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 Alan Brown
(Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
[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 July 2019
Department for Transport
Driving: Qualifications
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 1 July 2019 to Question 269094 on Driving: Qualifications, when the EU contingency Regulation (Regulation 2019/501) expires.
A
Answered by: Chris Grayling
Answered on: 08 July 2019

The provisions of Regulation 2019/501 enable UK commercial drivers to drive for UK operators on all journeys permitted under it using a UK Driver CPC. As it stands, the Regulation would come into effect were the UK to leave the EU without a deal and would last until 31 December 2019.

The Department is, of course, mindful that this would only provide two months of transitional market access rights for UK operators, which would be contrary to the collective intention in agreeing the measure in the first place. The Department will work with the European Commission and Member States as regards to options for addressing this, such as an extension of the measure.

Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
[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 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Prisons: Maternity Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure the maintenance of NICE standards on antenatal services in prisons.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 08 July 2019

People in prisons should receive the same standard and access to National Health Service healthcare treatments and care as people in the community.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published quality standards on antenatal care (QS22) and antenatal and postnatal mental health (QS115). NICE quality standards are concise sets of statements designed to drive quality improvements within a particular area of care and cover the NHS, public health and social care. The Department does not have any arrangements for monitoring the uptake of NICE quality standards centrally as they are not mandatory, however health and care commissioners are expected to take them fully into account.

NHS England is responsible for commissioning healthcare services in prisons in England. It is working closely with Public Health England and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service on a review of how current practice meets the gender specific standards for women in prison to improve health and wellbeing, published in March 2019, which include standards around the care of pregnant and post pregnant women.

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: 04 July 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Disability
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps her Department has taken to increase public understanding of invisible disabilities.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 08 July 2019

On Tuesday 25 June, the Government launched a new cross-government approach on disability which is guided by a vision that recognises the contributions that disabled people make and where disabled people can participate fully in society. To drive forward this approach, government will establish a new cross-departmental disability team in the Cabinet Office, and the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) will be incorporated into the team. This move recognises that disabled people, including those with hidden disabilities, face barriers across the life course and a wide range of aspects of their lives and coordinated cross-government action is therefore vital.

The British Standards Institution, and others involved in supporting the “Grace’s Sign” campaign, are currently exploring the potential for developing a symbol for hidden disabilities. The project is in an early scoping phase, but its intended aim is that the symbol would be recognised by the International Organization for Standardization. Achieving this involves a multi-stage process, which can take time, but if successful, greatly enhances the chances of its sustained future use in public signage. If successful, greater use and public acceptance of such a symbol would increase awareness of hidden disabilities, and help promote an understanding of the possible access and support needs of people with hidden disabilities.

Various Sector Champions appointed by the Minister for Disabled People are working within their sectors to support all disabled people, raise awareness of their needs and drive improvements in how these are met. Examples relating to hidden disabilities include: railway franchises thinking about supporting people with a wider range of disabilities, including through quiet areas at stations; a lanyard to identify those with hidden disabilities at airports, with staff trained to recognise this and offer help; and within the retail sector, many large stores holding quiet hours (no music and dimmed lighting) to improve the shopping experience for those with some hidden disabilities (such as autism or ADHD).

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: 03 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 2 July 2019 to Question 270341 on Personal Independence Payment, what improvements to processing mandatory reconsiderations have been made since her Department adopted the quality-driven approach.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 08 July 2019

We have been engaging with stakeholders to explore how we can improve the Mandatory Reconsideration process. We have also recently implemented a new operational approach in PIP where we are proactively contacting claimants, where appropriate, to see if there is information that would enable us to change the decision. Early indications are that this is helping decision makers.

Further to this we have already been working on reviewing cases at the appeal stage and where new evidence is provided that changes the decision we are lapsing cases so that claimants don’t need to wait for a hearing.

Q
(Peterborough)
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Dangerous Driving: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans the Government has to introduce tougher sentences for people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Education
Academies: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the effectiveness of multi-academy trusts in delivering improvements in academic performance in schools.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 05 July 2019

Performance data illustrates how disadvantaged pupils in academy trusts are making more progress at GCSE level than the equivalent national average. Data for key stage 4 and academy trust performance in 2018 is attached and is available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/774014/2018_KS4_main_text.pdf.

In primary schools within academy trusts, disadvantaged pupils performed significantly better than the equivalent national average in writing and maths. Data for key stage 2 and academy trust performance is attached and is available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/774446/KS2_Revised_2018_text_MATS_20190130.pdf.

