoring bodies covering detention places across the UK. The UK continues to comply with its international obligations under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, under which the NPM was established.

We note the sub-committee on Prevention of Torture’s recommendation, and we continue to explore with the NPM how it may be addressed.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Terrorism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 3 April (HL14709), what assessment they have made of the impact of the ban on direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh on the current UK terrorist threat level.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

As indicated prior, the threat level to the UK from international terrorism is kept under constant review by the independent Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre, whose judgements about the threat level are made on the basis of the very latest reporting and intelligence. This can change at any time as different information becomes available.

The current threat level from international terrorism is judged to be SEVERE, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the accuracy of facial recognition technology.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Facial recognition is a fast evolving area of technology with the potential to streamline identity verification and authentication processes across Government and the private sector. When used in the appropriate setting and context, it has proved to be a very reliable and accurate tool.

Its performance is dependent on a number of variables, from the quality of the images, environmental factors, the specific algorithm used, the thresholds or risk profile applied and many other factors. Possible matches produced by LFR systems are always checked by a human operator before deciding what, if any, action to take.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Home Office: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, 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: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The number of staff in the Home Office who took sickness absence due to mental health issues in the 12 months to 30 April 2019; the proportion of the total sick absence that this comprises; and the cost to the Department of sick absence due to mental ill health during that period is set out in the accompanying table. These absences include those relating to stress, as well as other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. These conditions can be triggered by various factors.

We are committed to breaking down barriers and reducing stigma for employees living with mental health conditions. We aim to equip managers to recognise and address stress in the workplace and encourage employees to talk to their managers about mental health issues so that they can access help and support at the earliest stage.

Table - PQ 254070 (Excel SpreadSheet, 13.99 KB)
Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Cabinet Office
Cabinet: Ministerial Responsibility
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the effect of one person occupying both the roles of National Security Adviser and Cabinet Secretary on the effectiveness of those roles.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Sir Mark Sedwill has been operating successfully as Cabinet Secretary since June 2017 and has the full confidence of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. His responsibilities incorporate those he exercised as National Security Adviser and, like his predecessors, those of the Head of the Civil Service.

Asked on: 14 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Leah Sharibu
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, following her sixteenth birthday.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The UK is committed to supporting the Nigerian Government in their attempts to secure the release of the remaining girls taken from Chibok, Leah Sharibu taken from Dapchi, and all others abducted by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa. The Prime Minister raised the plight of the abducted school girls with the President of Nigeria during his official visit to the UK in 2018. We continue to use Ministerial visits, such as the Foreign Secretary's visit last month, and public messaging to ensure that the girls' plight is not forgotten. Our officials in Abuja will continue to engage regularly and offer their support to the Government of Nigeria and other organisations working to securing their release.

Grouped Questions: HL15701
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Abduction
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the protests in Nigeria demanding the release of the Chibok schoolgirls who have been held in captivity for over 1,500 days; and when they last raised their captivity, and that of Leah Sharibu, with the President of Nigeria.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The UK is committed to supporting the Nigerian Government in their attempts to secure the release of the remaining girls taken from Chibok, Leah Sharibu taken from Dapchi, and all others abducted by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa. The Prime Minister raised the plight of the abducted school girls with the President of Nigeria during his official visit to the UK in 2018. We continue to use Ministerial visits, such as the Foreign Secretary's visit last month, and public messaging to ensure that the girls' plight is not forgotten. Our officials in Abuja will continue to engage regularly and offer their support to the Government of Nigeria and other organisations working to securing their release.

Grouped Questions: HL15700
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Eritrea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many asylum claims were made in each of the past three years by Eritreans; whether more illegal migrants were smuggled into the UK last year from Eritrea than from any other country; and what assessment they have made of religious persecution in Eritrea as a driver of Eritrean migration.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Home Office publishes data on the number of applications for asylum in the UK, broken down by nationality, in its quarterly Immigration Statistics release. The number of applications made by Eritreans in each year are available in table as_01 (Main Applicants; Asylum, volume 1).

Latest edition available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781299/asylum1-dec-2018-tables.ods

Year

Total applications

2016

1,230

2017

1,085

2018

2,158

The Home Office is unable to report on whether more illegal migrants were smuggled in to the UK last year from Eritrea than from any other country, as the method of entry for those who entered the UK clandestinely and subsequently claimed asylum, is recorded on individual Home Office files and to obtain this information would require a manual trawl and could only be obtained at disproportionate costs.

All asylum and human rights applications from Eritrean nationals are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations. Each individual assessment is made against the background of the latest available country of origin information and any relevant caselaw. The Country Policy and Information Note Eritrea: Religious groups published in February 2018 (available on Gov.uk) outlines our position.

Eritea Religious Groups (PDF Document, 509.49 KB)
Asylum 1 - Dec 2018 Tables (Excel SpreadSheet, 3.6 MB)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies: Companies
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to introduce a public register of beneficial ownership for (1) the Crown Dependencies, and (2) other tax havens for which the UK has responsibility.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

It is important to note that the Crown Dependencies are self-governing jurisdictions with their own legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and courts of law. They have confirmed they will develop public registers of company beneficial ownership once it has been established as a global norm.

In October 2018 the UK Government launched an international beneficial ownership transparency campaign to shift global norms by encouraging and supporting more countries to implement free to access and publicly available company beneficial ownership registers by 2023. In line with this campaign, the UK Government will encourage the Crown Dependencies to voluntarily introduce measures to improve the transparency of their company ownership.

Similarly, the Overseas Territories are self-governing jurisdictions. However, in accordance with the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, the UK Government will prepare an Order in Council by the end of 2020 requiring all Overseas Territories to have fully functioning publicly accessible registers in place by the end of 2023. The UK Government will work consensually with the Overseas Territories on introducing publicly accessible registers, which includes through technical workshops.

Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Landfill: Hillingdon
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Newyears Green Lane landfill site is a special site of contamination; and what steps the Environment Agency has taken to ensure that any drilling into that site poses no risk to the Chiltern Aquifer.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

On 26 May 2011, in accordance with Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the London Borough of Hillingdon determined the land at the former ‘New Years Green Lane Landfill Site’ as Contaminated Land as defined by Section 78A (2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the Act).

On 6 July 2011, the Environment Agency (EA) agreed to designate the land at New Years Green Landfill as a Special Site pursuant to Section 78C (6) (b) of the Act. The site is now within the regulatory control of the EA under Part IIA of the Act.

There is no proposal to undertake any such drilling activity at the landfill site. However, the EA is involved in the technical review of any drilling proposals at this landfill. As a minimum requirement, any drilling works in the landfill or in areas where waste is suspected must utilise “clean” drilling methodologies to avoid potential cross contamination between different parts of the geology.

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