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
(Belfast East)
[N]
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Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 29 April 2019
Home Office
Home Office: Departmental Records
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department has taken to locate the 114 documents in relation to child sexual abuse and hon. Members which were misplaced by his Department.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

In February 2013, the Permanent Secretary commissioned an investigation into information the Home Office received in relation to child abuse allegations, between 1979 and 1999. That investigation was unable to locate 114 potentially relevant Home Office files.

On 7 July 2014 the Home Secretary appointed Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC to carry out an independent review of the 2013 investigation.

On 29 July 2014, the Home Office Permanent Secretary directed that a physical search targeted on specific areas of the Department be undertaken to see if any of the 114 missing files could be located. This did not uncover any of the 114 missing files, though one was found prior to this exercise. As part of their Review, Wanless and Whittam interrogated what was known about each of the 114 files. They published their analysis within their final report, published November 2014.

Q
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Independent Office for Police Conduct: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average time taken for the Independent Office for Police Conduct to investigate a public complaint about police behaviour.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The information you requested is available on the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) website, published via their annual reports. The 2017/18 report can be accessed

https://policeconduct.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Documents/Who-we-are/accountability-performance/IOPC_annual_report_and_accounts_2017-18.pdf with previous reports available https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/who-we-are/accountability-and-performance/annual-report-and-plans The police conduct accountability and performance annual report: describes our work over the past year, including the investigations we have carried out, the appeals we have handled, and our work to increase public confidence in the complaints system. It also outlines what we have been doing over the past year to review and implement changes to the way we work.

The 2017/18 performance year, the figures include 9 months of IPCC data (April to December) and 3 months of IOPC data (January to March).

Figures for the 2018/19 performance year will be included in the IOPC’s next annual report which will be laid before Parliament and published later in the year.

OPC Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18 (PDF Document, 3.29 MB)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Terrorism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 3 April (HL14709), what assessment they have made of the impact of the ban on direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh on the current UK terrorist threat level.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

As indicated prior, the threat level to the UK from international terrorism is kept under constant review by the independent Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre, whose judgements about the threat level are made on the basis of the very latest reporting and intelligence. This can change at any time as different information becomes available.

The current threat level from international terrorism is judged to be SEVERE, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Asked on: 13 May 2019
Home Office
Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the accuracy of facial recognition technology.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Facial recognition is a fast evolving area of technology with the potential to streamline identity verification and authentication processes across Government and the private sector. When used in the appropriate setting and context, it has proved to be a very reliable and accurate tool.

Its performance is dependent on a number of variables, from the quality of the images, environmental factors, the specific algorithm used, the thresholds or risk profile applied and many other factors. Possible matches produced by LFR systems are always checked by a human operator before deciding what, if any, action to take.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Home Office: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of officials in his Department took sick leave for reasons relating to stress in the last 12 months; what proportion that leave was of total sick leave taken in his Department; and what the cost was to his Department of officials taking sick leave over that period.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The number of staff in the Home Office who took sickness absence due to mental health issues in the 12 months to 30 April 2019; the proportion of the total sick absence that this comprises; and the cost to the Department of sick absence due to mental ill health during that period is set out in the accompanying table. These absences include those relating to stress, as well as other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. These conditions can be triggered by various factors.

We are committed to breaking down barriers and reducing stigma for employees living with mental health conditions. We aim to equip managers to recognise and address stress in the workplace and encourage employees to talk to their managers about mental health issues so that they can access help and support at the earliest stage.

Table - PQ 254070 (Excel SpreadSheet, 13.99 KB)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Eritrea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many asylum claims were made in each of the past three years by Eritreans; whether more illegal migrants were smuggled into the UK last year from Eritrea than from any other country; and what assessment they have made of religious persecution in Eritrea as a driver of Eritrean migration.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Home Office publishes data on the number of applications for asylum in the UK, broken down by nationality, in its quarterly Immigration Statistics release. The number of applications made by Eritreans in each year are available in table as_01 (Main Applicants; Asylum, volume 1).

Latest edition available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781299/asylum1-dec-2018-tables.ods

Year

Total applications

2016

1,230

2017

1,085

2018

2,158

The Home Office is unable to report on whether more illegal migrants were smuggled in to the UK last year from Eritrea than from any other country, as the method of entry for those who entered the UK clandestinely and subsequently claimed asylum, is recorded on individual Home Office files and to obtain this information would require a manual trawl and could only be obtained at disproportionate costs.