The ‘Academy Trust Survey’, published by the department in 2017, indicates that virtually all academy trusts surveyed (96%) with 2 or more academies believe that their structure has facilitated collaboration, and most have formal relationships with schools outside their academy trust. By working in partnership with each other, schools can benefit from sharing staff, curriculum expertise and effective pedagogy, and drive down the costs of procurement.

Our ambition is for every school that wants to, to benefit from the autonomy and freedom to innovate that academy status offers and for schools to collaborate through strong academy trusts.

The ‘Academy Trust Survey’ has been attached and is available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/629779/Academy_Trust_Survey_2017.pdf.

HL16684_chart (PDF Document, 2.27 MB)
HL16684_chart (PDF Document, 2.6 MB)
HL16684_survey (PDF Document, 7.05 MB)
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people with closed tax years are affected by the 2019 Loan Charge.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The information you have requested is not available. HMRC are working through the settlement process with those Disguised Remuneration users who came forward to settle their tax affairs before 5 April 2019.

Scheme users who chose not to repay the outstanding loan, or agree a settlement with HMRC, by 5 April 2019, are now liable for the loan charge and should report it as part of their 2018-19 tax liability.

To date, no promoters of disguised remuneration (DR) schemes have been convicted of criminal offences related to DR schemes as such. There are no criminal offences specific to the promotion of mass marketed tax avoidance schemes but HMRC may conduct a criminal investigation into an individual’s actions when, for example, reliance is placed on a false or altered document, or if the material facts are misrepresented. In May, six individuals were arrested on suspicion of promoting fraudulent loan charge arrangements.

Since the formation of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service on 1 April 2016, more than 20 individuals have been convicted for offences relating to arrangements which have been promoted and marketed as tax avoidance schemes, resulting in over 100 years in custodial sentences. A significant number of avoidance scheme promoters are currently under criminal investigation by HMRC.

Grouped Questions: 269723
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Treasury
Tax Avoidance: Convictions
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many criminal convictions there have been of promoters of loan schemes subject to the 2019 Loan Charge.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The information you have requested is not available. HMRC are working through the settlement process with those Disguised Remuneration users who came forward to settle their tax affairs before 5 April 2019.

Scheme users who chose not to repay the outstanding loan, or agree a settlement with HMRC, by 5 April 2019, are now liable for the loan charge and should report it as part of their 2018-19 tax liability.

To date, no promoters of disguised remuneration (DR) schemes have been convicted of criminal offences related to DR schemes as such. There are no criminal offences specific to the promotion of mass marketed tax avoidance schemes but HMRC may conduct a criminal investigation into an individual’s actions when, for example, reliance is placed on a false or altered document, or if the material facts are misrepresented. In May, six individuals were arrested on suspicion of promoting fraudulent loan charge arrangements.

Since the formation of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service on 1 April 2016, more than 20 individuals have been convicted for offences relating to arrangements which have been promoted and marketed as tax avoidance schemes, resulting in over 100 years in custodial sentences. A significant number of avoidance scheme promoters are currently under criminal investigation by HMRC.

Grouped Questions: 269719
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Death
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have died in custody while under an imprisonment for public protection sentence with an initial tariff of less than five years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The table provides details of the total number of prisoners that have died in prison custody while serving Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences with an initial tariff of less than five years.

Every death in custody is a tragedy, and we are committed to learning lessons from these deaths wherever possible. Most of the deaths were from natural causes but some were self-inflicted, and the Government is taking unprecedented action to improve safety in prisons, including redoubling our efforts to prevent such deaths. We have recruited over 4,700 more prison officers since October 2016, and we now have the greatest number in post since early 2012. This is allowing us to implement the key worker role, providing staff dedicated time to support individual prisoners.

We are improving support for prisoners in their early days in custody and developing a new version of the multi-disciplinary ACCT case management process for those at risk of suicide. We have rolled out a revised and improved Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention course. This is being completed by all new staff and as refresher training by all existing staff. Nearly 25,000 staff have already begun this training and over 14,000 have completed all six modules.

Whilst we are focused on giving all prisoners serving IPP sentences opportunities to progress towards release, public protection must remain our priority. A range of initiatives are in place, as part of the joint action plan, co-owned by HM Prison and Probation Service and the Parole Board, which are having a positive impact on the progression of those serving an IPP sentence.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 11.11 KB)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Department for Education
Primary Education: Closures
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are used when reaching a decision on the closure of a primary school; and what role is played by (1) the Department for Education, and (2) the Secretary of State for Education specifically, in making such a decision.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The decision to close a local authority maintained primary school is a local decision. Neither the Department for Education nor my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, play a role in the process or decision making. Where the school is an academy, the final decision is made by the Secretary of State for Education.

