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 David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the provision of healthcare for UK citizens in the EU of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Under current European Union-based entitlements, the United Kingdom pays for the healthcare costs of 180,000 UK nationals, mostly pensioners, in health systems across the EU. There are around 50 million UK tourist visits to the EU annually; the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) is used in around 0.5% of these visits. Moreover, approximately 50,000 posted workers are protected through the current arrangements.

The UK Government has proposed to EU Member States that, in a no-deal scenario, we should maintain the existing healthcare arrangements until 31 December 2020, with the aim of minimising disruption to UK nationals’ and EU citizens’ healthcare provision. The UK Government is working to put in place bilateral agreements with Member States to protect existing healthcare arrangements for UK nationals beyond exit day. For UK nationals that live in EU Member States, the UK cannot unilaterally guarantee the continuation of current arrangements, as this depends on decisions by Member States.

EU Member States such as Spain have made public commitments that they will enable resident UK nationals and visitors to access healthcare in the same way they do now, and we hope to reach such agreements with all Member States.

Although we are hopeful that we can agree reciprocal healthcare arrangements, as a responsible Government we have developed a multi-layered approach to minimise disruption to healthcare provision to UK nationals currently in or travelling to the EU Member States.

The UK Government has committed to fund healthcare for UK nationals (and others for whom the UK is responsible) who have applied for, or are undergoing, treatments in the EU prior to and on exit day, for up to one year, to protect the most vulnerable.

Individuals are always responsible for ensuring they have sufficient healthcare insurance. Anyone who is living, working or studying in EU Member States should check the country specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK for updates.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives from the BBC on the BBC's decision to charge people aged over 75 for TV licences.
A
Answered by: Jeremy Wright
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Since the BBC took its decision, I have met with the Chairman of the BBC Board and the Director-General of the BBC and I have asked them to do more to help the most vulnerable groups affected by the decision.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Technology: Companies
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the growth of technology firms in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 03 July 2019

We are confident the digital technology sector and its startup community will continue to go from strength to strength. Our ambition is to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business - and that ambition remains after we leave the EU. Tech Nation and Dealroom have released figures showing that investment in UK tech reached £6.8 billion ($8.7bn) last year and has already reached £3.8 billion ($4.8bn) in the first half of 2019, showing that the UK tech ecosystem is world-leading and in a strong position.

We are investing in the areas the sector needs: adequate access to both finance and talent. That is why for finance, Government announced a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme, which is expected to attract a further £5 billion in private investment, in order to support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and go global. To continue to attract international talent, we have doubled the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000, and taken doctors and nurses out of the Tier 2 visa cap, freeing up many more skilled worker visas to other sectors, including tech. At the end of March this year, we also launched the new Start-Up and Innovator visa routes for entrepreneurs.

In addition, at London Tech Week in June the PM launched a study into tech competitiveness - this will identify key opportunities and support mechanisms for business growth in the digital tech sector. And Tech Nation supports businesses across the UK to enable continued growth of the digital tech sector. Government funding will help Tech Nation support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses across the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Newcastle.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Football: Sportsgrounds
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has consulted on safe standing in English football stadiums.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 03 July 2019

We believe that all-seater stadia are currently the best means to ensure the safety and security of fans at designated football matches in England and Wales. I meet a wide range of football stakeholders and discuss standing at football with them amongst other issues.

We commissioned an independent review of the existing evidence relating to the all-seater policy and are considering an appropriate date for the report’s release.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Department for Exiting the European Union: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of his Department's preparations for the UK leaving the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2019

As a responsible government we have been preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU in all scenarios for nearly three years. A no deal exit remains the legal default at the end of the extension period on 31 October unless a deal is agreed.

DExEU has a vital coordination role to play in these preparations. We maintain a single picture of workstreams, policy proposals and delivery implications across government to inform policy development. This allows us to scrutinise domestic policy solutions and delivery plans that departments develop - ensuring coherence and recommending cross-cutting solutions to drive delivery forward.

Over 300 work-streams to prepare for ‘no deal’ continue to be advanced across Government, to minimise disruption to industry, to our vital services, and to the daily lives of the people of the United Kingdom. In light of the extension, departments are making sensible decisions about the timing and pace at which some of this work is progressing and what further action can be taken, but we will continue to prepare for all EU Exit scenarios.

We continue to make good progress - for example:

  • Since December 2018, HMRC has issued 74,000 new EORI numbers to traders (as of 23 June).

  • We have published approximately 750 pieces of communications on no deal since August 2018, including 106 technical notices explaining to businesses and citizens what they need to do to prepare.

