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 Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending stop and search powers to schools-based police officers.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 03 July 2020

The police have a stop and search power under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which allows individuals on school premises to be searched for a bladed or pointed article or offensive weapon when there are reasonable grounds to suspect a person on those premises of having such an article or weapon, or of being threatened with such an article or weapon. This power also allows the school premises to be searched for such articles and weapons.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 18 June 2020
Department for Education
Universities: Foreign Students
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of international students who will study at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 02 July 2020

In the 2018/19 academic year, tuition fees from international students at UK higher education providers accounted for around £7 billion of sector income. The government recognises that the COVID-19 outbreak will have an unparalleled impact on all elements of the global and UK economies. The higher education sector, including student recruitment, is no exception. We have been working closely with the sector to monitor the likely impacts of COVID-19 on international student numbers, including restrictions on travel. We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak and a possible reduction in the number of international students poses significant challenges and we stand ready to help the sector with various mitigations.

On Monday 4 May, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced the package of measures to stabilise university admissions this autumn and ensure sustainability in higher education at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Full details of the package have been published on GOV.UK: www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students.

The government is also working to ensure that existing rules and regulations, including visa regulations, are as flexible as possible for international students under these unprecedented circumstances. For example, on 16 June, the government confirmed that distance/blended learning will be permitted for the 2020/21 academic year provided students intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow. In addition, higher education providers will be flexible in accommodating applicants’ circumstances where possible, including if applicants are unable to travel to the UK in time for the start of the academic year.

The new graduate route, due to be launched in summer 2021, provides an opportunity for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for 2 years. The government has also confirmed that those studying by distance/blended learning will be eligible to apply for the graduate route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021.

On Friday 5 June, the Department for Education announced Sir Steve Smith as the International Education Champion, a key deliverable of the 2019 International Education Strategy. Sir Steve Smith will assist with opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, tackling international challenges such as those posed to attracting international students and forging lasting global connections. The International Education Strategy, published in March 2019 by the Department for Education and the Department for International Trade, set out a commitment to review progress following its publication.  The review, which we intend to publish this autumn, will ensure that the International Education Strategy responds to this new context and the challenges that are posed by COVID-19.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 18 June 2020
Department for Education
Universities: Students
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of domestic students who will study at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 02 July 2020

Our most recent estimate of the number of English-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants studying at UK universities in the 2020/21 academic year is 377,000. This estimate is from March 2020 (and pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak). The department is working closely with the sector to understand the likely impacts of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector, including student numbers, and has introduced a HE stabilisation package to support the stability of the HE sector and protect the interests of students.

There is no need for students to defer their studies this year if they do not wish to do so. Any student who wants to defer their studies should do so through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system, but we would want to be sure that where they do so, they make their decision based on the best possible advice and information. The level of activity most recently reported by UCAS and the Student Loans Company (SLC) indicates that there are no signs of the level of deferrals being significantly different to that seen in previous years.

We have had regular discussions with sector representative bodies, such as Universities UK (UUK), since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We know that UUK is working with their members and UCAS to provide as much clarity as possible to applicants about likely arrangements for the delivery of HE university courses this autumn.

Grouped Questions: 61576 | 61580
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 18 June 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of prospective students who will defer their studies at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 02 July 2020

Our most recent estimate of the number of English-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants studying at UK universities in the 2020/21 academic year is 377,000. This estimate is from March 2020 (and pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak). The department is working closely with the sector to understand the likely impacts of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector, including student numbers, and has introduced a HE stabilisation package to support the stability of the HE sector and protect the interests of students.

There is no need for students to defer their studies this year if they do not wish to do so. Any student who wants to defer their studies should do so through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system, but we would want to be sure that where they do so, they make their decision based on the best possible advice and information. The level of activity most recently reported by UCAS and the Student Loans Company (SLC) indicates that there are no signs of the level of deferrals being significantly different to that seen in previous years.

We have had regular discussions with sector representative bodies, such as Universities UK (UUK), since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We know that UUK is working with their members and UCAS to provide as much clarity as possible to applicants about likely arrangements for the delivery of HE university courses this autumn.

Grouped Questions: 61575 | 61580
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 18 June 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with university officials on allowing prospective students to defer their studies due to the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 02 July 2020

Our most recent estimate of the number of English-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants studying at UK universities in the 2020/21 academic year is 377,000. This estimate is from March 2020 (and pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak). The department is working closely with the sector to understand the likely impacts of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector, including student numbers, and has introduced a HE stabilisation package to support the stability of the HE sector and protect the interests of students.

There is no need for students to defer their studies this year if they do not wish to do so. Any student who wants to defer their studies should do so through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system, but we would want to be sure that where they do so, they make their decision based on the best possible advice and information. The level of activity most recently reported by UCAS and the Student Loans Company (SLC) indicates that there are no signs of the level of deferrals being significantly different to that seen in previous years.

