Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Eddie Hughes
(Walsall North)
[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: 13 December 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Artificial Intelligence
Commons
What steps his Department is taking to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 13 December 2018

The UK is a world leader in AI and this government is committed to retaining this position.

Our AI and Data Grand Challenge is a major collaboration with industry and academia to this end. It includes up to £0.95bn Sector Deal package with industry that will strengthen the UK’s position as a global AI leader.

We are establishing an AI Council, an expert committee, to provide high-level leadership on implementing the AI Sector Deal.

We are also working with partners including the Turing Institute and UKRI to encourage retention and attract new, diverse talent from abroad.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Home Office
Offences against Children: Social Media
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department is taking to encourage social media companies to tackle the grooming of young children on the platforms of those companies.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 12 December 2018

Tackling online grooming is one of our highest priorities, and we are in-creasing our investment in law enforcement and legislating on online harms to bear down on the threat. In November the Home Secretary also co-hosted a ‘Hackathon’ in the US, where tech companies developed an artificial intelligence product to detect online grooming that will be licensed free of charge to technology companies worldwide.

Q
(Meriden)
Asked on: 13 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Government: Industry
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to improve collaborative working between Government and industry.
A
Answered by: Richard Harrington
Answered on: 19 November 2018

Our Industrial Strategy sets out how we are building strong partnerships with businesses, academia, local government and devolved administrations.

Our Sector Deals, Grand Challenges and Local Industrial Strategies demonstrate how we are working collaboratively with industry to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. We have published six sector deals so far on Life Sciences, Automotive, Creative Industries, Artificial Intelligence, Nuclear and Construction. The process allows for robust engagement and negotiation between industry and government leadership to ensure that we are working together effectively to tackle barriers to productivity. We have three more deals in negotiation with the Aerospace, Rail and Food and Drink sectors.

Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
[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: 26 October 2018
Department for Education
Training: Expenditure
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 24 October 2018 to Question 181594 on Training, what proportion of (a) the £24 million allocated to the CITB Construction Skills Fund and (b) the £30 million allocated to develop innovative ways to use education technology and artificial intelligence in education will be spent in the 2018-19 financial year.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 31 October 2018

The CITB Construction Skills Funding is currently being agreed with the successful Construction Training Hubs providers across the country. We expect up to £9.2 million to be granted in 2018/19. A ministerial announcement about the successful projects will be made later this year.

The government has also committed up to £30 million to develop innovative ways to use education technology and articial intelligence in education to deliver improved learning outcomes. As updated in my previous response on 24 October 2018, this funding will begin in the 2019-20 financial year and is profiled evenly between financials years 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Q
Asked by Ian Austin
(Dudley North)
[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Education
Employment: Artificial Intelligence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the use of artificial intelligence on skills and training; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 29 October 2018

Automation and modernisation will have a significant impact on the jobs market over the next 10-20 years, bringing new challenges and opportunities. The National Retraining Scheme, announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget, is an ambitious and far-reaching programme to drive adult retraining. The Scheme will help those most at risk and in precarious employment to gain the skills they need to thrive as the economy changes.

In addition, the government has committed up to £30 million to develop innovative ways to use education technology and artificial intelligence in education to deliver improved learning outcomes. This funding takes effect from 2019-20 onwards and further details will be announced shortly.

Q
Asked by Ian Austin
(Dudley North)
[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Employment: Artificial Intelligence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the use of artificial intelligence on levels of employment; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 29 October 2018

Artificial Intelligence is one of the global trends which will transform our future, changing jobs and businesses across the country, and we want people to be able to capitalise on these opportunities.

Addressing this, Artificial Intelligence and data is one of the first 4 Grand Challenges set out in our Industrial Strategy to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future, ensuring that we take advantage of major global changes, improving people’s lives and the country’s productivity.

Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of good quality jobs and drive economic growth in all four nations. As part of the AI Sector Deal, announced in April, we've made a range of commitments to support the development of the skills required to generate good jobs and greater earning power for all.

