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: 06 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Rivers: Pollution Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that (a) pesticides and (b) chemicals do not enter rivers.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 15 June 2018

Pesticides are strictly regulated and are only authorised for use if the relevant information shows no unacceptable risks to the environment. This assessment takes account of the likelihood that the pesticide might enter water and the effects on aquatic organisms that might result. When a pesticide is authorised, conditions may be set to ensure the protection of water, such as buffer zones between the watercourse and the sprayed area.

Chemical releases to rivers are controlled by a number of mechanisms. The manufacture and use of chemicals is initially regulated through legislation such as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation which requires companies to register the chemicals they supply and assess their risks so they can recommend risk management measures in their supply chain. Higher risk substances may be subject to authorisation or restrictions on manufacture or use to reduce environmental exposure and therefore minimise risks. Direct discharges of chemicals to rivers are controlled by environmental permits. Where necessary these include specific limits for concentrations of particular chemicals that can be discharged to a river to ensure that risks are managed and the environment and human health is protected. Discharge quality is monitored and enforcement action taken if permit limits are exceeded. We work closely with business, infrastructure and emergency service providers to provide advice to reduce the chance of accidental releases.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 06 June 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
World War I: War Memorials
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the announcement of 1 July 2014 ,Details of £5 million fund to repair, protect, and conserve First World War memorials revealed, how much and what proportion of that funding has been spent.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 15 June 2018

Of the £5 million fund announced in July 2014 for the conservation and protection of war memorials, £3,435,000 had been spent by the end of FY 2017/18, with the remainder projected to be spent by March 2019.

The majority of this funding (£4.5 million) has gone towards the First World War Memorials Programme which sees Civic Voice, Historic England, the Imperial War Museums (IWM), and War Memorials Trust (WMT) working in partnership with the public on a programme of recording, research, conservation and listing to ensure war memorials across the country are protected and the people they commemorate are remembered.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tractors: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many children have taken part in the tractor driving for 13-15 year olds course in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 14 June 2018

Tractor driving courses for 13 to 15 year olds are delivered by private training providers. Information on the number of children that have participated on these courses is unavailable because Defra does not collect data on these courses.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants of universal credit have accepted an advance payment of that benefit.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 13 June 2018

Our latest national internal data for number of advances awarded indicates that, for eligible new claims to Universal Credit Full Service that were due a first payment in January 2018, 60% received either a ‘new claim’ or ‘benefit transfer’ advance.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to increase the pay of care assistants to improve staff retention.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 13 June 2018

The majority of social care in England is delivered by private companies who determine the pay rates of their staff including care assistants. The National Minimum Wage is the legal minimum employers must pay their workers. The Government is committed to creating an economy that works for everyone, and ensuring workers are paid fairly.

Since the introduction of the National Living Wage, the average salary for a care worker in the independent sector has gone up by 4%, with those full time staff on the minimum wage seeing a pay rise of up to £2,000 since 2015.

The Department continues to work in partnership with Skills for Care and key stakeholders to develop tools and techniques for employers to support effective recruitment practices and improved retention of the care workforce including continued professional development.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department for Education
Supply Teachers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many substitute teachers are registered for teaching in England and Wales.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 13 June 2018

Data on the number of substitute teachers is not collected because the School Workforce Census does not show which teachers are replacing another teacher on a temporary basis.

The School Workforce Census collects the number of “occasional” teachers who are on a contract or service agreement with a school for less than a month and who are in school on the day of the census. There were 12,800 “occasional” teachers in service in state-funded schools in England in November 2016. This is the most recent month for which this information is available. November 2017 figures will be available on 28 June 2018.

The information provided is publicly available from table 3a in the Statistical First Release ‘School Workforce in England, November 2016’. This is available at the following weblink: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-school-workforce.

Information for Wales is a matter for the devolved administrations. This information is available at the following link: https://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/key-education-statistics/?lang=en.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Internet: Fraud
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department issues to (a) retailers and (b) consumers to raise awareness of the threat of online scams.
A
Answered by: Andrew Griffiths
Answered on: 13 June 2018

There is guidance on how to spot and avoid scams available to retailers and consumers from organisations including Citizen’s Advice, Trading Standards, banks, UK Finance, Action Fraud, and the FCA.

