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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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.

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 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
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 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 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%
Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Foxes
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of potential secondary uses of the estimated 400,000 foxes killed each year in Britain, including as a source of biofuel.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

In 2000, the Burns Report estimated that 400,000 foxes die each year in Britain on roads, by being shot or through natural causes.

It is the responsibility of those who wish to control foxes by culling to ensure that the carcases are disposed of in accordance with the law. We have made no assessment of potential secondary uses of fox carcases.

Animals killed on roads are typically sent for disposal by incineration, co-incineration or processing (rendering). The fat extracted from rendering is commonly sent to approved biodiesel plants for conversion into biodiesel.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture: Fire Resistant Materials
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the study Flame retardants in UK furniture increase smoke toxicity more than they reduce fire growth rate, published in the journal Chemosphere in December 2017; and what steps they are taking to ensure that UK furniture is safe.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

As part of the Government’s review of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988, we are taking account of a wide range of scientific evidence from external sources including academic papers and studies.

We are committed to reviewing these regulations to ensure that the highest levels of fire safety are maintained while minimising risks to health and the environment.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture: Fire Prevention
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Office for Product Safety and Standards has spent on product compliance testing under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 since its formation; and what were the results of such testing.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Office for Product Safety and Standards has made available £500,000 in 2018 and £600,000 in 2019 for Local Authority Trading Standards to carry out product compliance testing at accredited laboratories. This testing includes compliance testing under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

Local Authority Trading Standards take appropriate enforcement action as required in light of the results from this testing.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will respond to their 2016 consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 22 May 2019

This is a complex issue and it is absolutely vital that the Government gets this right: we are committed to reviewing these regulations to ensure that the highest levels of fire safety are maintained while minimising risks to health and the environment.

The Department will publish its response to the 2016 consultation in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Labour Mobility
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of their announcement of 15 April on changes to the private rental sector on labour mobility.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Government is committed to modernising the private rented sector and intends to introduce a new, fairer deal for both landlords and tenants.

Following the recent announcement to put an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, we will shortly publish a consultation on the details of our package of reforms. We will use the consultation to test whether specific provisions for different types of housing, such as student accommodation are wanted or needed.

Landlords will still be able seek possession using existing grounds under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, including the ground relating to accommodation tied to employment. These reforms will allow the flexibility for renters to move, including for work, if they wish. Tenants will still be able to choose to end the tenancy, as long as they provide requisite notice to the landlord, retaining the flexibility we know is important to some renters.

Grouped Questions: HL15643
Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Holiday Accommodation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their announcement of 15 April on changes to the private rental sector, whether it will still be possible for (1) universities, and (2) businesses, to procure short-term lets for people coming from abroad for a defined period; and if not, why not.
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The Government is committed to modernising the private rented sector and intends to introduce a new, fairer deal for both landlords and tenants.

Following the recent announcement to put an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, we will shortly publish a consultation on the details of our package of reforms. We will use the consultation to test whether specific provisions for different types of housing, such as student accommodation are wanted or needed.

Landlords will still be able seek possession using existing grounds under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, including the ground relating to accommodation tied to employment. These reforms will allow the flexibility for renters to move, including for work, if they wish. Tenants will still be able to choose to end the tenancy, as long as they provide requisite notice to the landlord, retaining the flexibility we know is important to some renters.

Grouped Questions: HL15642
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Brexit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic impact of a Brexit scenario where the UK stays in a customs union with the EU.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The negotiated Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration outline the UK and EU’s shared commitment to a free trade area for goods with no tariffs, quotas or rules of origin requirements. We are not seeking membership of the Single Market, or Customs Union, after we leave the EU, but a bold and ambitious economic partnership.

The government has delivered on its commitment to provide appropriate analysis to Parliament with a robust, objective assessment of how exiting the EU may affect the economy of the UK, sectors, nations and regions in the long run. The analysis considers four analytical scenarios and compares them to today’s arrangements: the UK position set out in the July 2018 White Paper, a hypothetical FTA, an EEA-type relationship and a no deal scenario.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Iraq: Christianity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 5 February (HL13010), what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute of Development Studies The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East, published in 2017, that estimates that in 2003 there were approximately 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, and that in 2017 that number was between 200,000 and 250,000.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

While we are unable to confirm the exact numbers, we are gravely concerned about the decline in the numbers of Christians in Iraq in recent years as also cited in the independent interim report of the Bishop of Truro into the Persecution of Christians. We assess that a number of factors have resulted in this decline, including conflict and insecurity in Iraq and the particular threat posed by Daesh. We continue to engage with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government on the need to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. However, during a recent meeting with the Iraqi Foreign Minister on the 17 May and the Archbishop of Erbil on 21 May I heard of the steps being taken to reopen churches and the increased number of church services being help in Iraq.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pakistan: Blasphemy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case of the Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser, who, with her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, was sentenced to death in 2014, for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, including reports that the couple are illiterate and that the messages were in English; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about this case.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

​We are aware and are monitoring the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level.

