Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by John Mann
(Bassetlaw)
[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: 21 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Football: Sportsgrounds
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in which year the responsible local authority last carried out emergency evacuation tests at each (a) Premier League and (b) Championship football stadium.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 24 June 2019

My Department does not hold such information. While the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the sports grounds safety legislation, responsibility for the safety of spectators lies at all times with the ground management of individual sports grounds. Certifying and regulating those sports grounds is primarily a matter for individual local authorities.

In accordance with recommendations in the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, published by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, ground management should prepare contingency plans for the evacuation of all people in the event of an emergency from all areas of the ground to a place of safety.

Asked on: 10 June 2019
Treasury
Pensioners
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are (1) the benefits, and (2) the concessions, provided exclusively to people of pensionable age; and what are the costs of each to the Exchequer.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 24 June 2019

In total, DWP expenditure to people of pensionable age in 2017/18 was £123.8bn and this includes benefits payable to pensioners but not exclusive to that group such as: Disability Living Allowance; Personal Independence Payment; Christmas Bonus; and Cold Weather Payments. Exclusive pensioner benefits are listed below :

Pensioner benefit expenditure 2017/18

Attendance Allowance

£5.74bn

Pension Credit

£5.57bn

State Pension (bSP and nSP combined)

£97.38bn

Winter Fuel Payments

£2.1bn

Free TV Licences

£655m

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Arcadia Group: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Pensions Regulator has allowed the owners of Arcadia Group to phase their contribution to address that company’s pension deficit over a period of time instead of a single up-front payment; whether the Pensions Regulator is using financial advisers to determine whether Arcadia’s business plan will eventually cover the deficit; and if so, who are those advisers.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The pensions framework established by Parliament in the Pensions Act 2004 sets out that ongoing employers may address the funding of their scheme deficits over a reasonable period of time. This responsibility falls on the company rather than its owners, other than where The Pensions Regulator has used its anti-avoidance powers. This approach of spreading funding of deficits was established to balance the needs of schemes with those of their sponsoring employers.

The Arcadia trustees and the Arcadia group took an approach which was similar to many other schemes and employers in establishing recovery plans to address their schemes’ deficits over a number of years. In response to a request to vary those recovery plan payments, made in conjunction with the Arcadia Group’s Company Voluntary Arrangements proposals, The Pensions Regulator, working alongside the trustees and the Pension Protection Fund, has negotiated robustly to secure an enhanced package of support for the pension schemes in connection with a successful Company Voluntary Arrangement, worth significantly more than would be received if the Company Voluntary Arrangement is not successful and Arcadia Group Ltd becomes insolvent. This represents appropriate protection, in challenging circumstances, and is equitable in the context of the wider Company Voluntary Arrangements process.

In assessing the turnaround plan presented by Arcadia, The Pensions Regulator has been informed by the analysis carried out by professional advisers to the trustees. The Pensions Regulator has considerable expertise in restructuring situations and this includes people in its regulatory teams with a background working in big chartered accountancy firms and restructuring operations in banks.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Treasury
GAM Greensill Supply Chain Finance Fund
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are investigating, or intend to investigate, the (1) management of, (2) investment valuations used by, and (3) relationships between managers and businesses invested in, the GAM Greensill Supply Chain Finance Fund.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the conduct regulator for the financial services industry in the UK. The FCA will not normally make public the fact that it is or is not investigating a particular matter, in order to protect the effectiveness of any investigation it carries out. The FCA has been made aware of this Parliamentary Question.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Treasury
Lendy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, when authorising Lendy, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considered the company to be (1) an agent, or (2) a principal, in the relationship between the lender or borrower; or whether the FCA took no view on this matter.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 24 June 2019

