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 Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 20 November 2017
Department for Transport
Transport: North of England
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria his Department will use to assess transport strategies proposed by Transport for the North.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 28 November 2017

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 Section 102I provides that a sub-national transport body’s transport strategy should contain its proposals for the promotion and encouragement of sustainable, safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services to, from and within its area, as required to meet the needs of persons (including pedestrians) living, working or visiting its area and the needs of freight.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 20 November 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance: Support for Mortgage Interest
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate his Department has made of the annual savings to the public purse of including employment and support allowance claimants in the support mortgage interest changes due to take place in April 2018.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 27 November 2017

Including Employment and Support Allowance claimants in changes to SMI will save around £65 million in benefit expenditure each year.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 20 November 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance: Support for Mortgage Interest
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in the (a) Support Group and (b) working group of employment support allowance claim Support Mortgage Interest.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 27 November 2017

Estimates of ESA claimants in receipt of SMI, by conditionality group, are as follows:

ESA Conditionality Group

Caseload

Assessment Phase

3,000

Work Related Activity Group

9,000

Support Group

38,000

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 10 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kamal Foroughi
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the Iranian authorities to secure the release of Kamal Foroughi.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 20 November 2017

The Foreign Secretary regularly expresses his concerns about all our dual national cases with Foreign Minister Zarif. Our Ambassador in Tehran raises these cases at every opportunity as part of his regular discussions with the Iranian Government. I most recently raised this case with the Iranian Ambassador to the UK on 14 November.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 10 November 2017
Department for Transport
Transport for London and Transport for the North: Investment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what comparative assessment he has made of the powers to invest available to (a) Transport for London and (b) Transport for the North.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 20 November 2017

The Mayor of London is elected by the residents of London. Transport responsibilities are devolved to him - he is responsible for the strategic direction of transport as well as operational delivery which is carried out by Transport for London (TfL). TfL manages multiple modes of transport including London Underground, London Overground, Buses, Docklands Light Railway as well as walking and cycling. TfL also manages London’s strategic roads. TfL naturally has powers to invest in the networks for which it has responsibility. In addition the Department and individual boroughs invest in networks in London for which they are responsible.

Transport for the North (TfN) has no responsibility for the operational delivery of transport services. Its important role is to provide a strategic transport vision for the North. TfN will have, like TfL, (subject to Parliamentary approval) ‘very broad’ powers to invest in Transport. For instance, TfN have virtually the same power of competence given to combined authorities, except that TfN’s power of competence can only be applied to transport functions.

Beyond this, the Government is also proposing that TfN have specific powers to fund joint transport projects (capital grants) and promote, fund and deliver joint road schemes (highway powers). It is not envisaged, however, that TfN will become either a Highway Authority or a transport operator.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department for Education
Apprentices
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many of the apprenticeship training programmes which the Education and Skills Funding Agency quality approved six months ago are still (a) operational and (b) quality-approved.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 17 November 2017

The Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers can be viewed via https://roatp.apprenticeships.sfa.bis.gov.uk/download. It was first published in March 2017. It lists the organisations that are approved to deliver apprenticeship training to employers.

From May 2017, all providers who want to deliver apprenticeship training must meet a set criteria regarding due diligence, financial health, capacity and capability, and quality in order to be included on the Register.

There are 2184 providers currently listed on the Register and 50 providers have been removed since it was first published on 14 March 2017.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 10 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sheffield Station: Pollution
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the levels of pollution in and around Sheffield Midland train station.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 17 November 2017

Sheffield City Council has been identified in the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations as a local authority with concentrations of NO2 projected to be persistently in exceedance of the legal limit in locations on the A57, A61 and A630. The Government is working with Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to produce a local air quality plan to reduce these levels of NO2 in the shortest possible time.

The UK Plan also sets out information on annual nitrogen oxide emissions from other transport such as rail. At a national level, emissions from the rail sector are relatively low; however the Government is committed to reducing them further. Recent train operating franchises that the Department for Transport has negotiated include commitments to replace older diesel units with new units compliant with the latest emission standards (through the Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive) which have become progressively more stringent over time for both NO2 and particulate matter emissions.

