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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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
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Home Office
Home Office: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether gagging clauses have been used in contracts drawn up between his Department and any charities, voluntary sector organisations, social enterprises or companies with the intention of stopping any criticism of Ministers of his Department.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 April 2019

There are no gagging clauses within Home Office contracts or Grant agreements specifically to stop criticism of Home Office Ministers.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
[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: 31 January 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Meat: Overseas Trade
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether all current trade agreements that include the export of meat specify that animals have be stunned before slaughter; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 24 April 2019

Through membership of the EU, the UK currently participates in around 40 free trade agreements. These do not specify that animals have to be stunned before slaughter.

However, all slaughter of animals for export from the UK – whether stun or non-stun – must strictly comply with EU and the UK regulations on animal welfare at the time of killing and additional welfare at slaughter rules apply to animals subject to non-stun slaughter.

Q
Asked by Louise Haigh
(Sheffield, Heeley)
[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: 04 February 2019
Home Office
Early Intervention Youth Fund
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will list the (a) unsuccessful bids and (b) cost of those bids to the Home Office Early Intervention Youth Fund.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 April 2019

We received 111 bids to the Early Intervention Youth Fund. The Early Intervention Youth Fund of £22 million is already supporting 29 projects in England and Wales. Over £17 million has already been allocated to projects delivering interventions to young people at risk of criminal involvement, gang exploitation and county lines.

I can confirm that there were 82 bids that did not receive funding in November 2018 which totalled nearly £26million over the two financial years (2018/19 and 2019/20).

Q
(Glasgow South)
[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: 02 April 2019
Cabinet Office
Vote Leave: Election Offences
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the recent report of the Electoral Commission into the activities of Vote Leave, whether the Government has plans to set up a judge-led public inquiry to investigate the alleged fraud committed by Vote Leave during the EU referendum 2016.
A
Answered by: Kevin Foster
Answered on: 24 April 2019

There are no plans to establish a public inquiry. The independent Electoral Commission is responsible for ensuring that elections and referendums are run effectively and in accordance with the law. It regulates the spending of, and donations and loans, to political parties and other campaigners.

It is not acceptable for any organisation to breach electoral procedures – and it is regrettable that fines have been levied on multiple groups on both sides of the referendum campaigns. Pro-Remain groups outspent pro-Leave groups by £4 million in the referendum campaign.

With 17.4 million votes to leave the European Union, more people voted for Brexit than have ever voted for anything else in the United Kingdom. Almost three quarters of the electorate took part in the referendum. The result was a bigger popular vote than won by any government in history. The will of the British people must be respected and delivered. The public delivered a clear verdict and that is what the Government is implementing.

Asked on: 02 April 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Brexit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 1 April (HL14872), whether they will now answer the question originally asked, namely, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 21 March (HL14601), whether, under the proposed deal, the UK can decide unilaterally to leave the EU.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The UK took the unilateral decision to leave the EU when it triggered Article 50 TEU. The proposed deal, when ratified, will see us leave the EU, taking full control of our money, borders and laws.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Transport
Railways: Capital Investment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 2 April (HL14685), of the £48 billion committed to investment in the rail network during Control Period 6, how much is for new (1) infrastructure, and (2) rolling stock; and what is the planned investment in HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail during the same period.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The £48bn Control Period 6 funding settlement for the railway that Government announced in 2017 makes provision for the operation, maintenance and renewal of rail infrastructure between 2019 and 2024. It includes a £10.4bn provision for infrastructure enhancement projects. This is on top of new rolling stock, which is procured via separate arrangements.

High Speed 2 (HS2) has a long-term funding envelope of £55.7bn (2015 prices). It is this government’s largest capital programme and the benefits are largely for the North.

The Government has committed £52m to continue to develop Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) this year. Decisions on future investment will be considered in the Spending Review. We are working with Transport for the North on their plans for NPR. The full benefits of NPR can only be achieved by integrating it with HS2 and given the status of the projects NPR needs HS2 to be built first.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Primodos
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the accusations made by Professor Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford and reported by Sky News on 5 April that a study on Primodos overseen by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulation Agency failed to properly assess the risks of that drug; and that meta-analysis results were left out of the final report.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The review of Hormone Pregnancy Tests undertaken by the Commission on Human Medicines Expert Working Group (EWG) was comprehensive, scientifically robust and independent. All evidence considered by the EWG has been published online.

The EWG examined a large number of studies, including all those in Professor Heneghan’s published meta-analysis, and for scientific reasons considered that meta-analysis was not an appropriate way to analyse the data. The rationale of the EWG is clearly documented in the minutes of the meetings and in the final report, both of which have been available online since November 2017.

