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 2019-21 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 Gerald Jones
(Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
[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 June 2020
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason there are delays in the reissuing of driving licences by the DVLA to (a) people aged over 70 and (b) in cases where licences have been suspended for health reasons which are preventing those people from driving.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 22 June 2020

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) online services, including renewals for drivers over 70 are available and have continued to operate as normal throughout the pandemic.

DVLA is currently working with reduced staff on its site in Swansea to meet social distancing requirements. Paper applications are therefore taking longer to process as they must be dealt with in person.

As healthcare professionals are rightly focused on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DVLA is experiencing delays where information is needed from medical professionals in order to make a licensing decision where a driver has declared a medical condition.

Q
Asked by Robert Halfon
(Harlow)
[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 June 2020
Department for Transport
Driving Instruction: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance he has issued on when driving instructors can return to work as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 22 June 2020

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

In the meantime, approved driving instructors (ADI) should continue to limit driving lessons to critical workers who are preparing for an emergency driving test.

The DVSA’s priority remains to protect the public and save lives. Driving lessons and tests have not yet been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus in vehicles is higher.

On 15 June 2020, the DVSA’s Chief Executive wrote to all ADIs updating them on the planning it is doing to help return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a second peak of infections. That letter can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-letter

Q
(Carmarthen East and Dinefwr)
Asked on: 11 June 2020
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving licence applications are awaiting processing; and what estimate he has made of the length of time it will take to process any backlog of applications; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 19 June 2020

There is no backlog for driving licence applications made online. Online services have continued to operate as normal throughout the pandemic. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has a reduced number of staff on-site to comply with social distancing requirements in Wales. Postal applications have to be dealt with in person on our site in Swansea and will therefore take longer to process than applications made online.

Since 4 June changes have been made to automatically extend the validity of 10 year photocard driving licences expiring between 1 February and 31 August, by a further seven months. Drivers do not need to take any action to benefit from this change and DVLA will write to them when their licence is due for renewal.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 11 June 2020
Department for Transport
Buses: Hydrogen
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing an all-hydrogen bus town scheme.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 19 June 2020

In February, the Prime Minister announced a £5 billion package for buses and cycling, which includes support for the purchase of at least 4,000 new zero emission buses, making greener travel the convenient option and driving forward the UK’s progress on its net zero ambitions.

The details of these programmes will be announced in due course.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 11 June 2020
Department for Transport
Department for Transport: Electric Vehicles
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many (a) battery and (b) hydrogen powered electric vehicles he has (i) driven and (ii) been a passenger in.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 19 June 2020

While we do not know precisely how many battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric cars the Secretary of State for Transport has driven or been a passenger in, he does personally own a battery electric vehicle and is regularly a passenger in a Government Car Service electric car. More importantly, the government is investing around £2.5bn‎, with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles and funding to support chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces, on residential streets and across the wider roads network.

In addition, we are consulting on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible, as well as including hybrids for the first time. By talking to stakeholders about the best way to achieve that ambition, the Government will more easily be able to identify what measures would be needed to support the transition to zero-emission and electric motoring.

Q
(East Lothian)
Asked on: 22 April 2020
Home Office
Immigration Controls: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support the Government has provided to UK Border Force and Immigration Enforcement to manage arrivals in remote ports and at smaller airports during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 18 June 2020

Border Force is continuing to keep the UK’s border secure and has robust contingency plans in place to respond the covid-19 pandemic driven by the latest scientific and medical advice.

We exercise a range of options at small and remote ports dependent on risk and continue to do so in line with public health and devolved administrations, without comprising security checks.

Border Force are working closely with law enforcement partners on the response to threats at the border during the Covid outbreak, and that includes our response at smaller airports/ports

Q
(Leicester South)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with local authority leaders on the provision of covid-19 testing, tracking and tracing in local authority areas.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 18 June 2020

I lead the Test and Trace engagement with local authorities, alongside Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds Council.

This is alongside other local engagement in Testing from Sarah-Jane Marsh, who was appointed to head up Testing at the same time as Tom Riordan was appointed to drive the joint work between the Government and local authorities on 11 May.

Ministers and officials have regular discussions with local authority leaders on the NHS Test and Trace service and attend a Local Outbreak Planning National Advisory Board, chaired by the Chairman of the Local Government Association.

