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
(Stockton 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: 12 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Autism: Diagnosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to reduce waiting times for autism assessments for adults.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 July 2019

No one should have to face long waits for an autism assessment. We expect services to adhere to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standard which recommends that the length between referral and a first appointment to start an assessment should be no more than three months.

We are determined to drive up performance nationally. We will use data on autism diagnosis waiting times, available for the first time later this year, to hold local areas to account and act where waiting times exceed the NICE standard.

Whilst a diagnosis of autism should happen as soon as possible, it is important to recognise that a diagnosis is often complex and can involve different professionals and agencies. We are following the prevailing clinical guidance set out by NICE.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage local areas to follow existing NICE guidelines and quality standards when commissioning and delivering diagnosis services for both children and adults.

Grouped Questions: 276606 | 276607
Q
(Stockton 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: 12 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Autism: Diagnosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps with NHS England to implement a waiting time standard for autism diagnosis in the CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework in order to tackle regional differences.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 July 2019

No one should have to face long waits for an autism assessment. We expect services to adhere to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standard which recommends that the length between referral and a first appointment to start an assessment should be no more than three months.

We are determined to drive up performance nationally. We will use data on autism diagnosis waiting times, available for the first time later this year, to hold local areas to account and act where waiting times exceed the NICE standard.

Whilst a diagnosis of autism should happen as soon as possible, it is important to recognise that a diagnosis is often complex and can involve different professionals and agencies. We are following the prevailing clinical guidance set out by NICE.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage local areas to follow existing NICE guidelines and quality standards when commissioning and delivering diagnosis services for both children and adults.

Grouped Questions: 276605 | 276607
Q
(Stockton 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: 12 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Autism: Diagnosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to work with NHS England to establish autism diagnosis waiting times standards for each (a) sustainability and transformation partnership and (b) integrated care system.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 July 2019

No one should have to face long waits for an autism assessment. We expect services to adhere to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standard which recommends that the length between referral and a first appointment to start an assessment should be no more than three months.

We are determined to drive up performance nationally. We will use data on autism diagnosis waiting times, available for the first time later this year, to hold local areas to account and act where waiting times exceed the NICE standard.

Whilst a diagnosis of autism should happen as soon as possible, it is important to recognise that a diagnosis is often complex and can involve different professionals and agencies. We are following the prevailing clinical guidance set out by NICE.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage local areas to follow existing NICE guidelines and quality standards when commissioning and delivering diagnosis services for both children and adults.

Grouped Questions: 276605 | 276606
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 12 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, on how many occasions prison staff in each prison had their pay deducted for not being able to complete a shift as a result of an assault in 2018.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 17 July 2019

HMPPS does not deduct pay if an employee is sent home as a result of sickness or if they have been assaulted at work.

HMPPS is committed to safeguarding the safety and wellbeing of its staff. A comprehensive occupational health service and employee assistance programme is available to all staff and systems are in place to deal with perpetrators of violence against staff quickly and robustly. Safety remains a top priority and we recently changed the law to double sentences for those that attack our hardworking staff. Additionally, we introduced body-worn cameras and are rolling out PAVA incapacitant spray to keep officers safe.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 02 July 2019
House of Commons Commission
Plastics: Recycling
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans the Commission has to increase the level of (a) recycling and (b) reuse to reduce the use of single-use plastic.
A
Answered by: Tom Brake
Answered on: 16 July 2019

On increasing recycling and re-use, Parliament’s Environment Team works in close partnership with its waste contractor to respond to new and emerging opportunities to recycle and recover waste. The waste contract includes a requirement for driving continuous improvements in Parliament’s recycling performance.

Parliament achieved a recycling rate of 59% in 2018–19, with a long-term target to recycle 75% of waste (by weight) by 2020–21.

On reducing single-use avoidable plastics, in May 2018 Parliament announced a comprehensive range of initiatives to drastically reduce its consumption of single-use avoidable plastics:

  • Eliminate plastic bottled water
  • Eliminate condiment sachets (through substitution)
  • Eliminate plastic-lined hot drinks cups, alongside introduction of a ‘latte levy’
  • Sell and incentivise the use of re-usable ‘keep cups’
  • Substitute disposable catering take-away items with compostable alternatives, alongside the introduction of a compostable waste stream
  • Substitute plastic tumblers with compostable alternatives
  • Substitute plastic carrier bags with paper ones
  • Implement a ‘green stationery’ catalogue
  • Pilot a re-usable delivery container scheme at the Offsite Consolidation Centre
  • Produce procedures for incorporating the environmental impact of packaging waste into the weighting of relevant procurement exercises


Except for the delivery container pilot scheme, for which a feasibility study has been completed, all single-use plastic initiatives have been fully implemented.