I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February. The UK raised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan's UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We urged Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.

The UK remains firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, at a minimum, commit to publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty.

We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sri Lanka: Terrorism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what humanitarian assistance they have sent, or intend to send, to the communities affected by the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

​Sri Lanka has not requested humanitarian assistance. Following the Easter Sunday attacks, the Sri Lankan Government announced it would provide compensation for victims and fund the repair of the affected churches. The Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, visited Sri Lanka on 2-3 May to demonstrate solidarity and discuss what UK support would be most helpful. Existing UK support in Sri Lanka includes £8.3 million of Conflict Stability and Security Fund funding over three years (2016-2019) to support police reform and training, reconciliation and peacebuilding, resettlement, interfaith dialogue and demining in the north of the country. We are also engaging with the Sri Lankan Government, faith and community leaders to encourage the Government to take all appropriate measures to reassure all of Sri Lanka's citizens that it will protect and uphold their safety and rights, and that its response to the attacks is proportionate and builds trust across all communities in Sri Lanka.

Q
Asked by Lord Lucas
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Education
Maintained Schools: Special Educational Needs
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of mainstream maintained schools in England offered Key Stage 4 alternatives to GCSEs, suitable for children with special educational, health or social care needs; how many children took such courses, in each of the last five years for which records are available; what are the most popular of those non-GCSE courses; and which organisations create them.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 May 2019

There is not a range of non-GCSE qualifications taught at key stage 4 designed specifically for pupils with special educational needs (SEN). Pupils should have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. The national curriculum inclusion statement states that teachers should set high expectations for every pupil, whatever their prior attainment. Teachers should use appropriate assessment to set targets which are deliberately ambitious. Potential areas of difficulty should be identified and addressed at the outset. Lessons should be planned to address potential areas of difficulty and to remove barriers to pupil achievement. In many cases, such planning will mean that pupils with SEN and disabilities will be able to study the full national curriculum.

The department holds information on entries to non-GCSE qualifications included in the school performance tables, analysis of which is provided below.

The percentage of schools (mainstream[1]) with at least one pupil at the end of key stage 4[2] entering[3] non-GCSE qualifications[4], in each of the last 5 years, is shown in the table below:

2017/18[5]

2016/17

2015/16

2014/15

2013/14

Number of mainstream schools

3,175

3,153

3,113

3,069

3,037

Percentage of mainstream schools

95

97

99

99

99

with at least one pupil entering

a non-GCSE qualification (%)

The percentage of mainstream school pupils entering at least one non-GCSE qualification, in each of the last 5 years, is shown in the table below:

2017/18

2016/17

2015/16

2014/15

2013/14

Pupil cohort

513,356

517,756

530,580

543,314

548,290

Percentage of mainstream pupils who sat

40

52

72

71

68

at least one non-GCSE subject (%)

Tables showing the 10 most entered non-GCSE qualifications in all state-funded mainstream schools are included in the attached spreadsheet.

[1] State-funded mainstream schools include academies, free schools, city technology colleges and further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year olds. They exclude state-funded special schools, independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision (AP) (including pupil referral units, AP free schools and AP academies as well as state-funded AP placements in other institutions).

[2] Pupils are identified as being at the end of key stage 4 if they were on roll at the school and in year 11 at the time of the January school census for that year. Age is calculated as at 31 August for that year, and the majority of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were age 15 at the start of the academic year. Some pupils may complete this key stage in an earlier or later year group.

[3] The department does not collect data on which qualifications are offered by schools, instead figures based on which qualifications have been entered by pupils has been used as a proxy. There may be some qualifications offered by a school that no pupils sat exams in for each year.

[4] Figures only include qualifications included in performance tables.

[5] 2017/18 figures are revised figures. All other figures are final figures.

HL15682_Tables (Excel SpreadSheet, 72 KB)
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