Q
(Leicester South)
Asked on: 18 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: ICT
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the October 2018 policy paper, The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care, what assessment his Department has made of the level of technical fluency of leaders in the NHS; and what steps he plans to take to recruit leaders with the technical fluency needed to be a competent customer.
A
Answered by: Matt Hancock
Answered on: 25 October 2018

To fulfil our vision, we need the right skills and capability at every level of the National Health Service, social care and across the system and this needs to be driven by leaders at every level.

We want all health and care organisations to ensure leaders at board-level understand how data and technology drives their services and strategies and take responsibility for the digital maturity of their organisations. We also recognise the need to develop the new generation of digital leaders who can drive the information and technology transformation of the NHS.

We will build on Health Education England’s work to develop the capabilities of staff and leaders in health and care to be digital-ready through initiatives such as the NHS Digital Academy, which was set up in 2017 to develop strong digital leaders who are capable of delivering change so that patient care, and the way that organisations operate, can benefit from the many improvements and innovations that modern technology has to offer.

Dr Eric Topol is leading a review to assess what training and skills clinical staff will need to make the best use of artificial intelligence, robotics, genomics and digital medicine.

Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
[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: 19 October 2018
Department for Education
Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much and what proportion of the funding allocated to the National Retraining Scheme pilots in digital and construction skills has been spent.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 24 October 2018

The government has committed £24 million to the CITB Construction Skills Fund. This fund will support and incentivise an employer-led approach to construction skills by funding on-site training hubs across England. Funding is due to begin shortly, with the first hubs being rolled out towards the end of the year. This employer-led approach to construction training will help deliver the local skills that firms need, while also meeting the national need for more skilled construction workers.

As part of the 2017 Autumn Budget, the West Midlands Combined Authority was granted £5 million to support the recruitment of new construction training entrants to underpin the continued growth of the region’s construction industry. This funding, which is separate to the £24 million committed to the CITB Construction Skills Fund, commenced in July 2018 and it will conclude in 2021.

Finally, the government has allocated £30 million to develop innovative ways to use education technology and artificial intelligence in education to deliver improved learning outcomes. This funding takes effect from the period 2019 to 2020 onwards and further details will be announced shortly. Evidence from these funds and pilots will inform the development of the National Retraining Scheme.

Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
[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: 19 October 2018
Department for Education
Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many people have benefited from the construction and digital skills pilots of the National Retraining Scheme.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 24 October 2018

Funding will commence shortly for the Construction Skills fund. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is delivering the Fund on behalf of the Department. CITB have committed to delivering at least 20 training hubs with at least 13,000 learners by March 2020. Funding for the West Midland Combined Authority construction pilot commenced in July 2018 and they have committed to training at least 2,280 new recruits over three years.

The government has committed up to £30 million to develop innovative ways to use education technology and artificial intelligence in education to deliver improved learning outcomes. This funding takes effect from 2019-20 onwards and further details will be announced shortly.

Q
Asked by Jo Swinson
(East Dunbartonshire)
Asked on: 16 October 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Autonomous Weapons: Artificial Intelligence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the remit of the forthcoming Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will include the role of artificial intelligence in autonomous weapons systems.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 23 October 2018

The UK Government is establishing the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to identify the measures needed to strengthen and improve the way in which data and AI is used, which will include promoting best practice and advising on how to address potential gaps in the regulatory landscape. The Centre is being established in the first instance in an interim form, following a public consultation on its remit and activities. The content and prioritisation of its work programme will be determined in dialogue with government once it is operational later this year.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has not had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence on this matter, however officials from both departments meet to discuss these and related AI issues.

Grouped Questions: 180128
Q
Asked by Liam Byrne
(Birmingham, Hodge Hill)
Asked on: 09 October 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Industry: Economic Growth
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility of 11 September 2018, Official Report, column 302WH, what progress his Department has made on assessing the potential merits of establishing an expanded and mission-oriented industrial strategy focused on achieving investment-led growth, with the aims of (a) diversifying the UK's industrial base, (b) driving up exports, (c) raising productivity and (d) addressing regional imbalances.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 October 2018

The Government’s ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

The Industrial Strategy sets out four Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. As part of our approach we have developed four ambitious missions to tackle these Grand Challenges bringing government, businesses and organisations across the country together to make a real difference to people’s lives.

