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 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

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
(Sheffield 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: 10 February 2020
Home Office
Immigration: EU Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason her Department did not include the right to rent in the UK in the list of options for a person with (a) settled and (b) pre-settled status to choose from when requesting a share code and in answer to the question, why are you proving your status.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Home Office is planning to launch an online right to rent status checking service later this year.

The new online service will enable EEA nationals granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and non-EEA nationals with biometric residence permits and cards to demonstrate their right to rent.

The online right to rent checking service will build on the general launch of the ‘View and prove your settled or pre-settled status’ service for those granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Q
(Sheffield 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: 25 February 2020
Home Office
Home Office: Written Questions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to answer Question 14690 tabled on 10 February 2020 by the hon. Member for Sheffield Central.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The reponse for UIN 14690 was given on 3rd July 2020.

Q
(Glasgow South West)
[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: 19 March 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Government Assistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to support (a) vulnerable and (b) other (i) asylum seekers and (ii) refugees during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

We have also been reviewing the level of the cash allowances provided to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we do each year to ensure that they remain capable of meeting their essential living needs.

As a result of this work, the standard allowance has been raised to £39.60 per week from £37.75 per week, an increase of around 5%. The increase is significantly higher than the current general rate of inflation, which Office of National Statistics data shows was only 0.5% in the 12 months period to May 2020. In addition to asylum support payments, asylum seekers are provided with free accommodation, utilities are paid for, council tax is paid for, they have free access to the NHS and their children have free access to education.

In March, we introduced temporary measures to continue supporting those asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers and newly recognised refugees who would normally have had their accommodation and financial assistance stopped. Home office is currently reviewing this additional support,

The UK has a generous record in supporting asylum seekers. Last year, we made around 20,000 grants of asylum or protection (one of the higher figures in Europe), as well as offered protection to 3,000 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children – the highest number of any country in Europe. In addition, we have directly resettled around 20,000 people from the most dangerous areas of the world (especially Syrians) in the UK over the last 5 years. Finally, we spend around £14 billion per year in Overseas Aid, helping millions of people around the world. This is the highest amount of any country in Europe and we are the only G7 country to meet the 0.7% of GNI Overseas Aid target

Q
(Cardiff South and Penarth)
[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: 01 May 2020
Home Office
Detainees: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) staff members and (b) residents living in Home Office supported (i) asylum accommodation and (ii) detention facilities have (A) been tested and (B) tested positive for covid-19 since 1 January 2020.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The health of those in asylum accommodation and immigration removal centres (IRC) is of the utmost importance.

The Accommodation providers recognise the challenge of managing COVID 19 within our accommodation estate and are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) on how their guidance on social distancing and self-isolation is properly applied, while ensuring that people can continue to access essential services.

Any individual who has symptoms is able to be tested for covid 19. We do not currently publish figures in relation to the testing of asylum accommodation staff and our service users for Covid-19.

All immigration removal centres have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses which are managed by the NHS or appropriate providers. The Home Office is working closely with NHS England health and justice teams and regional commissioning teams to support their planning and delivery of healthcare services, including testing, in immigration removal centres during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Provisional management information indicates that as of 21 June, there have been 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across our detention supplier, healthcare and escorting staff. All of whom have now recovered. In addition, there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in detained individuals. A third individual was identified but after his release from detention had been agreed. Whilst in the IRC the individual was in isolation. He was released as there was no immediate prospect of removal.

As of 26 June, no other detained individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.

Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Detention Centres: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that (a) staff working and (b) people detained in immigration removal centres are tested for covid-19.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The safety and health of staff working in the detention estate and people who are detained are of the utmost importance.

The Home Office, its suppliers and NHS England healthcare providers in immigration removal centres are following all Public Health England guidance on COVID-19 for the management of COVID-19. Universal testing is not currently recommended under these guidelines, this includes staff, people who are detained and those being released into the community. Any testing conducted will be dependent on individual circumstances.