Q
Asked on: 04 June 2020
Ministry of Justice
Legal Profession: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will move to a grants-based system for funding legal services as recommended by the Low Commission report following the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 18 June 2020

The government continues to recognise the importance of the legal support services and the essential role that they play in helping people resolve their legal problems.

Following our 2019 review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 reforms, the Ministry of Justice published the Legal Support Action Plan, which set out our vision for resolving legal problems earlier by ensuring that people can access the right legal support services at the right time, and in the right way for them. Whilst we do not intend to move to a fully grants based system for funding legal services, there are elements of the Legal Support Action Plan that drew on the recommendations of the Low Commission report.

COVID-19 interrupted significant elements of some of this work, as we reprioritised our focus on considering the impact of the pandemic on the legal support sector who support individuals in need of help.

As a result of this, the Ministry of Justice has secured emergency funding for the not-for-profit legal advice sector, including £5.4 million for providers of special legal advice. £3 million of this funding will go to Law Centres and this will be distributed through the Law Centres Network. The remainder of the funding, £2.4 million, will be contributed to the Community Justice Fund, administrated by the Access to Justice Foundation (ATJF), in order to provide funding for other non-specialist advice and support providers.

This funding will be additional to the £370 million of funding administrated by the National Lottery Communities Fund which qualifying third sector organisations, including those in the advice sector, will be able to bid for directly.

We have also continued existing work with the specialist advice sector and launched a new £3.1 million grant in partnership with the ATJF to enhance legal support for litigants in person over the next two years. This new grant is in addition to nearly £8m invested by the Ministry of Justice in support of litigants in person in the civil and family courts since 2015 through the Litigants in Person Support Strategy.

Asked on: 08 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China and Hong Kong: Press Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are using their Defend Media Freedom campaign to raise and address the curtailing of media freedom and attacks on journalists in China and Hong Kong; and what plans they have to introduce Magnitsky-like sanctions against those responsible for abuse of journalists in China and Hong Kong.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2020

Media freedom is vital to open societies and journalists must be able to investigate and report without undue interference. We must oppose attempts by any state to restrict press freedom, silence debate, abuse journalists, or spread misinformation. We are monitoring individual cases of concern around the world, and we are working with international partners on how best to support media freedom, including raising our concerns where appropriate.

The UK has publicly raised the issue of media freedom in China, including priority cases such as the sentencing of citizen journalist and rights activist Huang Qi in 2019. British diplomats have attempted to attend trials of civilian journalists and rights activists in China to show support.

In Hong Kong, media freedom is guaranteed under the Joint Declaration and Basic Law. In our six-monthly reports to Parliament on Hong Kong, we have regularly highlighted the importance of freedom of the press and set out our views on specific incidents of concern. We did so in the most recent report on 11 June. We will continue to raise the need to uphold Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms with the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities, as the Foreign Secretary did with State Councillor and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 8 June.

We have announced our intention to establish a UK autonomous Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky-style') sanctions regime. The regulations will come into force in the coming months. It is not appropriate to confirm who might be designated under the sanctions regime before the designations are in place. To do this could reduce the impact of the designations.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley 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: 15 June 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Construction: Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support companies delivering independent training to scaffolders who are not part of the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 18 June 2020

The Government is supporting the construction sector to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future.

This is a cross-industry drive, which includes companies delivering independent training to scaffolders who are not part of the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme. This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry-led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
[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: 15 June 2020
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Females
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many women serving sentences of one year or less have been recalled to prison since 31 March 2020; and, of those, how many have been recalled for failure to comply with licence provisions only.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 June 2020

Public protection is our priority. Offenders on licence are subject to strict licence conditions and supervision. When an offender breaches a condition of their licence, their probation officer will undertake a thorough risk assessment to determine whether it is necessary, for the protection of the public, to recall that offender to prison.

The requested data are not available at this time. Licence recalls data covering April – June 2020 are planned for publication in October 2020.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Myanmar: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that over 500 people have been sentenced to between one month and one year in prison in Myanmar since late March for violating movement-control orders.
A
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The United Kingdom is concerned by reports that public health policies used to tackle COVID-19, such as curfews and movement control orders, have been misused to violate people's civil liberties, including freedom of expression and religious belief in Myanmar. It is vital the public health policies are applied equally to all communities and not exploited to target particular groups. We have raised our concerns about civil liberties in Myanmar with the Government of Myanmar, including at a Ministerial level. We will continue to stress that public health and security concerns should not be used to undermine fundamental freedoms. We will also continue to support Myanmar's democratisation process and moves to end Myanmar's conflict in order to address the root causes of many of the violations and abuses seen in Myanmar.

