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 Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Accelerated Access Collaborative
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether all products considered by the Accelerated Access Collaborative will have to be cost-neutral to the NHS.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 02 July 2019

As it continues to drive forward the assessment and uptake of the best products for support, the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) has been empowered to be flexible and pragmatic enough to identify truly game-changing innovations, that may not be cost-neutral in year, but are assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to be both clinically and cost-effective. This will allow the AAC to identify products, or classes of products, that are most likely to significantly transform care in the National Health Service.

Q
(Huddersfield)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Public Transport
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps is he taking to improve public transport to provide an incentive to stop driving and lower emissions.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The Bus Services Act 2017 provides the tools that local authorities need to improve local bus services. It allows Mayoral Combined Authorities to franchise bus services and local authorities to develop partnerships with bus operators to take the actions which they’ve identified locally to incentivise uptake of public transport. Bus Open Data powers in the Act will require bus operators in England to open up information about routes, timetables, fares and tickets in real time for passengers by 2020. These improvements aim to improve journey planning and help passengers secure best value tickets. The Government is also investing record levels in the U.K. rail network, as part of the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century

Q
(Eddisbury)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Renewable Energy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he will take to ensure that the decarbonisation of the power sector continues in line with the UK’s long term climate change targets.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 02 July 2019

This Government has been successful in decarbonising the power sector, as demonstrated by the fact that low-carbon technologies now provide over 50% of our power. As a result, the carbon intensity of the power sector has nearly halved over recent years, from 450g CO2/kWh in 2010 to 230g CO2/kWh in 2017.

The Clean Growth Strategy set out our plans to build on our progress in decarbonising the power sector, while looking further across the whole of the economy and the country. It includes ambitious proposals on housing, business, transport, the natural environment and green finance, with actions for departments across Whitehall. We have also we placed Clean Growth at the heart of our Industrial Strategy and made it one of four Grand Challenges to show our commitment to reduce our emissions whilst driving cleaner economic growth.

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Arthritis: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress the NHS has made on research into the (a) causes and (b) potential cures for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Research on health and social care continues to be funded by the Government through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The NIHR supports health research into rheumatoid arthritis which benefits National Health Service patients. From 2014/15 to 2018/19, the NIHR funded 42 research programmes and individual awards, including doctoral research fellowships and clinical lectureships, on rheumatoid arthritis, with a total value of £18,558,918.

The NIHR is funding early translational (experimental medicine) research into new treatments and diagnostics for rheumatoid arthritis through its Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs). This includes significant themes focusing on relevant research at a range of BRCs, such as the inflammatory arthritis theme at the NIHR Birmingham BRC, the immunity, infection and inflammation theme at the NIHR Cambridge BRC, and the musculoskeletal disease theme at the NIHR Newcastle BRC. The NIHR also funds Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs), and in 2017/18 there were dedicated studies into rheumatoid arthritis underway at the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ CRF, the NIHR Nottingham CRF and the NIHR Sheffield CRF, among others.

Further, the NIHR Joint Translational Research Collaboration (JTRC), established in 2011, relaunched in March 2019 as the UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration (UK MSK TRC), a strategic partnership between the NIHR and Versus Arthritis. This brings together Versus Arthritis investment in Experimental Arthritis/Osteoarthritis Treatment Centres, the NIHR JTRC, and all NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Clinical Research Facilities with expertise in MSK, with the aim of driving cutting edge translational research to improve outcomes for patients. Rheumatoid arthritis is at the forefront of this work.

Q
(Aberdeen North)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses: Billing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how he plans to define late payments that the Small Business Commissioner will enforce.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Within the Small Business Commissioner’s (the Commissioner) remit to tackle late payment and help drive culture change in private sector payment practices, the Commissioner addresses small business complaints about their larger customers. The Commissioner will make non-binding recommendations as to how the issues could be resolved, remedied and mitigated.

Further detail of the Commissioner’s complaints handling scheme is set out in the Small Business Commissioner (Scope & Scheme) Regulations 2017.

I announced in the recent Government Response to the Call for Evidence on Creating a Responsible Payment Culture that we will consult on strengthening the Commissioner’s ability to assist and advocate for small businesses in the area of late payments.

Government has worked closely with trade bodies and businesses to develop this. Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said of the recent announcement: “Small businesses will be delighted with today’s announcement” and “the measures today could finally see an end to poor payment practice. Changing our business culture will boost the small business community, productivity and growth.”

Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Road Traffic Offences: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support is available to UK nationals accused of (a) driving offences and (b) exceeding the speed limits when driving their UK-registered vehicles in (i) France, (ii) the European Union and (iii) the rest of the world.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 02 July 2019

All drivers should adhere to the local traffic laws, wherever they drive. EU countries are able to request vehicle keeper data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to prosecute British citizens for certain traffic offences under the Cross Border Enforcement Directive.