All asylum and human rights applications from Eritrean nationals are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations. Each individual assessment is made against the background of the latest available country of origin information and any relevant caselaw. The Country Policy and Information Note Eritrea: Religious groups published in February 2018 (available on Gov.uk) outlines our position.

Eritea Religious Groups (PDF Document, 509.49 KB)
Asylum 1 - Dec 2018 Tables (Excel SpreadSheet, 3.6 MB)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies: Companies
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to introduce a public register of beneficial ownership for (1) the Crown Dependencies, and (2) other tax havens for which the UK has responsibility.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

It is important to note that the Crown Dependencies are self-governing jurisdictions with their own legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and courts of law. They have confirmed they will develop public registers of company beneficial ownership once it has been established as a global norm.

In October 2018 the UK Government launched an international beneficial ownership transparency campaign to shift global norms by encouraging and supporting more countries to implement free to access and publicly available company beneficial ownership registers by 2023. In line with this campaign, the UK Government will encourage the Crown Dependencies to voluntarily introduce measures to improve the transparency of their company ownership.

Similarly, the Overseas Territories are self-governing jurisdictions. However, in accordance with the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, the UK Government will prepare an Order in Council by the end of 2020 requiring all Overseas Territories to have fully functioning publicly accessible registers in place by the end of 2023. The UK Government will work consensually with the Overseas Territories on introducing publicly accessible registers, which includes through technical workshops.

Q
Asked by Lord Morrow
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Deportation: China
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what grounds Wen Li (Jaiwen Li), who is reported to be held at Brook House immigration removal centre, is being deported to China; and what assessment they have made of any potential risks to him in China.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

We do not routinely comment on individual cases. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and each case is assessed on its merits and individuals have the right to appeal to an independent immigration court.

Where a decision has been made that a person does not require international protection, removal is only enforced when we and the courts conclude that it is safe to do so, with a safe route of return. We monitor the situation in countries of origin and update our positions regularly and make decisions on returns on a case by case.

Guidance used by UK Visas and Immigration to make decisions on asylum and human rights applications is published and can be found on gov.uk

Q
Asked by Lord Wigley
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Home Office
Migrant Workers: Football
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the UK's departure from the EU, there will be any limit on the right of association football clubs in the UK to hire overseas nationals to work for them in circumstances where there is an adequate number of UK nationals seeking such employment.
Answered on: 24 May 2019

As the Government set out in the Home Office White Paper, published on 19 December 2018, our future immigration system will continue to make provision for international quality sportspersons.

As now, we will continue to work with our sports governing bodies to ensure we strike the right balance between enabling top level international sportspeople to come to the UK and protecting opportunities for resident sportspeople.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Home Office
Radicalism: Propaganda
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Treason Act 1945 to provide a tenable basis for the prosecution of British citizens who participate in and spread propaganda of Islamist extremism.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Commission for Countering Extremism was set up last year to support the Government to understand the scale of extremism and the wider harms associated with it, beyond radicalisation into terrorism. The Commission’s work includes looking into whether there is a need for a statutory definition of extremism and new powers to tackle it.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Home Office
Intelligence Services: International Cooperation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he is taking steps to strengthen the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance after the UK leaves the EU; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Five Eyes alliance is of critical importance to the UK in tackling the most pressing security threats we face. We continue to work together with our Five Eyes partners on our shared global security interests and to harness the power of this international alliance, including through intelligence-sharing.

The UK will continue to invest in the relationship and take a leading role, including by hosting the Five Countries Ministerial conference this summer. There is no suggestion in the Withdrawal Agreement or the Political Declaration on our future relationship that our exit from the EU will have ramifications on the UK’s security arrangements with the Five Eyes.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Home Office
Counter-terrorism: Universities
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that university authorities co-operate with the Prevent programme.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Office for Students has delegated responsibility, from the Secretary of State for Education, for monitoring compliance of the Prevent Duty in the higher education (HE) sector. The latest Office for Students monitoring report shows high levels of compliance, with over 97% of universities and other HE providers having due regard for the duty.

Under this delegation, the Secretary of State asked the Office for Students to move towards a more risk based monitoring approach, ensuring resources are targeted where most needed. The Office for Students updated their monitoring framework to reflect this, which took effect in September 2018.

The Government provides direct support to the sector on implementation of Prevent through a network of ‘further education / higher education’ (FE/HE) regional co-ordinators who work directly with higher and further education institutions, and provide them with the advice, support and training they need to build their and their students’ resilience to extremism and radicalisation. There is also published Government guidance for the sector on Prevent implementation. The Home Office has regular discussions with the Department for Education on the implementation of Prevent in the higher education sector

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Home Office
Religious Hatred: Christianity
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent estimate he has made of trends in the level of hate crimes against Christians.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Home Office has collected on a mandatory basis the number of religious hate crimes where the targeted religion was Christian since 2017/18.

