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 2019-21 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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Asked on: 23 July 2020
Home Office
Espionage: Russia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to introduce legislation to strengthen their ability to deal with (1) espionage, and (2) illegal behaviour, in the UK by (a) the government of Russia, and (b) people associated with that government.
Answered on: 10 August 2020

In the Queen’s Speech we committed to introduce legislation to provide the security services and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to disrupt hostile activity by foreign states. The Home Office is considering several measures for introduction via new primary legislation to make the UK a harder environment for adversaries to operate in.

Asked on: 24 July 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pesticides: Trade Agreements
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there will be no change to current pesticides protections resulting from any trade deals negotiated; and what plans they have to ensure that pesticides that are currently banned from use in the UK will remain so.
Answered on: 07 August 2020

We will maintain our high human health and environmental standards when operating our own independent pesticides regulatory regime, after the Transition Period. We will ensure decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment and will not authorise pesticides that may carry unacceptable risks. The statutory requirements of the EU regime on standards of protection will be carried across unchanged into domestic law. Decisions on standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any Free Trade Agreement.

This Government stood on a clear manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any future trade deals live up to the values of farmers and consumers across the UK. We will not lower our standards nor put the UK’s biosecurity at risk as we negotiate new trade deals.

Q
Asked by Lord Pendry
Asked on: 24 July 2020
Department for Transport
Manston Airport: Large Goods Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 24 July (HL6859), how much they have spent on preparations for the provision of additional lorry parking capacity at Manston Airport.
A
Answered on: 07 August 2020

I can confirm that between August 2015 to June 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) has paid a total of £19.4m for the use of Manston Airfield as a lorry park. DfT paid £10.3m as part of the EU Exit no deal preparation contingency planning and £9.1m for the use of Manston Airfield for business as usual and Operation Stack. This has enabled DfT to use Manston Airfield to hold HGVs for traffic management purposes, in the event of disruption of flow at the short straits crossings.

Asked on: 14 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Health and Social Services: Protective Clothing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health, social care and other key workers to prepare for any second wave of COVID-19.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

We continue to model future demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) to cover a range of possible scenarios, working closely with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to ensure it is underpinned by the latest science. Though the global market remains challenging, we continue to sign further deals to make our position more secure. We have now procured over 30 billion items of PPE from United Kingdom manufacturers and overseas suppliers.

We are confident in the stocks and sources of supply of PPE to meet the needs of health and social care over the next seven and 90 days and are increasingly looking further ahead. We have moved from an emergency situation a few months ago to a stable situation which allows us to prepare with resilience for any second spike or a new wave in the autumn or winter.

Q
Asked on: 29 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Rugby: Finance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ask UK Sport to provide financial support for rugby sevens teams ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after their RFU funding expires in August.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 06 August 2020

Decisions on elite Olympic and Paralympic funding allocations are for UK Sport. Having delivered our greatest Olympic performance in a century at Rio in 2016, It is crucial that funding is invested strategically in the right sports, the right athletes and the right support programmes.

We continue to work with UK Sport and sports bodies to support our athletes and sports in the run-up to the Tokyo Games in 2021. We want the Tokyo Games to be a success and will work alongside everyone involved to help achieve this.

The Chancellor announced a host of measures to help businesses, with £330 billion worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK. In addition, Sport England, has also announced £210 million of funding to help sport and physical activity organisations deal with the short and long term effects of the pandemic.

Asked on: 29 July 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Carillion: Audit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (1) KPMG, and (2) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, are involved in any of their work dealing with international accounting standards and dividends payments; and if so, what assessment they have made of whether such involvement is appropriate in the light of reports that the Official Receiver is seeking to take action against KPMG over alleged negligence in its audits of Carillion.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Government announced as part of its response to the consultation on Insolvency and Corporate Governance that it would look further at options for strengthening of the legal framework governing dividend payments in a proportionate way. In that context, the Department asked the ICAEW for technical advice on ways in which potential new distributable reserves disclosure requirements might be framed. The ICAEW was also asked to consider how its Guidance on Realised and Distributable Profits (Tech 02/17BL) might be simplified and clarified. It has subsequently published an Introduction to the Law on Dividends which includes an explanation of the role and content of its technical guidance.

The Government believes that it is appropriate to receive views and advice on accountancy matters from a wide and balanced range of expert stakeholders including the ICAEW and KPMG. In relation to international accounting standards, members of KPMG and ICAEW have attended meetings and have input into discussions and consultations since the standards were introduced in the UK.