You can find Sheffield City Council’s air quality information on its website https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/pollution-nuisance/air-quality.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 10 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Game: Animal Breeding
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to ban purpose-bred pheasants and partridges for the shooting industry.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 17 November 2017

The government has no plans to ban the breeding of pheasants and partridges for the shooting industry.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Ministry of Justice
Prison Officers: Recruitment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made towards achieving its target of employing 2,500 extra prison officers by the end of 2018.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 16 November 2017

As part of the Prison Safety and Reform White Paper published in November 2016, the Government committed to an increase of 2,500 prison officers by the end of 2018.

Between the end of October 2016 and the end of August 2017, there has been a net increase of 1,264 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Band 3 to 5 prison officers. As at the end of August, there were a further 872 people who had been offered jobs and were expected to start their training by January 2018.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Game: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the enforcement of the welfare code on purpose-breeding of pheasants and partridges.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 16 November 2017

The welfare of gamebirds is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to a captive animal or to fail to provide for its welfare. The statutory Gamebird Code, which was made under the 2006 Act, provides additional protection and provides keepers with guidance on how to meet the welfare needs of their gamebirds. Failure to follow the code's recommendations can be used in evidence in court to support a welfare prosecution.

Inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) refer to the code when asked to inspect a game farm. When required, APHA officials advise farmers on achieving compliance and, if appropriate, legal action will be taken.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Ministry of Justice
HM Courts and Tribunals Service: Debt Collection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made on plans to outsource the work of civilian enforcement officers employed by HM Courts and Tribunals.
A
Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 16 November 2017

HM Courts and Tribunals Service are in the process of re-procuring existing services provided by Approved Enforcement Agencies (AEA) for the execution of criminal enforcement warrants. That procurement process is also exploring the potential to further extend the volume of arrest warrants executed by AEA. As part of the re-tendering process a decision was made to explore the possibility of extending the existing provisions and implementing a contract to cover all Civilian Enforcement Officer functions – primarily arrest warrants. This will allow HMCTS to consider a whole range of options about how best to deliver this service, making informed decisions about what is in the best interests of the service and the taxpayer. These services are already carried out by the current Approved Enforcement Agencies in several areas of England and Wales under the existing contract.

The Invitation to Tender was issued on the 3 August inviting suppliers to submit bids by the 28th September 2017. The procurement process is currently in the evaluation period. HMCTS will fully evaluate all proposals submitted by potential AEAs as part of the bidding process before making a final decision on this.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Department of Health
Patients: Transport
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department has taken to assess the quality of hospital-provided patient transport services.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 15 November 2017

The eligibility criteria to receive patient transport services is set out in Eligibility Criteria for Patient Transport Services (2007). The Department has not altered these criteria.

The provision of appropriate patient transport services is a matter for local National Health Service commissioners. Patient transport services are regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Grouped Questions: 111734
Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Department of Health
Patients: Transport
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department has altered the eligibility for patients receiving free transport to hospital.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 15 November 2017

The eligibility criteria to receive patient transport services is set out in Eligibility Criteria for Patient Transport Services (2007). The Department has not altered these criteria.

The provision of appropriate patient transport services is a matter for local National Health Service commissioners. Patient transport services are regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Grouped Questions: 111737
Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Home Office
Asylum: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many immigration cases involving rejected claims for asylum were overturned on appeal in the last 12 months.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 15 November 2017

The Home Office published data on initial decisions for asylum applications and the number of allowed appeals for applications made in each year to 2016. This can be found in table as_06 published at the link below. The data do not distinguish between appeals resulting from rejected claims and refer to all allowed appeals, regardless of initial decision. Data for 2017 are due to be published in August 2018.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/638598/asylum2-apr-jun-2017-tables.ods

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Home Office
Asylum
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that immigration caseworkers fully comply with guidance on handling medical evidence for asylum seeker applications.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 15 November 2017

All officials making decisions on asylum claims receive a dedicated five-week foundation training programme which incorporates all relevant aspects of international and domestic law.

Within this programme there are specific sections on torture and medical reports, and how they should be considered and analysed in asylum claims. Medical reports will be considered together with other written and oral evidence in determining an asylum claim to ensure alleged victims of torture have their claims assessed fairly and sensitively.

