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
(Arfon)
Asked on: 07 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the process is for her Department when it considers an application for an advance payment for universal credit.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 22 May 2019

If a claimant meets the conditions for an advance we aim to make the payment within 72 hours. However, an advance can be paid on the same day the claimant applies if they or their household would suffer genuine hardship if they had to wait 72 hours for the payment.

Applications for a Universal Credit advance payment can be made in person, by telephone or online depending on the claimant’s circumstances. Depending on the type of advance payment application, we will consider whether the claimant satisfies the eligibility conditions for receiving the advance. If the claimant is eligible we will agree the amount of the advance and the period over which the advance will be recovered from their future Universal Credit payments. The outcome of the application is explained to the claimant and their online journal updated.

Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
Asked on: 01 May 2019
Women and Equalities
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how many civil servants in the Government Equalities Office have been seconded to (a) the Department for Exiting the European Union and (b) the Department for International Trade in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) confirms no GEO civil servants have been seconded to either the Department for Exiting the European Union or the Department for International Trade in the last three years.

Q
Asked by Mr Ivan Lewis
(Bury South)
Asked on: 03 May 2019
Women and Equalities
Employment: Disability
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to help ensure that employers provide reasonable adjustments to the workplace so that people with hidden or invisible conditions are able to (a) access and (b) stay in employment.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The law is very clear that employers must make reasonable adjustments for employees and job applicants who meet the Equality Act 2010’s definition of disability, namely having a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on the person’s ability to do normal daily activities. Where a disability is not obvious, it will be necessary for the employee or job applicant to declare their condition, but at that point the onus passes to the employer to meet its legal obligations.

To help employers comply with the law, the Government has issued guidance on the duty to make reasonable adjustments, here: https://www.gov.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-workers

In addition, guidance on this subject has been issued by Acas and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has also published a statutory code of practice for employers. Where employers fall short on their obligations, legal remedies exist for employees and job applicants, together with Acas’s early conciliation service, which aims to settle disputes before they reach the employment tribunal.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Transport
Bus Services: Disability
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their Bus Services Act 2017: bus open data consultation response, published in January, why the provision of accessibility information “would be too great an implementation burden for bus operators”; and what assessment they have made of the impact of the lack of such information on those with disabilities.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Department for Transport consulted with bus operators, passengers and their representative groups to explore the technical feasibility of requiring operators and/or local transport authorities to provide accessibility data for both vehicles and stops. We came to the conclusion that the industry is not yet ready to meet this challenge and therefore have chosen to focus on only legally requiring the core data types for the Bus Open Data Digital Service.

Whilst we do consider accessibility information to be of great importance for public transport users, many operators would need to upgrade their systems in order to openly publish accessibility information, and many operators are not currently in a position to do so.

However, we are working with the industry to support the voluntary and open publication of accessibility information and at a later stage in the programme, after the core requirements have been successfully delivered, return to this important data type and consider whether it would be feasible to legally require the industry to openly publish accessibility information about vehicles.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Home Office
Immigrants: France
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in cooperation with the government of France, they will seek to widen the terms of reference of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre from exclusive concern with national security and criminality to include the well-being of displaced people sleeping in northern France and the restriction of violent and brutal police behaviour.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The opening of the Joint Centre for Information and Coordination (CCIC) forms part of the commitments of the Sandhurst Treaty, signed by the Prime Minister and President Macron in January 2018. The Sandhurst Treaty is a bilateral agreement between the UK and France which reinforces the commitment of both sides to work together on border security issues.

Under the CCIC, Border Force work closely alongside Police Aux Frontieres in a 24/7 operation to:

  • Assist with preventing illegal attempts to cross the shared border
  • Facilitate the circulation of information between UK and French agencies to combat cross-border criminality
  • Work on the prevention of threats to public order on cross-border infrastructure
  • Provide analysis of cross-channel traffic flows

The CCIC also helps with the identification, prosecution and dismantling of criminal gangs involved in people smuggling and wider cross border crime.

There are currently no plans to widen the remit and responsibilities of the CCIC, however its performance and remit are regularly reviewed.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Vehicles: Charging Points
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to introduce legislation that requires all electricity used at charging points for electric vehicles to be from renewable sources.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

We want an increasing proportion of the electricity used at electric vehicle charging points to be from renewable and low carbon sources. We are taking steps to facilitate this by cleaning up the UK’s power generation and increasing the amount of renewable generation and ensuring electric vehicles play a helpful role in our future smart and flexible energy system.

