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
(East Londonderry)
[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: 22 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Enterprise Zones: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to enterprise zones.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 31 July 2019

Enterprise Zones act as a driving force for growth in local economies as they unlock key development sites, consolidate infrastructure, attract business and create jobs across 48 locations within England.

Government has provided a range of funding and other incentives for Enterprise Zones, including a £120 million ‘Building Foundations for Growth’ grant fund to accelerate development in Enterprise Zones, a five year tax relief for businesses and simplified planning processes.

LEPs have utilised proportions of their Growth Deal programmes to support development in their Enterprise Zones.

The ability to retain business rates locally for 25 years allows LEPs to borrow against predicted income which provides a sustainable funding model to support improvements required in the Enterprise Zone as well as in the wider local economy.

Q
(Sheffield Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

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

Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Rehabilitation and Reoffenders
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking in prisons to (a) reduce reoffending rates and (b) improve offender rehabilitation.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 31 July 2019

We are committed to ensuring offenders leaving prison have the tools they need to turn their backs on crime - reducing reoffending and ultimately keeping the public safe.

One year ago, we published our Education and Employment strategy, which set out how we will transform our approach to ensure offenders develop the skills they need to secure employment on release.

Since the publication of the Education and Employment Strategy, we have given governors greater autonomy over their budgets to strengthen their education provision and implemented the New Futures Network to broker partnerships with employers, giving offenders more opportunities to work and train while serving their sentence and increase their chances of securing an immediate job on release. More than 230 businesses have registered to work with prisons and set offenders on a path to employment.

We recently made changes so that governors can now consider Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) earlier and in more cases meaning offenders can enter the workplace sooner. We have also invested £7 million in in-cell telephones to allow offenders to maintain important family ties, which is fundamental to their rehabilitation.

It is also vital that everyone leaving prison has somewhere safe and secure to live. Having stable accommodation acts as a platform to accessing other services vital to rehabilitation, as well as employment and education opportunities. As part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy, we are investing up to £6.4 million in a pilot scheme to support individuals released from three prisons; Bristol, Leeds and Pentonville.

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.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 30 July 2019

HMP Belmarsh had a population of 826 on the 31st March 2019. On the same date there were 11 Prisoners at HMP Belmarsh who were serving sentences for Civil Offences, which represents 1.33% of the population.

Q
Asked by Dan Carden
(Liverpool, Walton)
[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: 22 July 2019
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Overseas Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether his Department (a) currently has or (b) has plans for Official Development Assistance-funded programmes other than the Investment Promotion Programme.
A
Answered by: Conor Burns
Answered on: 30 July 2019

DIT is currently building a portfolio of development programming to drive trade and investment between international business and developing country markets. DIT’s interventions are under design but will link to DIT’s unique competencies in trade and investment. DIT’s development projects will adhere to the word and spirit of the International Development Act and follow the priorities set out in the 2015 Aid Strategy, including maintaining the commitment to keep aid untied.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average sentence length in months was for people who pleaded guilty and received an immediate custodial sentence for (a) violence against the person (b) theft, (c) drug offences, (d) robbery, (e) common assault and battery, (f) burglary in a dwelling, (g) production, supply and possession with intent to supply a controlled drug - Class A, (h) possession of article with blade or point and (i) assaulting, resisting or obstructing a constable or designated officer and who had (i) no, (ii) between one and four, (iii) between five and nine, (iv) between 10 and 15, (v) between 16 and 25, (vi) between 26 and 50, (vii) between 51 and 75, (viii) between 76 and 100 and (ix) 101 or more previous convictions in each of last 10 years.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 30 July 2019

Information on the average sentence length for offenders with a specified number of previous convictions for any offence who pleaded guilty to and received an immediate custodial sentence for a specified offence, covering the period 2009 – 2018, can be viewed in the attached table.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 18.61 KB)
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prison Officers: Recruitment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many additional prison officers have been recruited since 31 March 2017; and how many of those posts were funded by the additional funding allocated by the Treasury at that time; and what additional funding the Treasury has allocated for the recruitment of prison offices since 31 March 2019.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 30 July 2019

The number of new officers appointed to work in public sector prisons and youth custody establishments between 1 April 2017 and the 31 March 2019 is published in the Quarterly Workforce Statistics for HM Prison and Probation Service at table 8a -https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hm-prison-and-probation-service-workforce-quarterly-march-2019

Additional funding of £106m was announced by the Secretary of State on 3 November 2016, for an additional 2,500 prison officer posts, which have now been filled. With growth, the £100m equates to £112m for the 2019/20 financial year, £97m of which is for public sector prisons.