This is a matter for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is operationally independent from Government. The question has been passed on to the FCA. The FCA will reply directly to Lord Myners by letter. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Buildings: Climate Change
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth on 14 May (HL15410), why the building regulations do not take account of the contribution of glass cladding to global warming.
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Building Regulations set minimum energy performance standards for new homes and non-domestic buildings. The principal way that developers demonstrate compliance is through a whole building energy calculation. For a new building, the properties of the glazing and façade would be taken into account in the calculation of overall energy performance and therefore the carbon emissions from the building.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Fire Prevention
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risks attributed to the wooden cladding of flats and terraced homes in England.
Answered on: 24 June 2019

In December 2018, the Government banned combustible materials in the external walls of new high-rise residential buildings that contain flats, as well as hospitals, residential care premises, student accommodation and residential accommodation in schools for those buildings which have a top storey more than 18 metres above ground level.

The Department started in December 2018 a technical review of the statutory guidance to the Building Regulation dealing with fire safety. A call for evidence was published on 18 December 2018 and closed on 15 March 2019. The call for evidence asked for views on the trigger heights and thresholds used in the document.

Asked on: 10 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Technology: New Businesses
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to continue to increase the number of UK technology business start-ups after Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We are confident the digital technology sector and its startup community will continue to go from strength to strength. As outlined in our Digital Strategy and Charter, our ambition is to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business - and that ambition remains after we leave the EU. Tech Nation and Dealroom have released figures showing that investment in UK tech reached £6.8 billion ($8.7bn) last year and has already reached £3.8 billion ($4.8bn) in the first half of 2019, showing that the UK tech ecosystem is still world-leading and remains in a strong position.

Through our extensive engagement with the sector, we understand that the primary barriers to growth for startups are having adequate access to both finance and talent. That is why for finance, Government announced a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme, which is expected to attract a further £5 billion in private investment, in order to support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and go global.

To continue to attract international talent, we have doubled the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000, and taken doctors and nurses out of the Tier 2 visa cap, freeing up many more skilled worker visas to other sectors, including tech. At the end of March this year, Home Office launched the new Start-Up and Innovator visa routes for entrepreneurs, which will replace a route exclusively for graduates, opening it up to other talented business founders.

In the Autumn Budget 2017 we also announced investment of £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network – Tech Nation – aimed at accelerating the growth of the digital tech sector across the country. The funding will help Tech Nation support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses across the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Newcastle. And at London Tech Week last week, the PM launched a study into tech competitiveness - this will identify key opportunities and support mechanisms for business growth in the digital tech sector.

Asked on: 10 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Motor Vehicles: Manufacturing Industries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase productivity in the UK automotive sector.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The UK already has one of the most productive automotive sectors in the world. In 2018 productivity levels in the sector were at £100,600/employee, a real term increase of 4.6% over 2017, and 42% higher than overall UK manufacturing productivity. The Government has a long-standing programme of support to maintain the productivity and competitiveness of the UK automotive sector. Through our Industrial Strategy and landmark Automotive Sector Deal, we are placing the UK at the forefront of new automotive technology development.

The Sector Deal includes £32 million of joint funding for an industry-led supply chain competitiveness programme to help improve productivity in the UK supply chain and assure international competitiveness.

We are determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for the automotive sector. BEIS Ministers and officials regularly engage with the automotive industry, including bilaterals with manufacturers, interactions via trade associations, and through the Department’s participation in the Automotive Council.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: West Bank
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Israeli Civil Administration's powers to demolish, within 96 hours, any type of new building in Area C of the West Bank without any opportunity for appeal.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank. We call on them to cease the policy of demolitions and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the treatment by Israel of Palestinian children who have been shot by Israeli forces, prevented from immediate medical help and taken into Israeli custody without family support.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We continue to have strong concerns about continued reports of ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military detention and to seek improvements to Israeli practices. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv last raised our concerns with the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 6 June. We also regularly press Israel on the use of live fire, particularly against children, and urge unimpeded access to medical treatment.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Jerusalem: Archaeological Sites
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the security of archaeological sites in East Jerusalem.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We have not made any assessment of the security of archaeological sites in East Jerusalem. We regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities, both bilaterally and in co-operation with EU partners. We are strongly opposed to any attempts to change the facts on the ground in the East Jerusalem.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Jerusalem: Religious Buildings
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of incursions onto the Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli settlers and reports that they are supported by Israeli forces and encouraged by some Israeli politicians.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We are concerned by recent tensions and violence at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, and urge all parties to avoid provocation and work to uphold the status quo. In our meetings with the Israeli authorities we regularly raise the need to respect the status quo on the holy sites in Jerusalem. The Minister for the Middle East expressed the Government's concern at recent escalations at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount with Israel's Ambassador to London on 11 June.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gaza: Fisheries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the consequences of frequent alterations to the fishing zones that the government of Israel allows fishermen in Gaza to use.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

