Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 18 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many speeding fines have been received by vehicles belonging the North West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust in the last (a) five years and (b) 12 months.
Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 05 April 2019
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: North of England
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans to allocated additional funding to pupils with special education needs at school in the north of England.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 15 April 2019

In December 2018, we announced that we would allocate an additional £250 million in funding for pupils with complex special educational needs across England, across the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20. This funding is in addition to the increases we had already promised. Local authorities in the North East, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber will receive £67.7 million of this funding. The allocation to each local authority can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-needs-funding-arrangements-2019-to-2020. We will also, of course, take the opportunity of the next Spending Review to ensure that we make a strong case for the public funds that enable schools to make provision for their children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment: Lancashire
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many mandatory re-considerations have been submitted for personal independence payment claims in Lancashire in the last 12 months.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 15 April 2019

Between February 2018 and January 2019 there were 8,780 Mandatory Reconsiderations registered against Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Normal Rules claims for claimants living in Lancashire. This covers both new claims and DLA reassessment claims.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Right to Buy Scheme: Lancashire
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many house sales were made by people that used the Right to Buy scheme in Lancashire since the scheme was introduced.
A
Answered by: Jake Berry
Answered on: 15 April 2019

The Department publishes the number of Right to Buy Sales by local authority area from 1979-80, when the scheme began, to 2017-18 in Live Table 685, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-social-housing-sales.

Information on Right to Buy sales in the three quarters of 2018-19 are published in Live Table 691 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-social-housing-sales. Please note these figures are only provisional.

Note that 2017-18 sales figures in Live Table 685 and 691 do not match. This is because Live Table 691 is revised quarterly while 685 is done annually. It is therefore advised to use the figures in 691

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support the Government provides to tenants in the private rented sector to ensure they are not priced out of their accommodation.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 12 April 2019

We believe the key to improving affordability for tenants is to build more homes for rent. Institutional investment in purpose-built privately rented homes is increasing, with over 29,000 homes delivered since 2012, and around 110,000 in the pipeline. We supported the Build to Rent sector with a £3.5 billion Private Rented Sector Guarantee Scheme and changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.

We are also committed to making housing for rent more affordable now. This includes:

  • banning lettings fees paid by tenants and capping tenancy deposits with the Tenant Fees Bill, which will come into force on 1 June 2019.

  • supporting landlords and tenants to agree appropriate rent increases through the free-to-use model tenancy agreement.

  • supporting tenants that have difficulty paying the rent via Targeted Affordability Funding that will top-up Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates in areas where affordability pressures are greatest.

  • providing an enhanced Discretionary Housing Payment fund for Local Authorities to protect the most vulnerable claimants impacted by welfare reforms such as the freeze to LHA rates.

  • making £20 million available through the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Access Fund to enable better access and sustainment of tenancies for people who are, or at risk of becoming, homeless.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Autism: Health Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has put in place to mark world autism awareness week between 1 and 7 April 2019; and what steps the Government is taking to ensure that people with autism have equal opportunities in all areas of society.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 11 April 2019

The Government is committed to raising awareness and understanding of autism in line with the cross-Government autism strategy and the Autism Act 2009. On 21 March 2019, I responded to the Backbench Business Debate on autism services on behalf of the Government.

During autism awareness week 2019, I undertook a Ministerial visit on 1 April to the National Autistic Society’s Birch House Service in Godalming to meet with autistic people and carers. On 3 April, I chaired the Annual Autism Accountability meeting which reports on progress in implementing the autism strategy, ‘Think Autism’. On 4 April, my Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care undertook a Ministerial visit to the Sycamore Trust to meet with autistic people and carers.

On 5 April 2019, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced, in an article for the Politics Home website, the development of a public autism awareness raising campaign to improve awareness and understanding of autism. The Department is working together with stakeholders including autistic people and carers to develop this. We expect the campaign will be launched by the end of the year.

Government Departments are taking forward actions and strategies to raise awareness and understanding of autism, and to adjust services to make them more accessible to autistic people. For example, these include:

- In July 2018, the Department for Transport published its, ‘Inclusive Transport Strategy: Achieving Equal Access for Disabled People’. The Department for Transport is committed to ensuring that disabled people and those with hidden impairments such as autistic people have the same access to transport and opportunities to travel as everyone else; and

- Through the Disability Confident scheme, the Department for Work and Pensions is engaging with employers, offering guidance and helping to promote the skills, talents and abilities of autistic people and associated hidden impairment conditions. Over 11,000 employers have signed up. A Disability Confident Toolkit has also been developed to provide comprehensive information on autism and hidden impairments, as well as guidance on employment and local authority services. In addition, Access to Work has a hidden impairment support team that aims to give advice and guidance to help employers support employees with conditions such as autism, learning disability and/or mental health conditions and it offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 05 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help support people with mental health issues as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 11 April 2019

The Government is committed to ensuring everyone with a mental health problem has access to treatment based on clinical need, regardless of the cause of their mental ill health.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Viagra: Misuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the trends in the level of the use of Sildenafil for social use; and what safeguards are in place to prevent the sale of Sildenafil over the counter to consumers without a medical need.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 10 April 2019

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has not undertaken an assessment of the trends in the level of the use of sildenafil for social use.