Asked on: 02 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Civil Engineering
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the civil engineering sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 16 July 2019

The Government’s long-term commitment to drive productivity in the construction industry includes support for civil engineering through the UK’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, which is worth over £400bn of planned public and private investment in nearly 700 projects, programmes and other investments. This includes around £190bn to be invested by 2020/21. It is estimated the next decade will see over £600bn of public and private investments in infrastructure. The National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) has also been increased to £37bn and has been extended by another year until 2023-24. The NPIF is the cornerstone of the Government’s plan to boost growth in areas critical to productivity.

The investments we are making from the Construction Sector Deal to transform the sector’s productivity includes our commitment to invest £170m, matched by £250m from industry in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) in the Transforming Construction: Manufacturing Better Buildings programme. The programme will improve productivity through promoting the development and commercialisation of digital, manufacturing, energy generation and storage technologies for the construction and built environment sectors. The Transforming Construction programme will also promote a range of R&D and demonstration projects through cross sector collaboration; and £72m will be invested in the Transforming Construction Alliance – a consortium of the Centre for Digital Built Britain, the Manufacturing Technology Centre and the Building Research Establishment to support collaboration. The sector deal will aim to create a new business model, driven by investment, and embedded throughout the UK.

Q
Asked by Paul Farrelly
(Newcastle-under-Lyme)
[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 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Vegetable Oils
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support businesses to develop new and more sustainable vegetation oils as a replacement for palm oil.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 16 July 2019

The Government is committed to working with business and others to create a UK market for sustainably sourced palm oil for households and reduce the environmental impact of palm oil production overseas.

In 2012, the Government convened an industry-led UK Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This brought together trade associations for palm oil-using sectors to improve reporting, traceability and understanding of supply chains to increase the use of certified palm oil. As a result the market share of sustainable palm oil in the UK has increased from 16% in 2010 to 75% in 2017.

Internationally, as a member of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership, the UK is driving 100% sustainable palm oil supply chains in Europe. The UK also supports the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) which recently secured the Marrakesh Declaration on palm oil. The Declaration has seen seven African palm oil producing countries and major companies agree principles for responsible palm oil.

This builds on earlier Government efforts to tackle non-household use of vegetable oils such as palm oil in sectors such as biofuels, by promoting waste-derived biofuels. Two thirds of biofuels in 2017-2018 were from such wastes.

We recognise that more remains to be done and will continue to explore opportunities to improve the sustainability of palm oil production.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 16 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Medicine: Research
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the amount of research and development funding required by organisations involved in (1) health research, and (2) data-driven health research, in the UK.
Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 16 July 2019
Home Office
Electric Scooters: Road Traffic Offences
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 5 July (HL16754), what assessment they have made of the extent to which police forces are prosecuting anyone found illegally using an electric scooter on public highways in cases where driving licences, insurance policies or number plates are not in use.
Asked on: 16 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Belmarsh Prison
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners there are in HMP Belmarsh; and how many of those are serving sentences for civil offences.
Q
Asked by Gill Furniss
(Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)
[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: 17 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Whirlpool Corporation: Tumble Dryers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason he decided to issue a recall notice to Whirlpool in relation to that company's tumble driers; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 15 July 2019
Holding answer received on 20 June 2019

The Office for Product Safety and Standards’ (OPSS) actions have been driven by a commitment to ensure public safety. On 4 June, OPSS issued a letter of intent to serve a recall notice. As a result, Whirlpool is instigating a full recall of unmodified, affected tumble dryers. The House was updated of this action in a written ministerial statement on 10 July.

Asked on: 01 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pakistan: Blasphemy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the sentencing of Shagufta Kauser and her husband to death in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy; what assessment they have made of whether Shagufta Kauser is (1) from a Christian minority, and (2) illiterate; what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan on her behalf; what response they have received to these representations; and what estimate they have made of the number of people currently facing the death sentence in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy.
A
Answered on: 15 July 2019

We continue to monitor the case of Shagufta Kauser and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel who were sentenced to death in April 2014. We understand that Shagufta Kauser is of the Christian faith and we are aware of media reports stating that she and her husband are both illiterate.

We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level. The harsh penalties for blasphemy, including the death penalty, add to these concerns. We remain firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, as a minimum, commit to publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty. Concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities were raised with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during a ministerial visit to Islamabad in February.