Consistent with his duties as a liquidator, the Official Receiver has investigated whether Carillion may have a claim against KPMG for losses resulting from the conduct of its statutory audit and is considering pursuing a claim in this regard. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
Asked on: 04 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Protective Clothing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that when possible the NHS procures personal protective equipment from local small and medium-sized enterprises.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 August 2020

Lord Deighton is leading the Government efforts of British industry to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health and social care sectors. We have identified opportunities and sourced new supply channels for materials to make PPE at pace, enabling new manufacturing to commence. The Government is also working to support the scale-up of engineering efforts for small companies capable of contributing to supplies.

More than 30 deals have been struck with companies, including several small and medium enterprises, to manufacture and deliver PPE in the United Kingdom. We are also working with over 175 new suppliers to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. Around 20% of all PPE will be manufactured in the UK by the end of the year.

Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Towns Fund: North East
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria were used in the Town Deals selection process in rejecting four of the eleven towns in the north east of England that had been recommended by officials to ministers.
A
Answered by: Lord Greenhalgh
Answered on: 05 August 2020

Ministers considered a range of factors as part of the selection process for Town Deals, including income deprivation, productivity and exposure to economic shocks. We recognise that there are more towns in need than we were able to support through this first set of Town Deals and have committed to a further competitive element of the Towns Fund. More information will be provided in due course.

Asked on: 23 July 2020
Department for International Development
Vaccination: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there will be an equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine among developing nations, if such a vaccine is developed in the UK.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 05 August 2020

As the world grapples with the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has been clear that equitable global distribution of a vaccine will be the best defence, enable collective recovery and reduce the risk of repeat outbreaks.

The UK is supporting the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) which aims to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. At the Global Vaccine Summit, which the Prime Minister hosted on 4th June, the UK repurposed £48 million to the AMC. At the Summit, AstraZeneca also announced a commitment of 300 million doses of the University of Oxford candidate vaccine to the COVAX facility.

The COVAX AMC will incentivise vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines and to ensure access for the world’s poorest countries. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization are working together to ensure that the vaccines are affordable and available equitably. Through the deal with AstraZeneca, the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate have been committed towards the COVAX Facility.

Asked on: 24 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Mobile Phones
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of contract terms in the new mobile phone market, in particular (1) the fairness of such terms for consumers, and (2) company practices relating to such contracts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 05 August 2020

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has a statutory duty to further and protect the interests of telecoms consumers.

Ofcom recently undertook a review of the mobile handsets market. As part of that review it identified concerns that some mobile phone customers were not being treated fairly, in particular where they purchase their mobile handset and airtime together in a bundled contract but continue to pay the same price after the end of their minimum contract period (as these ‘out-of-contract’ customers can often save money by moving to a SIM-only deal).

Ofcom has put in place a range of measures to address these concerns, including end-of-contract and annual best tariff notifications which will alert customers when they are out-of-contract and advise them of the best deals available from their provider, including SIM-only deals, as well as a commitment from most of the major mobile providers to apply a discount when customers on bundled deals go out-of-contract.

Alongside these measures, last year Ofcom also secured a set of ‘Fairness for Customers’ commitments from all the major communication providers. These commitments are designed to embed a culture of fairness within the industry. Ofcom will be publishing a report on industry progress against these commitments in Q4 2020/21.

Asked on: 16 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Pay
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of France's decision to allocate eight billion euros for a pay increase for healthcare workers who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic; whether they plan to do the same; and if not, why not.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 04 August 2020

This Government has already invested the largest cash settlement in the National Health Service’s history by backing the NHS Funding Act 2020 as well as clearing billions of pounds worth of NHS debt for NHS trusts, and the Government is committed to ensuring the NHS will continue to receive whatever it needs to respond to COVID-19.

Over one million NHS staff are already benefitting from multi-year pay and contract reform deals which have seen the starting pay for a nurse rise by over 12% and the lowest paid in the NHS increase by over 16%.

On 21 July, the Government announced that it had accepted in full the recommendation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration for a 2.8% pay rise, back dated to April 2020 for consultants, specialty doctors, salaried general practitioners and dentists.

For 2020/21 we expect to rely on the independent Pay Review Bodies. The Review Body process is the established independent mechanism for pay recommendations for public sector workforces. The NHS Pay Review Body will return to making pay recommendations for NHS staff within its remit group in 2021 and the Government will carefully consider these recommendations when we receive them.

Q
Asked by Rachel Reeves
(Leeds West)
[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 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Protective Clothing: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to maximise opportunities for UK-based companies to fulfil orders of personal protective equipment.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 03 August 2020
Holding answer received on 16 July 2020

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health and social care sectors. This will maximise opportunities for United Kingdom-based companies to fulfil orders of PPE.

Almost 28 billion items of PPE have been ordered overall from UK-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply in the coming months. More than 30 deals have been struck with companies through the Make initiative to manufacture and deliver PPE in the UK. We are also working with over 175 new suppliers to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. Around 20% of all PPE will be manufactured in the UK by the end of the year.

Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Oneweb: Investment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 15 July (HL6348), how they propose to be publicly accountable for their investment in OneWeb.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 03 August 2020

The deal is subject to certain regulatory clearances and is expected to close before the end of the year.

We will have strong representation on the board, fully involved in setting the strategic direction of the business and developing the company’s business plan.

Mechanisms will be implemented for the continued monitoring and evaluation of the investment.

Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Oneweb: Investment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 26 June, what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the statement “there is a possibility that the entirety of the investment is lost and no wider benefits accrued” in relation to the investment into OneWeb.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 03 August 2020

The Government carried out a detailed examination of the business which demonstrated a commercial case for investment.

The fact that we are investing alongside a private commercial investor indicates a rational commercial case for investing. The deal will support the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing of novel satellite technologies, whilst boosting UK manufacturing.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Asked on: 16 June 2020
Home Office
Demonstrations: Alcoholic Drinks
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what powers the police have to limit the drinking of alcohol at protests and demonstrations.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 30 July 2020

The police have a range of powers to deal with drunk and disorderly behaviour in public places, including at protests. How those powers are used is an operational matter for the police.

Asked on: 22 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Waiting Lists
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how long they estimate it will take to clear the NHS waiting lists caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Guidance has already been issued to the National Health Service on the process of starting to restore urgent non-COVID-19 services. We have now started to reset NHS services that were rightly suspended whilst we dealt with the initial impact of COVID-19. The approach is being flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country, but the reset will be gradual.

Grouped Questions: HL7141
Asked on: 22 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Waiting Lists
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to clear the backlog of healthcare cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Guidance has already been issued to the National Health Service on the process of starting to restore urgent non-COVID-19 services. We have now started to reset NHS services that were rightly suspended whilst we dealt with the initial impact of COVID-19. The approach is being flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country, but the reset will be gradual.

Grouped Questions: HL7140
Asked on: 22 July 2020
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: NHS
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans for Parliament to ratify future trade deals involving the NHS; and if they have no such plans, why.
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Trade is vital for the NHS, which relies heavily on crucial goods and services that come wholly, or in part, from suppliers based overseas. Trade enables the NHS to buy the best possible medicines and medical devices that industry – here and overseas – has to offer.

At the same time, Britain’s international public procurement commitments do not apply to the procurement of British healthcare services. In fact, Britain’s public services are protected by specific exclusions, exceptions and reservations in the trade agreements to which we are party, and HM Government will continue to make sure that the same rigorous protections are included in future trade agreements.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Military Aid: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in place to mobilise (1) the Army Reserve, and (2) the Regular Reserves, to deal with any (a) second wave of COVID-19, and (b) any unrest following the end of the Brexit transition period.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Reservists undertake a variety of roles within Defence and provide a valuable contribution when called upon. As part of the national response to the Coronavirus pandemic circa 2,300 reservists (circa 1,850 of which were Army reservists) have been mobilised for Covid-19 related activities this year. The authority to mobilise reservists in Covid-19 roles is active until March 2021. This enables reservists mobilised prior to March 2021, under the Covid-19 Reserves Call Out Order to contribute to any Defence response to a potential second wave of Covid-19 if there is a need to do so.

The maintenance of public order is the responsibility of the police. There are no plans to utilise Armed Forces personnel, including reservists, to deal with any unrest following the end of the transition period. Defence remains closely engaged on contingency planning related to the end of the EU Transition Period and remains available to support the civil authorities if necessary.

Q
Asked by Ms Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 03 February 2020
Home Office
Drugs: Organised Crime
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for (a) Justice, (b) Education and (c) Housing, Communities and Local Government on using the findings of (i) serious case reviews following the homicides of young people, (ii) child safeguarding practice reviews, (iii) independent investigation reports and (iv) safeguarding adult reviews to help prevent violence linked to county lines child criminal exploitation.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 29 July 2020

We are determined to disrupt county lines gangs and put an end to the exploitation of vulnerable children and young people. Learning the lessons from safeguarding reviews is vital in order to prevent future tragedies and ensure that all parts of the safeguarding system are playing their part to support those exploited by county lines drug dealing.

On 4 March 2020 the Independent Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel published the findings of its first national review looking at adolescents in need of state protection from criminal exploitation. The Home Office is working closely with the Departments for Education and Justice and others to carefully consider the Panel’s recommendations, as well as those from other safeguarding reviews relating to child criminal exploitation.

The Home Office Minister for Safeguarding meets regularly with the Minister for Children and Families to discuss issues related to vulnerable children, including those victims of child criminal exploitation and officials are working closely across government to put in place a range of support for vulnerable children and young people to ensure that they are protected and able to access the support they need.

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