Grouped Questions: HL5176 | HL5177
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business and Manufacturing Industries: Productivity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have for the improvement of productivity in business and manufacturing in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 17 June 2020

We are strongly committed to supporting UK manufacturing, which plays a vital role in the UK economy by driving innovation, exports, job creation, and productivity growth.

We are also committed to ongoing engagement with industry to ensure our manufacturers have the support they need to maintain production effectively. We have put in place an unprecedented package of Government support for businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Business Productivity Review announced a £56 million package of support and set out the steps we will take to boost business productivity, focusing on leadership and management skills, technology adoption, and external support. These measures will help businesses respond to and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic..

Through our Business Basics Programme, we are also testing new ways of encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including those in the manufacturing sector, to adopt tried and tested technology and management practices that can boost productivity.

Through the Made Smarter programme, we are investing up to £167 million to help UK manufacturers to adopt and innovate in industrial digital technologies that will make our firms more productive. We are investing up to £147 million for a Manufacturing Made Smarter Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programme to develop innovative solutions to manufacturing challenges, as well as £20 million through our Made Smarter North West Pilot to support up to 3000 manufacturing SMEs to adopt and exploit digital technologies to increase their productivity. This could add £115 million to the North West economy and increase productivity by up to 25% by 2030.

Asked on: 03 June 2020
Home Office
Immigrants: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new detentions under immigration powers there have been since 23 March; in which centres people were so detained and what was their country of origin; and of these how many involved (1) people transferred from prisons into immigration detention at the end of their prison sentences, (2) people detained after chance encounters with immigration enforcement, and (3) planned detentions.
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The Government published statistics relating to COVID-19 and the immigration system on gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-relating-to-covid-19-and-the-immigration-system-may-2020), on 28 May and the latest Immigration Statistics publication (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2020) includes the numbers of individuals detained under immigration powers in prisons.

Since the UK lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020 (up to the 30 April 2020), 295 people have entered detention, 231 of which were clandestine entrants held by UKVI for processing before being dispersed through appropriate routes. Those being held for processing spend very short periods of time at a short-term holding facility and can only be held for a maximum of seven days. This does not include those who were transferred to the detention estate from prison. Statistics on people in immigration detention during the second quarter of 2020 (April to June) will be published in August in the immigration statistics quarterly release.

Immigration offenders encountered by Immigration Enforcement by chance or as part of a planned operation, will be considered for detention for the purpose of removal, on a case-by-case basis, by applying the published detention and adults at risk in immigration detention policies. Information on the current situation in any given country is used when making decisions to detain.

The safety and health of people in the detention estate are of the utmost importance. We are following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place. As of 17 June 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in immigration removal centres.

Grouped Questions: HL5219
Q
Asked by Lord Lucas
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Contact Tracing: Fraud
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for reducing the risk of the public receiving fraudulent calls or emails purporting to come from the local authority and other teams involved in the NHS test and trace service.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing.

NHS Test and Trace has been developed to government security standards and we have been working with the National Cyber Security Centre, on measures to keep the public safe. The NHS Test and Trace service uses text messages, email or phone. All text or emails will ask people to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website with a set of unique characters provided alongside a secure link to the site. For those people that are unable to respond via email or text, perhaps because they do not have those options available to them, a phone-based service will contact them and support them through the process.

If the public are concerned about whether a call or email they receive comes from NHS Test and Trace service they can visit GOV.UK and view a page which lists the official phone numbers used by this service and can also check what is and is not going to be asked.

If anyone thinks they have been sent a scam message, they can report it to Action Fraud. If people receive an email which they are not quite sure about, they can forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service and to report a spam text, they can forward the message to Ofcom’s spam texting service on 7726.

Any action to investigate reports of potential fraud will fall to the police / National Crime Agency and if prosecuted it will be for the courts to decide sentencing.

Grouped Questions: HL5222 | HL5223
Q
Asked by Lord Lucas
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Contact Tracing: Fraud
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the penalties under civil or criminal law for (1) those organising frauds relating to the NHS test and trace service, () those aiding and abetting them, and (3) those who fail to take reasonable steps to protect their customers against such fraud; and what are the penalties for those employed in the NHS test and trace service, whether as individuals or as organisations, for misusing the information to which they have access.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing.

