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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UIN

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
(Cambridge)
[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: 02 September 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Life Sciences: EU Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of stricter border checks for people from EU Member States after the UK leaves the EU on the life sciences industry in the UK.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 05 September 2019

Science, research and innovation are vital to our country’s prosperity, health and wellbeing. The Government remains committed to ensuring world leading life sciences talent is retained and attracted to the UK. We are working to ensure that our visa arrangements are closely aligned to the sector’s needs.

The Government recently announced that we would remove the numbers cap under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, which exists to attract leading scientists and researchers to the United Kingdom. We also intend to expand the range of bodies able to endorse applicants under this route, and my Department is currently working with the Home Office on how best to achieve this. My Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister has also made clear our longer-term commitment to introducing an Australian-style points-based system, which will seek to attract talented individuals from across the globe to work, live in and contribute to the United Kingdom.

Q
(Cambridge)
Asked on: 02 September 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Life Sciences: EU Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions (a) she and (b) her officials have had with their counterparts at the Home Department on the effect of border checks for people from EU Member States on the life sciences industry in the UK.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 05 September 2019

Science, research and innovation are vital to our country’s prosperity, health and wellbeing. The Government remains committed to ensuring world leading life sciences talent is retained and attracted to the UK. We are working to ensure that our visa arrangements are closely aligned to the sector’s needs.

The Government recently announced that we would remove the numbers cap under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, which exists to attract leading scientists and researchers to the United Kingdom. We also intend to expand the range of bodies able to endorse applicants under this route, and my Department is currently working with the Home Office on how best to achieve this. My Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister has also made clear our longer-term commitment to introducing an Australian-style points-based system, which will seek to attract talented individuals from across the globe to work, live in and contribute to the United Kingdom.

Q
Asked by Andrew Percy
(Brigg and Goole)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Engineering: Vocational Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the performance of the Year of Engineering 2018 campaign.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 04 September 2019

The Year of Engineering 2018 campaign was a success thanks to the support and enthusiasm of more than 1500 partners right across the sector.

The efforts of our partners – scores of passionate individuals from businesses, professional institutions, charities, schools and colleges - helped the campaign deliver more than five million direct experiences of engineering to 7-16 year olds across the UK, well exceeding our set one million target.

We have seen first-hand that when young people get the chance to enjoy problem-solving activities or meet an engineer face-to-face, they are more likely to consider it as a job. It was fantastic to see that for those young people aware of the campaign, desirability of engineering careers increased substantially – by 35 percentage points for 7-11s and 14 percentage points for 11-16s

We aim to create a lasting and meaningful legacy for the Year of Engineering by continuing to show young people from different backgrounds what they can achieve in engineering. We will work together across the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Education and the Department for Transport and other departments to build on the success of the campaign through a long-term engineering legacy campaign and through continued collaboration across industry.

We need more engineers to help us meet our Grand Challenges to ensure the UK leads the way on the AI and data revolution and the global shift to clean growth, harness the power of innovation to meet the needs of an ageing society and become a world leader in the future of mobility - the way people, goods and services move.

Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North 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: 25 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Ascension Island
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps are being taken to ensure that the British air sampling station on Ascension Island remains operational.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 04 September 2019

Met Office staff collect samples of the air on Ascension Island as part of the Global Atmosphere Watch which helps scientists measure, track and understand the rise in CO2 and methane around the planet. This is done on behalf of Royal Holloway, University of London and the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who fund the equipment.

Ascension Island is a remote location which relies on limited air freight services to provide resupply of equipment. On occasion, equipment deliveries can be disrupted due to the essential prioritisation of other cargo, such as food, resulting in delays to the sampling schedule.

The Met Office is working with the programme’s owners to investigate contingency measures to minimise disruption if supplies to the island are delayed again in the future.

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: 23 July 2019
Department for Education
Universities: Mental Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Office for Students has taken since its establishment to assess the adequacy of provision of mental health services and student support at universities.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

In our latest guidance to the Office for Students (OfS), we asked that it continue its work to support student experience, with a focus on wellbeing and mental health.

Where a provider has significant gaps in outcomes between students with a declared mental health condition and their peers, the OfS require providers to set out an ambitious strategy to narrow these gaps and promote equality of opportunity, as part of their access and participation plans.

The OfS also regulates at a sector level to share evidence and examples of effective and innovative practice. On 5 June 2019, the OfS announced the award of almost £6 million for 10 large-scale projects through a challenge competition, encouraging higher education providers to find new ways of combating student mental health issues. The OfS has commissioned a programme-level evaluation to gather what works most effectively and to disseminate learning across the sector.

On 17 June 2019, the government announced a £1 million fund for a further OfS challenge competition to find innovative proposals that drive improvements in mental health support for higher education students.

Q
Asked by Ruth George
(High Peak)
[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: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
Play Therapy: Postgraduate Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the balance between (a) theoretical and (b) practice-based content in postgraduate courses in play therapy.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

Universities are autonomous institutions and responsible for the content of their courses, including quality and standards. The Department for Education does not assess individual courses or make judgements about the content of courses.