The terms of reference of the EWG did not include investigation of any historical regulatory failings. The Government awaits the outcome of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review led by Baroness Cumberlege, which is expected to examine the procedures followed in the case of Primodos and to make recommendations.

Grouped Questions: HL15087
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Primodos
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of reports by Sky News on 5 April that UK regulators in the 1970s destroyed evidence that suggested an association between the use of Primodos and birth defects.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The review of Hormone Pregnancy Tests undertaken by the Commission on Human Medicines Expert Working Group (EWG) was comprehensive, scientifically robust and independent. All evidence considered by the EWG has been published online.

The EWG examined a large number of studies, including all those in Professor Heneghan’s published meta-analysis, and for scientific reasons considered that meta-analysis was not an appropriate way to analyse the data. The rationale of the EWG is clearly documented in the minutes of the meetings and in the final report, both of which have been available online since November 2017.

The terms of reference of the EWG did not include investigation of any historical regulatory failings. The Government awaits the outcome of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review led by Baroness Cumberlege, which is expected to examine the procedures followed in the case of Primodos and to make recommendations.

Grouped Questions: HL15086
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Home Office
Immigration Controls
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what restrictions are in place to prevent people who incite hatred against minority groups from travelling to the UK; and what plans they have, if any, to introduce new restrictions.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The Home Secretary has the power to exclude from the UK individuals who engage in unacceptable behaviour, including those who express or encourage views which may foster hatred and lead to inter-community violence in the UK.


The Immigration Rules also provide for the refusal of entry clearance or leave to enter at the border if someone’s character, conduct or associations mean it is undesirable to grant them entry to the United Kingdom.


There are no plans to introduce further powers to prevent people who incite hatred against minority groups from travelling to the UK.

Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Home Office
Organised Crime: Rural Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 21 January (HL12535), what assessment they have made of the key trends in organised acquisitive crime in rural areas, in terms of (1) the volume, and (2) the different categories of such crime.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) continues to show that, for those crimes covered by the CSEW, people in rural areas are less likely to be the victims of crime than those in urban areas. Property crime tables published by the Office for National Statistics on 28 February this year show that, according to CSEW interviews in the year to March 2018, people living in rural areas were less likely to be the victims of: bicycle theft, domestic burglary, other household theft, robbery, personal theft and vehicle-related theft.

Details can be found at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/focusonpropertycrimeappendixtables

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Skin Diseases: Diagnosis
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve GPs' diagnostic skills for skin conditions.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The Royal College of General Practitioners’ curriculum includes a module on the care of people with skin problems. This sets out the knowledge and skills a general practitioner should have in the diagnosis and management of skin conditions relevant to their role as generalist, community-based doctors, including the diagnostic investigations, such as blood and immunological testing to needed to support a diagnosis.

Once fully qualified, clinicians are responsible for ensuring their own clinical knowledge remains up-to-date and for identifying learning needs as part of their continuing professional development. This activity should include taking account of new research and developments in guidance, such as that produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE has published a clinical guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of number of common skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. The guidance is routinely reviewed to ensure it reflects the latest available, including around diagnostic approaches.

The British Association of Dermatologists also continues to produce a range toolkits and guidance for health professionals.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dermatology: Training
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Health Education England on increasing the number of training places for dermatology students.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The number of medical specialty training places that are available each year in England is set by Health Education England (HEE) and is based on their assessment of service gaps and predicted workforce needs.

There are programmes of work underway as part of the development of a workforce implementation plan, which the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has commissioned Baroness Dido Harding, Chair of NHS Improvement, working closely with Sir David Behan, Chair of Health Education England, to oversee. These programmes will consider detailed proposals to grow the workforce, including consideration of additional staff in speciality fields, build a supportive working culture in the NHS and ensure first rate leadership for National Health Service staff. Baroness Harding will present initial recommendations to the Department in spring 2019.

The Department has not held specific discussions with HEE on increasing the number of training places for dermatology students. There has been a 100% fill rate in dermatology training in England for the past six years.

Dermatologist education and training and recruitment in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

Q
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Products: Imports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of animal hunting trophies entering the UK each year.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

Details of the import permits issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency are available through the CITES Trade Database. In 2017, 57 import permits were issued for game hunting trophies. We do not hold data for species that are not CITES listed as an import permit in that case is not required.

Q
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Foxes
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of foxes killed each year in the UK, broken down by means of killing; and what advice they have provided, if any, on the disposal or sale of fox carcasses and skins.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The Government’s policy is that individuals should be free to manage wildlife within the law. The decision on whether or not to control foxes lies with the owner or occupier of the property where the problem occurs.