They are:

  • Future of Mobility: Put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles, with all new cars and vans effectively zero emission by 2040
  • Clean Growth: At least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030
  • Ageing Society: Ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest
  • AI & Data: Use data, Artificial Intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030

The Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges and mission-based approach are underpinned by the five foundations of productivity: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. These foundations include an ambitious Export Strategy and supporting local areas to develop Local Industrial Strategies and strengthen local economics. By building strong foundations, we will create the best environment for the missions to succeed and deliver opportunities for new, world-leading industries across the UK.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Home Office
Electronic Surveillance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Government has plans to introduce legislative proposals to enable the use of artificial intelligence and recognition technology to monitor people in the UK.
A
Answered by: Mr Nick Hurd
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The Government has no plans to introduce legislation in this area. Like other organisations the police are already subject to data protection and human rights legislation, and their use of image technology is also governed by the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

Asked on: 06 September 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Artificial Intelligence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of public perceptions of artificial intelligence; and what measures they will put in place to ensure that the uptake of this technology is done so in a transparent, accountable and ethical manner.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 19 September 2018

The Government is aware of a broad range of views on the potential of artificial intelligence. The independent review on artificial intelligence in the UK stressed the importance of industry and experts working together to secure and deserve public trust, address public perceptions, gain public confidence, and model how to deliver and demonstrate fair treatment.

The new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), AI Council and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) were set up to deliver the recommendations of the review, and therefore have a crucial role to play.

Ethical AI safeguards, including transparency and accountability mechanisms, will be scrutinised and improved through the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation – the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The £9m Centre will advise on the safe, ethical and innovative use of data driven tech and help negotiate the potential risks and opportunities for the benefit of consumers.

The UK already has a strong and well respected regulatory environment, which is an integral part of building customer confidence and trust in new innovations. The Government is committed to ensuring that the public continues to be protected as more artificial intelligence applications come into use across different sectors. We believe creating an environment of responsible innovation is the right approach for gaining the public’s trust, and is ultimately good for UK businesses.

Asked on: 17 July 2018
Treasury
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits and costs of artificial intelligence and automation for the British economy.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 31 July 2018

Artificial intelligence and automation present enormous opportunities for our economy. Some studies suggest that artificial intelligence could add 10% to UK GDP by 2030. Other studies highlight the benefits that artificial intelligence and automation could bring to specific sectors.

For example, the independent “Made Smarter” review, published in October 2017, estimated that digital technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing, could add £455 billion to the UK manufacturing economy over the next decade.

This would represent an increase in manufacturing sector growth of between 1.5 and 3 percent per annum, creating an estimated net gain of 175,000 jobs throughout the economy.

Q
Asked by Lesley Laird
(Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)
[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: 11 July 2018
Scotland Office
Automation: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of automation on jobs in Scotland.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 16 July 2018

Automation is one of the global trends which will transform our future, changing jobs and businesses across the country, and we want people to be able to capitalise on these opportunities.

Addressing this, Artificial Intelligence and data is one of the first 4 Grand Challenges set out in our Industrial Strategy to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future, ensuring that we take advantage of major global changes, improving people’s lives and the country’s productivity.

Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of good quality jobs and drive economic growth in all four nations. By one estimate, AI could add £232bn to the UK economy by 2030.

The Life Sciences sector is a particular strength for Scotland, where there are over 400 health life sciences sites, with 15,000 jobs generating £3.2bn in turnover. The Artificial Intelligence and data mission under the Grand Challenge will transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030, and give opportunities for collaboration between the third sector, academia and industry to harness the power of AI and data technologies, building on the £210 million of funding announced for the Data to Early Diagnostics and Precision Medicine Industrial Strategy Fund.

Industrial development and Life Sciences are devolved responsibilities, but we have committed in the Life Sciences Sector Deal to a regional approach to implementing the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, by working closely with the devolved administrations and cluster organisations.