  • The EU Settlement Scheme is now fully opened with over 800,000 applications so far.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Intelligence Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on intelligence sharing between the UK and EU of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Intelligence sharing between the British Government and overseas partners is important to the security of our country. The Government's vision for a security partnership with the European Union is set out in the White Paper: "The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union" (July 2018). This includes a proposal for continued information and intelligence sharing, for example through the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre, European Union Satellite Centre and EU Military Staff. It is the longstanding policy of successive British Governments not to comment in detail on intelligence matters.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Department for Exiting the European Union: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, if he will publish his Department's no deal preparation documents.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The Government has published a number of documents to support public and parliamentary scrutiny of our preparations for leaving the EU.

The Government continues to report regularly to the House and its Select Committees in person and by responding fully to inquiries and reports. In addition to regular statements by the Prime Minister, DExEU Ministers have given evidence to a broad range of committees on 49 occasions and have made 187 written statements to both Houses.

In addition, the Government published a robust, objective assessment of how exiting the EU could affect the economy of the UK in November 2018, as part of its commitment to providing Parliament with appropriate analysis. In addition, all legislation is accompanied by explanatory documents. This information is available online.

We have also taken extensive steps to provide businesses and citizens with advice on helping them mitigate the potential impacts of a no deal exit, publishing approximately 750 pieces of communications on no deal since August 2018, including 106 technical notices explaining to businesses and citizens what they need to do to prepare.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
Customs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on using Border Force technology to solve the customs issues when the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 02 July 2019

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union regularly meets with Cabinet colleagues to discuss preparations for leaving the EU. Similarly, ministers and officials from the department meet regularly with other government departments to discuss a variety of issues.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 19 June 2019
Department for Education
Pupil Exclusions: Violence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many secondary school pupils were suspended due to violence-related issues in the last two years.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 28 June 2019

The National Statistics releases ‘Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England’ includes information on the number of permanent and fixed period exclusions. The releases are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-exclusions.

In the National tables, table 4 gives exclusions by main reason. The guide to exclusion statistics gives descriptors for each reason category in section 4.4.2, and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exclusions-statistics-guide.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 19 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Health
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to prevent tooth decay in (a) children and (b) adults.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 27 June 2019

In England, local authorities have the lead responsibility for improving the oral health of children and adults in their local area. Further information is available at the following link:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/3094/pdfs/uksi_20123094_en.pdf

Improving the oral health of children is a priority for Public Health England (PHE). PHE has established a Child Oral Health Improvement Programme Board, which brings together key stakeholder organisations. The board has a shared ambition that every child grows up free of tooth decay as part of getting the best start in life.

PHE established an Adult Oral Health Oversight Group, which brings together a wide range of stakeholders that have policies or areas of interest to improve the oral health of adults.

The Department is testing a new prevention focussed National Health Service dental contract which includes preventive advice and treatment based on ‘Delivering better oral health’, an evidence-based toolkit for prevention. More information about the dental contract reform programme can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dental-contract-reform-prototypes

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 19 June 2019
Home Office
Passports: Applications
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many first-time passport applications his Department has received since 23 June 2016.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 27 June 2019

The number of applications for a first British passport received between 23 June 2016 and 31 March 2019 was 3,267,038.


Passport intake data is reported within Home Office transparency data. The information is therefore provided up to the most recent date published (31 March 2019).

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Circuses: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to prevent domestic animals being harmed and exploited in circuses.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (the 2018 regulations) came into force on 1 October 2018. The regulations require anyone in England who is in the business of keeping or training animals (regardless of whether they are domestic or wild kept animals) for exhibition, educational or entertainment purposes, including within a circus, to be licensed by the relevant local authority.

The regulations include powers for local authorities to inspect the premises where the animals are kept to ensure minimum welfare standards are being maintained. In addition, all kept animals including those in a circus are protected by the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. If anyone considers that an animal in a circus is suffering or its welfare is being compromised then they should report it to the local authority who have powers under the 2006 Act to investigate, or to the RSPCA who will also investigate such matters.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dog Fighting
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to prevent people giving away dogs online to tackle the dog fighting industry.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Government abhors the mistreatment of animals, including organised dog fighting. It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be involved in or to promote animal fighting including dog fighting. The Government has announced it will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty, including animal fighting, from six months to five years’ imprisonment and legislation will be introduced as soon as possible.