There are legal controls on the sale of medicines over-the-counter and those classified as pharmacy only medicines which may only be sold or supplied by or under the supervision of a pharmacist on registered pharmacy premises. This applies equally to online sales.

Risk minimisation measures have been put in place to support the safe supply of sildenafil over the counter to adult men over 18 with erectile dysfunction. These include restricting the sale from pharmacies by or under the supervision of a pharmacist and providing pharmacy training support materials and a checklist for use in pharmacies when supplying the product.

A study is being undertaken to measure whether the over-the-counter sildenafil product is supplied appropriately in line with the authorised indication and conditions for safe use.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 05 April 2019
Home Office
Lancashire Constabulary: Proceeds of Crime
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much money Lancashire Constabulary was allowed to retain under section 298 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in (a) 2017-18 and (b) 2018-19; what that money was used for; and to which organisations that money was donated.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 10 April 2019

Under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS), police forces and other agencies that seize and obtain the forfeiture of cash under s298 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 receive 50% of the amount forfeited. Lanca-shire Constabulary received the following amounts

2017/18 = £77,500
2018/19 = £142,500

The use of ARIS allocations/payments is a matter for each agency but in-centive payments should be used to further drive up performance on asset recovery and, where appropriate, to fund local crime fighting priorities for the benefit of the community.

Q
(Preston)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 05 April 2019
Women and Equalities
Equal Pay: Gender
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference the publication of the pay comparison data collected by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the gender pay gap; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 10 April 2019

In 2017 we introduced ground-breaking regulations requiring large employers to publish their gender pay gaps annually. We have recently passed the second reporting deadline, and over 10,000 employers have provided their data. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will take action with those who have failed to report or provided inaccurate data.

We are supporting employers to take action to reduce their gaps. We have recently published guidance on how to diagnose the causes of a gap and how to create an effective action plan.

The government is also taking action to close the gender pay gap by making flexible working a reality for all employees, introducing Shared Parental Leave, supporting the Hampton-Alexander Review to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions, and doubling the childcare entitlement for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 02 April 2019
Department for International Development
Developing Countries: Cocoa
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support her Department has provided to (a) charities and (b) humanitarian organisations in the eradication of (i) poverty and (ii) slavery in cocoa farms throughout the world.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 09 April 2019

Creating productive jobs and improving working conditions is critical to poverty reduction. The Department for International Development (DFID) is a long-term supporter of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL Alliance), the umbrella organisation for standards systems such as Fairtrade. DFID also supports the Ethical Trading Initiative, a multi-stakeholder body working with the UK food industry, their suppliers, trade unions and charities to implement International Labour Organisation standards in global value chains, including cocoa value chains. Our work on responsible investments focuses on a range of priorities, including improved conditions in the agriculture sector.

DFID is also at the forefront of the UK’s international efforts to implement the Prime Minister’s 2017 “Call to Action to end Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”. This is a crucial part of our efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8 on ending modern slavery. In 2017 the UK Government committed to doubling aid spending to tackle modern slavery to £150 million. We have exceeded this goal, with UK aid committed now exceeding £200 million.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for Education
Food Poverty: Academic Year
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to support local authorities and third sector organisations in helping to prevent holiday hunger during school holidays.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 08 April 2019

Last year I announced a programme of work to explore how best to support disadvantaged children to access healthy food and enriching activities during the school holidays. This included £2 million awarded to 7 third sector organisations to deliver this sort of provision, free, to disadvantaged pupils over the 2018 summer holidays.

We are more than quadrupling that amount for the 2019 summer holidays where we will be exploring how the coordination of this sort of provision across a local authority can help more disadvantaged pupils to access free high quality holiday club provision. Funding will support providers to deliver free high quality holiday provision (including healthy food) to disadvantaged children and young people in a number of local authorities.

We have received applications for a share of this £9 million from a range of organisations including local authorities and third sector organisations, and will be announcing the successful bidders and the geographical locations for the scheme later in the spring.

This programme of work will enable the government to make an evidence-based decision about if, and how, to intervene in this issue in the longer term.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 27 March 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of ending the transfer of live animals for fattening.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 04 April 2019

The transport of live animals, including to fattening units, must comply with EU and domestic legislation aimed at protecting animal welfare.