When making a decision on a proposal to close a school, the decision maker (be it the local authority or the Secretary of State) will consider whether there is appropriate surplus capacity in the area to accommodate displaced pupils and any future projected increase in pupil numbers. They will also consider the impact of those likely to be affected by the closure, the balance of denominational provision, the impact on travel times for displaced pupils and any specialist provision (including sixth form provision or provision for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities).

Where the school is an academy, the Secretary of State will also consider the viability of the school under the current academy trust, including the effectiveness of any attempts to raise education and financial performance. They will also consider the availability of other academy trusts to take on the school and their capacity to drive the required improvements and the cost effectiveness of closure.

There is a presumption against the closure of rural primary schools. Where a school is designated as a rural school, the decision maker will also consider any alternatives to closure (e.g. amalgamation, federation, academy conversion or academy transfer). They will also consider the likely impact of the closure on the local community, the availability of, and likely cost of transport to alternative schools and any increase in the use of motor vehicles due to the closure and the likely impact of any increase.

Q
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to encourage commercial organisations and Government agencies to replace their current fleets with electric vehicles.
A
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The Government are investing nearly £1.5bn‎ between April 2015 and March 2021 to support the transition to ultra-low emission vehicles. Through this funding, commercial organisations are able to take advantage of various grants to help buy plug-in cars, vans, lorries, buses, taxis and motorcycles, alongside schemes to support charge point infrastructure at homes, workplaces and on residential streets.

Government leadership is vital. At the 2017 Autumn Budget, the Government made a commitment that 25% of central government cars will be ultra-low emission by 2022, followed by a further commitment in last year’s Road to Zero strategy that 100% will be ultra-low emission by 2030. In December 2017, the Government updated the Government Buying Standards for transport, including this new commitment. The Government Car Service, managed by the Department for Transport, is on track to meet the targets, with electric vehicles making up 23% of the entire fleet today. The Transport Secretary has written to every government department to reinforce the 2022 pledge. This provided detailed guidance on how each department can drive the transition in their own fleet and asked them to publish a yearly progress report. We expect these steps will encourage both public and private fleets across the country to adopt ambitious targets.

Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Scooters
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the adequacy of legislation on the use of electric scooters on public highways.
A
Answered on: 05 July 2019

It is illegal to use a powered transporter, such as an electric scooter, on a public road without it complying with specific legal requirements. In the UK, electric scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This means they are subject to laws requiring them to conform to technical standards and be used safely. This includes requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets. At present, it is difficult for electric scooters to meet these requirements.

For scooters that do meet these requirements, users of them must comply with speed limits.

It is also illegal to use an electric scooter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019, includes a regulatory review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future. The Department will use the regulatory review to examine current legislation and determine from the evidence what is needed to make the necessary changes needed for a safe and healthy future.

Through the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, we are exploring how new technologies, including electric scooters, could help the UK benefit from changes in how people, goods and services move around and possible barriers to securing those benefits.

Grouped Questions: HL16755 | HL16757
Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Scooters
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the maximum speed of electric scooters on sale in the UK.
A
Answered on: 05 July 2019

It is illegal to use a powered transporter, such as an electric scooter, on a public road without it complying with specific legal requirements. In the UK, electric scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This means they are subject to laws requiring them to conform to technical standards and be used safely. This includes requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets. At present, it is difficult for electric scooters to meet these requirements.

For scooters that do meet these requirements, users of them must comply with speed limits.

It is also illegal to use an electric scooter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019, includes a regulatory review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future. The Department will use the regulatory review to examine current legislation and determine from the evidence what is needed to make the necessary changes needed for a safe and healthy future.

Through the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, we are exploring how new technologies, including electric scooters, could help the UK benefit from changes in how people, goods and services move around and possible barriers to securing those benefits.

Grouped Questions: HL16754 | HL16757
Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Scooters: Insurance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the users of electric scooters on UK roads are covered by insurance, as is required for other motorised vehicle users.
A
Answered on: 05 July 2019

It is illegal to use a powered transporter, such as an electric scooter, on a public road without it complying with specific legal requirements. In the UK, electric scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This means they are subject to laws requiring them to conform to technical standards and be used safely. This includes requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets. At present, it is difficult for electric scooters to meet these requirements.

For scooters that do meet these requirements, users of them must comply with speed limits.

It is also illegal to use an electric scooter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019, includes a regulatory review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future. The Department will use the regulatory review to examine current legislation and determine from the evidence what is needed to make the necessary changes needed for a safe and healthy future.