The Home Office is taking proactive steps to monitor, manage and mitigate the threat of COVID-19 to staff and people who are detained and to reduce the likelihood of the infection spreading. Guidance on managing these risks was implemented on 5 May 2020 and subsequently published on gov.uk on 5 June https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-removal-centres.

As of 23 June 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in immigration removal centres.

Grouped Questions: 62578
Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Detention Centres: Risk Assessment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the risks of covid-19 for (a) staff working in and (b) immigrants detained in immigration removal centres.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The safety and health of staff working in the detention estate and people who are detained are of the utmost importance.

The Home Office, its suppliers and NHS England healthcare providers in immigration removal centres are following all Public Health England guidance on COVID-19 for the management of COVID-19. Universal testing is not currently recommended under these guidelines, this includes staff, people who are detained and those being released into the community. Any testing conducted will be dependent on individual circumstances.

The Home Office is taking proactive steps to monitor, manage and mitigate the threat of COVID-19 to staff and people who are detained and to reduce the likelihood of the infection spreading. Guidance on managing these risks was implemented on 5 May 2020 and subsequently published on gov.uk on 5 June https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-removal-centres.

As of 23 June 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in immigration removal centres.

Grouped Questions: 62577
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending stop and search powers to schools-based police officers.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The police have a stop and search power under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which allows individuals on school premises to be searched for a bladed or pointed article or offensive weapon when there are reasonable grounds to suspect a person on those premises of having such an article or weapon, or of being threatened with such an article or weapon. This power also allows the school premises to be searched for such articles and weapons.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Detention Centres
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that local communities are consulted and notified before the opening of new immigration holding facilities.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

There are currently no plans to open new Immigration Removal Centres or Residential Short-Term Holding Facilities. When opening or closing immigration detention facilities the Home Office will consult with relevant local authorities as a matter of routine.

Q
(Kingston and Surbiton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Rape: Criminal Investigation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance she has given to police forces on continuing rape investigations when victims refuse to hand over their mobile phones to the police because of privacy concerns; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The requirement for police and prosecutors to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry should be balanced with victims feeling confident that they will be treated fairly and with dignity. The Home Office welcomes the Information Commissioner’s recent report into current practice in relation to data taken from mobile phones.

The College of Policing, which leads on providing guidance to police forces on operational activity and standards, are already in the process of developing guidance for investigators who make decisions on the use of mobile data extraction.

The Home Office will support the College on this work and, with other policing partners and the Crown Prosecution Service, will consider the recommendations made by the Information Commissioner.

Further to this, as part of work under the Governments Rape Review, evidence is being gathered to enable us to better understand how handling and outcomes for rape cases could be improved.  This includes looking at the impact of the number of victims withdrawing their support for prosecution and will be published later this year.

Grouped Questions: 62270
Q
(Kingston and Surbiton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Mobile Phones
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking in response to the Information Commissioner's report on police mobile phone data extraction; and if she will make statement.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The requirement for police and prosecutors to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry should be balanced with victims feeling confident that they will be treated fairly and with dignity. The Home Office welcomes the Information Commissioner’s recent report into current practice in relation to data taken from mobile phones.

The College of Policing, which leads on providing guidance to police forces on operational activity and standards, are already in the process of developing guidance for investigators who make decisions on the use of mobile data extraction.

The Home Office will support the College on this work and, with other policing partners and the Crown Prosecution Service, will consider the recommendations made by the Information Commissioner.

Further to this, as part of work under the Governments Rape Review, evidence is being gathered to enable us to better understand how handling and outcomes for rape cases could be improved.  This includes looking at the impact of the number of victims withdrawing their support for prosecution and will be published later this year.

Grouped Questions: 62269
Q
Asked by Mark Tami
(Alyn and Deeside)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the rate of asylum support during the covid-19 outbreak commensurate with the increase in the universal credit standard allowance.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

We have been reviewing the level of the cash allowances provided to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we do each year to ensure that they remain capable of meeting their essential living needs (the legal test).