Our recruitment drive continues to replace turnover in officer numbers and meet required staffing levels across the prison estate. We constantly monitor the need for further funding.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Assaults On Police: Convictions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people were convicted of assaulting a police officer in each police force area in each year since 2007; how many received a sentence other than an immediate custodial sentence; and what the average sentence was received by those who received a custodial sentence.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 30 July 2019

The number of people who were (i) convicted, (ii) received a sentence other than an immediate custodial sentence and (iii) data on the average custodial sentence length for those who received a sentence by Police Force area for assault on a police constable in each year since 2007, can be found in the accompanying tables.

Please note that police force areas provide breakdowns of where offences where dealt with (not where they were committed).

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 35.56 KB)
Q
Asked by Chris Law
(Dundee West)
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahi
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether Ministers of his Department have seen the Amnesty International statement of 22 May 2019 entitled, Oman: Life Sentence for Prisoner of Conscious on the imprisonment of Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahi.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 30 July 2019

Officials in London met a UK-based Non-Governmental Organisation to listen to their concerns about the Shihuh and Oman on 15 July. I have also raised this issue with the Omani authorities, as has our Ambassador in Muscat. We are aware that human rights authorities in Oman have responded directly to Amnesty International with a detailed reply regarding one of their reports. Omani authorities have given us the strongest assurances that the individuals concerned were given full legal assistance and treated in accordance with Oman’s constitution and international laws and conventions. There is no evidence of discrimination against the Shihuh more generally, many of whom occupy senior positions in the Omani state and wider society. We continue to monitor developments closely.

Grouped Questions: 281039 | 281040 | 281042
Q
Asked by Dawn Butler
(Brent Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

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

Asked on: 10 June 2019
Women and Equalities
Government Equalities Office: Staff
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will publish the number of staff employed by the Government Equalities Office by (a) grade and (b) policy areas those staff are assigned to.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 25 July 2019

As at 14 June 2019, GEO has 110 staff in post (107 FTE).

GEO staff work on a range of priority areas, including work to empower all women to reach their full potential, advancing equality for LGBT people, ensuring our laws protect equality and provide equal rights and driving forward work to put qualities at the heart of government.

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.
Answered on: 25 July 2019

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) budget for 2019/20 is just over £1 billion and welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health. The NIHR funds research projects, training and research infrastructure. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

The NIHR also is a co-funder of Health Data Research UK who are committed to uniting the United Kingdom’s health data to enable discoveries and ensure that every health and care interaction and research endeavour will be enhanced by access to large scale data and advanced analytics. The NIHR also supports a number of initiatives to help researchers to access health data, samples and to identify participants for research.

The future of budgets outside of the NHS England resource settlement, including capital budgets for research and development, will be confirmed later this year at the Spending Review 2019.

Q
(Hornsey and Wood Green)
Asked on: 17 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the British Medical Association and other representative bodies on proposals to mitigate the effect of pension taxation on the NHS.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 25 July 2019

The Government is listening to concerns raised by doctors that pension tax charges are driving decisions to retire early or limit their National Health Service commitments, and has incorporated the views of the British Medical Association (BMA) and other key stakeholders into the consultation ‘NHS Pension Scheme: proposed flexibility’.

The consultation sets out a potential 50:50 option, offering 50% pension accrual and halved contributions. As part of the five-year general practitioner contract announced earlier this year, the BMA and NHS England asked the Government to consider introducing a 50:50 option as an appropriate flexibility, and the BMA have welcomed this as a step in the right direction.

The consultation period is an opportunity to listen to a range of views before reaching a final position that works for both staff and taxpayers. The Department encourages NHS staff and employers to contribute their views.

Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Cabinet Office
Electoral Register
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of using vehicle registration databases held by the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency to increase levels of voter registration.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 25 July 2019

Prior to the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in 2014, the potential benefits of using Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data as part of implementing IER were assessed. This investigation demonstrated that DVLA data could not readily be used to verify individuals’ identity, nor ascertain the names and addresses of people who are not registered but are entitled to be registered to vote.

The Government decided upon using National Insurance Numbers for verifying applicant’s identities during the registration process.

The Government is committed to increasing the levels of voter registration and voter registration processes are subject to ongoing review.

