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 on: 11 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Health: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the frequency of the Children's Dental Health Survey, currently conducted every ten years.
Q
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Health
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include specific measures to prioritise good oral health in the forthcoming Green Paper on prevention.
Q
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Vaccination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the range of vaccination sources that could be provided in community pharmacies through the NHS.
Q
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Pharmacy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the role of community pharmacies (1) in promoting self care, and (2) as a first point of contact recognised in contractual frameworks.
Q
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Pharmacy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to build on the benefits of the Healthy Living Pharmacy framework and to increase the role of community pharmacies in the prevention of ill-health.
Q
Asked on: 11 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Birds of Prey: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) size of the population of, and (2) the threat of extinction faced by, hen harriers in England; and whether they intend to introduce a licencing system for grouse moors to protect hen harriers.
A
Answered on: 29 April 2019

Natural England confirms that the breeding population of hen harriers in England in 2018 was 14 pairs and is assessed as extremely vulnerable, although there has been a trend for more breeding pairs in the last few years. The birds in England are part of a population that spans England, Scotland and Wales, which is not under immediate threat of extinction.

The Government does not have plans to regulate grouse shooting.

Q
Asked on: 11 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Probation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the positive impact of face-to-face meetings between ex-offenders and National Probation Service officials; how many such meetings there have been, in England and Wales, in each of the last 12 months; and what steps they intend to take to (1) reduce supervision by telephone, and (2) increase face-to-face meetings, for ex-offenders.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 29 April 2019

The impact of face-to-face meetings between ex-offenders and National Probation Service (NPS) officials is not formally assessed. Both NPS and Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) staff use their professional judgement to determine the required frequency and most appropriate form of supervision.

Remote supervision should not be used as the only means by which an offender is supervised, which is why we have recently amended CRC contracts to ensure all offenders under supervision in the community are offered face-to-face contact with their Responsible Officer at least once a month. Data on this measure will be published on 24 April 2019.

Q
Asked on: 11 April 2019
Department for Education
Schools: Sugar
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional support, funding, and guidance they intend to provide to schools to (1) limit the availability of sugar products in schools, and (2) become sugar-free.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 29 April 2019

This government wants pupils to be healthy and well nourished. We encourage a healthy balanced diet and healthy life choices through school funding, legislation and guidance. The attached School Food Standards provide the legislative framework to ensure schools provide children with healthy food and drink options.

On 18 August 2016, the government published its plan for action (attached) to significantly reduce childhood obesity by supporting healthier choices.

One of the commitments in the plan was to update the School Food Standards. The School Food Standards regulate the food and drink provided at both lunchtime and at other times of the school day, including, for example, breakfast clubs, tuck shops, mid-morning break, vending machines and after school clubs. The standards severely restrict foods high in fat, salt and sugar, as well as low quality reformed or reconstituted foods. They ensure that pupils always have healthy options for their school lunch.

We are working with Public Health England to update the regulations. This will focus on reducing sugar consumption and will be supported by detailed guidance to caterers and schools. More detail will follow shortly.

hl15257_School_Food_Standards (PDF Document, 67.68 KB)
Q
Asked on: 11 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Nurses: Re-employment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many nurses have returned to the NHS in the last 12 months.
Answered on: 26 April 2019

The data is not held in the format requested.

Q
Asked on: 11 April 2019
Department for Education
Apprentices
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to set out how they measure whether the apprentice programme boosts economic productivity.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 25 April 2019

We have recently introduced a range of reforms to further support the productivity contribution of apprenticeships. It is too early to assess the full impact of our reforms.

Our Apprenticeships Reform Programme Benefits Realisation Strategy, attached, sets out a broad range of success measures for the programme, including economic measures. Measures include earnings upon completion, results from employer and learner surveys, and the further education (FE) Skills Index – a measure of the productivity impact of the programme over time.

The Skills Index enables us to compare the value of skills investments across the FE sector, including apprenticeships. It looks at the number of learners achieving, the employment rate for those learners as well as expected additional earnings.

The total value-added for apprenticeships in the academic year 2016/17 has increased by 3% on 2015/16, due to an increase in the volume of apprenticeship achievers at Level 3 and above.

We publish annual progress updates against our strategy. Our last update, published in May 2018, is attached and can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/707896/Progress_report_on_the_Apprenticeships_Reform_Programme_May_2018.pdf.

We will be publishing our 2019 update shortly which will include an update to our Skills Index.

