Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 24 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Medical Treatments: Innovation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has to facilitate commercial discussions between manufacturers and NHS England at an early stage in its evaluations of highly specialised technologies.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 01 November 2018

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) it has recently set up a commercial function that specifically focuses on engaging in discussions around commercial arrangements - The Commercial and Managed Access Programme. Through this function, NICE will provide companies with opportunities to engage in commercial and managed access conversations with both NICE and NHS England.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 24 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Muscular Dystrophy: Drugs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the introduction of a cost-effectiveness threshold in the NICE highly specialised technologies appraisal process, what steps he is taking to ensure equity of access to treatment for different subgroups of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 01 November 2018

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) evaluates all medicines referred to its highly specialised technologies (HST) programme, including medicines for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, consistently in accordance with its published methods and processes. In 2017, following public consultation, NICE introduced an assessment of cost-effectiveness into its HST methodology that provides a consistent and transparent mechanism for evaluating technologies while recognising the need for greater flexibility in the evaluation of very high cost drugs for the treatment of very rare diseases.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Natural Gas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to ensure that there is a secure supply of gas for residents of (a) England and (b) Sheffield Hallam in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 24 October 2018

Maintaining security of supply is a top priority. The Government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure the UK will be ready for EU Exit in all scenarios, including in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Even with an unlikely ‘no deal’ outcome, the mechanisms of cross-border gas trading are not expected to fundamentally change for the UK and so we expect no material impact on security of supply. Government has set out in a technical notice how cross-border gas trading may be impacted in the unlikely event of a no deal Brexit.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to ensure that there is a secure supply of electricity for residents of (a) England and (b) Sheffield Hallam in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 24 October 2018

Maintaining security of supply is a top priority. The Government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure the UK will be ready for EU Exit in all scenarios, including in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The Government is working with Ofgem and National Grid to ensure security of supply following EU Exit utilising existing measures such as the Capacity Market. Government has set out in a technical notice how cross-border trade and supply of electricity may be impacted in the unlikely event of a No Deal.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 16 October 2018
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Synthetic Cannabinoids
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what strategy his Department has to tackle the use of synthetic cannabinoids in prisons.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 24 October 2018

We have formed a Drugs Taskforce working with law enforcement and health partners across government to reduce substance misuse including psychoactive substances (PS) in prisons. The Taskforce is developing a Prison Drugs Strategy for publication this autumn which supports and complements the National Drugs Strategy published by the Home Office in 2017. Our approach is centred around the same three objectives: restricting supply, reducing demand and building recovery. We are supporting prisons in reducing all types of drug use, with a particular focus on PS and the unique challenges they bring. In September 2016, we became the first prison service in the world to introduce innovative mandatory drug tests for psychoactive substances, a significant step in tackling the supply and use of them. We have made it a criminal offence to possess psychoactive substances in prison and trained more than 300 sniffer dogs specifically to detect these drugs. We will shortly be providing guidance on how to counter the evolving methods used by suppliers such as impregnated paper. The creation of a new specialist Financial Crime Unit to identify and disrupt the organised crime gangs fuelling drug dealing in prisons was announced by the Secretary of State for Justice at the Conservative Party Conference. The unit is staffed by members of the Police and Prison Service and is able to freeze bank accounts linked to organised crime and to make arrests. This action will cut the supply of drugs to prisoners and prevent money reaching criminal kingpins. We are supporting Bim Afolami MP’s Private Member’s Bill on substance testing in prisons. This legislation will simplify and strengthen the drug testing framework, allowing us to test for all psychoactive substances, as well as prescription-only and pharmacy medicines, helping to identify where they are being abused.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 16 October 2018
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Crimes of Violence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to protect and support prison staff from abuse.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 24 October 2018

Our prison staff work incredibly hard and we are under no illusions about the challenges they face. We are taking urgent action to make prisons safer, and assaults on our hardworking staff will never be tolerated. That is why we are working with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure successful prosecutions of those who assault them. It is also why the Government supported the recently passed Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which increases sentences for those who attack emergency workers, including prison officers.

We are taking further measures to protect our staff, including investing in 5,600 body-worn cameras and in rigid-bar handcuffs. Early next year we will begin to equip every prison officer in the adult male prison estate with PAVA incapacitant spray. PAVA can help to prevent serious harm to staff and prisoners alike, as well as being a tool to persuade prisoners in the act of violence to stop. It will be deployed only in prisons that have rolled out the key worker scheme, and in which staff have been properly trained.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 16 October 2018
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Mental Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to support prisoners who have mental health issues; and whether his Department has plans to expand the provision of such support.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 24 October 2018