We have had regular discussions with sector representative bodies, such as Universities UK (UUK), since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We know that UUK is working with their members and UCAS to provide as much clarity as possible to applicants about likely arrangements for the delivery of HE university courses this autumn.

Grouped Questions: 61575 | 61576
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 18 June 2020
Department for Education
Universities: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussion he has had with university officials on preventing staff redundancies.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 02 July 2020

Higher education providers (HEPs) are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on staffing and employment contracts.

The department provided sector-specific guidance on 17 April to help providers understand and access the range of government support on offer to support financial viability and sustainability and safeguard jobs. In developing this guidance, the department worked across government to ensure the various funding streams that support university research were included and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was available in higher education (HE). Officials also consulted trade unions as well as Universities UK (UUK) and the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to understand staff and employer concerns and ensure the guidance addressed these where possible.

The department remains in close communication with partners in the HE sector who are considering educational provision for the academic year 2020/2021. To help HEPs make informed decisions about their provision, the government has issued guidance on reopening campuses and buildings while minimising the risk to students and staff, which is complemented by principles published by UUK that will underpin HEPs’ reopening plans.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of schools-based police officers in reducing crime.
A
Answered by: Kevin Foster
Answered on: 02 July 2020

The Home Office has reviewed the existing evidence on schools-based police officers. In particular, the findings of a 2012 systematic review (Petrosino et al., 2012) were noted, which assessed studies from the UK, the US and Canada. This concluded that while the evidence base for the effectiveness of policing in schools is promising, it is not yet developed enough to conclude whether policing schools has an effect on crime in schools. What evidence does exist has recently been reviewed by Prof Ben Bradford of UCL and this can be found on the PSHE Association website here: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/sites/default/files/u26918/Police%20in%20schools%20Evidence%20Review_0.pdf The Home Office has not undertaken an assessment of the effect of deployment of schools-based police officers on each of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010

Grouped Questions: 62600
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance her Department provides on schools-based police officers (a) wearing uniform, (b) carrying tasers and (c) carrying batons.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 02 July 2020

The Government does not issue specific guidance on the use of police equipment and uniforms in schools. This is an operational matter for Chief officers to determine. Officers must pass a comprehensive training programme before they can carry tasers.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has assessed the effect of deployment of schools-based police officers on each of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010.
A
Answered by: Kevin Foster
Answered on: 02 July 2020

The Home Office has reviewed the existing evidence on schools-based police officers. In particular, the findings of a 2012 systematic review (Petrosino et al., 2012) were noted, which assessed studies from the UK, the US and Canada. This concluded that while the evidence base for the effectiveness of policing in schools is promising, it is not yet developed enough to conclude whether policing schools has an effect on crime in schools. What evidence does exist has recently been reviewed by Prof Ben Bradford of UCL and this can be found on the PSHE Association website here: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/sites/default/files/u26918/Police%20in%20schools%20Evidence%20Review_0.pdf The Home Office has not undertaken an assessment of the effect of deployment of schools-based police officers on each of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010

Grouped Questions: 62598
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what most recent estimate she has made of the number of children in (a) England, (b) the North West and (c) Manchester Gorton constituency living in poverty; and what proportion of those children are BAME.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 02 July 2020

National Statistics on the number and percentage of children in low income households are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication.

Latest statistics for the number of children who are in low income households for England and the North West region can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-199495-to-201819, “children-hbai-timeseries-1994-95-2018-19-tables” in table 4.17ts (relative low income, before and after housing costs) and 4.23ts (absolute low income, before and after housing costs).

The latest figures for children in low income households in Manchester Gorton, up to 2018/19, can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The survey used by the Department to estimate numbers in low income households does not collect data on the ethnicity of children in households responding to the survey so it is not possible to provide estimates of children living in low income households by ethnicity.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Women and Equalities
Gay Conversion Therapy
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, pursuant to the Answer of 22 June 2020 to Question 59593 on Gay Conversion Therapy, what her timetable is for reviewing the findings of the draft report; and when she plans to publish the final report.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 02 July 2020

The Government received a draft of the research report on Friday 12th June 2020, and is currently reviewing the findings. We will publish the report in due course, once the draft has been considered and the report is completed.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[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: 29 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Cemeteries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the recent bulldozing of a historic Muslim cemetery in Jaffa.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2020

We have not made representations on this incident. The UK acknowledges the importance of preserving religious sites, including cemeteries. That is why defending Freedom of Religion or Belief, and promoting respect between different communities, is a human rights policy priority for the UK.

Grouped Questions: 66195
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[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: 29 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Cemeteries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the desecration of Muslim cemeteries in order to build housing projects.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2020

We have not made representations on this incident. The UK acknowledges the importance of preserving religious sites, including cemeteries. That is why defending Freedom of Religion or Belief, and promoting respect between different communities, is a human rights policy priority for the UK.