Q
Asked by Mary Glindon
(North Tyneside)
[N]
Close

Named Day

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

Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare
Commons
If he will bring forward legislative proposals to recognise animal sentience.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 25 July 2019

There has never been any question that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by the fact that animals are sentient beings. However, the Government has been very clear that we will make any necessary changes required to UK law in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners have been Released on Temporary Licence to enable them to access higher and further education in the community in each of the last three academic years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 24 July 2019

It is not possible, except at disproportionate cost, to establish the number of prisoners who have been released on ROTL to allow access to higher and further education in each of the last three years.

There are four categories of ROTL: Resettlement Day Release (RDR), Resettlement Overnight Release (ROR), Special Purpose Licence (SPL) and Childcare Resettlement Licence (CRL). Prisons are required to record the reasons for each release on temporary licence choosing from the following options. They are not required to specify the level of education:

(RDR) Education or Training

(RDR) Paid Work - Retail and Wholesale

(RDR) Paid Work – Manufacturing

(RDR) Paid Work - Catering and hospitality

(RDR) Paid Work - Transportation and storage

(RDR) Paid Work - Construction and recycling

(RDR) Paid Work - IT and communication

(RDR) Paid Work - Agriculture and horticulture

(RDR) Paid Work - Other

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Retail and Wholesale

(RDR) Unpaid Work – Manufacturing

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Catering and hospitality

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Transportation and storage

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Construction and recycling

(RDR) Unpaid Work - IT and communication

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Agriculture and horticulture

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Other

(RDR) Prisoner Apprenticeships Pathway

(RDR) Maintain Family Ties

(RDR) Outside Prison Activities

(RDR) Accommodation Related

(RDR) Other RDR Linked to Sentence/Resettlement Plan

(ROR) Resettlement Overnight Release

(SPL) Funeral

(SPL) Visit Dying Relative

(SPL) Medical/Dental Inpatient Appointment

(SPL) Medical/Dental Outpatient Appointment

(SPL) Other Compassionate Reason

(SPL) Court/Legal/Police/Prison Transfer

(CRL) Childcare Resettlement Licence

Q
Asked by Vernon Coaker
(Gedling)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 16 July 2019
Home Office
Slavery
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps he has taken in response to the April 2019 High Court judgment on the 45 day limit for support for victims of modern slavery; and if he will make a statement.
A
Corrected answer by: Victoria Atkins
Corrected on: 24 July 2019
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 24 July 2019.
The correct answer should have been:

This Government is committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery and ensuring that victims are provided with the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives

We are always building our understanding of the complex needs of victims of modern slavery and striving to improve the support available. This case has highlighted the importance of tailoring support according to the individual needs of victims and, in response, we will be embedding a more needs-based approach in our services.

In October 2017, Government announced an ambitious package of reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – our system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery. We have already made significant progress in delivering this complex reform programme and we will continue to drive improvements to the services available to ensure they are meeting the recovery needs of victims.

The Government is committed to stamping out modern slavery and providing victims with the support they need to rebuild their lives.

We are always working to improve our understanding of the complex needs of victims of modern slavery and to improve the support available.

In October 2017, Government announced an ambitious package of reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – our system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery. We have already made significant pro-gress in delivering this complex reform programme. We will now make further improvements to this offer – including embedding a needs-based approach to support – to better tailor support services to the needs of victims. The spe-cific details and timeline associated with this work is being developed.

A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 July 2019

This Government is committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery and ensuring that victims are provided with the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives

We are always building our understanding of the complex needs of victims of modern slavery and striving to improve the support available. This case has highlighted the importance of tailoring support according to the individual needs of victims and, in response, we will be embedding a more needs-based approach in our services.

In October 2017, Government announced an ambitious package of reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – our system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery. We have already made significant progress in delivering this complex reform programme and we will continue to drive improvements to the services available to ensure they are meeting the recovery needs of victims.

The Government is committed to stamping out modern slavery and providing victims with the support they need to rebuild their lives.

We are always working to improve our understanding of the complex needs of victims of modern slavery and to improve the support available.

In October 2017, Government announced an ambitious package of reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – our system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery. We have already made significant pro-gress in delivering this complex reform programme. We will now make further improvements to this offer – including embedding a needs-based approach to support – to better tailor support services to the needs of victims. The spe-cific details and timeline associated with this work is being developed.

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.
Answered on: 24 July 2019

Electric scooters fall within the definition of a motor vehicle under UK law. This means they are subject to laws requiring them to be built and used safely, including requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets. It is illegal to ride electric scooters on the pavement and the road.

