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 Jo Platt
(Leigh)
Asked on: 22 May 2019
Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2019 to Question 255390, Cabinet Office: Public Appointments, when he expects to appoint a Chief Data Officer.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 19 June 2019

I refer the Honourable Member to my given to Question 255390 on 21 May.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Department for International Development
Yemen: Internally Displaced People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support his Department is providing to internally displaced people in Yemen.
A
Corrected answer by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Corrected on: 19 June 2019
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 11 June 2019.
The correct answer should have been:

The UK is providing a range of support to displaced people in Yemen in response to the displacement of 3.3 million people since the conflict began in 2015. Last financial year (2018/19), for example, we provided contributed to the provision of food assistance to over 490,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and since June 2017 we have helped over 40,000 IDPs receive psychosocial support and provided over 35,000 with life-saving health care.

The UK has also supported the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide primary healthcare and mental health services, legal assistance, child protection and support to survivors of gender-based violence. We are supporting IOM and UNHCR with £9 million this financial year (2019/20) to allow them to continue providing these vital services.

A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 11 June 2019

The UK is providing a range of support to displaced people in Yemen in response to the displacement of 3.3 million people since the conflict began in 2015. Last financial year (2018/19), for example, we provided contributed to the provision of food assistance to over 490,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and since June 2017 we have helped over 40,000 IDPs receive psychosocial support and provided over 35,000 with life-saving health care.

The UK has also supported the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide primary healthcare and mental health services, legal assistance, child protection and support to survivors of gender-based violence. We are supporting IOM and UNHCR with £9 million this financial year (2019/20) to allow them to continue providing these vital services.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last discussed (1) low and insecure incomes, (2) issues emerging from the rollout of Universal Credit, and (3) increased demand for food banks, with representatives of the relevant voluntary agencies; and what was the outcome of those discussions.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Ministers and officials have regular meetings with key stakeholders to discuss a diverse range of issues that fall within the Department’s remit and impact on the lives of claimants. Many of these contacts occur at a local level between Jobcentres and external stakeholders which serve or represent their local communities, and such contacts are not recorded centrally, and to provide this information would incur disproportionate cost to the Department.

Universal Credit is designed to react and respond quickly to feedback from our stakeholders and claimants to improve the service we offer; ensuring welfare payments reach those who need them most, and effectively supporting those with insecure or fluctuating incomes. At a national level we meet regularly with stakeholders, partners and third party organisations to discuss Universal Credit and invite views and collaboration, for example, on the design of the processes for moving people onto Universal Credit. This includes identifying and tackling barriers and concerns.

Furthermore, the Government is committed to building an economy that works for everyone. Through the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the National Living Wage (NLW) the Government protects the lowest paid within our society.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Repayments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for modifiying the repayment of Universal Credit advance payments in order to take into account individual circumstances such as debts related to (1) utilities, (2) Council Tax, and (3) previous loans.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The Department recognises the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. Universal Credit already has procedures and regulations in place to protect claimants from excessive deductions. The maximum rate of deductions cannot normally exceed 40 per cent of the Universal Credit standard allowance, and from October 2019 this will be reduced to 30 per cent.

The average advance amount for new claims is around £400, which can be repaid over a period of 12 months, at a rate of £33.33 per month. Therefore, in the majority of cases, advance payment recovery is small in comparison to the whole Universal Credit award, with a current average award of £658 per month.

We recognise that exceptional circumstances may occur to claimants that were not foreseen when the advance was taken out. Help is available for those struggling to meet the recovery rate once recovery begins and if the claimant is facing unexpected financial hardship they can ask the Department for a deferral of the repayment of any advance they have taken out. The deferral periods are up to 3 months for a new claim, benefit transfer or change of circumstances advance and up to 6 months for a Budgeting advance.