In addition, we are currently in the first week of Scams Awareness Month (SAM) – an annual campaign which BEIS supports bringing together organisations nationally and locally to take a united stand against scams and fraud. The campaign which runs until the end of June aims to raise awareness with both consumers and business about all types of scams – online, telephone, mail and at the doorstep – with a focus on encouraging victims to speak up and report to the appropriate authorities.

In the 2017 campaign last July over 360 organisations participated reaching over 1/3rd million consumers face to face and offline and saw a 17 percent increase during the campaign in people accessing online advice about scams through the Citizens Advice website. We hope to increase on those numbers this year.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Theatre: Young People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much funding his Department has allocated from the public purse to youth theatre projects in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 13 June 2018

Culture is a devolved competence, therefore policy and funding decisions are the responsibility of the respective devolved nations and their arts funding bodies. Arts Council England (ACE) are responsible for distributing funding to arts and culture organisations on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in England. Funding that is specifically directed to 'Youth Theatre' is not recorded; however, ACE funding statistics do highlight funded organisations that include 'youth theatre' as part of their provision under their funding contract.

Investment in each of the last three years, where the ACE award has been at least partially classified with ‘Youth Theatre’ is outlined in the table below.

Funding stream

2015/16 £

2016/17 £

2017/18 £

National Portfolio Organisation (NPO)

7,583,458

7,583,458

7,583,458

Grants for the Arts (GfTA)

756,240

N/A*

N/A*

Other

215,330

365,437

421,622

*GfTA programme closed

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has plans to introduce the video recording of personal independence payment assessments.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Home Care Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many patients have received homecare help under the NHS in each of the last three years.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Hospitals and Ambulance Services: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure the safety of (a) hospital and (b) ambulance staff on duty.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he last met with representatives of the RSPCA to discuss animal welfare.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Education
Children: Basic Skills
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taken to improve the (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills of children in England.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Education
Schools: Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Education
National Union of Students
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he last met with representatives of the National Union of Students.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Heritage Lottery Fund: Northern Ireland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much funding from the heritage lottery fund was allocated to projects in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Film and Television
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what meetings he has held with (a) television and (b) film production companies on the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the UK film and TV industry in the last 12 months.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Gambling: Internet
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if his Department will introduce legislative proposals on limiting the time for which a user can be active on an online gambling site or app.
Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 01 June 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Minimum Wage
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that employers comply with the national minimum wage.
A
Answered by: Andrew Griffiths
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Government is committed to fair pay by ensuring workers are paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). In 2017/18, HMRC secured a record volume of pay arrears (£15.6 million) for a record number of workers (201,800).

In 2018/19, we have increased the enforcement budget for the NMW to £26.3 million. This additional resource will allow HMRC to proactively target those employers judged most at risk of not paying the minimum wage. As part of this, we will spend £1.48 million raising awareness of workers’ entitlement to the NMW.

Employers found to be breaking the rules could face penalties of 200% of arrears owed to the worker to a maximum of £20,000 per worker. Anyone concerned they are being underpaid should call the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) Helpline (on 0300 123 1100) for free and confidential advice. HMRC respond to 100% of complaints made.

Q
Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 01 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Prostate Cancer
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps his Department has taken to promote awareness of the symptoms of prostate cancer; and whether his Department plans to take steps to encourage men to be tested for prostate cancer.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 11 June 2018

Public Health England (PHE) will be re-running the national Be Clear on Cancer campaign on ‘Blood in Pee’ from 19 July – 23 September 2018. The campaign highlights the fact that blood in pee could be a sign of cancer and encourages people to see their general practitioner if they experience this symptom. Although primarily aimed at bladder and kidney cancer, blood in the urine can also be a sign of prostate cancer.

PHE ran the Be Clear on Cancer ‘Prostate Cancer’ local pilot campaign in October – November 2014, specifically targeting Black African-Caribbean men, because of their significantly increased risk of developing prostate cancer compared to the general male population. The campaign included posters, print, community radio messaging, street ambassadors and public relations. Campaign materials have been made available to Prostate Cancer UK so that they can be used in any future activity.

PHE works closely with the Department and NHS England to ensure that health care professionals are also targeted with campaign information to encourage earlier diagnoses and referrals. PHE also works closely with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency of messages in their own campaigns and initiatives.

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