Q
Asked by John Mann
(Bassetlaw)
Asked on: 07 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Land Registry: Cybercrime
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the level of threat of a cyber attack on the UK Land Registry; what steps the Land Registry has taken to protect people's land registrations from cyber attacks; and how much and what proportion of the Land Registry's data has been put on a secure blockchain since the Registry's announcement to do so in July 2017.
A
Answered by: Richard Harrington
Answered on: 15 June 2018

HM Land Registry has a strong security culture and works with colleagues from across government to protect the organisation from cyber threats. The land register is protected by a broad and effective range of security controls which are regularly verified and tested by experts inside and outside of the organisation. HM Land Registry implements all cyber standards published by the National Cyber Security Centre. Future digital developments are subjected to significant scrutiny including by specialists from the National Cyber Security Centre who are undertaking a review of all cyber security risks and how these are managed by HM Land Registry.

HM Land Registry do not currently hold any of their data on a blockchain. In July 2017 HM Land Registry announced that they are working on ‘Digital Street’, a research and development project exploring the future of digital conveyancing, including the potential use of new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Q
(Salford and Eccles)
Asked on: 07 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Artificial Intelligence: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 39 of the Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department has made on supporting additional PhDs in AI and related disciplines.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 14 June 2018

Artificial intelligence is a vital technology for the future of our economy; it will also help us tackle big societal challenges, from delivering clean growth to helping people live longer, healthier lives. As part of our AI sector deal, we will create 200 additional PhDs in AI and related disciplines per year by 2020-21, with at least 1,000 Government-backed PhD places at any one time by 2025. The first 200 additional PhDs have already been funded.

Q
(Salford and Eccles)
[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: 07 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Industry
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many proposals for sector deals he has received; what progress has been made on assessing those proposals; and to how many of those proposals he has formally responded.
A
Answered by: Richard Harrington
Answered on: 12 June 2018

Sector Deals have proven to be a popular concept since suggested in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January 2017.

Four deals (with the Life Sciences, Automotive, Creative Industries and Artificial Intelligence sectors) have already been published and deals with Construction and Nuclear are expected in the coming weeks.

A number of other sectors have expressed interest in a Sector Deal and, as set out in the White Paper, we expect to progress with further Deals that best meet the expectations set out in the White Paper, in due course.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne 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: 05 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Industry: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he had made of the potential merits of mission-based procurement as part of the Government's Industrial Strategy.
A
Answered by: Richard Harrington
Answered on: 11 June 2018

A mission-based approach is central to our modern Industrial Strategy. The Industrial Strategy set out four Grand Challenges where Britain can lead the global technological revolution: in artificial intelligence and the data revolution; the global shift to clean growth; the ageing society; and the future of mobility. To further the Grand Challenges, we will take a mission-oriented approach to guide efforts; bringing industry, researchers and government together to solve practical problems and accelerate innovation.

This will include using all government policy levers at our disposal, including in procurement, to achieve these ambitions.

Q
(Rother Valley)
[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: 04 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Microbiology: Laboratories
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of (a) effective and (b) up to day diagnostic equipment with 24-hour remote communication facilities in the reorganisation of microbiology laboratory services in the NHS.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 07 June 2018

NHS Improvement is leading the transformational changes in pathology services across England, with the formation of 29 Pathology Networks serving England well underway. These networks will realise an improved quality of service, timely access to diagnostic results and access to expert clinical advice in this very diverse clinical specialty.

One of the most significant benefits of this reconfiguration will be to increase the availability of microbiology services, so vital in the diagnosis of life threatening conditions such as sepsis. Currently not all microbiology services are available 24/7 and access to state of the art equipment is variable.

The establishment of networked pathology services will allow for best practice to be deployed across trusts, not only allowing for 24/7 services and faster access to targeted treatment, but also ensuring the latest technology such as molecular genetic testing is available to more patients. To support this development, this year the Government announced £61.5 million to develop the laboratory and IT infrastructure needed to monitor and review results and systems from any point in the network.

NHS Improvement are also working closely with the Office of Life Sciences to ensure digitisation and deployment of artificial intelligence is built in to ensure maximum benefit to the National Health Service and patient outcomes as these technologies develop.

These transformational changes are being performed with the full engagement of the pathology professional bodies and working with the Department’s procurement category tower 8 to improve the purchasing power and choice of equipment to the NHS.

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