The Clean Growth Strategy sets out steps the Government is taking to further decarbonise the power sector and the wider economy. Between now and 2050, the Government projects electricity grid emissions will continue to fall with increasing levels of low carbon and distributed renewable generation. To enable these changes in generation, the system is adapting to become more flexible and smarter in order to better manage the new flows in power. Electric vehicles have an important role to play in this transition – offering new opportunities for consumers and the power system. Smart charging will allow charging to happen at times when more renewable energy is available. The department plans to consult on smart chargepoint requirements shortly.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Pneumococcal Diseases: Vaccination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to reduce the infant pneumococcal vaccination schedule from three doses to two.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provides independent expert advice on the United Kingdom’s immunisation programme. As an independent committee, it is well placed to ensure the latest and most appropriate evidence has been considered on potential changes to scheduling within the vaccine programme. It bases its advice on review of a wide range of scientific and other evidence, including from the published literature, commissioned studies such as independent analyses of vaccine effectiveness and cost effectiveness.

The JCVI advised that a two-dose schedule for the infant pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) Prevenar13 is appropriate for the UK. Its advice takes into account the public health aspects of any potential change to the vaccination schedule, such as the potential impact on cases of infectious disease. The JCVI consulted relevant stakeholders on its proposed advice, between January and April 2018, to ensure that its advice reflects all the evidence.

The JCVI’s advice on the infant pneumococcal programme was given full consideration, including the potential public health implications, before a decision was made to implement it. The UK frequently adopts innovative immunisation schedules and we regularly change the vaccine schedule following the advice of our independent expert committee, as we are doing in this case.

The decision is based on the excellent effectiveness of the vaccine and years of high uptake, which has helped to provide protection to the rest of the population and has successfully controlled many types of pneumococcal disease in this country. The evidence shows that two doses will sustain the excellent results we have already seen. We are confident that the world-class disease surveillance system we have in this country means our expert committee can closely monitor the impact of this change. This is set out in the JCVI’s minutes which are attached.

JCVI Minute 2015 (PDF Document, 766.89 KB)
Grouped Questions: HL15600
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Pneumococcal Diseases: Vaccination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what analyses they have conducted of the risks and benefits of reducing the infant pneumococcal vaccination schedule from 2+1 to 1+1; and whether they will publish the results any such analyses.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provides independent expert advice on the United Kingdom’s immunisation programme. As an independent committee, it is well placed to ensure the latest and most appropriate evidence has been considered on potential changes to scheduling within the vaccine programme. It bases its advice on review of a wide range of scientific and other evidence, including from the published literature, commissioned studies such as independent analyses of vaccine effectiveness and cost effectiveness.

The JCVI advised that a two-dose schedule for the infant pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) Prevenar13 is appropriate for the UK. Its advice takes into account the public health aspects of any potential change to the vaccination schedule, such as the potential impact on cases of infectious disease. The JCVI consulted relevant stakeholders on its proposed advice, between January and April 2018, to ensure that its advice reflects all the evidence.

The JCVI’s advice on the infant pneumococcal programme was given full consideration, including the potential public health implications, before a decision was made to implement it. The UK frequently adopts innovative immunisation schedules and we regularly change the vaccine schedule following the advice of our independent expert committee, as we are doing in this case.

The decision is based on the excellent effectiveness of the vaccine and years of high uptake, which has helped to provide protection to the rest of the population and has successfully controlled many types of pneumococcal disease in this country. The evidence shows that two doses will sustain the excellent results we have already seen. We are confident that the world-class disease surveillance system we have in this country means our expert committee can closely monitor the impact of this change. This is set out in the JCVI’s minutes which are attached.

JCVI Minute 2015 (PDF Document, 766.89 KB)
Grouped Questions: HL15599
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
HIV Infection: Vaccination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve vaccination coverage for people living with HIV.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Public Health England, in partnership with NHS England and the Department, is taking steps to improve vaccination coverage in England, including for people living with HIV.

These steps include initiatives to improve access to the immunisation programme; communication with the public; data to identify underserved individuals and populations; and training for healthcare professionals, changes to vaccination eligibility criteria; launching disease elimination strategies; running targeted social media campaigns; providing information leaflets in multiple languages and running e-learning programme for healthcare practitioners.