In relation to online advertising of pets and other animals, the Government has worked with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG - a group of animal welfare, veterinary and animal keeping interests) who promote the responsible advertising of pet animals. Five online animal adverting platforms have adopted PAAG’s minimum standards for advertising animals which are endorsed by the Government. The minimum standards include that the websites run automated checks for key words and terms such as banned dog breeds, and filter for misleading or inappropriate adverts which are then removed. The websites must exclude any advert where there is a reasonable concern for the health and welfare of the animal involved and provide a clearly visible function for purchasers to report illegal or inappropriate adverts. The Government will continue to work with PAAG to encourage more online advertising platforms to sign up to PAAG’s minimum standards.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Tagging
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many dogs were microchipped in 2018.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Government estimates, from figures provided by the relevant microchip databases, that around 8.1 million dogs in the UK were microchipped in 2018. This represents around 90% of all dogs in the UK.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 19 June 2019
Department for Transport
Trains: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the cost of replacing diesel trains with hybrid and electric trains.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Department has not made an estimate of the cost of replacing diesel trains. The Government has set out its ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040, and the rail industry are producing a decarbonisation report which will set out how it can achieve this objective.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Fertilisers: Safety
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to advise farmers on safety measures when spreading fertiliser.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has responsibility for the regulation of health and safety standards on Great Britain’s farms. Fertiliser is typically spread with machinery which is mounted or trailed behind tractors and powered by the tractor’s power take-off (PTO) drive shaft. HSE has published guidance on how to safely use machinery of this type, this includes safe use of tractors, safe use of work equipment, machinery maintenance and working on slopes, all of which is available from the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/index.htm .

HSE also works with the farming industry through the Farm Safety Partnerships to promote vehicle and machinery safety messages, including those relevant to fertiliser spreading.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Transport
Public Transport: Rural Areas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to increase the provision of public transport in rural areas.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Government recognises the importance of public transport in rural areas.

All local authorities in England have powers to subsidise socially necessary bus services. The Department provides £43 million per year to local authorities to support this.

The Bus Services Act 2017 provides tools for local authorities to work more effectively with bus operators to improve bus services.

A number of projects from the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund will provide new community transport links to support people at most risk of isolation.

On rail, the Department’s Community Rail Development Strategy, published in Nov 2018, looks for ways to make it easier for the rail industry and local community rail partnerships to improve services and stations on local branch lines.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Vehicles: Charging Points
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to introduce electric charging points for cars at petrol stations.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The Government has had a number of discussions with petrol service station operators about the provision of electric vehicle charge points. We want to encourage and leverage private sector investment to build and operate a self-sustaining public network supported by the right policy framework. In many cases, the market is better-placed than government to identify the right locations for chargepoints and it is essential that viable commercial models are in place to ensure continued maintenance and improvements to the network. Already, the vast majority of chargepoints now being installed are funded with private money and we want to see this trend continue. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act gives the Government new powers to mandate provision of chargepoints at Motorway Service Areas and large fuel retailers. The Government will continue to monitor the market and will bring forward regulation using these powers if the market fails to deliver the infrastructure required.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Transport
Road Traffic
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to reduce congestion on the roads during rush hours.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 24 June 2019

This Government is determined to improve journeys for all motorists which is why we are spending more than £50 billion between 2015 and 2025 to tackle congestion and maintain the condition of roads in England.

On England’s Strategic Roads, our motorways and main ‘A’ roads, the Government is spending £17.6 billion between 2015 and 2020 which includes a dedicated Congestion Relief Programme, as part of the first Road Investment Strategy. A further £25.3 billion is expected to be spent between 2020 and 2025 to deliver the second Road Investment Strategy.

On local authority roads, £420 million in the 2018/19 financial year was allocated for the repair of roads (including potholes), bridges and local highways infrastructure generally, on top of the £6.2 billion allocation for maintenance between 2015 and 2021.

Between 2015/16 and 2020/21 the Government has provided local highway authorities with £1.29 billion from the Integrated Transport Block which is for small scale transport improvements, including schemes to ease congestion.

Between 2020 and 2025, £3.5 billion has been announced for the Major Road Network and Large Local Majors programme which will provide increased focus and funding certainty to the most important local authority roads.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving licences were revoked due to medical issues in 2018.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The number of Group 1 (car/motorcycle) and Group 2 (Bus/lorry) drivers whose driving entitlement was revoked or refused for medical reasons in 2018 is provided in the table below:

Year

Group 1

Group 2

2018

61,482

12,242

It should be noted that there may be a number of drivers who would have been revoked or refused for both Group 1 and Group 2 licences, and therefore may be duplicated in the figures above.

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