HL15254_Apprenticeship_Reform_Strategy (PDF Document, 1.18 MB)
HL15254_Report_on_Reform_Program (PDF Document, 321.48 KB)
Q
Asked on: 24 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Obesity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are considering taking steps to reduce differences in levels of obesity between more and less deprived areas; and if so, what steps.
Answered on: 07 February 2019

In Childhood obesity: a plan for action, chapter 2, published in June 2018, we have set a bold ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. We want to achieve this by ensuring that we are supporting parents, particularly in the most deprived families, to help their children have the best start in life. We have reiterated this ambition in our vision document Prevention is better than cure, published on 5 November 2018, and in the NHS Long Term Plan published on 8 January 2019.

The childhood obesity plan delivers school based interventions including revenue from the soft drinks industry levy being invested in programmes targeted at disadvantaged children including up to £26 million to fund a breakfast club programme between 2017-18 and 2019-20 and £22 million in an Essential Life Skills programme in 12 Opportunity Areas to enable disadvantaged children aged 5-18 to participate in regular extra-curricular activities, including sporting activities, to develop essential life skills.

Through the Healthy Food Schemes, the Government provides a nutritional safety net to those who need it the most. The three schemes that make up this programme, Healthy Start, Nursery Milk and School Fruit and Vegetables, help to support children, babies and women through pregnancy, when they are at home, in childcare and in early years at school.

Q
Asked on: 24 January 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste Management
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to encourage more consistent waste collection policies across local authorities.
A
Answered on: 01 February 2019

The Government set out its commitment to accelerating the move to consistency in materials collected for recycling in the 25 Year Environment Plan which was published in January 2018. Our resources and waste strategy ‘Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England’ was published in December 2018 and contains details on how we plan to do this. Subject to consultation we will legislate to allow Government to specify a core set of materials to be collected by all local authorities and waste operators. We will consult on which materials should comprise this core set, and which collection systems would be most effective at preserving material quality.

The Government is committed to making recycling easier for everyone. Consistency in recycling will mean that householders in England will be less confused about what can be recycled and therefore have more confidence in recycling. As a result, both the quality and quantity of recycling will increase.

Q
Asked on: 24 January 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to (1) encourage the use of recycled and recyclable packaging, and (2) discourage the use plastic packaging that is difficult to recycle.
A
Answered on: 01 February 2019

The Government has committed in its Resources and Waste Strategy to reform the current packaging producer responsibility system, including measures to incentivise producers to make better, more sustainable decisions at the design stage and point of manufacture.

At the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced a new tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. Subject to consultation, this will be introduced in 2022.

Together, reform of the packaging producer responsibility system and the new tax on plastic packaging will encourage greater recyclability and increased use of recycled materials.

Q
Asked on: 17 January 2019
Treasury
Soft Drinks: Taxation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any revenue from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy is being used to fund oral health improvement programmes.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 31 January 2019

The 2016 Budget announced funding for a number of programmes to support pupil health and wellbeing linked to the revenue from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. These include doubling funding for the primary physical education and Sport Premium to £320 million a year from 2017, providing £100 million in 2018/19 for the healthy pupils capital fund, and providing up to £26 million to kick-start or improve breakfast club provision in over 1,700 schools.

Separately, Public Health England is leading a wide ranging multi-agency programme focusing on improving children’s oral health. NHS England’s ‘Starting Well’ programme is working in 13 high needs areas aiming to improve oral health in children under five years old who would not normally be regular dental attenders.

Q
Asked on: 17 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact NHS England's Starting Well scheme has had to date; and whether they have any plans to extend that scheme.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 30 January 2019

The ‘Starting Well’ programme, led by NHS England at the request of the Department, is designed to reach out to families with young children in 13 high need areas who are not currently under the care of a dentist. There are now over 300 practices participating in the scheme. The first schemes began in spring 2018.

NHS England has commissioned an external evaluation of the scheme and its impact. NHS England advises the first information from this evaluation is expected to be made available later in spring 2019.

NHS England has since developed a complementary scheme ‘Starting Well Core’ which allows areas not involved in the original scheme to commission and fund locally similar approaches based on their assessment of local needs.

Q
Asked on: 17 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional support they are providing to children in areas with the worst oral health outcomes.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 30 January 2019

The Government is committed to improving oral health and particularly of deprived children. This goal was set out in the 2017 manifesto and reflected in the recently published NHS Long Term Plan. Over 70 practices are currently trialling a new way of delivering primary care dentistry which focusses on prevention and helping patients to reduce their risk of future disease.

