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
(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.
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.

Q
Asked by John Howell
(Henley)
[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: 06 June 2018
Scotland Office
Industry: Scotland
Commons
What steps the Government is taking to ensure that Scotland benefits from the modern industrial strategy.
A
Answered by: Stuart Andrew
Answered on: 06 June 2018

The UK Government has been working collaboratively with the Scottish Government to implement the Industrial Strategy.

We have announced sector deals in Life Sciences, Creative Industries, Artificial Intelligence, Automotive and Construction. I am also aware of further proposals for sector deals from the oil and gas, and food and drink sectors which have the potential to make a significant contribution in Scotland.

Grouped Questions: 905623
Q
Asked by Mark Menzies
(Fylde)
[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: 06 June 2018
Scotland Office
Industry: Scotland
Commons
What steps the Government is taking to ensure that Scotland benefits from the modern industrial strategy.
A
Answered by: Stuart Andrew
Answered on: 06 June 2018

The UK Government has been working collaboratively with the Scottish Government to implement the Industrial Strategy.

We have announced sector deals in Life Sciences, Creative Industries, Artificial Intelligence, Automotive and Construction. I am also aware of further proposals for sector deals from the oil and gas, and food and drink sectors which have the potential to make a significant contribution in Scotland.

Grouped Questions: 905620
Asked on: 23 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Industrial Health and Safety: Artificial Intelligence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to artificial intelligence or machine learning software that is used in the workplace to (1) control or animate physical things in the workplace, (2) design articles for use in the workplace, or (3) support human decision-making processes running on computers under the control of the employer with an impact on people's health and safety; and whether, in each case, testing regimes exist as set out in section 6(1)(b) of that Act.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 05 June 2018

Section 6 of the Health and safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places duties on any person who designs, manufacturers, imports or supplies any article for use at work to ensure that it will be safe and without risks to health, which applies to artificial intelligence and machine learning software. Section 6(1)(b) requires such testing and examination as may be necessary to ensure that any article for use at work is safe and without risks but does not specify specific testing regimes. It is for the designer, manufacturer, importer or supplier to develop tests that are sufficient to demonstrate that their product is safe.

The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Foresight Centre monitors developments in artificial intelligence to identify potential health and safety implications for the workplace over the next decade. The Centre reports that there are likely to be increasing numbers of automated systems in the workplace, including robots and artificial intelligence. HSE will continue to monitor the technology as it develops and will respond appropriately on the basis of risk.

Q
(Leicester 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: 22 May 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Cancer: Diagnosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Prime Minister’s speech on science and modern Industrial Strategy of 21 May 2018, if he will place in the Library the methodology used to calculate (a) that smart technologies will lead to the earlier diagnosis of 50,000 more people a year with lung, bowel prostate or ovarian cancer, and (b) that this combined with the great treatment and care provided by our NHS will mean 22,000 fewer people will die within five years of their diagnosis compared to today.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 04 June 2018

In order to produce the Early Diagnosis Mission, the Government worked closely with a range of experts on a variety of diseases to define its scope and identify its potential impacts. The numbers referenced convey the potential impacts of integrating artificial intelligence and data technologies with respect to the four types of cancer you mentioned and were made available thanks to the work and methodology of Cancer Research UK.

Q
(Stockton 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: 02 May 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Industry: Innovation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the report, Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation: A problem-solving approach to fuel innovation-led growth, published by the European Commission on 22 February 2018, whether he plans to adopt a mission-based procurement approach as recommended in that report as part of the Government's Industrial Strategy.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 09 May 2018

We will ensure the UK benefits from world-changing economic trends to build the industries of the future. In our Industrial Strategy we have 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 – where we will build on our strengths to shape new markets and enhance the UK’s competitive advantage.

As we made clear in the Industrial Strategy White Paper, we will use all the policy levers at our disposal, including government procurement, to achieve success in the Grand Challenges. We will drive innovation not only by supporting research and development, but also through the creation and shaping of new markets. Where appropriate, we will look to take a mission-oriented approach to guide these efforts, bringing industry, researchers and government together to solve practical problems and accelerate innovation.

Q
Asked by Jo Swinson
(East Dunbartonshire)
Asked on: 23 April 2018
Ministry of Defence
Autonomous Weapons
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his oral contribution of 23 April 2018, whether he will plans to realigning the definition of lethal autonomous weapons within the eight month period recommended by the House of Lords Report on Artificial Intelligence, published on 16 April 2018.
A
Answered by: Mark Lancaster
Answered on: 01 May 2018

The Ministry of Defence has no plans to change the definition of an autonomous system, referred to in the House of Lords' Artificial Intelligence Committee Report of 16 April 2018. The UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Government Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) continues to look at the issue but has yet to agree on the definition and characteristics of possible LAWS. The UK will continue to actively participate in future GGE meetings, trying to reach agreement at the earliest possible stage.