Data for 2017/18 can be found in ‘Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2017/18’
which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2017-to-2018

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Home Office
Seasonal Workers: EEA Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps he is taking to ensure that EEA nationals are able to carry out seasonal work in the UK after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Government is committed to developing a future borders and immigration system that will cater for all sectors of the UK, including for those who employ seasonal workers.Our proposals in the immigration White Paper, the UK’s Future Skills-Based Immigration System, include a temporary short-term workers route which will be open to people at any level, including seasonal workers.

As the Government has been clear, we are launching a twelve month engagement process in order to listen to businesses and organisations. As part of this, there has already been engagement with employers a broad range of sectors. We will consider the feedback from this process before making final decisions.

Q
(Christchurch)
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Home Office
Chemical Weapons: Salisbury
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what reviews his Department has commissioned into the 2018 Salisbury Novichok nerve agent incident; and what the timeframe is for those reviews to be (a) completed and (b) published.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 24 May 2019

We keep the issues raised by the Salisbury nerve agent attack under consideration but currently have no plans to publish any reviews relating to them.

Q
Asked by Jo Stevens
(Cardiff Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 16 May 2019
Home Office
Crime: Business Premises
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many crimes took place on commercial premises in 2018.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Home Office does not hold this data. Estimates of crimes in commercial premises is published in the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) and da-ta for 2018 is due to be published in Autumn 2019.
A link to the most recent publication giving results from the 2017 survey can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/crime-against-businesses-findings-from-the-2017-commercial-victimisation-survey

Q
(Coventry South)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 16 May 2019
Home Office
Paedophilia
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the Government's estimate of the number of paedophiles living in the UK.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

Child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) is an appalling crime that this government is committed to stamping out.

In the Home Secretary’s speech at the NSPCC on 3 September 2019, he said that the National Crime Agency estimates that around 80,000 people in the UK present some kind of sexual threat to children online, and the NCA believe that’s a conservative estimate.

The Government continue to engage closely with a range of partners including law enforcement, NGOs and academics to build our understanding of the evolving threat in order to do all we can to protect children and stop offenders.

Q
Asked by Jo Platt
(Leigh)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 17 May 2019
Home Office
Alcoholic Drinks: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 7 May 2019 to Question 248072 on Alcoholic Drinks: Sales , and the Answer of 16 May to Question 253725 on Immigration: EU Nationals, for what reason the Government does not use the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization to amend the mandatory licensing condition to allow the use of digital forms of identification.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Home Office will consider whether the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation could be used to amend the mandatory licensing condition on age verification.

Q
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Home Office
Thames House: Pedestrian Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 11 April (HL14894), whether the Security Service sought permission from Westminster City Council or Transport for London before they closed the pedestrian footpath on Horseferry Road.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Security Service has taken all appropriate and reasonable steps to ensure the safety of pedestrians on Horseferry Road.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 8 May (HLWS1504), whether they expect local authorities will offer extra placements to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC); and whether offers from individual British families to adopt or to foster UASC will be taken up.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Home Office recognises the highly valuable work that local authorities undertake in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) and that is why we significantly increased the funding paid as a contribution to their costs. It is hoped that this will enable more local authorities to feel able to offer placements for vulnerable UASC, and we will be working with them and partners to encourage this.

It is unlikely that adoption will be an appropriate option for unaccompanied children. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as well as other humanitarian charities, advise that no new adoption applications should be considered in the period after a disaster or fleeing from war. It is not uncommon for children in these circumstances to be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members who may be looking for them. Efforts to reunite children with relatives or extended family should therefore be given priority.

Foster parents are recruited by fostering services which include local authorities or independent fostering agencies. The decision to let someone foster a child, including UASC, is a very important one to get right. Anyone who wants to become a foster parent must undergo a full assessment and be approved by a fostering service before any child can be placed in their care. Regulations set out in detail the requirements of the approval process, including the information that must be collected in the assessment and the requirement for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. In 2013 Department for Education streamlined and strengthened the assessment and approval process for foster carers, introducing a two-stage process to ensure efficiency and transparency.

Existing foster parents may also be able to provide suitable homes for unaccompanied children and over the past two years the Department for Education has funded over 2000 training places for existing foster parents and support workers who wish to care for UASC, with places being prioritised for local authorities participating in the National Transfer Scheme.

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