Certain vaccines are delivered through sexual health services that particularly benefit people living with HIV. This includes vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus. People living with HIV are in the influenza risk groups and are invited for the flu vaccine on an annual basis.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Transport
West Coast Partnership Rail Franchise
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether FirstGroup has met all Department of Transport criteria on railways pensions as a shortlisted bidder for the West Coast Partnership rail franchise.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Department does not comment on a live competition. Please note that all bids received for any franchise competition are evaluated against the requirements and instructions set out in the relevant Invitation To Tender.

Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Home Office
Visas: Overseas Students
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students have had their visas revoked or curtailed for allegedly cheating in Government-approved English proficiency tests in each year since 2014; how many were detained or forcibly removed in that period; how many students made challenges to decisions; and how many cases are awaiting decision by the Court of Appeal.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The exact information requested is not held centrally by the Home Office. UKVI transparency data provides details of refusal, curtailments and removal decisions on those linked to the abuse of secure English language testing. A link to the most recent available data is provided here;
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/temporary-and-permanent-migration-data-february-2017


The table in SELT_02 is the closest match to the information requested.

The data was last published in February 2017 and only contains data to the last quarter (December 2016). ETS data is no longer published after this date.

UKVI TM PM Transparency Data - Q4 (Excel SpreadSheet, 62.07 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Social Mobility
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of policies and programmes to tackle social inequality in the UK; and what evidence exists to demonstrate that children and young people living in poverty and low-income households have been enabled by those policies and programmes to overcome the barriers to social mobility.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Social mobility is a top priority, and the department is taking action to remove barriers to opportunity at every stage of the education system. The department has set out a 10 year ambition to boost children’s early reading and communication skills. We have invested more than £15 billion in the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged pupils and we are reforming technical education. The evidence shows we are closing the educational attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and others, as measured by the disadvantage gap index, by around 13 % at key stage 2 and 9.5 % at key stage 4 since 2011. As well as increasing the proportion of disadvantaged 18 year olds entering full-time higher education from 13.3% in 2009 to 20.2% in 2018.

The department has invested over £137 million in the Education Endowment Foundation to help schools use the pupil premium in ways that are proven to have a positive impact.

We are committed to tackling the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and we are making good progress. Nationally, there are now over a million fewer workless households, and around 665,000 fewer children living in such households compared with 2010.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Migrant Workers
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the number of NHS staff recruited from EU member states after Brexit.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Government recognises the need to be able to recruit effectively from abroad and the Immigration White Paper, The UK’s future skills-based immigration system, published in December 2018, sets out the foundation for a single immigration system, where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from. This system will streamline the high-skilled visa route, by removing the Resident Labour Market Test and the Tier 2 Visa Cap. The Home Office is undertaking a programme of engagement to discuss the proposed measures with colleagues across Government and industry, to develop a future immigration system that works for the whole of the United Kingdom.

The Government wants to support the National Health Service in expanding international recruitment more widely, as this clearly has a role to play to meeting staffing shortages, especially in the short term. Recruitment of doctors and nurses is the responsibility of individual NHS organisations, a number of which do actively recruit from overseas, including from countries in the European Union. However, we also recognise the need to boost our domestic workforce as well. The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a vital strategic framework to ensure that, over the next 10 years, the NHS will have the staff it needs so that nurses and doctors are working in a supportive culture that allows them to provide the expert compassionate care they are committed to providing. Details of this will be explored more fully in the forthcoming Interim NHS People Plan.

The Government has taken steps to ensure that EU citizens can continue to come and work in the NHS once we have left the EU. In March 2019, we put in place legislation that ensures the continued recognition of qualifications from EU countries by all professional regulators covering the health and social care sectors. This means that EU citizens will continue to be able to come and practice in the UK once we have left the EU, even if we leave without a deal.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Germany
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to develop the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with Germany.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Germany accounts for 10.2% of total UK trade and remains a crucial market for UK goods and services. Total trade in goods and services between the UK and Germany amounted to £132.7 billion in 2018.