Where a claimant has a reduction in benefit due to a Fraud Penalty or Conditionally Sanction that equals or exceeds 40% of their Universal Credit standard allowance then no advance repayment will be taken. If there is insufficient Universal Credit in payment due to reductions such as earnings, other income and capital yield to take the full amount of advances repayment, a lesser amount will be taken.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to prevent combatant forces in Idlib Province, Syria, from killing more civilians and children.
A
Answered on: 19 June 2019

​We are gravely concerned by the escalation in military action by Russia and the Syrian regime in Idlib. We are appalled that civilian infrastructure has been hit, including 24 health facilities, and by reports of civilian casualties and mass displacement. We are using public statements, diplomatic relationships and international fora, including the UN Security Council, to increase the pressure on all parties to end the violence, return to the ceasefire agreed in September 2018 and abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. Through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, the UK is supporting innovative new technology that provides civilians in Idlib with early warnings of airstrikes in order to save lives. We also continue to support international efforts to document violations of international humanitarian law being committed in Idlib.

Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Rheumatology: Nurses
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the British Society for Rheumatology Specialist Nursing in Rheumatology: the State of Play, published on 30 April, in particular its findings on the number of unfilled vacancies within the rheumatology specialist nurse workforce; and what steps they are taking to assist NHS Trusts in England with recruitment to those posts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 19 June 2019

We have noted the report published by the British Society of Rheumatology. The challenges they highlight are why part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s mission is to make the National Health Service a world class employer and deliver the workforce the NHS needs. To deliver on these commitments the NHS published a new interim People Plan on 3 June that set out a shared vision and plan of action to put NHS people at the heart of NHS policy and delivery. The interim People Plan sets out the action the NHS will take now and over the long term to meet the challenges of supply, reform, culture and leadership.

Individual NHS employers are responsible for training the right number of rheumatology specialist nurses, based on the needs of the population they serve. Health Education England works with NHS employers to support the development of registered nurses so they can fill these specialist roles.

A programme of work is underway at Health Education England to develop an Advanced Clinical Practice framework that will allow health professionals to develop their careers and learn specialist skills, such as in rheumatology. Organisations are being supported to understand this level of practice and how they can develop and support their workforce into Advanced Clinical Practice level roles.

Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Rheumatology: Training
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) Health Education England, (2) NHS Education for Scotland, (3) Health Education and Improvement Wales, and (4) Health and Social Care Northern Ireland, about promoting the study of rheumatology within (a) the undergraduate, (b) postgraduate, and (c) professional training, medical community.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The Government has not included any requirement in its Mandate to Health Education England (HEE) with regards to promoting rheumatology training.

Undergraduate medical students and foundation doctors receive career guidance throughout their training to help them in their choice of subsequent career speciality. This enables them to consider what they would be best suited to and what career opportunities exist within the National Health Service. This includes career fairs, which may be meetings or virtual, when colleges and societies are available to give more detail on the own specialties. For rheumatology this will include the British Association of Rheumatology.

HEE manages the recruitment process for postgraduate training programmes in medicine. In 2018, 100% of the 50 rheumatology specialty training posts available were filled. The number of training posts appointed to is agreed each year in balance with all the other training posts required. These include training posts in general practice, where most rheumatological conditions are managed primarily or jointly in primary care settings.

Healthcare education, training and recruitment in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is a matter for the devolved administrations in each nation.

Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS Trusts: Recruitment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to individual NHS Trusts in England on succession planning for specialist posts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Succession planning for individual specialist posts is the responsibility of National Health Service trusts.

Health Education England (HEE), the national body for NHS workforce planning, works closely with the NHS to support workforce planning at a local, regional and national level. HEE uses information from employers to plan how many specialists in each discipline are required nationally and then provides the training programmes to ensure that individual specialists have the right knowledge and skills to fill these vacancies.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
British Steel: Insolvency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate they will cease to provide financial support to British Steel; whether a specific event will trigger the end of that support; and whether that support will terminate when the Official Receiver has completed their work.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The immediate priority following the Official Receiver’s appointment as liquidator of British Steel Limited was to continue the safe operation of the sites while options are considered. To enable this, the Government has provided an indemnity to the Official Receiver, who is now responsible for the operations.

The Official Receiver is currently overseeing a sales process as they seek to sell the business. Trading will continue whilst a buyer is sought.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
British Steel: Insolvency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to take any action to persuade Greybull Capital and its associates to contribute any gains made from its (1) investment in, and (2) loans to, British Steel towards reducing (a) the deficit of the British Steel Pension Scheme, and (b) the impact of British Steel's collapse on past and present employees.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The Official Receiver was appointed liquidator of British Steel Limited. In his role as liquidator, the Official Receiver is under a statutory duty to investigate the cause of failure of the company and generally its business, dealings and affairs and has wide-ranging powers to obtain information, material, and explanations.

