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 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 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.

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.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with local authorities on plans to hold a festival of innovation and creativity in 2022.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 22 May 2019

We are in the early stages of planning the Festival. Any formal discussions with local authorities will be conducted by the appropriate delivery body in due course.

Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gaza: Israel
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the ecological damage caused by the recent escalation of hostilities in Gaza.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

We have not made any assessment on this issue.​

Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gaza: Israel
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the damage caused by the recent escalation of hostilities in Gaza, in particular to public facilities and services, and electricity networks; and what assessment they have made of the impact of the loss of such facilities, services, and networks on the civilian population in Gaza.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

The UK is gravely concerned by the recent escalation of hostilities in Gaza. We wholly condemn rocket fire by Hamas and other militants. The then acting Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, the Rt Hon. Mark Field MP, spoke to UN MEPP Coordinator Mladenov on 8 May where he welcomed the Egyptian and UN brokered ceasefire. We urge the parties to make progress towards a long-term agreement to ensure a durable solution for Gaza. We are concerned by damage to infrastructure in Gaza and the impact this has on the civilian population. The UK is supporting up to 1 million Gazans by addressing critical water and sanitation needs through £2 million to UNICEF. We have also announced £2 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for medicines and surgical supplies.

Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israeli Settlements: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about reports that Israeli settlers have poisoned water supplies used by shepherds in the West Bank; and what steps they intend to take to protect those shepherds from attacks by settlers.
A
Answered on: 22 May 2019

We continue to raise with our Israeli counterparts our concerns about the humanitarian and environmental impact of the damage to water sources and the destruction of Palestinian agricultural land that has been caused by settlement-related activity. We continue to condemn any incidence of violence by settlers against Palestinians and stress the importance of the Israel security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population.

Q
Asked by John Healey
(Wentworth and Dearne)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Buildings: Insulation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 9 May 2019 to Question 249214 on Buildings: Insulation, what evidence he has received that all residents have been informed of the inclusion of their residences in his Department's Building Safety Programme monthly data release.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Building owners are responsible for ensuring residents are informed of fire safety issues in their buildings. We are engaging with building owners, managing agents, local authorities and others to ensure that remediation happens as quickly as possible, and that interim safety measures are in place in all buildings until the cladding is replaced.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Homelessness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of regional job centre closures on trends in the level of homelessness in those regions.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 22 May 2019

When closing or merging a Jobcentre, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) undertake an equality analysis as part of the detailed planning for service reconfiguration. This will include feedback from public consultation in those locations where this applied. Details of jobcentres that have closed and/or merged in the last two years can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-on-the-future-of-dwp-jobcentres

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government publishes local authority data on homelessness applications quarterly.

Reference should also be made to the response given on 9 February 2018 in the reply to PQ 126480.

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