​We regularly raise with the Government of Israel the urgent need to ease all access and movement restrictions on Gaza, including fishing limits. This would help to restore the fishing industry as regular alterations to the zone, often as a punitive measure, cause uncertainty and insecurity. The UK would like to see a permanent increase in the size of the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza in line with the limit of 20 nautical miles stipulated in the Oslo accords.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hebron
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the consequences for Palestinian children in Hebron of the removal of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron by the government of Israel.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We are concerned by Israel's decision not to extend the mandate for Hebron's international monitoring mission. The mission has been in Hebron for over 20 years and fulfilled an important role in reducing tensions in the city between Israeli settlers and Palestinian communities. Our Ambassador to Israel raised our concerns over this decision with the Israeli authorities on 29 January. The former Minister for the Middle East discussed our concerns with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 31 January and in a tweet on 2 February.

Q
Asked by Jo Stevens
(Cardiff 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: 11 June 2019
Cabinet Office
Civil Servants: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what information his Department holds on the amount of sick leave taken by civil servants in 2018.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Cabinet Office collects sickness absence information from Civil Service departments and agencies on a quarterly basis. The Civil Service sickness absence data is published annually. The latest publication is for Q1 2018, published 30 May 2019 and is available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-sickness-absence. This data shows civil servants took an average of 6.9 sick days over the period – significantly lower than the level seen in the wider public sector.

Q
Asked by Peter Kyle
(Hove)
[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: 11 June 2019
Cabinet Office
Public Service Day
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans the Government has to support Public Service Day on the 23 June 2019.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The civil service looks to recognise the success and contribution of its staff throughout the year. There are currently no plans to organise events to support Public Service Day.

Q
Asked by Peter Kyle
(Hove)
[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: 11 June 2019
Cabinet Office
Public Service Day
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what events the Government has organised to celebrate Public Service Day on 23 June 2019.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The civil service looks to recognise the success and contribution of its staff throughout the year. There are currently no plans to organise events to support Public Service Day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Whitburn
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the average volume of storm sewage discharge has reduced since the completion of the scheme at the Whitburn long sea outfall in December 2017 compared to the average volume when using the previous system.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

Based on the current available data there has been an approximate 37% reduction in spill numbers and a 43% reduction in spill volume since the completion of the enhancement works, against the average for the previous ten year period.

Prior to the completion of the enhancement works at Whitburn long sea outfall, records showed an average of 27 storm sewage discharge ‘spills’ totalling around 660,000 cubic metres each year for the ten year period from 2008 to 2017.

In 2018, the first year of operation for the enhanced system, records show 17 storm sewage discharge ‘spills’ totalling around 380,000 cubic metres.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Whitburn
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the volume of storm sewage discharge has been since the completion of the scheme at the Whitburn long sea outfall in each month since December 2017 for which figures are available.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

Verified data is provided for the total volume of discharge for each month between January 2018 and December 2019 when discharge events occurred.

Date

Volume of storm sewage discharged (m3 )

January 2018

10387.50 m3

March 2018

95323.50 m3

April 2018

114946.50 m3

July 2018

46641.00 m3

August 2018

55095.00 m3

September 2018

37882.50 m3

October 2018

16317.00 m3

November 2018

0 m3

December 2018

0 m3

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