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the Insolvency Service on 22 May requesting that the Official Receiver’s investigation not only looks at the conduct of the directors immediately prior to and at insolvency, but also at the investments made in the company, value transferred out of the company and whether any action by directors has caused detriment to creditors or to the pension schemes.

Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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, whether the Government has made an estimate of the cost of electricity in the steel sectors in (a) the UK, (b) Germany and (c) France.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261197 | 261198 | 261199 | 261200 | 261201 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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 he has made of the effect of uncompetitive electricity prices in the UK steel sector on that sector’s ability to compete internationally.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261198 | 261199 | 261200 | 261201 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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 he has made of the effect of high electricity prices on the resilience of the UK steel industry.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261197 | 261199 | 261200 | 261201 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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, with reference to UK Steel's report entitled The Energy Price Scandal, published in December 2018, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of implementing the recommendations made in that report to reduce the disparity between industrial electricity prices in the UK and those in Germany and France.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261197 | 261198 | 261200 | 261201 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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, if the Government will commit to providing competitive power prices for the steel sector.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261197 | 261198 | 261199 | 261201 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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, when the Government plans to provide a higher level of exemption to the UK steel sector for the costs of renewables.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261197 | 261198 | 261199 | 261200 | 261202
Q
Asked by Nic Dakin
(Scunthorpe)
Asked on: 06 June 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, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing (a) German, French and Netherlands-style discounts on network costs, (b) a Capacity Market Levy exemption, (c) 100 per cent compensation for the indirect costs of carbon and (d) other substantive measures to lower the high electricity prices faced by the UK steel sector.
A
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Between 2005 and 2010, industrial electricity prices rose by 64 per cent. Including taxes, industrial electricity prices rose from 4.77 pence per kWh in 2005 to 7.84 pence per kWh in 2010 while between 2010 and 2017, industrial electricity prices (including taxes) have risen from 7.84 to 9.79 pence per kWh.

The steel sector has received more than £291 million in compensation since 2013 to make energy costs more competitive [accurate as at 31/05/19], including over £53 million during 2018. Last year we announced the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund worth up to £315 million to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency.

Grouped Questions: 261196 | 261197 | 261198 | 261199 | 261200 | 261201
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Development
Pakistan: Textbooks
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) ensure that schools in Pakistan, supported by the Department for International Development, do not use textbooks with content that stigmatises religious minorities, and (2) encourage provincial governments in Pakistan to work with religious minority groups to remove such content.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 19 June 2019

Inclusion and respect for minority communities forms an integral part of our provincial and national education programmes in Pakistan. Through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Education Support Programme (KESP) and the Punjab Education Support Programme II (PESP II), DFID has also provided technical assistance to provincial governments to revise the school curriculum and remove discriminatory content from textbooks. Other work to promote tolerance and interfaith harmony includes: training nearly 100,000 teachers in KP and Punjab in equity and inclusion; funding the Alif Ailaan education campaign which focusses on religious minorities; and engaging with education civil society organisations to champion issues of inclusion and raise these with government.

Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Development
Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the Department for International Development (1) supports marginalised religious communities, and (2) evaluates the success of existing projects, without disaggregating data by religion or target religious groups.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The UK is firmly committed to protecting ethnic and religious minorities. Development and humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. With the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DFID supports marginalised religious communities: internationally in multilateral fora; by raising individual cases of persecution bilaterally; by highlighting discriminatory legislation and practices; and by funding targeted project work in many different countries. Where relevant, data is disaggregated by religion when projects are evaluated.

Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Development
Pakistan: Minority Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what training they provide to (1) Pakistani minority groups, and (2) non-governmental organisations, on how to organise, campaign, and lobby for minority groups; and what steps they are taking in response to the restrictions of civil society space in Pakistan.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The UK Government has consistently expressed our concern over the closure of civil society space in Pakistan at all levels of Government. Whilst we do not specifically train minority groups or non-governmental organisations on how to organise, campaign and lobby, we will continue to support civil society by lobbying the Government of Pakistan to pursue a fair and transparent process for INGO registration.

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