Grouped Questions: 66194
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[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: 29 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to promote a two-state solution and prevent further Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2020

We continue to work closely with international partners strongly advocating a two-state solution and encouraging a return to meaningful negotiations. The Foreign Secretary did so most recently in a meeting with French and German Foreign Ministers on 19 June. He has also reiterated to Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry on 21 May and Jordanian Foreign Minister Safadi on 28 May. The Prime Minister has conveyed the UK's opposition to unilateral annexation to Prime Minister Netanyahu on multiple occasions, including in a phone call in February and a letter in July. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this message in his introductory calls with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Gantz on 20 May and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi on 2 June. I also did so at the UN Security Council last week.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what training is provided to schools-based police officers for that specific role.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 01 July 2020

Policing in schools is an aspect of neighbourhood policing and, as such, is mentioned as a policing function in the College of Policing’s national curriculum for all police officers. This means that it is covered as part of the education of all new recruits and the same qualifications and standards would apply as for any other neighbourhood policing officer.

The new entry routes for police constables introduced by the College of Policing from 2018 (an undergraduate degree in policing, a degree holder entry programme and a degree apprenticeship) are an important step in ensuring that we provide our police with the skills they need.

Grouped Questions: 62593
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Home Office
Police: Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what (a) qualifications and (b) training are required for a police officer to become a school-based police officer.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 01 July 2020

Policing in schools is an aspect of neighbourhood policing and, as such, is mentioned as a policing function in the College of Policing’s national curriculum for all police officers. This means that it is covered as part of the education of all new recruits and the same qualifications and standards would apply as for any other neighbourhood policing officer.

The new entry routes for police constables introduced by the College of Policing from 2018 (an undergraduate degree in policing, a degree holder entry programme and a degree apprenticeship) are an important step in ensuring that we provide our police with the skills they need.

Grouped Questions: 62592
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of reimbursing the tuition fees of healthcare students to recognise their contribution during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 01 July 2020

The government is extremely grateful to all students who chose to opt in to a paid clinical placement in the NHS during this extremely difficult time. We have ensured that all students who do so are rewarded fairly for their hard work. Nursing, midwifery and allied health students who volunteered as part of the COVID-19 response have been receiving a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Time spent on paid placements as part of the COVID-19 response counts towards the requirement for students to complete a specified number of training hours in order to successfully complete their degrees.

Nursing students will continue to be required to pay tuition fees, and there are no plans for a specific debt write-off scheme for these students. Student loan borrowers are only required to make repayments from the April after they have finished their course and until they are earning over the relevant repayment threshold. The amount that borrowers are required to repay each week or month is linked to their income, not the interest rate or the amount borrowed. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the repayment threshold and any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Department for Education
Free School Meals: Ethnic Groups
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many BAME children are in receipt of school meals support in (a) England, (b) the North West and (c) Manchester Gorton constituency.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 01 July 2020

The most recent figures for number of pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals is based on the school census for January 2020. The number of children eligible for and claiming free school meals in January 2020, by major ethnic group and for the requested geographies, are provided in the table below.

Number of pupils eligible for free school meals by major ethnic group, 2020

England

North West region

Manchester, Gorton parliamentary constituency

Asian

139,720

19,470

1,800

Black

127,260

12,070

1,210

Chinese

2,850

480

20

Mixed

121,190

13,770

650

White

982,950

171,650

1,740

Any other ethnic group

44,250

6,940

810

Unclassified

22,390

2,570

100

Figures rounded to the nearest 10, source Spring 2020 School Census

Further information can be found in the annual 'School, pupils and their characteristics' statistical release:
https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Department for Education
Literacy: Ethnic Groups
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of (a) child and (b) adult literacy levels by ethnic group.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 01 July 2020

The most relevant measure that we have for children is based on Key Stage 2 reading results. These are broken down by ethnicity and are available here:

https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/education-skills-and-training/7-to-11-years-old/reading-attainments-for-children-aged-7-to-11-key-stage-2/latest.

For adults, there is a breakdown of literacy skills by ethnicity in Table 2.25 of our England national report of the Survey of Adult Skills 2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) – full report available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/international-survey-of-adult-skills-2012.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Students
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans the Government has to provide (a) financial and (b) other support to students who have lost income and are struggling to pay rent in the private sector during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 01 July 2020

We understand that some students are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Students will have received scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year and the process for issuing loans for the next academic year, 2020/2021, will proceed as normal. In addition, students on a PAYE contract, for example those who have a part time job, may have access to support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Many higher education (HE) providers maintain hardship funds, which can be used where necessary. As part of the HE stabilisation package, the government has worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19.

If a student thinks they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, they should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity to allow both parties to agree a workable way forward. We encourage landlords to be sympathetic to tenants who may be struggling during this time and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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