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
(West Bromwich West)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Occupational Pensions: West Bromwich West
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people in West Bromwich West constituency have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrolment minimum contribution.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 18 October 2019

Automatic enrolment has achieved a quiet revolution through getting employees into the habit of pension saving, and reversing the decline in workplace pension participation in the decade prior to these reforms. Since automatic enrolment started in 2012 participation rates have been transformed with 87% of eligible employees saving into a workplace pension in 2018, up from 55% in 2012.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. However, we do know that overall around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates; and our latest evaluation report shows that, in April 2017, approximately 5.9 million eligible employees were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution rates1.

I am providing the following information about the impact of automatic enrolment in your constituency, as at end of September 20192:

In the West Bromwich West constituency since 2012, approximately 16,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 1480 employers have met their duties.

1Automatic Enrolment Evaluation Report 2018, available via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764964/Automatic_Enrolment_Evaluation_Report_2018.pdf.

2The Pensions Regulator’s data on Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance by constituency, available via the following weblink:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/research-and-analysis/data-requests

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
[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: 14 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Anne Sacoolas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on which dates US citizen Anne Sacoolas held diplomatic status in the UK.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 18 October 2019
Holding answer received on 17 October 2019

​The US member of staff and his family were notified to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on arrival in the UK by the US Embassy under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. His spouse had immunity while in the UK. Immunity ended when she returned to the US.

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
[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: 14 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Anne Sacoolas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department holds information on the potential involvement of the US Embassy in the departure of Anne Sacoolas from the UK.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 18 October 2019
Holding answer received on 17 October 2019

As part of their day to day business, diplomatic missions in the UK are responsible for making arrangements for the arrival and departure of the personnel and dependents they send to the UK.

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
[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: 14 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Anne Sacoolas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department holds information on when the US Embassy became aware of Anne Sacoolas's suspected involvement in a fatal road traffic collision on 27 August 2019.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 18 October 2019
Holding answer received on 17 October 2019

We do not hold this information. This is a matter for the US Embassy.

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Iron and Steel: Manufacturing Industries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she will take to ensure there is no price disparity in electricity costs for the UK steel sector compared with its international competitors.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The Government is committed to minimising energy costs for businesses to ensure our economy remains strong and competitive. The ability of our steel industry to compete globally and across Europe is a priority for this Government.

We have taken steps to reduce the cumulative impact of energy and climate change policies on industrial electricity prices for the steel sector and other key energy intensive industries. This includes paying over £300m compensation to the steel sector since 2013.

We have a number of funds available to energy intensive industries, including steel, to help them increase energy efficiency and transition to a low carbon future. These funds include the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme and the recently announced £250 million Clean Steel Fund.

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Iron and Steel: Manufacturing Industries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the benefits to the (a) economy and (b) steel sector of the UK steel sector’s commitment to increase capital investment in the UK by a quarter should steps be taken to reduce the price disparity on electricity costs between the UK steel sector and its international competitors.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The ability of our steel industry to compete globally and across Europe is a priority for this Government. We therefore provide electricity cost compensation and exemption support to maintain the UK’s reputation as an attractive location for these businesses.

In 2017, the Department commissioned independent research identifying high value opportunities for UK steel, worth up to £3.8 billion a year by 2030(1). To access these opportunities, as well as match funding grants for R&D, significant investment will need to be made by the sector.

We have a number of funds available to energy intensive industries, including steel, to help them increase energy efficiency and transition to a low carbon future. These funds include the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme and the recently announced £250 million Clean Steel Fund.

1. Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-steel-industry-future-market-opportunities

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Iron and Steel: Manufacturing Industries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of higher electricity prices since 2016 on the steel industry.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 18 October 2019

We have not made a specific assessment of the effect of higher electricity prices on the steel industry. The ability of our steel industry to compete globally and across Europe is a priority for this Government. We therefore provide electricity cost compensation and exemption support to maintain the UK’s reputation as an attractive location for these businesses. We also have a number of funds available, or in development, that support energy intensive industries, including steel, to help them increase energy efficiency and transition to a low carbon future. These funds include the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme and the recently announced £250 million Clean Steel Fund.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to permit Universal Credit claimants to backdate a claim due to ill health in circumstances where medical evidence is provided by a GP.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 18 October 2019

Universal Credit claims may be backdated, by up to one calendar month, in some circumstances for vulnerable claimants who may be delayed in claiming Universal Credit through no fault of their own. More specifically, in cases where medical evidence satisfies the Department that a claimant had an illness that prevented them from making a claim sooner, Universal Credit can be awarded from an earlier date.

In order to provide the best possible support to our claimants it is important that the Department are able to engage with claimants at the earliest possible opportunity, whether to support them back into work or to provide other support and guidance. It is therefore important that backdating provisions are used in specific circumstances, and that all claimants are encouraged to contact us at the earliest opportunity.

Q
Asked by Ruth Jones
(Newport West)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
State Retirement Pensions: Females
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the High Court judgment of 3 October 2019 on the increase in the state pension age for women born in the 1950s, what recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on developing transitional arrangements for those women.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The claimants applied for permission to appeal on the 16 October 2019. I cannot comment on live litigation.

Q
Asked by Chris Elmore
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Occupational Pensions: Ogmore
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people in Ogmore constituency have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrolment minimum contribution.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 18 October 2019

Automatic enrolment has achieved a quiet revolution through getting employees into the habit of pension saving, and reversing the decline in workplace pension participation in the decade prior to these reforms. Since automatic enrolment started in 2012 participation rates have been transformed with 87% of eligible employees saving into a workplace pension in 2018, up from 55% in 2012.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. However, we do know that overall around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates; and our latest evaluation report shows that, in April 2017, approximately 5.9 million eligible employees were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution rates1.

