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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Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for International Trade
USA: China
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the trade dispute between the United States and China; and of the effect of that dispute on global markets.
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The UK remains concerned about the current trade tensions between the US and China which could adversely affect global growth.

The UK shares some of the US’s concerns with China’s trade practices and believes they should be addressed through structural opening in China and through multilateral cooperation, including ambitious reform of the WTO. The UK supports ongoing dialogue between the US and China to resolve these issues with an outcome that is WTO-compliant. We continue to raise our concerns with partners.

Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Artificial Intelligence: Privacy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage large providers of artificial intelligence technology to ensure greater privacy rights for customers.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Data Protection Act 2018 set new standards for protecting personal data, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. It imposed strict obligations on organisations to ensure that personal data is processed safely and securely. Organisations which fail to comply with the new legislation may be investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office and subject to substantial fines.

All organisations that process personal information must comply with data protection principles. One of these principles states that organisations shall be fair, lawful and transparent in the collection and use of personal data. That means all relevant organisations, including providers of artificial intelligence technology, must clearly explain and justify what they will be doing with personal information that they collect.

The Government has also recently set up the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to identify and address any gaps in the data and AI governance landscape, as and when they emerge. The Centre will provide independent expert advice to Government on the measures needed to enable and ensure safe, ethical and innovative use of data and technology.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Cancer
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of medical nutrition on clinical outcomes for cancer patients.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on ‘Oesophago-gastric cancer: assessment and management in adults’ (2018) cautions that while nutrition support can improve surgical outcomes, practice in this field varies nationally so its effectiveness has not been determined.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will expedite the process by which the NICE publishes its decisions.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Government wants patients to be able to benefit from access to effective new treatments as quickly as possible.

Through its technology appraisal and highly specialised technologies guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) makes authoritative, evidence-based recommendations on whether medicines and other treatments represent a clinically and cost effective use of National Health Service resources. NHS organisations are legally required to make funding available for NICE recommended treatments, usually within three months of final guidance.

Wherever possible, NICE currently aims to publish recommendations on new drugs as soon as possible after licensing, with draft guidance on cancer drugs published in advance of licensing. The 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access includes a commitment to faster NICE assessments of new medicines, with timelines for non-cancer drugs to match those for cancer drugs, subject to the evidence base for the product being sufficiently developed.

Q
Asked by Paul Girvan
(South Antrim)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Transport
Aviation: Waste
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to reduce (a) disposable and (b) non-recyclable waste on aviation services arriving to or departing from the UK.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The majority of airlines are privately owned and the responsibility of disposable and non-recyclable waste reduction on services arriving to and departing from the UK is a matter for the companies concerned.

The Government has adopted a target of zero avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. The Aviation Strategy consultation paper highlights examples of best practice in waste reduction. As the Department continue to develop this strategy, it will be working with the aviation industry to help set out ambitions and share best practice to reduce levels of plastic waste produced by the sector still further, in order to ensure that the Government is able to achieve its 2042 goal.

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Former Ministers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how much his Department has paid to hon. Members under section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 since 13 July 2016.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Any such payments are published in the Department’s audited annual report and accounts, and these accounts can be found on gov.uk.

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Department of Health and Social Care: Former Ministers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much his Department has paid to hon. Members under section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 since 13 July 2016.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Any such payments are published in the Department’s audited annual accounts, and these accounts can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-of-health-annual-report-and-accounts-2016-to-2017

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dhsc-annual-report-and-accounts-2017-to-2018

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Former Ministers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how much his Department has paid to hon. Members under section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 since 13 July 2016.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Any such payments are published in the Department’s audited annual accounts, and these accounts can be found on gov.uk.

Q
Asked by Helen Whately
(Faversham and Mid Kent)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs: Rehabilitation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding his Department has planned to support the alcohol and drug treatment system.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Government is giving local authorities £16 billion over the current five-year spending review to fund public health activities and services. Local authorities shall receive over £3.1 billion in 2019/20, ring-fenced exclusively for use on public health. As part of the Public Health Grant conditions, services must have due regard for the uptake, investment and improvement of their local services. Decisions on investment in particular services are a matter for individual local authorities. Future investment will be determined by the forthcoming Spending Review.

Q
Asked by Imran Hussain
(Bradford East)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Illness: Prisoners
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prisoners were prescribed medication for mental health issues in 2018.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 21 May 2019

This information is not held centrally.

Q
Asked by John Spellar
(Warley)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Cataracts: Surgery
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of whether local Clinical Commissioning Groups are implementing NICE guidelines on cataract removal.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Department has made no such assessment. Local clinical commissioning groups are responsible for the commissioning of cataract surgery, and are required to carefully consider the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines in making commissioning decisions.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Probation: Public Sector
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of returning probation services to the public sector.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Ministry of Justice has produced an initial assessment of the cost of returning probation services to the public sector. These costs include exit costs for current Community Rehabilitation Company contracts which will be subject to negotiation with providers. Releasing these figures may compromise that negotiation so we cannot do so at this time.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
National Offender Management Service: Wales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of returning offender management services in Wales to the public sector.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Ministry of Justice has produced an initial assessment of the cost of returning offender management services in Wales to the public sector. These costs include exit costs for current Community Rehabilitation Company contracts which will be subject to negotiation with providers. Releasing these figures may compromise that negotiation so we cannot do so at this time.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Probation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of probation services in each of the last 10 years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The total amount spent by the Ministry of Justice on probation services in England and Wales for the years requested is set out in a summary table below.