As a result, the Government does not collect data on the number of foxes killed or how they are killed. However, in 2000 the Burns Report estimated that 400,000 foxes die each year in Britain – on roads, shot or through natural causes.

The Government would always encourage those considering taking management action to try preventative strategies to deter foxes. However, we recognise it may be necessary to cull individual animals who are causing persistent problems. Natural England provides detailed advice on the humane and legal management of foxes to help owners and occupiers protect their property from damage.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Home Office
Entry Clearances: Overseas Students
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reconsider the requirement that independent educational institutions which establish new sixth forms must wait two years before accepting students from countries outside the EU under the Home Office’s Tier 4 visa arrangements.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

All education institutions which want to recruit international students must demonstrate both a strong record of immigration compliance, by gaining Tier 4 Sponsor status, and a high educational quality, by undergoing an assessment of their educational standards by an independent inspectorate.

This independent educational oversight ensures that only genuine high-quality institutions can sponsor students under the Tier 4 visa arrangements, protecting the UK’s international reputation for excellent educational standards.

A private education provider must have been continuously teaching a course of study that meets Tier 4 requirements to UK or EEA students for two years prior to its inspection. This ensures that such providers receive a meaningful inspection of their teaching provision, and that only genuine private education providers can become Tier 4 sponsors.

The two-year requirement does not apply to other types of Tier 4 sponsor, because they are subject to different statutory inspection arrangements. In the case of independent schools, these include consideration of the institution’s ability to safeguard children. These requirements ensure that international students continue to receive a high-quality education in the UK.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Air Pollution: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) short-term, and (2) long-term, risks of air pollution to children's health.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

Exposure to air pollution has various health effects on children. Short term effects of air pollution include worsening of asthma symptoms, cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy. Children are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution than adults.

The effects of air pollution on children’s health are being studied in a number of research projects. For example, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has started reviewing the evidence on adverse birth outcomes from air pollution. In addition, the Exploration of Health and Lungs in the Environment (EXHALE) programme, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, focuses on air pollution and children’s lung health in London.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking, if any, to address the (1) short-term, and (2) long-term, risks of air pollution to children's health.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

All of the measures set out in the Clean Air Strategy will reduce emissions of pollution, improving public health for children.

In the short term, the Government has a plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions with funding of £3.5 billion, which includes £495 million for local councils to improve air quality. Part of this funding is specifically for local authorities with very high NO2 emissions to bid for.

Local authorities are best placed to target action to improve local air quality. The Government’s air quality grant programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions, which may include action targeting schools. Defra has awarded over £57 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997. A further £3 million has been allocated for 2018/19.

In the long term, some of the measures the Government are taking include ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040. The Road to Zero strategy sets out new measures to help us achieve our 2040 mission. The Department for Transport has also announced that diesel-fuelled trains will no longer be used by 2040.

Other measures are included in the Clean Air Strategy.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Birds: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government under what circumstances it is legal to sell wild UK species of birds as caged birds.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

It is an offence to sell, offer for sale, possess or transport for sale or exchange, any live bird unless it is a species listed, as a bird which may be sold, in part 1 of schedule 3 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act. To be legally sold the bird must be bred in captivity and be fitted with a closed leg ring.

The international commercial trade in certain species of wild caught birds also needs to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to which the UK is party and which is implemented in the UK through the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. This is a multilateral environment agreement which aims to ensure that trade in endangered species does not threaten their survival by controlling international trade in these specimens through a licensing system. CITES prohibits nearly all international trade in wild caught specimens of the most at risk species which are listed on Appendix I. Species that are not currently threatened with extinction but for which uncontrolled trade would not be sustainable, are included on CITES Appendix II and can only be traded internationally with the correct permits. These permits will only be granted if their trade is considered not to be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Birds: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prosecutions there have been for selling birds caught in the wild in the UK during the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 24 April 2019

One defendant was proceeded against at magistrates’ courts for selling a wild bird, in England and Wales, between 2013 and 2017, this being in 2016.

Court proceedings data for 2018 is planned for publication on 16 May 2019.

Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland would be matters for the relevant devolved administrations.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Birds: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they monitor the internet regularly for evidence of a rise in criminal activity with regard to birds caught in the wild; and if so, what has been the result of such monitoring.
A
Answered on: 24 April 2019

The enforcement of all offences, including wildlife offences, is an operational matter for the police.

The police monitor and gather intelligence on online activity relating to crimes against birds and other wildlife to inform their investigations.

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