However, the Office for Students (OfS) is responsible for protecting the interests of all students and the quality of all regulated provision, working with the designated quality body, the Quality Assurance Agency. The OfS expects higher education providers to ensure they enable students to progress to employment, including by working with employers on the content of courses. This is particularly relevant where there are professional bodies with an interest in the abilities and standard of graduates and post-graduates. The OfS also manages the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

The government has a role in ensuring a framework exists to understand and provide for skills needs at a national and local level.

Grouped Questions: 282404
Q
Asked by Ruth George
(High Peak)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
Play Therapy: Postgraduate Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the availability of postgraduate training in practice-based play therapy in each region of England.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

Universities are autonomous institutions and responsible for the content of their courses, including quality and standards. The Department for Education does not assess individual courses or make judgements about the content of courses.

However, the Office for Students (OfS) is responsible for protecting the interests of all students and the quality of all regulated provision, working with the designated quality body, the Quality Assurance Agency. The OfS expects higher education providers to ensure they enable students to progress to employment, including by working with employers on the content of courses. This is particularly relevant where there are professional bodies with an interest in the abilities and standard of graduates and post-graduates. The OfS also manages the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

The government has a role in ensuring a framework exists to understand and provide for skills needs at a national and local level.

Grouped Questions: 282403
Q
Asked by Andrew Percy
(Brigg and Goole)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
STEM Subjects: Higher Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to encourage more working class young people to take up STEM subjects at university.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

To maintain a dynamic and growing economy, the government is committed to tackling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills shortages. The department is encouraging more students into STEM education and training, at all stages, from primary school to higher education (HE).

To support more students to take STEM subjects at university, the government has increased investment in maths and digital subjects within schools, including a new post-16 maths premium and a new £84 million programme to improve the teaching of computing. Both of these initiatives aim to increase the number of young people taking these subjects, from all backgrounds.

This school-level investment programme is complemented by increasing efforts from the university sector to encourage more disadvantaged students to enter HE. The Office for Students (as the regulator for HE in England) has a duty to promote equality of opportunity in relation to access and participation in HE. In 2018, 18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds were proportionally 52% more likely to enter full-time HE than in 2009.

Q
Asked by Andrew Percy
(Brigg and Goole)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
STEM Subjects: Females
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many women have started courses in STEM subjects at university in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects and publishes data on students enrolled in higher education in the UK. Statistics broken down by subject area and sex are available in Figure 14 of the Statistical Bulletin published in January 2019, which can be found at the following link:

https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/17-01-2019/sb252-higher-education-student-statistics/subjects.

Over the academic years 2013-14 to 2017-18, the number of female entrants to science subjects in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) has increased by 10% from 218,375 to 240,285. The number of male entrants to science subjects in UK HEIs has increased by 4% from 196,960 to 204,065.

Notes

  • Counts are on the basis of full-person-equivalents. Where a student is studying more than one subject, they are apportioned between the subjects that make up their course.
  • Science subjects are defined by HESA as subject groups A to K under the JACS3 classification: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/support/documentation/jacs/jacs3-detailed.
  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 5.
Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
Universities: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to monitor Qatar's role in the funding of university programmes in the UK; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The Office for Students, as the regulator for higher education (HE) in England, is responsible for assessing and monitoring the financial sustainability of registered HE providers. UK universities are autonomous institutions and are therefore responsible for making business planning decisions and ensuring their institutions’ financial sustainability.

Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
Post-18 Education and Funding Review
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to implement the recommendations of the Augar Review, and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

As part of our ongoing review of Post-18 Education and Funding, the government will be considering Philip Augar’s recommendations carefully. The government has not yet taken decisions with regards to the recommendations put forward.

Students from the lowest-income families have access to the largest ever amounts of cash-in-hand support for their living costs. The government has announced a further 2.9% increase to maximum grants and loans for the 2020/21 academic year.

Grouped Questions: 282371
Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Education
Students: Grants
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his policy to reintroduce maintenance grants for students from low and middle income backgrounds in higher education.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 03 September 2019

As part of our ongoing review of Post-18 Education and Funding, the government will be considering Philip Augar’s recommendations carefully. The government has not yet taken decisions with regards to the recommendations put forward.

Students from the lowest-income families have access to the largest ever amounts of cash-in-hand support for their living costs. The government has announced a further 2.9% increase to maximum grants and loans for the 2020/21 academic year.

Grouped Questions: 282368
Q
Asked by Sandy Martin
(Ipswich)
Asked on: 17 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Packaging: Innovation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what R&D support his Department provides to small- and medium-sized enterprises for innovation in packaging.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

This Government is building a globally competitive sustainable packaging industry through research and innovation. As confirmed on Monday 22 July 2019, the Department will provide up to £60 million, bolstered by an expected £149m investment from the private sector, to establish the UK as the world’s leading innovator in smart sustainable plastic packaging.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for copyright in the event of a no deal Brexit have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

Copyright is largely harmonised internationally by a number of treaties to which the UK is signatory. This means that much of the copyright framework in the UK is not dependent on membership of the EU and will remain intact when we leave.