We do not hold figures for individuals on specific charges overseas. According to the US State Department 2018 Report on Freedom of Religion or Belief, at the time of publication, 77 individuals were imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges, 28 of whom had received death sentences.

Asked on: 01 July 2019
Home Office
Cannabis: Misuse
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review policy surrounding the use of cannabis, including the implementation of tougher sentences and penalties for drug use.
Answered on: 15 July 2019

As set out in the Drug Strategy 2017, the government has no plans to decriminalise cannabis. Tough enforcement is a fundamental part of our drug strategy. The possession of any amount of a controlled drug is a criminal offence and the supply of a controlled drug is an even more serious offence. We are taking a smarter approach to restricting the supply of drugs: adapting our approach to reflect changes in criminal activity; using innovative data and technology; and taking coordinated partnership action to tackle drugs alongside other criminal activity.

Asked on: 04 July 2019
Cabinet Office
Legislation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many post-legislative reviews by Government departments have been completed and published since 1 January 2018; and in what form they were published.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 15 July 2019

Effective post-legislative scrutiny is fundamental to driving up standards of legislation. The Government is committed to providing Parliament with information to assist in this vital role through the submission of a memorandum to the relevant departmental select committee with a preliminary assessment of how the act has worked in practice within five years of Royal Assent.

The Government does not centrally hold information on the post-legislative reviews completed by Departments and published since 1 January 2018; the optimum moment for post legislative memoranda to be submitted is a matter for individual departments in discussion with the relevant departmental select committee. Memoranda are laid before Parliament as command papers and published on gov.uk. It is of course for the relevant committee to decide whether it wishes to conduct further post-legislative scrutiny but the Government would welcome further scrutiny of these memoranda.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many people applied for an international driving licence in each month in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 15 July 2019

Monthly information on the number of international driving permits is only available from February 2019 and is shown below:

Month

IDPs issued

February

65,923

March

282,398

April

163,274

May

43,555

June

28,570

Prior to February 2019, the AA, RAC and the Post Office issued IDPs. Collectively they issued around 100,000 IDPs annually.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many and what proportion of UK driving licence holders have an international driving licence.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 15 July 2019

Between 1 February 2019 and 30 June 2019, the Post Office issued 583,720 IDPs on behalf of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. This represents 1.12% of the 48 million GB driving licence holders. Prior to February 2019, the AA, RAC and the Post Office issued IDPs. Collectively they issued around 100,000 IDPs annually, and some of these would still be valid.

Q
(Dunfermline and West Fife)
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for Transport
Driving Tests
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving test centres have closed in each constituency in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 15 July 2019

The attached table shows the number of driving test centres, which conducted practical car tests that closed in each of the last five years, and the constituencies that were affected.

In all cases where the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has closed a test centre it has continued to provide a testing service provision to its customers.

30 of the closed test centres were relocated and re-opened at another location within the service standard travel distance criteria.

19 of the closed test centres merged with another test centre.

Q
(Easington)
[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: 09 July 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 272815 on Personal Independence Payment, what assessment he has made of the effect of the quality-driven approach to personal independence payment on the number of cases going to tribunal.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 15 July 2019

It is still too early to assess the full impact of this approach. However initial feedback has been positive and the recently published PIP Official Statistics up to April 2019 showed an increase in the proportion of decisions changed at the Mandatory Reconsideration stage since the approach was implemented.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
[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: 09 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Offensive Weapons: Convictions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of people convicted of possession of an offensive weapon for whom it was a (a) a first, (b) a second, (c) a third and (d) a fourth or more conviction for this offence, did not receive an immediate custodial sentence in each year since 2007.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 15 July 2019

Please find the response in the table attached.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 19.72 KB)
Q
(Luton 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: 09 July 2019
Department for Transport
Driving Offences: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department plans to provide to UK nationals accused of (a) driving offences and (b) exceeding the speed limit when driving their UK-registered vehicle in the EU in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Chris Grayling
Answered on: 15 July 2019

All UK nationals must be aware and obey the local traffic laws of the country they are in when driving abroad. Information is available on www.gov.uk which we would urge drivers to read before they travel. If unsure, drivers can also refer to other sites or seek information from recognised driving associations or automobile clubs. The need to be aware and abide with the laws of another country is unaffected by any arrangements to leave the EU.

The Government does not currently provide legal support or advice to UK nationals accused of a traffic offence abroad and there are no plans to provide legal support or advice in the future.

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