How the police enforce road traffic legislation is an operational matter for Chief Officers of police.

The Government has not made an assessment on the extent of prosecutions by the police when detecting the illegal use of an electric scooter.

Q
Asked by Steve McCabe
(Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Asked on: 17 July 2019
Department for Education
Higher Education: Care Leavers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help increase the number of care leavers (a) accessing and (b) completing a higher education award.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 24 July 2019

The government is committed to improving the outcomes of care leavers. To support this, in March 2019, the department published a set of principles to guide the higher education sector on improving care leavers’ access and participation. A copy of the principles is available at the following link: https://mycovenant.org.uk/featured-signatories/educational/.

As part of its drive to galvanise the support that wider civil society can provide to support care leavers, the government has launched the Care Leaver Covenant. This asks organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including higher education providers, to commit to help care leavers to successfully transition from care to independence, by setting out clearly what support they can offer.

17 higher education providers have already signed the covenant and published their offers on the covenant website: https://mycovenant.org.uk/offers/educational/.

We want all higher education providers to work with Spectra First (the delivery partner appointed by the department to promote the covenant), which provides support in developing offers, with a view to them signing the covenant. To support this, we are organising a workshop with Universities UK and Spectra First in September, for higher education providers who are yet to sign. The event will make clear why they should support care leavers and provide examples of best practice on how they can do this.

Q
Asked by Lord Moynihan
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Department for Education
Higher Education: Mental Health Services
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish details of the £1 million competition run by the Office for Students to find innovative new ways to support mental health at universities and colleges as announced by the Prime Minister on 17 June.
Answered on: 24 July 2019

On 17 June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced the creation of a £1 million fund to enable development of innovative proposals that drive improvements in mental health support for higher education students.

The Office for Students is currently working with students, sector representatives, experts and relevant government departments to develop the priorities of this £1 million competition. They aim to publish further details by the end of the year.

Q
Asked by Keith Vaz
(Leicester East)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Home Office
Migrant Workers: Proof of Identity
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans he has to introduce digital IDs for migrants seeking to work in the UK; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 24 July 2019

The Home Office has no plans to introduce digital IDs for migrants seeking to work in the UK. However, as set out in the Government’s White Paper on the future skills-based immigration system published on 19 December 2018, individuals will use online services to demonstrate their immigration status to employers, landlords and other service providers. These online services will enable individuals to view an online record of their immigration status held by the Home Office, and to share it with others, securely and in real time. Online services are being rolled out now to those who hold a biometric residence document, and those who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

A decision on an individual’s immigration status is determined by suitably trained Home Office staff. To ensure that applications for leave to remain and enter are processed as efficiently as possible, UK Visas and Immigration digitally streams applications to the relevant team. Streaming does not determine the outcome of an application; rather it ensures appropriate checks are made against requirements of the Immigration Rules by suitably-trained decision makers. The streaming system drives efficiency by ensuring decision makers have the relevant applications as quickly as possible. It is regularly updated to reflect any changes in policy. Online status services simply surface information based on the immigration product an individual has already been granted.

Grouped Questions: 280126 | 280127
Q
Asked by Keith Vaz
(Leicester East)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Home Office
Migrant Workers: Proof of Identity
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the estimated cost is of introducing a digital ID system for migrants seeking to work in the UK.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 24 July 2019

The Home Office has no plans to introduce digital IDs for migrants seeking to work in the UK. However, as set out in the Government’s White Paper on the future skills-based immigration system published on 19 December 2018, individuals will use online services to demonstrate their immigration status to employers, landlords and other service providers. These online services will enable individuals to view an online record of their immigration status held by the Home Office, and to share it with others, securely and in real time. Online services are being rolled out now to those who hold a biometric residence document, and those who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

A decision on an individual’s immigration status is determined by suitably trained Home Office staff. To ensure that applications for leave to remain and enter are processed as efficiently as possible, UK Visas and Immigration digitally streams applications to the relevant team. Streaming does not determine the outcome of an application; rather it ensures appropriate checks are made against requirements of the Immigration Rules by suitably-trained decision makers. The streaming system drives efficiency by ensuring decision makers have the relevant applications as quickly as possible. It is regularly updated to reflect any changes in policy. Online status services simply surface information based on the immigration product an individual has already been granted.

Grouped Questions: 280125 | 280127
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