However, some UK copyright law is derived from the EU copyright framework; hence there are references in UK law to the “EU”, the “EEA”, and “Member States”. Some of these references arise from the UK’s implementation of certain EU cross-border copyright mechanisms. These are unique to the EU and provide reciprocal protections and benefits between Member States, covering areas such as cross-border portability of online content services, sui generis database rights, and copyright clearance for satellite broadcasting.

To ensure UK copyright law functions properly if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Government introduced The Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. This removes or corrects references to the EU, EEA, or Member States in UK copyright legislation to preserve the effect of UK law where possible. For reciprocal cross-border mechanisms where continuing to extend provisions to the EU on a unilateral basis after exit would adversely affect those in the UK, we are limiting the mechanisms to operate on a purely domestic basis or bringing them to an end, as appropriate. Guidance for stakeholders has been published alongside this.

Although the UK is leaving the EU, UK and EU copyright works (e.g. books, films and music) will continue to be protected in the EU and UK respectively because of the international treaties on copyright (e.g. the Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement), which require all treaty countries to protect works originating in any other treaty country to a minimum standard. Our participation in these treaties does not depend on our membership of the EU.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Intellectual Property
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for exhaustion of intellectual property rights in the event of a no deal Brexit have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

In preparation for a no deal Brexit, the Government prepared secondary legislation to provide for a temporary unilateral EEA exhaustion regime. The Intellectual Property (Exhaustion of Rights) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 was approved by Parliament in February 2019.

The Government also published guidance, in the form of a technical notice on GOV.UK in September 2018 for businesses and consumers to prepare for a no deal scenario.

The Government continues to engage with stakeholders on this issue in preparation for a possible no deal Brexit.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Patents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for patents in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

As set out in the technical notice, the Government’s primary goal is to ensure that the UK patent system continues to function effectively in the event of a no deal exit. This requires a small amount of legislative change. In February 2019, Parliament approved the Patents (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which corrected deficiencies in retained EU law relating to patents. The Government has since published guidance for business on these changes. It continues to engage with stakeholders on the impacts of exit and preparation for a no deal scenario.

A further statutory instrument is required to address inoperabilities in a new piece of patents-related EU legislation which entered into force earlier this month. A public call for views on the drafting of this instrument opened on 5 July 2019.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Design and Trade Marks
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for trademarks and design in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The main plank of preparation for no deal was legislation to ensure the continued protection of registered EU trade marks and designs, and to correct deficiencies in, and failures of, retained EU law to ensure it operates effectively after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Parliament approved the Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations, and the Designs and International Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations earlier this year. The Government has since published further guidance for businesses and consumers. It continues to engage with stakeholders on the impacts of exit and preparation for a no deal scenario.

The IPO has also completed a significant programme of work to ensure that its systems are ready to accommodate the additional requirements resulting from the legislation.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Internet
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to his Department's Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, which parts of the Government’s plan for geo-blocking online content in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Government’s plan for geo-blocking online content in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal has been implemented through the Geo-Blocking Regulation (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were made on 18 April 2019. These Regulations will come into effect on Exit Day as defined in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, section 20.

Guidance for businesses has also been published, in the form of the following technical notice: ‘Geo-blocking of online content if there’s no Brexit deal’. This was published on 12 October 2018 and is available at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/geo-blocking-of-online-content-if-theres-no-brexit-deal.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
[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 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to his Department's Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, which parts of the Government’s plan for nuclear research in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Government has taken significant steps to protect UK leadership in nuclear R&D in the event of a no deal.

Key bilateral agreements have been put in place to facilitate continued research collaboration with countries including Canada and the USA, and a major funding extension (until the end of 2020) for the UK-based JET fusion research facility has been agreed with the European Commission. Similarly, the executive council of the France-based ITER fusion project agreed in November 2018 to maintain UK employment and commercial contracts until their agreed end date in a no deal.

Successful, competitive UK funding bids submitted under the Euratom Research & Training Programme before the end of 2020 have also been guaranteed by the UK Government, and close working with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is ongoing to ensure we are ready to deliver this funding from exit day if required.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Research: International Cooperation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to facilitate international collaboration on research and development after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The UK’s aim is to be the partner of choice on international research and innovation. The International Research and Innovation Strategy sets out how we will achieve this by deepening international engagement, partnerships and practical collaboration.

There are strong links between the UK and EU’s research and innovation communities, with a long track record of jointly tackling global challenges. We are working to ensure that collaboration can continue in any scenario, including the funding commitment made under the Horizon 2020 guarantee and extension.

We are exploring association to the Horizon Europe programme, as well as considering alternative options as part of a review of the future UK funding landscape. International funding will be an important component in implementing the UK International Research and Innovation Strategy.

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