Financial Years

Probation Expenditure, nominal1

2018/192

£892,900,000

2017/18

£815,200,000

2016/17

£850,200,000

2015/16

£968,800,000

2014/15

£851,700,000

2013/14

£804,500,000

2012/13

£832,400,000

2011/12

£819,800,000

2010/11

£874,600,000

2009/10

£898,800,000

1Figures have been rounded and show actual costs
2The 2018/19 data is finalised but subject to audit

The expenditure prior to 2014/15 is for Probation Boards and Trusts. From 2014/15 onwards, responsibility for providing probation services transferred to the new National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). The cost increase in 2014/15 and 2015/16 was for transition and mobilisation costs of setting up the NPS and CRCs, as well as closing-down Probation Trusts, as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. These costs (post 2014/15) include spend on both the NPS and CRCs.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
Community Rehabilitation Companies and National Probation Service for England and Wales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to reduce the workload of (a) community rehabilitation companies and (b) the National Probation Service.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

We are currently recruiting more staff into the National Probation Service (NPS). Changes to the recruitment process and eligibility criteria for probation officers have been made resulting in increases in both the volume and diversity of probation officer applicants. A national campaign to recruit probation officers is underway and successful candidates will start in July 2019.

Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) contracts require each CRC to maintain a sufficient level of staff and ensure that its workforce is competent and adequately trained. CRCs have the authority to manage staff numbers as per their business and operating models. Robust assurance of performance is provided through operational contract management backed up by regular Operational Assurance audits.

A probation worker’s tasks are not based solely on the number of cases they are managing, but the level of supervision each case requires. The Ministry of Justice publishes quarterly statistics showing the total caseload of both the 21 CRCs and the NPS in the Offender Management Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/offender-management-statistics-quarterly

On 16 May 2019 the Government made an announcement by setting out plans for the future of probation in England and Wales. From spring 2021, our reforms will see a stronger role for the National Probation Service in managing all offenders, and therefore varying the work of NPS staff. We are in the process of gathering data on all staff across the probation system to inform our workforce planning for the new model.

Grouped Questions: 253687
Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
National Offender Management Service
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the National Probation Service of remaining in the public sector; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

As part of plans for the future of probation announced on 16 May 2019, the National Probation Service (NPS) will assume responsibility for managing all offenders in England and Wales. The NPS is performing well in managing higher risk offenders and is best placed to achieve the benefits of unifying offender management within a single organisation. There are no plans to change the status of the NPS as a public body.

The aim of these changes is to help deliver a stronger, more stable probation system that better plays to the respective strengths of the public, private and voluntary sectors, that will reduce reoffending, support victims of crime and keep the public safe – and merit the confidence of the courts and the public.

Q
(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Ministry of Justice
National Probation Service: Conditions of Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to (a) reduce and (b) vary the workload of staff in the National Probation Service.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 21 May 2019

We are currently recruiting more staff into the National Probation Service (NPS). Changes to the recruitment process and eligibility criteria for probation officers have been made resulting in increases in both the volume and diversity of probation officer applicants. A national campaign to recruit probation officers is underway and successful candidates will start in July 2019.

Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) contracts require each CRC to maintain a sufficient level of staff and ensure that its workforce is competent and adequately trained. CRCs have the authority to manage staff numbers as per their business and operating models. Robust assurance of performance is provided through operational contract management backed up by regular Operational Assurance audits.

A probation worker’s tasks are not based solely on the number of cases they are managing, but the level of supervision each case requires. The Ministry of Justice publishes quarterly statistics showing the total caseload of both the 21 CRCs and the NPS in the Offender Management Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/offender-management-statistics-quarterly

On 16 May 2019 the Government made an announcement by setting out plans for the future of probation in England and Wales. From spring 2021, our reforms will see a stronger role for the National Probation Service in managing all offenders, and therefore varying the work of NPS staff. We are in the process of gathering data on all staff across the probation system to inform our workforce planning for the new model.

Grouped Questions: 253677
Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Department of Health and Social Care: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many staff in his Department who were transferred or seconded to work (a) in other departments or (b) on other departmental briefs on preparations for the UK to leave the EU, have since returned to his Department.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The number of individuals who have been transferred or seconded to work in preparations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in other government departments is not recorded. Though we keep a record of Department of Health and Social Care members of staff who are out on loan or secondment, we do not record whether they are going to work on EU Exit. As of 23 April 2019, the Department has a total of 80 employees who are either out on loan or on secondment.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how many staff in his Department who were transferred or seconded to work (a) in other departments or (b) on other departmental briefs on preparations for the UK to leave the EU, have since returned to his Department.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Office of The Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly. All staff that join, do so on assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies, who remain the employers.

EU Exit is an all-of-government operation. The Department for Exiting the European Union is responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU. The Department for International trade works to secure UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.

Departments continually review workforce plans, reprioritise and assess changing needs, which includes identification and cessation of non-priority work where appropriate. We have accelerated our plans, and at the same time, the Civil Service as a whole is working to ensure that EU Exit Implementation is carried out to high quality without impacting public service delivery across the whole of government.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Attorney General
Attorney General: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, how many staff of his Department who were transferred or seconded to work (a) in other Departments and (b) on other departmental briefs on preparations for the UK to leave the EU have since returned to his Department.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Attorney General’s Office had one employee who joined DExEU on loan to support work on preparations for the UK to leave the EU. The employee subsequently moved permanently to another department and will not return to the Attorney General’s Office.

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