We take mental health issues very seriously and are committed to working closely with health partners to ensure that offenders are able to access the treatment and support required for their mental health needs. Providing the right interventions at the right time is vital to improving outcomes. Liaison & Diversion services place clinical staff at police stations and courts, to provide assessments and referrals to treatment and support. They also provide critical information to decision-makers in the justice system, so that decisions and sentences can be tailored to meet their needs. Liaison and Diversion services continue to be rolled out across England, and were at 82% at the end of March 2018. Full roll out is expected by 2020-21. For those in custody, NHS England are responsible for commissioning and delivering health services in prisons in England. In Wales, healthcare is devolved to the Welsh Government. However, we recognise the importance of the prison environment on enabling better health outcomes. To June 2018, we have recruited an additional 3,653 frontline prison officers who will help improve prison regimes and access to healthcare. This will also enable us to implement the key worker role, giving staff dedicated time to provide one-to-one support to individual prisoners and, for example, identify where mental health support may be needed. We are also working to improve prison staff training around mental health, including providing revised suicide and self-harm prevention training. Over 17,000 prison staff have completed at least one module of the revised suicide and self-harm prevention training. We are currently reviewing the mental health element of the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) to ensure it provides staff with the knowledge and confidence to recognise and respond appropriately to new or unreported mental health problems, or to recognise when existing problems are deteriorating. We have awarded grant of £500k a year, for the next three years, to the Samaritans to enable the continuation of their excellent Listeners Scheme.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food Supply
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to ensure that there is a secure supply of food for residents of (a) England and (b) Sheffield Hallam in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 23 October 2018

We firmly believe it is in the interests of both the EU and the UK to strike a deal. That remains the goal on both sides and we are confident that this will be achieved. But it is the job of a responsible Government to prepare for all scenarios, including the unlikely event that we reach March 2019 without agreeing a deal. We have already carried out very significant ‘no deal’ preparations and we are now stepping up the pace, including publishing a series of technical notices so that businesses and citizens have time to prepare.

The government has well established ways of working with the food industry to mitigate possible disruption and we will be using these to support preparations for leaving the EU.

The UK has a high degree of food security, built on access to a range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from third countries. Consumers will continue to have access to a range of different products when we leave the EU.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Hospitals: Drugs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to ensure that there is a secure medicine supply for hospitals in (a) England and (b) Sheffield in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 23 October 2018

On 23 August 2018, the Department wrote to a number of pharmaceutical companies that supply the United Kingdom with medicines from, or via, the European Union/European Economic Area, asking them to ensure they have a minimum of six weeks’ additional supply in the United Kingdom, over and above their business as usual operational buffer stocks, by 29 March 2019 in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Since writing to pharmaceutical companies, we have received good engagement from the industry who share our aims in ensuring continuity of medicines supply is maintained for patients across the UK. The Department continues to work closely with these companies to ensure that their UK stockpiles of medicines are sufficient to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department for International Trade
UK Trade with EU: Exports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans his Department has to support businesses that export to the EU in the event that that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 22 October 2018

The Department for International Trade has carried out significant preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario, and alongside other Departments has published technical notices to guide businesses on preparing for this eventuality. Our technical notices cover trade remedies, export control regulation, and trade agreement continuity, as well as a further technical notice on tariffs which we published jointly with HMRC and HMT. We are also preparing the Department to provide business-friendly answers to EU Exit enquiries on areas within our competence. Together with other Departments we are ensuring that businesses can access Government information on EU Exit online.

Businesses, including current exporters to the EU, will benefit from the Department for International Trade’s strong offer regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations. This offer includes impartial export advice from International Trade Advisors, our overseas network with a presence in 108 countries, and access to digital services that sit on our great.gov.uk platform.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 15 October 2018
Department for Education
Universities: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to replace potential lost funding for universities as a result of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 19 October 2018

We remain confident that we will agree a mutually advantageous deal with the EU – we do not want or expect a no deal scenario. It is, however, the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for a range of potential outcomes, including the unlikely event of no deal. Extensive work to prepare for this scenario has been under way for almost two years and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the country continues to operate smoothly from the day we leave. We have now published 106 specific technical notices – including on Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ – to help businesses, universities, citizens and consumers prepare for a no deal scenario.

In the event of a no deal scenario the government’s underwrite guarantee will cover funding for successful competitive bids to Horizon 2020 submitted before exit day. In July 2018, we extended this guarantee to cover all successful competitive bids by UK entities to Horizon 2020 calls open to third country participation submitted between exit day and the end of 2020. The guarantee will apply for the lifetime of qualifying projects, even where this extends beyond 2020.