There is information available to drivers about driving abroad on www.gov.uk. Organisations such as RAC and AA also provide information on their websites.

Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Road Traffic Offences: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many British citizens have been accused of (a) driving offences and (b) exceeding the speed limit when driving their UK-registered vehicle in (i) France, (ii) the European Union and (iii) the rest of the world in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The number of sets of vehicle keeper data released by the DVLA following alleged motoring offences can be found in the table below. The DVLA first started receiving live requests for vehicle data from France in January 2019.

France

EU (including France)

Speeding Offences

Other Driving Offences

Speeding Offences

Other Driving Offences

2017

-

-

80,595

2,558

2018

-

-

237,172

22,906

2019

239,746

1,721

362,097

8,435

Between 2015 and 2017, 466 requests for information were received from outside of the EU for road traffic offences. Figures are not yet available for 2018.

Grouped Questions: 268634
Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Road Traffic Offences: France
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many British names and addresses were handed over to the French authorities by the DVLA in 2018 in response to accusations of driving offences in France.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The number of sets of vehicle keeper data released by the DVLA following alleged motoring offences can be found in the table below. The DVLA first started receiving live requests for vehicle data from France in January 2019.

France

EU (including France)

Speeding Offences

Other Driving Offences

Speeding Offences

Other Driving Offences

2017

-

-

80,595

2,558

2018

-

-

237,172

22,906

2019

239,746

1,721

362,097

8,435

Between 2015 and 2017, 466 requests for information were received from outside of the EU for road traffic offences. Figures are not yet available for 2018.

Grouped Questions: 268633
Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Road Traffic Offences: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that UK nationals driving their UK-registered vehicles abroad are provided with necessary legal resources to challenge driving offence charges issued against them.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The information requested is not held.

All drivers should adhere to the local traffic laws, wherever they drive. There is information available to drivers about driving abroad on www.gov.uk.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Department for Exiting the European Union: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of his Department's preparations for the UK leaving the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2019

As a responsible government we have been preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU in all scenarios for nearly three years. A no deal exit remains the legal default at the end of the extension period on 31 October unless a deal is agreed.

DExEU has a vital coordination role to play in these preparations. We maintain a single picture of workstreams, policy proposals and delivery implications across government to inform policy development. This allows us to scrutinise domestic policy solutions and delivery plans that departments develop - ensuring coherence and recommending cross-cutting solutions to drive delivery forward.

Over 300 work-streams to prepare for ‘no deal’ continue to be advanced across Government, to minimise disruption to industry, to our vital services, and to the daily lives of the people of the United Kingdom. In light of the extension, departments are making sensible decisions about the timing and pace at which some of this work is progressing and what further action can be taken, but we will continue to prepare for all EU Exit scenarios.

We continue to make good progress - for example:

  • Since December 2018, HMRC has issued 74,000 new EORI numbers to traders (as of 23 June).

  • We have published approximately 750 pieces of communications on no deal since August 2018, including 106 technical notices explaining to businesses and citizens what they need to do to prepare.

  • The EU Settlement Scheme is now fully opened with over 800,000 applications so far.

Q
(Tewkesbury)
[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: 27 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horse Racing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the importance of the British thoroughbred racing industry to the UK rural economy.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The Government is committed to driving sustainable growth in the rural economy. Our world leading horseracing industry employs over 17,000 people nationally and contributes around £3.5 billion to the national economy each year, and plays a significant role in rural areas.

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: 27 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment: County Durham
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 26 June 2019 to Question 267733 on Personal Independence Payment: County Durham, what key performance indicators his Department uses to monitor the processing of personal independence payments mandatory reconsiderations.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 02 July 2019

There is no target in law for processing mandatory reconsideration (MR) applications. Decisions are made without delay, but the focus is on making sure that the decision under dispute is thoroughly reviewed.

We are engaging with stakeholders to explore how we can improve the MR process. We have also recently implemented a new approach in PIP which includes contacting claimants, where appropriate, to see if there is information that would enable us to change the decision ourselves at an earlier stage. To support this, we are investing additional time and resource for communication, evidence gather and review, which means that some cases can take longer. However, this approach supports our aim; to make the right decision as early as possible so that claimants don’t need to progress to the Appeal stage.

Introducing performance indicators - be they in relation to outcomes or the speed of clearance - would compromise the Department’s quality-driven approach. But as explained in my previous reply, from late May 2019 claimants have been advised that as a guide, and to manage their expectations, that they should hear from the Department within 10 weeks.