In August 2018, my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade launched the Export Strategy, through which the Government plans to increase UK total exports as a proportion of GDP to 35% and make Britain a 21st century exporting superpower. Germany will be a priority market for this strategy. We will also continue to promote the UK as a bilateral trading partner, reassuring German businesses that the UK remains open for business and remains an advocate for free trade and open markets.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 1, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15621 | HL15622 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 2, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15622 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 3, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15621 | HL15623
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Young People: Surveys
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date, excluding the cost of officials’ time, of the Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 4, including (1) questionnaire design, (2) piloting, (3) data collection, (4) coding, and (5) data cleaning.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The release of this information would prejudice commercial interests. Therefore, my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will communicate privately with the noble Lady, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.

Grouped Questions: HL15620 | HL15621 | HL15622
Q
Asked by Lord Colwyn
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Health: Antibiotics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord O'Shaughnessy on 4 December 2018 (HL11750), how many antibiotic prescriptions were issued by general dental practitioners in England in 2018.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Dental Prescribing Dashboard developed by the NHS Business Services Authority and Public Health England, includes data for National Health Service local area teams. Latest available data show general dental practitioners issued 2,912,579 prescriptions for all antimicrobials including antibiotics during April 2017 to March 2018. There were 715,545 prescriptions between January and March 2018. The Dental Prescribing Dashboard will be refreshed in summer 2019.

Analysis is based on items prescribed by NHS dentists, but some patients may attend a general medical practice with a dental infection and receive a prescription from their general practitioner (GP). These prescriptions are not included, as we cannot determine the reason why a GP prescribed antibiotics.

The English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) Report 2018 provides information on NHS dental prescribing in dental practices and consultations. The ESPAUR report for 2019 scheduled for publication later this year will publish data for the 2018 calendar year. The ESPAUR 2018 report is attached.

ESPAUR_2018_report (PDF Document, 2.25 MB)
Q
Asked by Lord Grocott
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Devolution: Yorkshire and the Humber
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth on 7 May (HL Deb, col 1140), with regard to combined authorities in England with directly elected mayors (1) what powers those authorities have in common, (2) what powers are specific to individual combined authorities or to groups of combined authorities, (3) what are the dates of the next elections for each mayor, and (4) what was the turnout in each combined authority in the most recent election for each directly elected mayor.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

1) All eight mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) in England - Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, Sheffield City Region, Tees Valley, West of England and West Midlands- have the following functions in common:

  • Integrated transport functions
  • Bus improvement powers including bus franchising
  • Economic development and regeneration powers
  • Power to borrow for transport functions

They also all have a power of competence over areas where they have had functions conferred. In the case of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and West of England this is the General Power of Competence that principal local authorities have.

2) Each MCA has a different set of functions conferred on them, reflecting the bespoke nature of devolution deals as shown below:

  • Power to raise a precept on council tax to fund mayoral powers - all MCAs except West of England.
  • Power to pay grant - all MCAs except Sheffield City Region.
  • Power to establish Mayoral Development Corporations - all MCAs, apart from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and Sheffield City Region
  • Power to borrow for any combined authority function - all MCAs except North of Tyne and Sheffield City Region
  • Adult education functions -all MCAs except North of Tyne and Sheffield City Region
  • Homes England powers around regeneration - all MCAs except Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Tees Valley and Sheffield City Region.
  • Power to raise a business rates supplement - Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Liverpool City Region, West of England and West Midlands.
  • Strategic planning powers - Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West of England
  • Police & Crime Commissioner functions - exclusive to Greater Manchester.
  • Fire & Rescue Authority - exclusive to Greater Manchester
  • Public health functions - exclusive to Greater Manchester
  • Powers in relation to combined authority roads, as defined in legislation - exclusive to West Midlands.

3) The dates for the next mayoral election in each MCA are as follows:

7 May 2020: Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands

6 May 2021: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, West of England

5 May 2022: Sheffield City Region

2 May 2024: North of Tyne

4) The turnout for the inaugural mayoral election in each combined authority is as follows:

4 May 2017:

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - a turnout of 33.57%
  • Greater Manchester - a turnout of 28.93%
  • Liverpool City Region - a turnout of 26.1%
  • Tees Valley - a turnout of 21.31%
  • West of England - a turnout of 29.72%
  • West Midlands - a turnout of 26.7%

3 May 2018

  • Sheffield City Region - a turnout of 25.82%

2 May 2019

  • North of Tyne - a turnout of 32.3%
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