Alongside this the ‘Starting Well’ programme, led by NHS England, is designed to reach out to young children in high need areas who are not currently under the care of a dentist. These areas were selected on their level of current oral health. There are now over 300 practices participating in the scheme which began in spring 2018. In addition to the original scheme covering 13 areas NHS England has developed a similar model any area can commission and fund depending on local need.

Initiatives to improve children’s oral health are co-ordinated overall by Public Health England working through its Child Oral Health Improvement Programme Board. This brings together individual schemes along with wider work that influences oral health including the sugar levy as part of work to tackle obesity.

Q
Asked on: 17 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Health: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to reduce rising rates of tooth decay among young children in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 30 January 2019

The Government is committed to improving oral health, particularly of deprived children.

NHS England (Yorkshire and the Humber) have finalised plans to improve access to National Health Service dental services across the region. Over £4 million is being invested in the areas with the greatest need to increase the number of available dental appointments.

NHS England ‘Starting Well’ programme which will work in 13 high needs areas to reach children most at risk of tooth decay who are not currently under the routine care of a dentist. This includes the North West (Blackburn with Darwen; Blackpool; Bolton; Oldham; Rochdale and Salford).

Nationally, NHS England has also developed a complementary Starting Well Core offer, a commissioning approach designed to facilitate increased access and early preventive care for young children, supported by the Chief Dental Officer, which commissioners can use and fund locally based on their own assessment of need. Starting Well Core is being implemented by NHS England West Midlands in a bid to increase dental access amongst young children across the region.

Alongside local authorities’ duties to improve health, including oral health, Public Health England is leading a wide ranging multi agency programme focussing on improving children’s oral health. The Child Health Improvement Programme Board which supports evidenced based actions that will increase the use of fluoride (toothpaste, varnish, water fluoridation). This is in addition to the childhood obesity plan which sets out measures that will reduce the amount of sugar children consume.

The Department and NHS England are continuing to test a new way of providing NHS dental services which aims to further improve oral health and increase access. Over 70 practices are currently trialling a new way of delivering primary care dentistry which focusses on prevention and helping patients to reduce their risk of future disease.

Q
Asked on: 24 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Obesity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to introduce targets for reducing obesity amongst adults.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 30 January 2019

There are no plans to introduce targets for reducing obesity amongst adults. Many of the measures in both chapters of the childhood obesity plan will have an impact on tackling obesity across all age groups. These include the soft drinks industry levy, sugar reduction and wider calorie reformulation programme, restricting promotions and calorie labelling in restaurants which will improve our eating habits and reduce the amount of sugar we consume.

Q
Asked on: 17 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote awareness of the fact that NHS dental treatment is free for those under the age of 18.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 29 January 2019

All those under the age of 18, or under 19 and in full time education, are exempt from National Health Service dental charges. Those who are pregnant or gave birth in the last 12 months or are on specified income related benefits are also exempt from charges.

Information on which groups of patients are exempt is widely available. All dental practices providing NHS care are contractually required to display a standard poster setting out current NHS charges and highlighting that patients may be exempt from or entitled to help with charges. This poster along with a patient leaflet setting out NHS dental entitlements in more detail, is provided free of charge to every practice in England delivering NHS dental treatment.

As well as in all NHS dental practices, information on charges and exemptions is also available through other channels such as the online NHS dental section (formerly NHS Choices) and in the NHS ‘help with health costs’ booklet. The NHS Business Services Authority provides information on NHS charges and who is exempt through its Twitter and Facebook social media channels. NHS England also runs periodic local initiatives, where it assesses if there is a need to further raise awareness locally among those patients who may be exempt or are through low income entitled to partial help with costs. Specifically, for parents starting out on parenthood, information that children receive free treatment is included in the personal child health record, the so called ‘red book’ all new parents are given.

Q
Asked on: 08 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Nurses: Apprentices
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the number of apprentices training to become registered graduate nurses.
A
Answered by: Baroness Manzoor
Answered on: 22 January 2019

The Department is fully committed to increasing the number of nursing apprenticeships. In support of this, we have developed a complete apprentice pathway from entry level nursing associate to postgraduate advanced clinical practice in nursing. This will support people from all backgrounds to enter a nursing career in the National Health Service.

In the 2017/18 academic year, there have been 300 apprenticeship starts recorded for the standard ‘registered nurse’ and 1,420 apprenticeship starts recorded for the standard ‘nursing associate’.

We are working closely with employers and Health Education England to make sure that the NHS is fully supported to recruit apprentices, both in nursing and in a range of other occupations and in doing so ensure the NHS has a workforce that is reflective of the population it serves.

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