Last year we launched a Call for Evidence on controlling live exports for slaughter and improving the welfare of all animals during transport. We have passed this evidence to the independent Farm Animal Welfare Committee and expect to receive their report and recommendations shortly.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 27 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average cost to her Department is to process a mandatory reconsideration for personal independence payment.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 04 April 2019

The average DWP unit costs for Mandatory Reconsiderations for Personal Independence Payments for the latest full financial year 2017/18 are:

Full year average 2017/18 – Operating costs level unit costs

£

PIP Claims Mandatory Reconsiderations

61.93

PIP Reassessments Mandatory Reconsiderations

53.66

Costs are provided separately for Mandatory Reconsiderations relating to PIP Claims and PIP Reassessments as these are separate activities with costs gathered separately for each.

The average unit costs that have been provided are taken from the DWP’s Activity Based Models at an Operating Costs level which includes direct costs relating to staff undertaking the activities (staff, and local non-staff costs only). They do not include higher level support costs such as management and corporate overheads relating to PIP administration activities.

Q
(Preston)
[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: 27 March 2019
Ministry of Justice
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, much money it costs his Department on average to hold a claimant's tribunal relating to personal independence payment.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 01 April 2019

The information requested is not held centrally. The cost of Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance hearings is included in the overall cost of the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support Appeal).

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 19 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential correlation between the roll-out of universal credit and the trends in the level of survival prostitution; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 27 March 2019

We do not believe there is any correlation between the roll-out of Universal Credit and prostitution.

The priority of Jobcentre Plus staff is to make sure that claimants get the support they need and then help them to move into work when they are able.

A wide range of financial support is available to help claimants, with 100 per cent advances available on the same day if there is a need.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 18 March 2019
Home Office
Offences against Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) reports of child sexual exploitation have been received and (b) successful prosecutions have taken place for child sexual abuse-related offences including imagery offences in (i) Preston constituency and (ii) the UK in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Mr Nick Hurd
Answered on: 26 March 2019

The number of police recorded offences relating to child sexual exploitation in the Preston Community Safety Partnership (CSP) Area and in England and Wales, is shown in the table below in each of the last 3 years:

Year to Sep 2016

Year to Sep 2017

Year to Sep 2018

Preston CSP Area

120

130

248

England & Wales

43,896

53,733

60,659

The Home Office does not hold data on the number of such offences recorded by the police elsewhere in the UK. Information on the number of prosecutions for such offences is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Poultry: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) maintain and (b) increase animal welfare standards in battery hen farms.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 26 March 2019

The use of conventional (“battery”) cages for laying hens has been banned in the UK since 2012. Laying hens are kept in either enriched colonies, free range, barn or organic systems. Enriched colonies provide more space for the birds to move around and are legally required to provide nest boxes, litter, perches, and claw shortening devices which allow the birds to carry out a greater range of natural behaviours.

The new statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens and Pullets provides improved and up-to-date guidance for owners and keepers on how to comply with the legislation and help maintain high animal welfare standards.

We intend to continue being a world leader in animal welfare after we leave the EU by maintaining and strengthening our already world-class welfare standards. As part of our move to higher regulatory standards we intend to develop publicly-funded schemes for farmers to deliver animal welfare enhancements beyond our high regulatory baseline that are valued by the public.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 18 March 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods: Lancashire
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent flooding incidents in Lancashire on (a) local residents, (b) roads and (c) sheep; and what measures he will put in place to reduce the risk of flooding in the future.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 25 March 2019

On 16 March 2019 there was heavy rainfall across Lancashire, and reports of flooding to highways and alongside rivers. The Environment Agency (EA) issued flood warnings for Colne Water at Lenches, around Waterside Industrial Estate, the River Ribble at Samlesbury and Walton-le-Dale. Despite heavy rainfall affecting roads in East Lancashire and in the Ribble Valley no properties were reported as having been flooded. No road or property flooding was reported in Preston, however fire crews were called to a flooded field at Samlesbury where 170 marooned sheep were successfully rescued by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

The EA is delivering a joint capital programme with other Risk Management Authorities to better protect over 34,000 homes from flooding in Lancashire between 2015 and 2021 at an estimated cost of £100 million. This programme has already delivered better protection to nearly 28,000 homes and over 1,000 businesses.

Planned future measures include the Preston South Ribble Scheme, which will improve flood mitigation to around 3,600 residential properties as well as over 300 businesses. This scheme, which is approaching the design stage, is expected to cost around £40 million and take 5-6 years to complete. Ground investigation surveys are due to start on 25 March 2019.

Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 11 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to to reduce the number of claimants' successful claims that go through the tribunal appeal process.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 18 March 2019

Our intention is to work with stakeholders to review the mandatory reconsideration process, including exploring what might help us to gather any further evidence earlier in the process so that we can revise decisions before they reach tribunal, where appropriate. It is a complex area and we want to get it right, so our first priority will be to listen so that we can identify what changes might have the greatest impact.

At the tribunals themselves, we know the claimant’s oral evidence is often decisive with new written evidence also having an impact. In order to further understand this, we have recruited 150 Presenting Officers, for ESA and PIP appeals, who, aside from helping tribunals reach the right decision, are feeding back their observations to decision makers and assessment providers. These valuable insights will help inform future decision making.

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