The government will cover funding for successful Erasmus+ bids from UK organisations that are submitted while the UK is still a Member State, even if they are not approved until after we leave. The government will need to reach agreement with the EU for UK organisations to continue participating in Erasmus+ projects and is seeking to hold these discussions with the EU. The government has also extended the underwrite guarantee to cover the payment of awards under successful Erasmus+ bids submitted post-March 2019 until the end of 2020. The eligibility of UK organisations to participate in calls for bids once the UK is no longer a Member State is subject to agreement between the EU and the UK.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Transport
Manchester-Sheffield Railway Line
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Hope Valley Capacity Scheme, whether Network Rail has plans to make available increased capacity to provide additional diversionary routes during the TransPennine upgrade.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The use of the additional capacity created by the Hope Valley Capacity scheme will be determined by the franchise specifier, the Rail North Partnership. Diversionary routes for the proposed Transpennine Route Upgrade will be part of the next phase of planning once the scope is agreed.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Sheffield
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has in place to support the recruitment of employees by health services in Sheffield in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 15 October 2018

We do not want or expect a no deal scenario. As a result of the significant progress made in negotiations, we remain confident we will agree a mutually advantageous deal with the European Union. We are not, however, complacent, and have plans in place in the event the United Kingdom leaves the EU with no deal. These plans are comprehensive, thorough and continuously updated.

We have been clear from the beginning of this process that we want EU nationals currently working in the National Health Service, to stay after we leave the EU. We will be working with NHS and social care employers across Sheffield as well as the whole of England to ensure their EU employees are aware of the straightforward and user-friendly EU settlement scheme which will allow them to secure settled status in the UK and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now. This offer will stand irrespective of whether a deal is reached by the time the UK leaves the EU.

We have also introduced a range of measures to support increased recruitment and retention across the health and care system, including national recruitment campaigns that illustrate the diverse and fulfilling career opportunities available in the NHS and social care.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 03 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Pharmacy: Sheffield Hallam
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the proposed average payments to community pharmacies were in Sheffield Hallam constituency under the Pharmacy Access Scheme in (a) 2016-17 and (b) 2017-18.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 11 September 2018

The average payments for community pharmacies located in the Sheffield Hallam constituency made through the Pharmacy Access Scheme were:

£8,007 per year in 2016/17; and

£15,173 per year in 2017/18.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 03 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Pharmacy: Sheffield Hallam
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average payments to community pharmacies were in Sheffield Hallam in (a) 2016-17 and (b) 2017-18.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 11 September 2018

The average payments to community pharmacies in the Sheffield Hallam constituency were:

£632,488 per year in 2016/17; and

£628,579 per year in 2017/18.

These payments to pharmacies are to reimburse them for the cost of dispensed products and to remunerate them for the provision of nationally commissioned, advanced and enhanced services under the community pharmacy contractual framework, and some local services commissioned by NHS England.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 03 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Pharmacy: Closures
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the closure of community pharmacies.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 11 September 2018

There remains good access to community pharmacies with 88% of the population able to access their local pharmacy on foot within 20 minutes. To help maintain access to face-to-face National Health Service pharmaceutical services in areas with fewer pharmacies the Government introduced a Pharmacy Access Scheme (PHAS), under which pharmacies eligible for the scheme receive a ‘top-up’ payment, thus requiring them to make smaller efficiency savings than other non-PhAS pharmacies.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Treasury
Equitable Life Assurance Society: Compensation
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will revise upwards the level of compensation paid to people who experienced financial loses as a result of the mismanagement of Equitable Life.
A
Answered by: John Glen
Answered on: 10 September 2018

Around £1.5bn tax free has already been allocated to the Equitable Life Payment Scheme, which closed to new claims in 2015. There are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or to allocate further funds to it.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Women and Equalities
Public Sector: Equality
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Equalities Act 2010 so that the provisions of that Act on the public sector equality duty apply to Parliament and to hon. Members.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 07 September 2018

As the honourable Member notes, the functions of Parliament are currently exempt from the Public Sector Equality Duty. Making the functions of Parliament and of individual Members subject to the duty would make Parliamentary functions subject to compliance requirements by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the control of the Courts, raising constitutional questions.

Ministers of the Crown, when formulating policy, are acting as part of the Government and are therefore subject to the duty, as are Government Departments when preparing the policies behind primary legislation.

The Government has no plans to change this position.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Qatar: Working Conditions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Emir of Qatar on improving working conditions and valuing the human rights of workers in Qatar.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 04 September 2018

Ministers were able to discuss a range of issues with His Highness the Amir of Qatar during his visit in July. Qatar has made significant progress to improve the situation for its migrant workers since it won the right to host the World Cup. The International Labour Organisation opened an office in Doha this year to work with Qatar on migrant workers’ rights. The issue of conditions for migrant workers in Qatar is one we regularly raise with our counterparts and we are ready to offer further support to Qatar in its efforts.

Q
Asked by Jared O'Mara
(Sheffield, Hallam)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicaragua: Demonstrations
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has made to the Nicaraguan Government on recent protests in that country.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 20 June 2018

The UK has been very clear with the Nicaraguan Government that they must take responsibility for ending the current violence and protecting human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

These messages have been delivered in two meetings between the Head of Latin America Department and the Presidential Advisor on International Relations, and in a public statement by the British Ambassador to Nicaragua on 5 June that was featured by the Nicaraguan press. We also raised our concerns at the Organisation of American States General Assembly on 5 June in Washington where the UK is a Permanent Observer.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and raise our concerns with the Nicaraguan Government at every opportunity.

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