Q
Asked on: 17 April 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Artificial Intelligence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of investment they will make in the next five years to support their Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge of Growing the AI & Data-Driven Economy; and how much of that investment will be spent on artificial intelligence.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 30 April 2018

More than 50 leading technology companies and organisations have contributed to the development of an AI Sector Deal worth almost £1 billion, including almost £300 million of private sector investment into UK sector.

The deal between government and industry, announced recently by my rt. hon Friends the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, also includes more than £300 million of newly allocated government funding for AI research to make the UK a global leader in this technology.

Building on the commitment made in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy and its AI Grand Challenge, the deal marks the first phase of a major innovation-focused investment drive in AI which aims to help the UK seize the £232 billion opportunity AI offers the UK economy by 2030 (10% of GDP).

Q
Asked on: 17 April 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Artificial Intelligence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government by what metrics they will determine whether the UK has become “the go-to destination for AI innovation and investment”, as set out in their Industrial Strategy White Paper; and by what date they intend to achieve that aim.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 30 April 2018

AI is emerging in its own right as a nascent industry with the potential to raise the productivity of diverse sectors and create entirely new jobs. To maximise this potential, the recently announced AI Sector Deal will establish a new AI Council to bring together respected leaders in the field from across academia and industry; a new delivery body within the government – the Office for Artificial Intelligence – to support it; and a new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

Oversight of the implementation of the Sector Deal will be led by the Office for Artificial Intelligence, which will review progress against objectives regularly.

The new government Office for Artificial Intelligence will be established with responsibility for implementing this Sector Deal. It will support the AI Council which will oversee and drive the implementation of the deal.

An early role for the Office for AI will be to agree implementation plans for each section of the deal, including agreed success metrics.

Membership of the AI Council will be announced ahead of the first meeting. The main aim of the AI Council will be to provide strategic leadership and momentum in delivery.

The Office for AI will report to the AI Council regularly and will be subject to challenge sessions from government ministers on progress in implementing the Sector Deal. The Industrial Strategy team will provide the challenge on delivery timetable, metrics and ambition on outcomes as well as providing updates and escalation to ministers across the suite of Sector Deals.

Q
Asked by Kate Green
(Stretford and Urmston)
Asked on: 13 April 2018
Department for Education
Digital Technology: Adult Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of adults who do not have (a) basic, (b) intermediate and (c) advanced digital literacy.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 23 April 2018

The government does not produce statistics in the format requested, but Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index 2017 showed that 11.5 million people lacked at least one of the five basic digital skills. This is down 1.1 million since 2015. We have announced full funding for basic digital training for adults from 2020.

As our economy changes, it is becoming increasingly important that people are able to upskill and reskill throughout their career. The government will be introducing a National Retraining Scheme, which will be an ambitious, far-reaching programme to drive adult learning and retraining, and digital skills will be one the Scheme’s early focuses. As part of the Scheme, the government will invest £30 million to test the use of Artificial Intelligence and innovative Education Technology in online digital skills courses so that learners can access the training they need to work with and alongside new technologies.

In order to create the next generation of digital specialists, the government supports the new Institute of Coding. A consortium of 60 universities, businesses and industry experts will receive £20 million of government funding to help graduates access the skills employers need, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design. We are also implementing the recommendations from the Shadbolt Review of Computer Sciences Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability. Additionally, Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, intends to deliver high quality digital skills training to up to 5,000 learners in its first seven years.

Q
(South Basildon and East Thurrock)
[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 April 2018
Treasury
Productivity
Commons
What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on increasing productivity through the development and deployment of new technologies.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 17 April 2018

Treasury ministers regularly discuss the opportunities of new technologies with Cabinet colleagues.

To boost research into and development of new technologies, we have increased support for in R&D to the highest level in 30 years (probably ever) through raising investment and increasing the main rate of R&D tax credits.

At Budget, we committed over £75 million to support the development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence in the UK, which has immense potential to increase productivity.

Q
Asked by Keith Vaz
(Leicester East)
Asked on: 15 March 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Artificial Intelligence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what role staff in his Department have in the assessment of the level of threat involving artificial intelligence.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 22 March 2018

We are committed to ensuring that the public continues to be protected as more Artificial Intelligence applications come into use across different sectors. The Office for AI, a joint BEIS-DCMS policy team, has a role there, as do Departments and regulators responsible for those sectors. The Government is also establishing a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to help organisations to use digital innovation responsibly.

Artificial Intelligence is expected to have a significant effect on cyber security and it is DCMS's role to understand the policy implications of this, backed up expert technical guidance provided by the National Cyber Security Centre. Using AI applications could also greatly improve threat detection and protections. The UK has already set out robust cyber security measures to help ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to live and be online. We will continue to support defences to prepare against all cyber threats.

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