Through the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, we are exploring how new technologies, including electric scooters, could help the UK benefit from changes in how people, goods and services move around and possible barriers to securing those benefits.

Grouped Questions: HL16754 | HL16755
Q
Asked by Liz McInnes
(Heywood and Middleton)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Department for Transport
Motor Vehicles: ICT
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made a recent assessment of the effect of usage-based telematics products on levels of (a) road safety and (b) environmental sustainability.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The Department for Transport recognises the potential benefits of telematics and other in-vehicle technologies in promoting fuel-efficient driving behaviours, which could save motorists and businesses money and reduce vehicle emissions. In line with our commitment in Government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, the Department has established a technology taskforce with the motoring and insurance industries to explore the role that new vehicle technologies has to play, and put in place appropriate interventions. The Department is also exploring the potential benefits of this technology in reducing the risk of young driver collisions through the Driver 2020 project.

Asked on: 20 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
River Mersey: Plastics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the Environment Agency are taking to prevent plastic factory waste from polluting the River Mersey.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Environment Agency (EA) regulates a number of activities locally which have the potential to cause plastic waste pollution in the River Mersey. In Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire it is responsible for the regulation of permitted and exempt plastics recycling plants, which includes reviewing inspection and compliance checks to ensure plastics recyclers are complying with their environmental permits. It is also a key partner in driving Greater Manchester’s ambition to be single use plastic free by 2020.

Across England, the EA investigates any reported incidents of plastic pollution to a watercourse should it pose a significant or major risk to people, property and the natural environment.

The EA does not monitor levels of plastic in watercourses as part of its monitoring regime as there are no current legislative requirements. However, the EA is working with Defra and academics to understand the different sources, pathways and impacts to develop consistent sampling and assessment monitoring methodologies for plastics. In 2018 the EA visited all facilities which treated or reprocessed plastic waste and checked they were not losing plastic fragments into surface water. The EA also encourages businesses to sign up to Operation Clean Sweep, a voluntary business initiative to take measures to reduce plastic pellet loss.

Q
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Home Office
Home Office: Staff
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 31 May (HL15807), in what circumstances they withhold from Parliament the names of civil servants who have been convicted in open court, and sentenced to prison, for offences in connection with their official duties.
Answered on: 04 July 2019

When a member of staff has been sentenced in court following an arrest by the Home Office Anti-Corruption team, the name of the civil servant is not disclosed. Although the names of staff members are known in court, this is not necessarily the same as being in the public domain.

The disclosure of names would have to satisfy a high threshold under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and s.9 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 makes it an offence to disclose the fact of an offence in respect of a rehabilitated person.

Q
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Civil Servants: Convictions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many civil servants in (1) HM Treasury, (2) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and (3) the Ministry of Defence, have been convicted in open court and sentenced to prison for offences in connection with their official duties, in each of the last ten years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 04 July 2019

Detailed information on the occupation of the defendant may be held on individual court records. To be able to identify these cases, we would have to access and search individual court records which would be of disproportionate cost.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nabeel Rajab
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a Bahraini court’s decision to reject the application for alternative sentencing of the human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, given the concern expressed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2018 report on human rights and democracy for Mr Rajab’s sentencing to five years’ imprisonment.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our Embassy in Manama has closely monitored the trials of Mr Rajab. Officials from our Embassy regularly attended Mr Rajab's court hearings. We are not aware of Mr Rajab’s application, and subsequent rejection, for alternative sentencing. The decision making process of the application of alternative sentencing is subject to meeting qualifying conditions and remains the responsibility of the Bahrain judicial system. We continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to protect freedom of expression for all its citizens in line with its international commitments. We have raised the case at senior levels as part of the UK's ongoing open dialogue with Bahrain. British officials will continue to monitor the case closely

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prison Officers: Riot Control Weapons
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of protection available to prison officers who are not trained in the use of PAVA spray.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Government is clear that prison officers should have the best possible protection when facing physical violence that is sometimes directed against them. We plan to roll out PAVA, a synthetic pepper spray, to all adult male closed establishments which have fully implemented the key worker scheme – which is vital in building relationships between offenders and staff. PAVA will be rolled out alongside training in a newly developed personal protection system. Additionally we will be making rigid bar handcuffs available to prison officers for use during prisoner control and restraint in the male estate, and body worn video cameras are already available to staff across the estate.

The Assault on Emergency Workers Act 2018 has doubled the maximum sentence from 6 to 12 months in prison for assaulting prison staff. This new law means that judges must consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences - including GBH and sexual assault - if the victim is a prison officer.

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