Furthermore there is a robust quality assurance process in place involving technical specialists which ensures that all policies are complied with when decisions are made.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 07 November 2017
Department for International Development
Israel: Visits Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, when she plans to publish the details of her meetings with members of the Israeli Government and business people during her visit to Israel.
A
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 13 November 2017

My Rt Hon Friend the member for Witham (Ms Patel) resigned as Secretary of State for International Development on 8 November. I refer the Hon Gentleman to the exchange of letters between my Rt Hon Friend and my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister on her resignation; and to the statement issued by my Rt Hon Friend on 6 November:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-international-development-secretary-priti-patel

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 02 November 2017
Department for Education
Apprentices
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the change has been in proportion and number of new apprenticeship starts since May 2017.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 10 November 2017

There have been 43,600 apprenticeship starts for the provisional 2016/17 academic year since May 2017 to July 2017.

These figures are available in the Statistical First Release, published on 12 October 2017:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650552/SFR_53_2017_main_tables.ods.

Additionally, the Further Education data library also holds further information and breakdowns for apprenticeship starts:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fe-data-library.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 01 November 2017
Department for Education
Apprentices: Special Educational Needs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of apprenticeship starts have been taken up by learners with learning difficulties and disabilities and special education needs and disability in 2016-17.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 09 November 2017

The table below provides provisional figures for the 2016/17 academic year on the number of apprenticeship starts for learners with and without a learning difficulty and disability.

2016/17 Full Year (Provisional)

Percentage Distribution

Learning Difficulty/Disability

50,470

10.3%

No Learning Difficulty/Disability

434,050

88.3%

Not Known

6,820

1.4%

Total

491,300

100.0%

Note: Total figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Apprenticeship data is collected via the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). The ILR does not hold information on statements of special educational need for apprenticeship learners, this is only collected for school pupils via the school census. Information on Learners with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities is self-declared by the learner and covers a wider range of both learning difficulties and disabilities. For further information on apprenticeship starts by demographic breakdowns, please refer to the demographic data tool via:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650223/201617_Oct_Apps_Demographic_Data_Tool_FINAL.xlsx

The table attached provides provisional traineeship starts figures for the 2016/17 academic year along with the percentage changes in comparison to finalised figures from each of the three previous years. Comparisons to previous academic years should be made with caution as the provisional figures are subject to change. Final 2016/17 academic year figures will be published on 23 November 2017.


For further information on traineeship starts by academic year, please refer to the October SFR main tables via:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650552/SFR_53_2017_main_tables.ods

Provisional traineeship starts (PDF Document, 6.82 KB)
Grouped Questions: 110826
Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 01 November 2017
Department for Education
Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the percentage change was in the number of traineeship starts in 2016-17 from that number in each of the previous three years.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 09 November 2017

The table below provides provisional figures for the 2016/17 academic year on the number of apprenticeship starts for learners with and without a learning difficulty and disability.

2016/17 Full Year (Provisional)

Percentage Distribution

Learning Difficulty/Disability

50,470

10.3%

No Learning Difficulty/Disability

434,050

88.3%

Not Known

6,820

1.4%

Total

491,300

100.0%

Note: Total figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Apprenticeship data is collected via the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). The ILR does not hold information on statements of special educational need for apprenticeship learners, this is only collected for school pupils via the school census. Information on Learners with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities is self-declared by the learner and covers a wider range of both learning difficulties and disabilities. For further information on apprenticeship starts by demographic breakdowns, please refer to the demographic data tool via:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650223/201617_Oct_Apps_Demographic_Data_Tool_FINAL.xlsx

The table attached provides provisional traineeship starts figures for the 2016/17 academic year along with the percentage changes in comparison to finalised figures from each of the three previous years. Comparisons to previous academic years should be made with caution as the provisional figures are subject to change. Final 2016/17 academic year figures will be published on 23 November 2017.


For further information on traineeship starts by academic year, please refer to the October SFR main tables via:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650552/SFR_53_2017_main_tables.ods

Provisional traineeship starts (PDF Document, 6.82 KB)
Grouped Questions: 110825
Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 31 October 2017
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces: Injuries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what research his Department has commissioned into the prevention of non-freezing cold injury.
A
Answered by: Mr Tobias Ellwood
Answered on: 08 November 2017

A field assessment tool is currently being developed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) which aims to reduce the incidence of non-freezing cold injury (NFCI). The tool will shortly enter its clinical assessment phase.

A MOD commissioned study, which commenced in April 2016, is investigating the symptoms of NFCI and has reported that NFCI is a form of neuropathy. As a result, further research is planned to look at the pathophysiology of NFCI and, in particular, whether there is a vascular component to it.

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