I am providing the following information about the impact of automatic enrolment in your constituency, as at end of September 20192:

In the Ogmore constituency since 2012, approximately 4,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 820 employers have met their duties.

1Automatic Enrolment Evaluation Report 2018, available via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764964/Automatic_Enrolment_Evaluation_Report_2018.pdf.

2The Pensions Regulator’s data on Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance by constituency, available via the following weblink:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/research-and-analysis/data-requests

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Occupational Pensions: Barnsley Central
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people in Barnsley Central constituency have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrollment minimum contribution.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 18 October 2019

Automatic enrolment has achieved a quiet revolution through getting employees into the habit of pension saving, and reversing the decline in workplace pension participation in the decade prior to these reforms. Since automatic enrolment started in 2012 participation rates have been transformed with 87% of eligible employees saving into a workplace pension in 2018, up from 55% in 2012.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. However, we do know that overall around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates; and our latest evaluation report shows that, in April 2017, approximately 5.9 million eligible employees were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution rates1.

I am providing the following information about the impact of automatic enrolment in your constituency, as at end of September 20192:

In the Barnsley Central constituency since 2012, approximately 10,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 1410 employers have met their duties.

1Automatic Enrolment Evaluation Report 2018, available via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764964/Automatic_Enrolment_Evaluation_Report_2018.pdf.

2The Pensions Regulator’s data on Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance by constituency, available via the following weblink:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/research-and-analysis/data-requests

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that Personal Independence Payment claimants are not required to travel for longer than is set out in the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Service – Service Requirement document of May 2012.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The department has set clear requirements in terms of geography and travel time to a PIP assessment and continues to ensure assessment providers adhere to this requirement. There are no current plans to reduce the existing travel time of 90 minutes by public transport though best endeavours are taken to schedule assessment appointments in centres near to a claimant. This limit of 90 minutes is an absolute maximum and the department expects that only a small minority of claimants will have to make a journey of this duration. New assessment centres have opened, and continue to open, to ensure the needs of claimants are met.

Grouped Questions: 187
Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to reduce the maximum travel times for claimants of Personal Independence Payment which are set out in the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Service – Service Requirement document of May 2012; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The department has set clear requirements in terms of geography and travel time to a PIP assessment and continues to ensure assessment providers adhere to this requirement. There are no current plans to reduce the existing travel time of 90 minutes by public transport though best endeavours are taken to schedule assessment appointments in centres near to a claimant. This limit of 90 minutes is an absolute maximum and the department expects that only a small minority of claimants will have to make a journey of this duration. New assessment centres have opened, and continue to open, to ensure the needs of claimants are met.

Grouped Questions: 186
Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to change the hierarchy of the distributions for payments made through the Child Maintenance Service so that unpaid child maintenance is better favoured for repayment; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) aims to ensure liabilities are paid in full and on time. Where this does not happen the Service prioritises the collection of on-going maintenance before any arrears to avoid the build-up of maintenance arrears and ensure that today’s children will benefit. The CMS will pursue arrears alongside the collection of on-going liabilities wherever possible and will continue to pursue until all the debt has been paid. There are no plans to change the hierarchy of the distribution of the maintenance payments.

Q
(Na h-Eileanan an Iar)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Scotland Office
City Region Deals and Local Growth Deals: Scottish Islands
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, with reference to the Prime Minister’s announcement of 28 July 2019 on City Region and Growth deals, when an announcement will be made on the Islands Deal.
A
Answered by: Mr Alister Jack
Answered on: 18 October 2019

My officials are awaiting receipt of the latest suite of proposals from the Islands partners. Once this is received, we will consider the contents and announce next steps towards agreeing an Islands Deal.

Q
Asked by Janet Daby
(Lewisham East)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Anoosheh Ashoori
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to secure the release of Mr Anoosheh Ashoori.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The Government remains extremely concerned about the welfare of British-Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran, including Anoosheh Ashoori. Iran does not recognise dual nationality and therefore does not permit access to British-Iranian detainees. We are committed to ensuring that we do everything we can, including continuing to press the Iranian authorities for consular access. The Prime Minister raised his concerns about dual national detentions with President Rouhani on 24 September, and the Foreign Secretary did so with Foreign Minister Zarif on 17 September. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon hosted an event at the UN General Assembly on 25 September to call out the failings of the Iranian judiciary. I raised the issue in Tehran with my Iranian counterparts in June.

Q
(Morley and Outwood)
Asked on: 14 October 2019
Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure the independence of the review of the 2019 Loan Charge.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 18 October 2019

The Chancellor commissioned Sir Amyas Morse, former CEO of the National Audit Office, to lead an independent Review to consider the impact of the Loan Charge, focusing on individuals who entered directly into disguised remuneration schemes.

Sir Amyas has a strong track record of holding the Government to account and is widely respected, as was emphasised by colleagues across the House in a debate of 6 March 2019.

Sir Amyas has full control over how the Review is run and the outcome. For more information, the Review’s terms of reference can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disguised-remuneration-independent-loan-charge-review

Q
(City of Chester)
[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: 18 October 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with members of the UK national screening committee on amending NHS guidelines to allow cervical smear test samples from under 25s to be examined if a GP request an examination.
Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[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: 18 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her Department's target to process maternity allowance claims within 24 working days.
Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[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: 18 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in which of her Department's offices are staff working on maternity allowance deployed.
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