As a result of this work, the standard allowance has been raised to £39.60 per week from £37.75 per week, an increase of around 5%. This increase is significantly higher than the current general rate of inflation, which Office of National Statistics data shows was only 0.5% in the 12 months period to May.

The level of the allowance is not linked to social security benefits.

In addition to the allowance, we also provide free accommodation, with utilities and council tax paid for and there is free access to the NHS and free access to education for their children.

The UK has a generous record in supporting asylum seekers. Last year, we made around 20,000 grants of asylum or protection (one of the higher figures in Europe), as well as offered protection to 3,000 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children – the highest number of any country in Europe. In addition, we have directly resettled around 20,000 people from the most dangerous areas of the world (especially Syrians) in the UK over the last 5 years. Finally, we spend around £14 billion per year in Overseas Aid, helping millions of people around the world. This is the highest amount of any country in Europe and we are the only G7 country to meet the 0.7% of GNI Overseas Aid target.

Q
(Edinburgh West)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Interviews
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the recommendations of the report entitled Beyond Belief, published by Freedom from Torture on 16 June 2020, that caseworkers receive appropriate and relevant training when conducting interviews with victims of torture to encourage full disclosure and identify important aspects of claims, avoiding costly appeals; and what plans she has to report to the recommendations in that report.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Home Office remains committed to delivering a fair and humane asylum system that is sensitive to the needs of the claimants, so that sufficient information can be obtained to facilitate fair and sustainable decisions on asylum claims. We ensure that asylum seekers are given every opportunity to disclose information relevant to their claim before a decision is taken, even where that information may be sensitive or difficult to disclose.

The report published by Freedom from Torture acknowledges that there have been signs of progress within the Home Office. Improvements have been made to policy instructions to emphasise the importance of caseworker conduct during asylum interviews, in line with an earlier recommendation made by Freedom from Torture. The report also acknowledges the increase in asylum grant rates at initial decision stage, which is indicative of our efforts to improve asylum decision making and get decisions first time.

Following the publication of the Freedom from Torture report entitled ‘Proving Torture’, a collaborative response to improving training for asylum caseworkers was initiated to develop a training package which directly addressed concerns raised in the report. This resulted in the training course ‘Assessing Evidence: Medical Legal Reports’, which has been rolled out to asylum caseworkers, senior caseworkers and technical specialists since December 2018. The training is now mandatory for any caseworker dealing with asylum claims where Medico-legal reports have been submitted.

We will continue to look at the themes raised in the report as part of our on-going commitment to improve decision quality and the customer experience.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Personation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the level of identify theft in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Home Office collects information from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on the number of recorded frauds. From information held centrally, it is not possible to separately identify offences of fraud in which identify theft has been involved.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Immigration: Applications
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Answer of 8 June 2020 to Question 49637, if she will make it her policy to allow people who are making in-country claims for asylum to complete their applications virtually during the covid-19 pandemic; and what support her Department will provide to asylum seekers to complete those applications digitally.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Home Office does not intend to change the current policy that asylum claims must be made in person. The Home Office has temporarily introduced additional locations to register asylum claims, with social distancing measures in place at these locations for the safety of claimants and Home Office staff. These are temporary arrangements which will be kept under review to align with HMG guidance. These changes do not represent a new operating model, they are contingency measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure that asylum seekers are able to safely register their claims.

Q
(Bradford South)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Home Office: Opinion Polls
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much her Department spent on (a) opinion polling and (b) focus groups in each month since January 2019.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

Opinion polling and focus groups - along with other research methodologies and techniques - are conducted across the Department by individual business areas.

Each Directorate is responsible for commissioning work to meet their specific business needs. The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Q
(Bristol East)
[N]
Close

Named Day

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

Asked on: 23 June 2020
Home Office
Animal Experiments: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many licences have been (a) granted and (b) amended to allow for research and tests on animals into the SARS-CoV-2 virus and covid-19.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

There have been 11 project licences granted and 29 project licences amended under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to authorise work relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 research.