Grouped Questions: 270341
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: 27 June 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 26 June 2019 to Question 267733 on Personal Independence Payment: County Durham, if she will make it her policy to (a) establish and (b) publish a waiting time target for processing personal Independence payment mandatory reconsiderations.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 02 July 2019

There is no target in law for processing mandatory reconsideration (MR) applications. Decisions are made without delay, but the focus is on making sure that the decision under dispute is thoroughly reviewed.

We are engaging with stakeholders to explore how we can improve the MR process. We have also recently implemented a new approach in PIP which includes contacting claimants, where appropriate, to see if there is information that would enable us to change the decision ourselves at an earlier stage. To support this, we are investing additional time and resource for communication, evidence gather and review, which means that some cases can take longer. However, this approach supports our aim; to make the right decision as early as possible so that claimants don’t need to progress to the Appeal stage.

Introducing performance indicators - be they in relation to outcomes or the speed of clearance - would compromise the Department’s quality-driven approach. But as explained in my previous reply, from late May 2019 claimants have been advised that as a guide, and to manage their expectations, that they should hear from the Department within 10 weeks.

Grouped Questions: 270340
Q
Asked by Ruth Jones
(Newport West)
Asked on: 21 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 01 July 2019

I am pleased to report that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 26 June. The Bill, when passed, will increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from 6 months’ imprisonment to 5 years’ imprisonment.

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Driving Tests
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the DVSA's Theory Test for cars and motorcycles, which ten questions within that Test candidates most frequently answered (a) correctly and (b) incorrectly in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 01 July 2019

In order to protect the integrity of the theory test, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency cannot disclose the ten questions candidates most frequently answer (a) correctly and (b) incorrectly.

Q
(Eddisbury)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Climate Change
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure a coordinated response across Government on tackling climate change.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 01 July 2019

Climate change is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges we face today, and tackling it is a cross-government priority.

The Clean Growth Inter-Ministerial Group, which brings together ministers from across government, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Clean Growth Strategy and driving ambitious clean growth, decarbonisation and wider environmental policies.

Q
(Eddisbury)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Carbon Emissions: Departmental Coordination
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a cross-departmental committee to implement the transition to a net zero economy.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 01 July 2019

Climate change is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges we face today, and tackling it is a cross-government priority.

The Clean Growth Inter-Ministerial Group, which brings together ministers from across government, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Clean Growth Strategy and driving ambitious clean growth, decarbonisation and wider environmental policies.

Q
Asked by Stephen Lloyd
(Eastbourne)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Legal Aid Scheme: Terrorism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what criteria his Department uses to determine the allocation of legal aid; and how his Department assesses the claims of families of victims of terrorist attacks against that criteria.
A
Answered by: Paul Maynard
Answered on: 01 July 2019

All individual case funding decisions are taken by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). It is important that these decisions are, and are seen to be, free from political and Government influence.

Legal aid can be provided, if the matter or issue in question is within scope of the legal aid scheme, as defined in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

Legal aid is available for advice and assistance for all inquests, subject to a means and merits test. Legal aid funding for legal representation for a family, during an inquest hearing, is not in scope of LASPO.

The Government recognises that for certain inquests, bereaved people may require representation; legal aid may therefore be available, through the Exceptional Case Funding scheme, if certain criteria are met:

(a) if a failure to provide such representation would breach, or likely risk a breach of, the government’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights, usually Article 2; or

where the Director of Legal Aid Casework (DLAC) makes a determination that there is a ‘wider public interest’ in legal representation being granted.

Q
Asked by Steve Double
(St Austell and Newquay)
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Transport
Motor Vehicles: ICT
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of automotive-telematic products for road safety and the environment.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 01 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.

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: 25 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Unmanned Air Vehicles
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made in the past year in combating the use of drones to supply illegal drugs to prisoners.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 01 July 2019

We are taking decisive steps to tackle the use of drones as a supply route for organised criminals to bring contraband, including drugs, into prisons.

Prisons use netting and window grilles to stop drones from delivering contraband successfully. To deter criminals, HM Prison and Probation Service is also working closely with the police to arrest suspected drone operators and secure convictions. Thanks to such joint working, and following the largest investigation of its kind, an organised criminal gang of 15 were collectively sentenced in October 2018 to nearly 40 years in prison for using drones to deliver drugs into Merseyside prisons. The ringleader received a sentence of 10 years, the highest single sentence for drone-related activity to date.

Where contraband gets into prisons using a drone, our counter-measures assist us to retrieve them and frustrate further criminal activity. In respect of drugs, our Drugs Taskforce is working with law enforcement to restrict supply. It has also developed a national Prison Drug Strategy which was published in April to reduce demand for drugs and build recovery, as well as restrict supply. We have also invested £70 million to improve safety, security and decency in prisons, allowing us to fund new X-ray body scanners, improved searching techniques, phone-blocking technology and a financial crime unit to target organised crime group members operating in prisons.

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