NHS Test and Trace has been developed to government security standards and we have been working with the National Cyber Security Centre, on measures to keep the public safe. The NHS Test and Trace service uses text messages, email or phone. All text or emails will ask people to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website with a set of unique characters provided alongside a secure link to the site. For those people that are unable to respond via email or text, perhaps because they do not have those options available to them, a phone-based service will contact them and support them through the process.

If the public are concerned about whether a call or email they receive comes from NHS Test and Trace service they can visit GOV.UK and view a page which lists the official phone numbers used by this service and can also check what is and is not going to be asked.

If anyone thinks they have been sent a scam message, they can report it to Action Fraud. If people receive an email which they are not quite sure about, they can forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service and to report a spam text, they can forward the message to Ofcom’s spam texting service on 7726.

Any action to investigate reports of potential fraud will fall to the police / National Crime Agency and if prosecuted it will be for the courts to decide sentencing.

Grouped Questions: HL5221 | HL5223
Q
Asked by Lord Lucas
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Contact Tracing: Fraud
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the process for reporting suspicious texts, emails and phone calls purporting to relate to the NHS test and trace service; to whom should such reports be made; whether Action Fraud and the Suspicious Email Reporting Service are involved; and, if so, whether there any plans for a separate, simpler process accessed from the main page of Action Fraud.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing.

NHS Test and Trace has been developed to government security standards and we have been working with the National Cyber Security Centre, on measures to keep the public safe. The NHS Test and Trace service uses text messages, email or phone. All text or emails will ask people to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website with a set of unique characters provided alongside a secure link to the site. For those people that are unable to respond via email or text, perhaps because they do not have those options available to them, a phone-based service will contact them and support them through the process.

If the public are concerned about whether a call or email they receive comes from NHS Test and Trace service they can visit GOV.UK and view a page which lists the official phone numbers used by this service and can also check what is and is not going to be asked.

If anyone thinks they have been sent a scam message, they can report it to Action Fraud. If people receive an email which they are not quite sure about, they can forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service and to report a spam text, they can forward the message to Ofcom’s spam texting service on 7726.

Any action to investigate reports of potential fraud will fall to the police / National Crime Agency and if prosecuted it will be for the courts to decide sentencing.

Grouped Questions: HL5221 | HL5222
Q
Asked by Darren Henry
(Broxtowe)
Asked on: 09 June 2020
Home Office
Motorcycles: Crime
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of (a) police resources and (b) powers to deal with people who ride motorcycles illegally.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 17 June 2020

This government is fully committed to giving the police the powers and resources they need to fight crime.

We will provide a total police funding settlement of up to £15.2 billion in 2020/21, which is an increase of up to £1.120 billion compared to 2019/20, including main grant, council precept and national priorities. The police have powers under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Police Reform Act 2002 to seize vehicles being driven illegally without a valid driving licence or insurance or in an anti-social manner.

Q
Asked by Darren Henry
(Broxtowe)
Asked on: 09 June 2020
Department for Transport
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with DVSA on (a) providing access to refunds to those people whose driving theory test certificate has expired during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) resitting the driving theory test for free.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation. This is so the candidate’s theoretical knowledge and ability to identify developing hazards remains current. To extend the validity period would require legislative change.

There is no provision in legislation for refunds of test fees in the situation where the theory test certificate has expired, or resitting the theory test free of charge.

Q
Asked by Darren Henry
(Broxtowe)
Asked on: 09 June 2020
Department for Transport
Driving Instruction: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the DVSA to ensure that guidance is provided to approved driving instructors to ensure they can resume providing their services safely following the covid-19 lockdown.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 17 June 2020

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends that, currently, approved driving instructors (ADI) should only provide lessons to candidates who have an essential need.

When providing driving lessons, all ADIs should put in place appropriate measures, in line with the latest Public Heath England and Cabinet Office guidance, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It is the responsibility of the ADI and the pupil to consider the risks to their health and to decide if the driving lesson is essential.

Using the latest Government guidance, the DVSA is working closely with the Approved Driving Instructors National Association Strategic Partnership (NASP) to develop appropriate plans and control measures that will enable the resumption of non-essential driving lessons.

The DVSA is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to driver testing. Before practical driving tests are reintroduced, the DVSA will inform the driver training industry, which will help candidates to prepare and reach the standard of driving needed to pass their test.

The DVSA will provide further updates on providing non-essential driving lessons as soon as it can.

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