Q
(Cardiff South and Penarth)
[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: 24 June 2020
Home Office
Proscribed Organisations: Social Media
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the extent of the use of the messaging platform Telegram by far-right and extreme-right wing organisations to organise; and when she last made representations to representatives of that company on that matter.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Government has been clear that tech companies need to work together and act more quickly to remove all forms of terrorist content from their platforms.

We know that terrorists and extremists exploit a wide range of platforms to spread their views and to incite terrorist attacks, from mainstream platforms to secure messaging applications and anonymous forums.

To tackle terrorism online, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), based in the Metropolitan Police, refers illegal terrorist content to companies for removal. Within the Home Office, we work closely with our international partners and engage with industry colleagues to discuss how platforms can best safeguard their users from terrorism, while also encouraging tech companies work together as one coordinated body through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), to reduce the availability of terrorist content online.

Details of meetings between Ministers and external bodies and organisations are provided through the usual quarterly returns published by the Cabinet Office.

Grouped Questions: 64198 | 64200
Q
(Cardiff South and Penarth)
[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: 24 June 2020
Home Office
Proscribed Organisations: Social Media
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she last met with representatives of (a) Facebook, (b) YouTube, (c) Twitter, (d) Telegram, (e) FourChan, (f) WhatsApp, (g) Instagram, (h) TikTok, and (i) Gab to discuss the steps those organisations are taking to (i) combat extremist material, (ii) remove material from proscribed organisations and (iii) remove other material linked to criminal activity in the UK from their platforms.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Government has been clear that tech companies need to work together and act more quickly to remove all forms of terrorist content from their platforms.

We know that terrorists and extremists exploit a wide range of platforms to spread their views and to incite terrorist attacks, from mainstream platforms to secure messaging applications and anonymous forums.

To tackle terrorism online, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), based in the Metropolitan Police, refers illegal terrorist content to companies for removal. Within the Home Office, we work closely with our international partners and engage with industry colleagues to discuss how platforms can best safeguard their users from terrorism, while also encouraging tech companies work together as one coordinated body through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), to reduce the availability of terrorist content online.

Details of meetings between Ministers and external bodies and organisations are provided through the usual quarterly returns published by the Cabinet Office.

Grouped Questions: 64197 | 64200
Q
(Cardiff South and Penarth)
[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: 24 June 2020
Home Office
Telegram
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the (a) security of and (b) use of by extremist, far-right and extreme-right organisations the platform Telegram.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The Government has been clear that tech companies need to work together and act more quickly to remove all forms of terrorist content from their platforms.

We know that terrorists and extremists exploit a wide range of platforms to spread their views and to incite terrorist attacks, from mainstream platforms to secure messaging applications and anonymous forums.

To tackle terrorism online, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), based in the Metropolitan Police, refers illegal terrorist content to companies for removal. Within the Home Office, we work closely with our international partners and engage with industry colleagues to discuss how platforms can best safeguard their users from terrorism, while also encouraging tech companies work together as one coordinated body through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), to reduce the availability of terrorist content online.

Details of meetings between Ministers and external bodies and organisations are provided through the usual quarterly returns published by the Cabinet Office.

Grouped Questions: 64197 | 64198
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Home Office
Departmental Responsibilities
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to Written Statement HCWS287 on 11 June 2020 on Machinery of Government Change, if she will publish the evidential basis for the decision to transfer responsibility for the Official Secrets Acts (a) 1911, (b) 1920, (c) 1939 and (d) 1989 from the Ministry of Justice to the Home Office; what assessment he has made of the effect of countering the activities of hostile states of that change; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 03 July 2020

As announced in the Queen’s Speech in 2019, the Home Office is reviewing the legislation relating to hostile state activity to assess whether additional powers are required to address the threats to the UK.

The Official Secrets Acts (OSAs), along with other relevant Acts, are being considered as part of this work.

Given that the Home Office is already leading much of the policy work on OSAs, transferring the policy ownership from the Ministry of Justice to the Home Office is a matter of matching the formal position to the reality. We will continue to work closely with colleagues across Government as we develop our thinking on what legislative reform is required.

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